Monday, 25 May 2009

Momentary Summer, Lateral Work and Riding Mechanical Horse

Pic.left: One of the many views on my Sunday commute. 

It's probably here only for a moment but Sunday was certainly enjoying a true summer weather spell. It was hot, hot, hot and I loved it. Maybe there are some tropical islands' natives in my genealogical tree.
Horses were less than impressed but so chilled and relaxed that it made my work that much easier. 
All the riders ended up a little red in the faces but pleased nevertheless. Knowing British weather it will most likely be pouring down with rein next Sunday!

With my morning group we continued our little adventure with lateral work. We've been doing some leg-yielding now and then in the past months but decided to push the ponies a little and added turn on the forehand and shoulder in. They don't know this yet but next week they will also have a go at haunches in and out. 
The horses were in a mild state of shock to start with but are getting the hang of it now. A dressage pro would probably be less than impressed with the efforts they produce but I got fond of those little naughty creatures and am rather proud of them trying their little socks off. And riders are doing great too. 
What's best is that despite less than perfect execution of those movements the horses are actually benefiting athletically and I saw some much improved trot and canter work yesterday.
The leg-yield to canter departure was a super exercise improving every single canter transition. Well done everybody!

For those of you who read this and are not quite sure what lateral work is, here is a nice overview of the movements I mentioned above: SUSTAINABLE DRESSAGE: LATERAL MOVEMENTS EXPLAINED.

I also worked with S. on her canter position and leg aids and it seems that so many problems in riders' position and inability to keep this 'softly hanging leg' is caused by rigid ankles! We often search for problems in the hips, knees gripping etc Next time you ride try to think what your ankle joint does and how it influences your whole leg position. Let your feet dance, let it bounce with the movement of the horse, don't just press your heels down. 

And here is an interesting video I've came across on working on rider's position and rein contact using a mechanical horse. Me thinks that horses used for beginner riders would probably voted a good riding simulator a product of a lifetime.

Shame the simulators are so expensive, would buy one to give position lessons on my Training Days. I am all for practice, practice and practise on the real horse as nothing gives you the same experience but I bet many horses would be super thankful for that preparatory work being done away from their sensitive backs! There is a lot being said on how equine simulators improve the rider's posture, confidence etc but I see them not only as help for riders but more of a way for horses to have more pleasant experience with novice riders...

Check out some top notch ones: The dressage one looks rather amazing.
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