Wednesday 5 April 2017

RWYM - General

I still have so much to process from the weekend that even three days later I am not sure I can really do justice to everything that was said. Apologies if the posts on this topic are a hodge podge of thoughts/notes, I really just want to get them down somewhere I can refer back to them as needed.

Rider alignment
ear > shoulder > hip > heel
I figured I'd start with some general tidbits/takeaways I got from the weekend that don't necessarily apply 100% to me but that I found interesting as an equestrienne in my quest to improve. I also snagged photos of the blackboard section of the theory which can reside in this post and not overwhelm the already media heavy posts to come.
I feel I should first commend the set up of this clinic, there were different options available for how we wanted to participate in the clinic. We opted for individual lessons in the morning, joint theory after lunch and then a group lesson in the evening with 2 participants. All riding sections are filmed for comments in the theory and posterity sake for the riders. My videos will appear in posts later this week/over the weekend.

Elaine was (is) amazing. She has so much knowledge and insight to share and no matter what questions were asked she had answers/thoughts/ideas/exercises to help both rider and horse. Not only could she answer every query, but if we didn't understand the first way she explained she could rephrase it numerous different ways with many different visual and/or key word examples to help us remember going forward.

I found this interesting as dressage saddles with their deep seats
can work against us if we're not careful to keep our seat bones plugged in straight

The theory section was not just watching the videos of the morning rides nor blackboard explanations; it was 100% interactive with each participant taking on the role of the horse - legit on all 4s - and rider to demonstrate the correct and most common incorrect ways of sitting on a horse. This was eye opening to feel from the horse's point of view just how much our balance/seat bones/position in the tack affects their way of going & ability to move. #mindblown
This was not the only interactive aspect to the theory section of the clinic, there was an exercise ball present upon which we could simulate riding a horse without damaging each other 😂
We were all recommended to invest in our own exercise balls and given different exercises to help strengthen our weaknesses. Needless to say I was useless at balancing on my own on the ball without my feet on the ground (the videos will better show part of the reasons why) also hammered home my need to build some semblance of core strength - hello planking in my immediate future. 😅

Now for the actual tidbits & general takeaways I managed to make a note of:

  • Horse is down on the forehand when their chest is lower than the mid point on their belly
  • Crooked horse - chances are it is weaker on one side, to help it strengthen that side ride only the legs on the weaker side over poles and/or cavaletti
  • Horse frame/legs in trot should form an M shape. Outstretched foreleg should be under horse's nose and other foreleg should meet hind under the rider's seat bones and the space between both legs should be equal triangles.
Not perfect but illustrates what I am trying to explain
  • The rider's balance point in rising trot is further forward than we think and something I work on in my videos. Rider must almost clear the pommel of the saddle with pubic bone as thighs work in a windscreen wiper action. We should use the front of our thighs and open our hip angle to pull ourselves up not tensing our butt muscles
  • Make sure to carry hands up and forward so that we don't hit off them when rising
Still not perfect but better
  • We have to carry our arms from the core and hold them as if reading a book
  • Elbows should be in front of jacket seems as if holding a book
     to read // shaking someone's hand
  • To stop hands drifting loop twine between dee rings on saddle or wrap bits of mane around little fingers and if hands start to get too wide the mane pulls on fingers
  • If break at wrists (I do) eat a few magnum ice creams and use sticks inside gloves to help keep wrists up
  • If hands face down (puppy paws/pushing a pram) it changes the bit placement in the horse's mouth and can make the bit push down on the horse's tongue
  • Reins are for emergency // horses can be slowed & halted from seat by stopping/slowing the movement in our seat bones
  • Think toes up vs heels down as forcing heels down pushes foot forward
  • The transition up think "up" - sit up, breathe in and confirm with request from legs

  • Look for two sausages (above left) either side of horses mane means that the horse is working properly over its back and balanced
  • If horse hollows don't drop hands // add leg and give with hands to allow them to move forward. The horse hollows because it looses engine/back end push
  • Rider is sitting in the right place in the saddle if there are the same amount of fingers width between rider's body and front/back of the saddle when hand held flat in front & behind rider.
  • Rising trot need to come from hip/top of thigh not from the knee. When it comes from the knee it pushed the horse back. When the rider uses hip/thigh to pull ourselves up it brings the horse's hind end forward with us
Downward transitions DONT'S:
  • Don't pull reins
  • Don't lean back
  • Don't pinch knees
  • Don't pinch bottom/grab horse with seat
  • Don't hold breath
  • Don't sit taller as it leads to hollowing, looses seat bone connection and pushes horse forward
Downward transition DO
  • Do breathe out but don't let go of muscle tone
  • Woah/Moo (like a cow) as is goes down to pelvic floor
  • Do stay plugged in with seat bones but don't grind into horse's back
  • Do close thigh a little from outside in to make sure legs don't bounce around
  • Do stay vertical with a neutral spine
  • Do stop movement in seat bones
Left to right balance points for:
jumper, hunt seat, dressage, everyday
and bottom is race jockey
Half Halt
  •  Is a feel/energy change
  • If horse needs a bit more instruction (aka doesn't heed energy change) - close little finger on outside rein
  • If horse still doesn't respond close little fingers on both reins
  • Don't pull reins back to hips
  • Don't pull & kick (sometimes an instruction given to riders)
Canter work
  • Best time to ask for canter transition from walk is when inside foreleg is moving forward thereby freeing inside shoulder to lift up as outside hind pushes off the ground and up into canter
  • In an arena setting max canter work on a circle is 2 turns/circles as horse cannot balance for longer // dressage tests never ask for more than two consecutive canter circles in a test without changing rein or going straight between. Even GP only max ask for 2 pirouettes consecutively
I know this is a lot of info in one post and the wording may not make sense to those who haven't followed a similar course before, but hopefully you can still take something from these tidbits and won't be too turned off ahead of the verbal vomit/media heavy posts that will follow as we delve into my actual riding lessons!


  1. This is all so fascinating! So much good stuff here - sounds like a fantastic learning experience! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Dude it was so awesome!
      I have never ridden in a clinic situation before, but what a way to pop my cherry. Talk about information overload! At the end of the Saturday eve ing lesson my brain was so fried that when she asked me what my feet were doing I honestly couldn't tell her! Utter brain for moment - she must have thought I was so dense 😂

  2. Cool! There are some good ideas in there for position fixes.

    1. So much info to absorb, great clinics if you get the chance to ride/watch one 👍

  3. Sounds like a super, information dense clinic - I look forward to reading more :)

    1. Here's hoping I can make enough sense of what was said to string together couple of comprehensible posts 🙈

  4. Great notes, I'll need to bookmark this page

    1. Me too and it's my blog lolz
      So much to try to remember


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