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Recommendations for books on horse riding
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Blue Flame
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 Posted: Mon Jul 4th, 2011 01:01 am
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My honest attempt . . .

(1) When I feel/sense my horse go crooked,

Several answers for (2) drilling down from general to more specific . . .

(2) I respond by performing a calming action (pre-requistite for everything).

(2) I respond by performing a timely action .

(2) I respond by performing a corrective action (action which will help - not hinder).

(2) I respond by performing a rebalancing action.

(2) I respond by performing a bending action.

(2) I respond by performing an untracking action.

(2) I respond by performing a lateral action.

(2) I respond by performing an action to place the horse onto his natural circle (per Mike Schaffer).

Without getting more specific, it seems to me that the solution to crookedness lies in lateral action - as opposed to longitudinal action such as the half halt - since any change to the horse's axial or forward speed would tend to exacerbate the crookedness. More specifically, it lies in lateral action that affects bend in the horses vetebral chain - head and loin twirling.

One exception to the above is where a change in the horse's forward progress is effected by luring the horse forward via the birdie, which will pull the horse's vertebral chain straight. This would be in contrast to changing forward momentum via either restricting the front or driving the hind - thus causing the train of the vertebral column to kink even further. In this case then the answer might be . . .

(2) I perform a focussing action (to call the horse's birdie to a position where it will draw him straight).

We once spent two days with a horseman who had spent time with Ray Hunt and probably others on the approved list - anyway - I remember him suggesting to the rider that they wiggle the inside foot to "call the horse's attention to the inside". Elsewhere on the ESI website (Woody document) there are pictures of Harry Whitney calling the horse's attention to assist straightness (Fig. 12, 16 and 17). Fig. 15 also shows another way of doing this. I think these are examples of how to have the horse follow his birdie and hopefully arrange his body correctly.

So, if my thinking above is correct, it helps me to understand that:

1. Straight is a pre-requisite of forward/impulsion (Dr. Deb)

2. There can be no straightness without bend. (source not on approved list)

3. Lateral flexion is a pre-requisite of longitudinal or vertical flexion - or maybe that longitudinal or vertical flexion is a consequence of lateral flexion. (cannot attribute this to any particular source, but seems reasonable to me).

This last one - 3. - hit home when we first got shoulder-in. How the movement collected the horse, rather than the rider. We were delighted to find all this extra rein being given back by the horse.


At the risk of overthinking this - it has brought new questions to mind about:

a) The distinctions between straight (vertebral chain aligned to the track) and balanced (the weighting of the four corners) - how they are interrelated.

b) How straightness is defined during lateral movements (sternum centred/aligned with . . . ?).

b) How straight on a circle includes a shift of weight to the outside feet.

c) Dr. Deb's posts elsewhere about the use of the outside rein for transferring weight across the front feet and to a diagonally opposite foot.

This description of Bill Dorrance and his physical aspects reminds me of three people. The first is Nuno Oliviera, with his neck problem. The second is Baucher (?) with his loss of strength in his legs. The third is one of my own instructors early mentors, whom she told me looked like a little frog when mounted - but the horses would go so nicely and roundly for him.


Sandy

Last edited on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 01:44 am by Blue Flame

CarolineTwoPonies
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 Posted: Mon Jul 4th, 2011 01:34 am
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When I am:

- Crooked in my own body and tense.
- When I do not understand how to ask for what I want and try to force it by pulling here and pushing there to create a position.
- When I carry my weight unbalanced and seat in the opposite direction of travel.
- When I am afraid and send a go/stop message all the time.
- When I let my horse travel in a posture that is bad for him like head straight up in the air with collapsed back because I think I am emulating this school, or I canter in a lateral four beat gait because I confuse slow with collected.
- When I ride with fixed, ungiving hands.
- When I ride and kick every stride.
- When I get caught up in theory instead of just riding and when I think half halt instead of just riding and helping my horse's balance when needed..

I create the condition in the body of my horse that will create uneven muscles, muscles that can pull bones out of alignment, put undue stress on ligament and tendons and hurt my horse. I also create the condition in my horse's mind that makes him tense and that tension submerges his body and "sets" the crookedness in.

I think I have done quite a few of these things when I studied "dressage"so this is not an abstract list for me.

