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Improved poll for sitting position
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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I would like to sit on my horse in position
   
   
   
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DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Dec 11th, 2016 01:56 pm
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Yes, Evan, the DeBuissigny experiment is an excellent and famous one. Sally Swift applied the same technique to helping riders become aware of their own weight distribution habits, i.e. most people weight one foot more than the other all the time. Swift used two bathroom scales, one per each of the person's feet.

All accomplished horsemen sit the same way. You will find the 'right' way to sit whether you look at the best horseman in Mongolia, Persia, Japan, Argentina, Germany, France, England or America.

Many authors -- and particularly in our culture and language, we are familiar with those of Europe beginning at the end of the Medieval period and especially after the printing press comes to Europe in the 1550's -- many authors of this period and culture have tried to describe the 'right' way to sit. Indeed so also did Xenophon, writing some 400 years B.C. So here, I am about to relieve you of the tendency which you say you have to obsess -- just stop it, my friend, because authors have struggled with this. I know they have myself, because I too have authored books, and here also I am writing to you through this forum. But writing ABOUT something is not the thing itself; and in short, it is very difficult to adequately put into words what 'sitting right' really means.

Neither do photographs always convey it, nor either videotapes or movie film.

The reason for this is that 'sitting right' is NOT a position; it is a dynamic. No good rider ever sits 'in a position'; to do so would be to pose, to be a wooden doll like you see people trying to be in the Western Pleasure competitions. Needless to say, they are very confused, and they have totally lost the essence of what it means to ride well.

So to sit 'right' is not a position; it is a dynamic, which means, the good rider is the one who can go with the flow, with what Dave Genadek calls 'the river of energy' that comes up from the animal's foot-contact with the ground and which flows through its oscillating spine from rear to front. For example, I have had people scoff at me (because the only explanation for it that they can wrap their heads around is that this must mean that I am a coward too afraid to ask much of a horse): they scoff because I tell them the truth, that I haven't come off a horse in over 35 years.

And this is for two reasons. One, because I live by a hint I once heard Tom Dorrance give: he said, "Until I have THAT I don't even want to get on them." And the 'that' that Tom was talking about was whether the horse cares about you or not; whether he wants to be with you MORE than he wants to be anywhere else, or do anything other than what you have suggested to do. From that moment on I committed to always making sure this would be the case; to make getting that OKness and keeping that OKness the numero uno priority at all times whatsoever.

And the second reason is this. In 1977 I was taking my first hunt-seat lessons at a proper stable, and had progressed so far as to be permitted to rent school horses a couple of days a week to go for practice rides not under the direct supervision of an instructor. One day I was in the indoor arena on a big roan TB X QH named T.J., a horse anybody would like to ride, a real nice horse who didn't mean any more harm than any other horse would. The indoor hall at that place was a Butler building (sometimes called a Bonanza barn), one of those I-beam frame places with the metal siding. It had big sliding doors at either end so the tractor could go in and out. The front door, which opened onto the stable yard, was open; the back door was almost shut but not quite; there was a gap of maybe ten inches between the two doors.

Well, we came around there at a trot and damn if there wasn't a horse or a person -- not absolutely sure what it actually was -- moving around out to the back, and they happened to brush by the gap in the door just as we were passing it, and old T.J. shied a big one, right down to his elbows I mean, to where I felt the sole of my left foot smack against the ground.

And I didn't fall off. And I heard a little voice in the back of my head, and it said, "you know what Deb, you're going to be able to do this."

Forty years later and I'm in my sixties and I'm out riding my lovely Ollie one afternoon with a group of people in a field. The farmer had given us permission to trod around in there as the crop had been harvested and the irrigation turned off. Like most fields around here, that one is fitted with big metal boxes over the irrigation heads. The boxes are open to the side facing the field, and we would be passing those openings as we trod around the field. Well somehow a white rag had blown into one of them and got hung up on the spigot, and there was a little wind that day, and so you probably know what happened....Ollie's neck gets level with the pitch-black opening before mine does and he sees this white "ghost" flapping around in there before I do, and he goes BOOM, straight down to his elbows in a bigtime shy. And the girl behind me says "Geezus! Are you all RIGHT??!" because again, of course, I didn't come off -- just sit 'right'. But remember also, T.J. cared about me -- though back then, it was before I'd met Tom so I didn't realize that was part of my success. Ollie, of course, came much later and I've deliberately worked to get it that way. Which means, when the horse goes down to his elbows and it takes your butt two beats longer to catch up with how fast he's gone down, HE WAITS FOR YOU TO ARRIVE before he does the sideways part of the shy.

And the same applies everywhere else too, whether you are jumping or going down a steep pitch on a trailride, or cutting a rollback on a cow: to quote the jazz repertory, "it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."

So again, as I said at the top: all good horsemen no matter where in the world, sit the same way, and that 'way' is largely unpicturable and ineffable. The best that an author can do is to give an idea of what the 'limits' are, i.e. don't sit grossly on the fork, don't hollow your back, please for God's sake bend your elbows, don't hang on the reins, don't look down and in but rather up and out, relax all the joints of your legs, relax your butt muscles, and sit as square and as quiet as your own physique, the horse's, and the work situation allow.

