2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

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Linden
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2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby Linden » Sat Oct 12, 2019 3:49 am

Been thinking of this for a while. It could be very interesting to hear peoples worst challenges and how they managed to overcome them - who knows who might find the puzzle piece they've been missing..

So 1)what was/is your hardest riding skill to learn/overcome, 2) what was/is your most challenging dressage element to figure out how to train/perform/execute etc?

and 3) how did you finally master these 2 things? what specifically was the key advice/phrase/thought/exercise etc that was the spark needed to connect the dots?
"Fix things going forward." LR

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby Flight » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:38 am

I think it's feel. Learning the right feeling and what to do to get it.

Dressage elements - mine would be working out changes and pirouettes. Changes -when things aren't going right and figuring out what to do to fix it. Pirouettes - I've never ridden one on a horse that knows it, so it's educated guess work. Again, both relates to feel. Knowing what the correct feel is and then replicating it.
To master them? Getting help/schoolmaster and then keep trying and then analysing what you are doing to the best of your current knowledge.

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby Dresseur » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:08 pm

My hardest skill to learn was being a connected rider and not breaking at the waist. It took me forever to learn to knit myself together and to engage my low abs. A lot of this was because I am so long up top and I've always been strong in the high abs and obliques, but not so much the low abs between the wings of the pelvis. This was a reminding myself a million times, getting reminded a million more times, and practicing, watching video and trying new things just to get a new feeling to narrow down what I was after.

In terms of movement... the changes are incredibly hard for me. Not the counting - that's fine. It's not twisting myself, twisting the horse and not riding too strong through the changes. I can thank my old hunter training for that - "the wing across the diagonal and pull on their mouths for a late change method" I'm still working on it. The latest hugely helpful pieces of information have been that I need to keep my back soft and kind of flick my hip forward, and that I have have different levels of tension in my back than in low core. So, the last couple changes have felt very easy, relaxed and on me - now I just have to keep myself softer in the tempis so that I don't end up with a horse that is galloping through the changes and leaning on me.

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby Chisamba » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:19 am

I think the hardest thing for me to learn was back to front riding. I mean, we use hands fir everything, from eating driving riding communicating scratching an itch, humans are hand users. So learning to keep my hands still and forward and riding to my hands was very counter intuitive. Also, you can make things look better so much quicker with finger dexterity. So becoming effective , not just making the attempt, but being effective riding to a quiet hand took a while.

Also understanding that fixing something the wrong way does not actually fix it, it creates a different problem.

Dressage moves. I dont remember, maybe walk pirouette, I find those more difficult than canter pirouette.

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby Flight » Sun Oct 13, 2019 4:51 am

I agree with the learning back to front riding. I'm still struggling with this. At the Anna Blake clinic she got us to ride around in a neck rope (holding on the buckle of reins for safety) and warm up in walk doing all different exercises including figure 8s, big and small walks, leg yeild, riding squares. It really helped me practice turning/slowing from my position and not using hands.

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby blob » Sun Oct 13, 2019 2:00 pm

Similar to back to front riding, I think one of the hardest things was learning what it truly meant to have a horse infront of the leg. Most of my early rides were TBs, who can easily be rushing, even running away with you, but behind the leg. So truly understanding the feeling of forward regardless of speed, was a big epiphany and one that took some time.

I also have always struggled with my leg position.

Right now it's hard for me to name any movement other than changes because that's what we're currently struggling with. But I haven't struggled in the past with horses who already knew their changes well. So I'm not sure if it's with every horse or just MM. I agree also that riding a very correct walk piri can be challenging and there's nothing to hide behind.

I've also always has a much harder time riding a good piaffe than a passage. I find it easier to find the rhythm in passage.

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby exvet » Sun Oct 13, 2019 2:53 pm

Hardest thing to learn - it's a toss up between feeling and timing. Honestly these are things I never had trouble with when I rode hunter/jumper because I started doing it as a kid, a very young kid. I can react 'with perfect timing and feeling' per many coaches even to this day when I'm riding lines or heading towards a jump and something doesn't go as planned, or if it's a cooperative well trained beast, without skipping a beat; but, once I had to think about it.......as in transitioning to dressage then I found myself a half a beat behind everything except when it becomes really dicey, then I go into survival mode and it's all clock work again.

As for overcoming it, I'm still struggling. If I don't think about it and just listen to what someone is telling me it should feel like then I can usually produce what they want. Once I feel it a couple of times, then I'm good. It's for this reason that flying changes are probably the most difficult for me. I can put 'swapping leads' on any horse because that's what it was as a kid riding ponies in the hunter ring; but, flying changes do give me challenges (as in correct dressage). I'm a half a beat behind. I have yet found a coach who can really talk me through it from a feeling perspective as you ride each stride. Now if I do tempi's on a horse that is confirmed with the flying changes then I'm good. I finally figured out that I just 'count' like I did as a kid when I was told to put 6 strides between two fences or 5 or whatever. I know how to set up a horse to land on the correct lead.......so for that reason alone I can do tempi's.