On straightness, there is an analogy that has stayed with me which is to throw a lead rope down and try to straighten it. If you try to straighten it by segment, push in here or there, that does not work, if you pick the head of the lead rope and you pull it forward, the rope straightens from one end to the other so its the energy travelling through the kinks that makes the rope straight.

So, how I address the ways in which I make my horse crooked are:

- I try to seat evenly balanced myself and not get micro-focused on pulling this way and kicking that way to get the shoulder here and the haunches there, I try to ride the whole horse, get out of the way and use motion to let the body find its sweet spot .

The struggle for me is to 1) be able to even know the horse is not straight, and two, get a sense of why. I try to:

- Make sure the horse is de-contracted, long neck, open throatlatch, eye between stifle and hip depending on what feels right for the horse. Do head twirling equivalent before getting on, and baby lateral work like figures in shoulder fore to step under the body shadow to let the horse's body release its own topline through its own mechanic. (Pauline Moore in the thread about stretching explains a lot of things that apply to what I have learned about straightness).

- Not block, not take over but think of letting the horse find its balance by making sure mine is good. In France a teacher said to me in a lesson we are like the rudder and sail of a boat - we set the course and direct the energy.

-Feel when the horse is forward but also able to balance so that he can move confidently in a de-contracted manner. Not going to slow which can be comfortable for me or going to fast and mistaking rushing with big gaits.

- Have contact so there is a soft arch from poll to tail but not pull the head to make the horse round. And really follow the movement of the neck, the body.

- Ride a combination of bended and straight lines to help develop elasticity of the side of the halves that is restricted. So use figures and motion to let the horse's body right itself instead of trying to impose my control over every part of its body. Those figures depending of how much angles is asked are basically small to advanced (I dont do advanced) lateral movement. Shoulder fore to shoulder in to half pass.

- I have to be able to feel when to act at the right time so I do not ask for something the horse cannot do at that moment.

- Where I run into my limit is that maybe it is too simplistic to think about crookedness as restriction on one side of the body that can be "fixed" by evening the whole body. For example a horse that is stepping a little short behind, may need to flex more or carry more, or step under more, or step under less. Or maybe its not about the hind leg itself at all. I do not have the riding experience to know what is what.

Last edited on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 02:07 am by CarolineTwoPonies

Jeannie
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 Posted: Mon Jul 4th, 2011 01:45 am
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Well, what I do exactly is: turn my inside wrist up, and shift my weight more to the outside, thus asking him to move out and put weight on the outside shoulder, and step under  the body with the inside hind. I've come to realize most riding is a version of this.

 If he was backing up crookedly, say to the right, then I would move the same side hand out to straighten him.

                                     Jeannie

Blaze
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 Posted: Mon Jul 4th, 2011 07:28 am
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I ask my horses for lots of changes. I don't give them a chance to get crooked because I'm always asking for circles, leg yields, stopping, backing, turning, spiral in/out, changes of pace, etc.

My mare is very reactive (hot?), for lack of a better way to put it. When I ride this horse I really have to concentrate on staying very quiet in my mind. By this I mean I have to focus on the exact thing I'm asking her in that moment. I can't think about the canter, while I'm asking her to yield at the trot.

My gelding is very much a slug and kind of wants to suck back behind the bridle, and get crooked. When I ride this horse I ride larger, sweeping movements and encourage him to relax and stretch. I seldom have anyone else to ride with and when we do I make a point to follow the other horse because it really seems to draw my gelding out of himself.

We also herd my dog (at a walk) - my dog always hangs out when I'm riding and will often plop down in the arena. If I ride my gelding towards the dog he gets really interested and will reach and stretch out and track the dog. The dog will participate for a few minutes before taking himself off through a gate or something.

Tammy 2
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 Posted: Mon Jul 4th, 2011 01:00 pm
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I was thinking about this as I could not get to sleep last night, which 9 times out of 10 has me thinking about riding, and how it relates back to crooked old Bill.

I really want to get this. Is it because of us rider's having to change our bodies to suit what the horse needs in his body at that time ? Cause when we engage a seatbone on one side, does that not temporarily have us sitting crooked for a few moments until our horse responds ?

CarolineTwoPonies
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 Posted: Mon Jul 4th, 2011 06:24 pm
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And look where I am going.