And after that -- quit worrying about it. When people would ask Ray Hunt this same type of question, he'd have them go do something simple, like a circle; and he would coach them a little close, until they were doing pretty good with it, and the horse was OK, soft, properly flexed, moving forward from the leg willingly -- and then he'd say to them, 'so how do you feel about your position now' and of course there would be not one thing that anybody could criticize about it. In short, Ray was wise enough not to get the cart before the horse. -- Dr. Deb

 

EvanB
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 Posted: Mon Dec 12th, 2016 08:34 am
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Hi Bruce, I thought there was a link in there. The whole work is actually now online publically. It is from 'Equitation' by H.L. DeBussigny. It's a good book. You might find several things you'd like to implement from it. He was much more a true Baucherist in my opinion than Fillis was. One of my favorite things is his divisions of equitation given at the beginning. Also he gets pretty scientific with anatomy and gaits for his time. A paper back version can be had pretty cheap on Amazon last I saw.
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Equitation

EvanB
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 Posted: Mon Dec 12th, 2016 09:44 am
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Thanks Dr.Deb, I appreciate your taking time to answer so thoroughly! I'll have to read your response a couple more times I think to glean out all the wisdom. Being a younger person though I do enjoy learning from the experiences and studies of folks older than myself. From my own experiences I do agree. Sometimes I've seen people with what is considered by many a 'correct' seat with horses that couldn't work at all and stiff in the way riders, and on the other hand riders who if examined by an 'expert' had an incorrect seat who were real naturals with their horses. Of course I don't mean to say position doesn't matter!!

I guess the way I'm looking at it is more mechanical, in regards to DeBussigny's test versus the positions A,B, and C and the effects they would have. Because it would seem just looking at things very plainly as if there was a disagreement between what the scales would say and how that relates to real life action up on the horse and especially at speed stopping and turning. So no doubt say if someone did the same test three ways (A,BC or in the middle, and the croup seat)on the same horse the scales I imagine would read vastly different. Wouldn't it be so that the rider in the croup seat would appear to not only the horse's but his own weight 'loading' the hind end, yet I wouldn't expect that same person to be able to do much at all for reined maneuvers for example. So in that case the weight was technically back off the front but the rider would be in the way so much as to not be practical right? And then on the other end of the spectrum position A would appear to be loading the horse's front end on the scales yet from what I read here such as from Mr.Genadek, the anatomy of the horse's back, my own personal experience and that of at least every serious Foremanist says that A is the best place to be to make things easier for horse and rider if you can get there, which is why I found this thread so interesting in the first place because honestly outside of Foremanism it is rarely talked about in the general horse world! Caring the concept then into real life for myself any way I was raised with what I would call late 80s early 90s cutting and reined cow horse training (giant seated flat seat cutting saddles) being around my dad, but really he was more cow horse as he put reined work on all his cutters which just like today many haven't the slightest idea. Anyway so as I got old enough to start training there was always this honestly speaking 'pride' about having a horse well reined you know, it always sets a guy apart especially in SD! So around the time that Foreman's teachings came to me I thought I had a good grasp on a lot of this kind of stuff, not that I was a know it all or couldn't be told just that I thought I already the foundation. Then watching some of the more advanced Foremanists I was amazed at the speed, ease, and seemingly effortlessness with which the could preform what Foreman called the 'basic handle' (which is truth compared with many things isn't so basic). It honestly shocked me a bit, thinking we are reined cow horse people we are supposed to be some of the best at any kind of reined work and I couldn't at the time come close to what they did easy. Long story short as I studied, learned and implemented much of Foremanism I was surprised at how easy it really was! As I came to find out Foreman called it just that 'the easy way' with his motto 'the right place at the right time with the least amount of fuss'. All this time before I came to see that in reality with everything I'd learned from CH folks I was at least partially in the way. When I was up in that position A area and with a better understanding of foot falls at all gaits maneuvers didn't require the kind work I formally had to put in because the horse could do them all along I just had to get out of the way. The hardest part for me with my back ground was to not slouch, not shy away from support on the stirrups, and to quit sitting the stops. And again I was amazed how they'd stop when I wasn't in the way, still more amazed that they'd turn around better being upfront in an A, AB position. Which if someone would have told me before there is no way I would have believed it. But it makes sense to me now there by giving the horse an increased ability to bring his hind legs underneath his mass and work off his rear. The part I am failing to see right now is how does sitting more forward behind the withers and its effects on the horse relate to the horse's weight distribution such as seen on the scales. Again I don't question it works because I've experienced it but could it be that it does indeed place slightly more weight to the front while at the same time freeing up the back and hind end? I realize to that the horse itself plays a large role here. For example I enjoy teasing the gauchos I know from the Criollo process because many have only ever ridden the best Criollos and Freno de Oro/ Freio de Ouro bred ones at that and so they have extremely talented horses making many what a lot of people would call 'difficult' moves easy such as lead changes for example. I tease them that with a regular old run of the mill Quarter Horse their program would not work on them. Like with the lead changes they don't teach the Freno bred horses to change leads they merely change on their own because of their fantastic breeding but so many 'average' horses couldn't do that they way that they sit on them. So to tie all this back in to the thread that is what I am wondering is about what the scales would theoretically read in a static form in A and if that means more weight to the front how to understand than how that positions still frees up the horses to work so much better. And I apologize to anyone reading if I rambled on!