Dressage has been much like learning a second language for me. My first go to was what was muscle memory for my time as a kid - it can really cause a lot of havoc with the mind and body...........I feel sorry for my horses in this regard.
Last edited by exvet on Thu Oct 17, 2019 1:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby mari » Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:27 am

Hardest general concept was timing of aids vs. release. And it was a lot of experimentation, and instructors willing to talk me through it stride by stride for HOURS until the feeling became ingrained.

Hardest movement so far is flying changes. I can ride them pretty smoothly on other horse, but Odin has been a bear to teach them to. I don't have any breakthrough thoughts or advice. We just have to keep riding them, and very very slowly they are becoming better.

Half-pass was also quite challenging, but I just had to find a different way to get into the groove of it. One instructor teaches to position SI first, and then move sideways. I've always found this concept impossible to put together. Even though we can do SI and sideways :p
My regular dressage instructor and I have broken it down, what it is I feel and what I struggle with. And now I ride it more in terms of setting up an excellent turn, pointing the shoulders where I want to go, and then bring the quarters. I suspect these two things have the same result, but the feeling and coordination for my brain and body works much better the second way.
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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby Sue B » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:23 pm

Hardest thing/still a work-in-progress: To be still without being stiff, and soft without being weak.

Most difficult dressage movement: Flying changes (see above) I can ride em on a trained horse, I even managed to get one horse doing them consistently and cleanly, but I am horrible doing them because I can't. sit. still and go. with. the. flippin'. horse!!!!! :oops:

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby khall » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:06 pm

Riding skill is just the seat in general. I have a very flexible lower back and so tend to hollow there.

Training changes on a more difficult horse to do them on. Like others, I can ride them all day long even down to 1's on horses that have the training (or at least an understanding) and the ability for them. I am finding it hard to train them on Rip. My biggest issue circles back to the seat though. I have to sit back more take that curve out of my back and not let my lower leg get too far back.

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby piedmontfields » Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:20 pm

What a great topic. So many things are hard for me...which is why this is a very interesting, lifetime pursuit!

Probably the most consistent challenge I have is to maintain quality standards for my horse and me together, no matter what. I'm quite good about this in other parts of life, but not so good when you put me on a horse (I'll find lots of excuses for the horse.).

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby musical comedy » Wed Oct 16, 2019 2:03 pm

I am geometry challenged. Is there a name for that? Spatial impediment? I could not walk a correct serpentine on foot, let alone riding a horse. For that reason, I never showed 2nd level. I recall once way back in my eventing days, I took a clinic with Max Gaywyler. At that time, the novice dressage test was doing a serpentine quarter line to quarter line in a 20x40 court. OMG, epic fail. Max tried so hard to get through to me, but just gave up. I was so glad when they changed those tests.

Hardest things to learn? So many, and each time I think I've learned them I realize I haven't. I would have to say "in front of the leg/seat" would be the hardest. It's not so much that it's hard to get, but that it's hard to fall into the trap that you think you horse is when he isn't. Next hardest would be HP to right.

Things that were confirmed or easy on one horse you find are not so easy when you ride a different horse.

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby Moutaineer » Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:09 pm

It's all hard. especially when you don't know your left from your right :)

Like most people, I would guess, as I progress, the things that I found hard then become not so hard--and usually it's because somebody finally explains to me what they want out of me in a way I can understand. For instance, years ago when I rode with Mette Rosencrantz for the first time, she spent an entire session walking and running beside me making sure I could not only get the horse on the bit, but feel it and maintain it. Single most important dressage lesson of my life that has stayed with me ever since.

I remember learning the shoulder-in was incredibly difficult, but looking back it was because I had conflicting advice from different trainers. Once I sorted out what I needed to do, and why and what the point was, they became quite natural.

I'm in the weeds with FCs at the moment. I thought I knew what I was doing. Now I feel like I have no clue and don't dare attempt them on my own. Eventually I will have a moment of illumination and they will become obvious--I hope!

(And MC, my working life is all about spatial awareness, and I can tell you from my interactions with clients that you are quite definitively not alone if you find it a challenge!)

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Re: 2 hardest things to learn - Riding skill & dressage element? Then?

Postby StraightForward » Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:14 am

Timing is something I struggle with. Several years ago, an instructor was trying to get me to give my canter aid with better timing. She'd say "now" and I just couldn't get it. Suddenly, this summer it clicked, and I was like "yeah, that's what Nancy was trying to tell me like 8 years ago..."

Body awareness is also difficult. I discovered this summer that I'd been riding with uneven stirrups for probably 3 weeks. I felt the unevenness, but though that my right stirrup just felt shorter because my right leg was more dominant. Finally I checked and they were off by 2 half-holes. OTOH, I tend to drop and give away my left shoulder, and don't have much perception of when it's actually even. I've videoed myself trying to fix it, and still it slumps forward, even when I think it's up and back.
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