JTB
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 Posted: Tue Jul 5th, 2011 07:58 am
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My mare goes crooked when I have lost her birdie and when I have given her something to brace against, such as squeezing her like she is a tube of tooth paste  or pulling on a rein! And most of the time when I do this its because I am no longer present....and usually I am actually riding a horse and not even the one I am on!!!  If that makes any sense at all.  To get her to carry her self straight, I ride her, as she is now.  When I feel a part of her poking out or her birdie heading of in a direction I'm not interested in I bend/turn her, this might be anything from a twirling of the head, to a bump, nudge of the ribcage or a twirling of the loins.  These actions on my part start with  a touch of my plasma hand and can head to a nudge or a bump if needed.  When she is calm, relaxed and straight I leave her alone.  

This whole thread has been wonderful.  Thank you for getting it going.

Regards  Judy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jul 5th, 2011 09:28 pm
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Dear All -- a very good roundtable on this one, folks. If you have reviewed everyone's postings, you will be able to draw several important conclusions:

(1) There are all kinds of ways to skin the cat. In other words, there are several experienced, effective horsewomen and horsemen who have made the effort to state explicitly in this thread "what they do" in order to teach their horse to carry itself and the rider straight. Notice that most of the posts here have some similarities, i.e., for example all our better riders understand that using forceful aids is usually neither wise nor necessary, and that doing anything that hurts or frightens the horse is not going to work, either. And, broadly, most of you seem to have learned that the key to the system is the inside hind leg, that you have to activate and control that leg in order to help the horse to go straight.

Beyond this, however, there is variation as to, for example, which order the aids are applied in (i.e. leg before hand vs. hand before leg), whether the rider knows about/is skillful with receiving the energy into the outside hand, and how the rider may use (or not use) the seat or the balance of the body above the waist. Some of this variation is, of course, due to the fact that not everyone who posts here is equally experienced, knowledgeable, or skillful. Nonetheless I want to use this to make an important point, vis., that there are a lot of different ways to skin the cat. This is precisely where our elderly teacher used to come in there, when somebody would ask him "Tom how am I supposed to handle this" or "Tom how do I do this", and say "it all depends." Exactly.

This is why all students must constantly beware of getting hung on a particularity. No two teachers, even from the same school, will ever do anything exactly the same way. It all depends -- on the horse, on the situation, and on the person. The important point to grasp is that the student must learn the principle of the thing, and then be able to apply the principle appropriately with the horse they are working with at the time and in the situation that they are working with him in.

(2) To round out this discussion, and to bring to a close the query I originally posited -- HOW do you teach a horse to carry itself and its rider straight -- the answer, beyond each person's individual particular way of doing things, is that the rider must have standards and must adhere to those standards at all times.

You might have noticed what I said about Ruth's grandma above: I am sure that as soon as she saw a wee little weed poking its head up through her garden bed, she very promptly pulled it out.

This is WHY Ruth's gramma can go on producing lovely and productive (and potentially a prize-winning) gardens, even though she's past 90. This is WHY it did not matter that Bill was old and crippled up and sat crooked: because every single time, when Bill FELT his mare start to teeter off her balance and go crooked, he DID SOMETHING to tell her, or help her, to get back on the beam. Bill was the archetypal "feel-do" rider of which Wendy Murdoch was speaking.

All the talk-talk-talk about "having feel" and "softness" will do you no good at all unless you can maintain the same awareness as Ruth's gramma. You have to "see the weeds" -- if you're so busy dreaming about all the nice flowers or veggies you're going to have that you don't see the weeds, you'll never have nice flowers or veggies. If you're so busy dreaming about rollbacks, slidestops, and flying changes that you don't feel where your horse's bodyparts are every single time before he goes through a corner of the arena, you will never have rollbacks, slidestops, or flying changes -- or anything beyond the most mundane and mediocre rides. And you will never train a horse, by which I mean, create improvements in him. And you will never have softness, either.

Softness is not something you bring about by wishing for it or believing in it -- in other words, many people think that little dogs are sweet things because they have soft fur. Try petting one, though, and you may find out that soft fur goes with a short temper and sharp teeth. Expecting animals with soft fur to be "soft" is an example of what psychiatrists call "projection". You cannot make a horse soft by treating him "nicely" or even, necessarily, by handling him with soft or "light" hands.

