Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Saturday, June 11, 2011 07:51 PM
I had just came back from teaching two clinics in British Columbia. Even though I am a bit tired the clinics went
really well. After such long and snowy winter riders were hungry for a tune-up to make their summer more successful
and enjoyable. Everyone worked very hard and was very willing to try new things and ideas.
Though for some discovering how important rider's balance or lack of it can be to the horse's performance was an eye opening experience.
A few things were common to many riders in both clinics and I would like to discuss some of them. I have picked ones I haven't
covered extensively in my previous blogs.
- Not applying enough core for half-halts
- Paying too much attention to the hands
- Unaware of hip's position and movement
- Not able to recognize - when horse runs through the aids and when horse is behind the aids is the same problem
- Wanting to "execute" the movement for the horse instead of "asking" the horse to do it
- Afraid to "mess" things up
1. Core for half-halts Even though I have talked a lot about core muscles and their importance in balanced riding this time I want to look
at them from a different angle. A half-halt lasts only a fraction of a second. However, actual execution of a very short half-halt is not an easy task.
The proper half-halt is done with almost no movement of the hands at all. The hold and release happens in place. A rider who executes a half-halt well
feels it inside her body but for watching onlooker the rider appears quiet.
The most common mistake in creating a half-halt is too much hand-riding. First riders pull backwards, very often combining it with actual leaning backwards.
Then they move their hands forward when they want to yield. There is no way to do it all in a very short period of time. The biggest missing piece here
is not enough core support. I have just realized that this subject is a theme for a complete blog on its own. I will do just that...
2. Hands This problem stems from the basic human anatomy. We all have way more sensory receptors dedicated to our hands
than our seats. The input is so great that it is hard to ignore it and focus on something else. It takes time and practice to learn to "listen" to your seat
instead of only "hearing" your hands. The conventional teaching does not help this problem and riders learn to be busy with their hands before
they even aware what is going on in their hips, thighs and seatbones.
3. Hip control Rider's hips play an important role in controlling horse's direction and movement. The big challenge for any rider
is to feel where the hips are and what they are doing. Hips must stay level at all times and they must be centered across the saddle.
Very often rider has one strong or pushy hip and the other one weak or sluggish. This sends a certain message to the horse and creates
unbalance that very often is blamed on the horse. Swiveling of the hips is an important aid in positioning a horse for shoulder-in or travers. Controlling the amount of
hip movement gives a rider ability to better control tempo and size of walk, trot and canter strides.
In the next blog I will talk about the last three common mistakes which are mental aspects of riding. They are very often overlooked.