The essential ingredient in a horse who develops into a well balanced, collected, light horse with a beautiful and correct head position.. is forward. We all hear it told from instructors and riders alike, “MORE FORWARD!” What does that mean? What is forward?
Circular, that is time. We live in a world dominated by linear functions, our calendar reads left to right, start to finish. There is little left of the cycles we once relied upon as a species to guide our functions from day to day, week to week, month to month, season to season, year to year. Instead we rely upon days, minutes, hours… seconds, to remind us of the time we have lost or wasted, or perhaps the time we have saved.
What does it mean to be a weak rider? Is it the inability to hold the correct posture and position in the saddle? Is it the lack of strength in the aids to apply them correctly and productively? What if weak riding were not a bad thing, but a highly sought after reality?
When we are in the pursuit of knowledge, attempting to glean it from every viable source, it helps always to know whose definition of equitation we are gleaning that knowledge from. For many they answer number one to different reasons – money, ego, curiosity. What is the *best* definition of equitation?
Anyone want to take a challenge with me? To ride with only 5 grams? Bring yourself to feel pressure, and move away slowly, release that pressure, focusing on the beat of the heart or the lungs, or the dura.
Hyperflexion has found it’s way into almost every barn and stable, through the simple lack of awareness to it’s presence. From english to western, and even the ‘classicists’ of dressage. It is a loss of the horse’s posture. Why is that?
Lightness comes in part with the advent of relaxation. Lightness relies on movement, constant movement. Lightness is the result of the mental, emotional and physical aspects between horse and rider reaching harmony.
In particular I want to draw attention to RK’s legs… they are quiet, they are subtle. In the extended trot we get a beautiful view of these as the horse approaches almost directly towards the camera. Compare this to modern olympic riders and you will see a stark difference.
Pressure is what we experience every day of our lives, either self-imposed or given to us by those around us and in our lives. For the horse it is a little simpler, from our perspective anyhow, the horse does not take ‘home’ pressure from the rider or trainer when the session is over.
The bend I refer to is that of specifically the neck and generally the entire body. The bend is one of four factors I consider in the working of the horse, that are rules so to speak and guidelines.
Go into any barn during lessons and you’ll often hear some combination of a few choice phrases describing the use of the leg aids. In the simplicity of these descriptions however, it is easy to be left confused, frustrated or just ineffective.
You’re huffing and puffing, cursing the very horse that you wish wanted to be with you badly enough to stop running away. Likely you have broken a sweat, your halter and lead have become a tangled mess beyond recognition, and you could have ridden two horses in the time it’s taken you to run around after your horse.
Resistance in the horse can come in several forms, at times violent and on the other end of the spectrum, passive. Both forms are harmful, frustrating and a sign that the horse does not fully understand what is being asked of him. Let us take a deeper look at the forms of resistance in the horse, and how they need to be approached to restore a healthy relationship.
How our interactions come across to the horse can vary considerably. Some horses will go through the motions with us, others will be intimidated and work for us out of fear – producing erratic but somewhat reliable results. And still others will become “difficult”, “stubborn”, “stupid”, etc in response to ego based training.
In the first part of this article, we covered the Rules of the Aids, along with introducing and describing the Half Halt and Reverse Half Halt. We now continue on, in a very logical way, to discuss the Direct and Indirect Rein. These two aids are the means of directing, guiding and helping to shape the horse.
Perhaps the first point to make on the definition of aid, is that in no way does the meaning ever describe it as a means of control. The aids that the rider uses, are meant not as a way to force, coerce or otherwise take away the will, freedom or direction of the horse, the aids are there to help support the horse in his own natural abilities, if you will.