No; softness may need in fact to come from firmness -- again, depending on where the horse is when you first meet. He becomes soft when he realizes that you know what you are doing, and that you don't lie to him by telling him one thing all the time and then doing another. He softens as you, the teacher, help him learn to increase the length of time that he can focus on a one-pointed task or objective. And he softens also, importantly, when he learns to move in balance, which means anatomically straight -- straight on straight lines, and curved as much as the line curves on curved lines.

And this can only happen if you have a standard and live to it. The standard is that you are not going to permit even one out-of-balance step -- not because you forbid such steps, but because you're going to help the horse by feeling of him at every step, and then using either the inside hind leg (if he is falling in), or else the outside hand (if he is falling out), to help him maintain his body in alignment/balance.

This is the same principle by which we also teach the horse to walk properly: if the walk falls below 5.5 mph, then we are DOING SOMETHING to stimulate a more energetic walk. The moment the walk rises over 5.5 mph, up to 7 mph, our stimulating aids become completely quiet.

It's as simple as that, folks. This is what Bill was doing: he was riding with awareness and dedication. This is why it did not matter how he sat: no matter how old or crooked a person is, so long as they are still able to climb up there at all and enjoy it, they surely still can feel their horse. And surely all of you would have the commitment to help your horse at any moment that he felt to you like he was starting to either fall in or fall out.

This also is how the trick-rider's horse runs straight: the trick rider may be hanging off 90 degrees to the side, but the horse still runs straight, because it has learned to maintain its body straight no matter where the rider's body is.

This discussion is intended to keep you from misunderstanding what Sally Swft's teaching is intended to be: so that you don't get it backwards. It is always good to know more about your own body, so that you can learn to ride without excess tension. Bill had no tension; tension interferes with feel.

Tension comes from fear -- especially from unacknowledged fear -- the situation where the rider refuses to look into himself, or refuses to acknowledge or admit that doing certain things on horseback scare him. Bill was also completely unafraid, as was Tom when I saw him ride also. Ray Hunt used to say, "whatever you do on horseback -- just don't be afraid." This is another one of those things that every serious rider ought to go to bed thinking about and wake up thinking about. -- Dr. Deb

Philine
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 Posted: Wed Jul 6th, 2011 04:01 am
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Some very insightful comments in this thread. Much food for thought.

Tammy 2
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 Posted: Wed Jul 6th, 2011 02:49 pm
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Thanks so much Dr. Deb. I have read your reply 3 times now.

I am riding with Josh in a couple of weeks so to have read this thread leading up to what is sure to be another huge learning experience is just great.

I appreciate the time you take to teach us about these things.

Tammy

Daniela LeBlanc
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 Posted: Thu Jul 7th, 2011 01:03 am
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This was one of the most helpful and insightful posts I have read in a long time. Thank you Dr. Deb.

Daniela

ruth
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 Posted: Thu Jul 7th, 2011 01:22 pm
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And yes, you are right Dr Deb, Grannie never misses a trick on the weed front! Even when she's talking to us, her eyes are on the lookout for weeds!!

Jeannie
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 Posted: Sat Jul 9th, 2011 08:54 pm
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Hi all--- I was thinking how Dr Deb's reply could be expanded to include everything we teach horses.

      " How do you teach a horse to - lead, ground tie, pick you up from a fence, pick up a foot - the answer would still be " beyond each person's individual particular way of doing things, that the rider must have standards and must adhere to those standards at all times."

   We are teaching them how to live with, and be ridden by us, and still be in release, as opposed to stuck between a rock and a hard spot. So that when they see us coming, they are interested rather than resigned, because even though they know we will ask them to do something, they know that either  they can do it, or we will be showing them how to do it in a way which makes them feel better.

  It's why, when Buck's horse beats him to the fence to pick him up, Buck replies," And why wouldn't he?"
                                             Jeannie

Ride A Grey Horse
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 Posted: Sat Sep 1st, 2018 12:23 am
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A brilliant thread - thank you Dr.Deb and all.

JTB
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 Posted: Tue Sep 4th, 2018 03:42 am
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An excellent thread, thanks heaps Grey for bumping it up to the front for another read! I am wondering how everyone one is going with this as I have found this such a journey. :-) Cheers Judy


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