EvanB
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 Posted: Mon Dec 12th, 2016 09:49 am
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I can share to illustrate the quality of animals which they work with! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CdycGDGRCg&app=desktop

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Dec 12th, 2016 12:54 pm
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Evan, would you be willing to condense your previous post to just one or two sentences, and be sure you ask a specific question -- just ONE. Your post is  unreadable, and so far as I can tell, contains neither a question nor an observation about your real experiences with your own horse. Understand please that I am not here to listen to/read novels or "stream of consciousness" from the merely curious, and I don't think any of our good longtime correspondents is, either. Thanks for the courtesy. -- Dr. Deb

EvanB
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 Posted: Mon Dec 12th, 2016 05:58 pm
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1. My personal observation was noticing the very big difference in the ease with which my horses worked when I could get to A in a saddle.

2. My question is two fold. Doesn't sitting at A actually put more weight on the front end because it is further forward? In other words as compared to DeBussigny's test sitting further back. And if that is the case that it puts more weight to the front how can it be understood/explained that it frees the horses up to lift the back and work off the hind end?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Dec 13th, 2016 08:39 am
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Evan, yours is a question straight from the end of the 18th century, and the confusion that lies behind it is the essential reason why Saddle Seat riding, and for a long time the riding and schooling of jumpers also, went wrong.

The confusion is this: the horse is not made of wood. It therefore does not work like a wooden rocking-horse. When you pull the front end up on a wooden rocking horse, the back end goes down and indeed the point on the rockers where the most weight bears, moves toward the rear. But a real horse does not work that way, and you and others are deceived if you think that's what DeBuissigny did in 'raising the neck'.

A real horse has a back that works like a diving board. It is not rigid; it is elastic.

When a real horse collects, it coils its loins, which drives an elastic wave forward through the spine which ultimately assists in raising THE BASE of the horse's neck (i.e. not its head), along with the forepart of the thorax. The coordination of the rider's leg and hand, a skill which DeBuissigny certainly had, also independently induces and assists the horse in raising THE BASE of the neck.

When the horse raises THE BASE of the neck, even if its head shoots forward and down -- which it must do in the greener horse who has not yet achieved the strength for full collection under a rider -- so long as it coils its loins, arches the freespan, and raises THE BASE of the neck, then it will have as much or more weight on its hindquarters than its forequarters. The huge mistake made by 18th century riding masters, and those who came before, and indeed those who came after up until Baucher and Caprilli, was their belief that you had to raise the horse's head in order to lighten the forehand. But when the rider raises the head, or a device such as an overcheck is used to achieve the same, it drives THE BASE of the neck downward and this in turn sends a 'hollowing wave' backwards through the spine, which makes it much more difficult for the horse to raise the forepart of the thorax, arch the freespan, or coil the loins; and this in turn, because flexion of the loins in turn governs flexion of the stifles and hocks, makes it impossible for the horse to sit down in back. In short, if the horse's head ALONE is raised, without first being supported by raising the base of the neck, then the horse will wind up being more on the forehand than it was before.

When DeBuissigny "raised the head", he did it according to Baucher's method no. 1, that is, he did it with the horse in 'rassembler', i.e. we would say 'round'; and he did it by the coordination of the leg and hand, so as to produce correct 'ramener', which we would call 'arching the neck'. And arching the neck requires that the horse make the effort to raise the base of the neck; that's what arches the neck. Thus DeBuissigny's horse was, in state 1, relaxed, just as he says; but in state 2, fully collected according to our own definition, i.e.:

(1) Collection starts from, and is always primarily the product of, coiling of the loins.

(2) Collection is continued when coiling of the loins induces a 'rounding wave' through its elastic spine, such that the freespan of the back becomes arched.

(3) Collection is completed when the abovementioned wave results in the raising of the base of the neck relative to the core of the loins.

Now my friend, you can stop worrying about weight distribution, in other words stop living in your head; but instead go and ride your horse, and attempt to feel what I have just described. And go to our main website and download the three crucial papers which are free .pdf's which I ask all students to study:

(1) Lessons from Woody, which is about the primacy of straightness to collection;

(2) True Collection, which describes the biomechanical mechanism in the horse;

(3) The Ring of Muscles revisited, a further exposition on collection, straightness, and OKness.

And if after studying these materials you find that you do not know how to teach the horse to collect, or your horse is not doing it or does not find it easy to do, then write back for more help. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

devvie
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 Posted: Thu Dec 15th, 2016 12:31 am
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"HE WAITS FOR YOU TO ARRIVE before he does the sideways part of the shy."

Oh yes! Absolutely the only reason I've not once come off Mr. spook, rear, spin 'n bolt when he is having a "moment." He could easily have finished the job so to speak! Yes, I'm new to the forum and yes, we're chipping away at the groundwork exercises and I'm saving up my questions.


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