Bouncing from aids
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, January 18, 2018 09:13 AM
I have been reading Mary Wanless new book "The New Anatomy of Rider Connection". Exploring the ideas on my horses I came to realization that positive tone and elastic firmness in a rider's body should create an effect in a horse where horse "bounces" off rider's aids. When it happens horse's responses are instantaneous and aids feel not like something foreign you must apply but as an essential part of riding a horse well.
What is required from a rider?
  • The aids must be quick, last only a split of a second. If you pull or squeeze you are taking too much time to perform an aid. Leg aids touch, slap, bump, kick, they do not squeeze and hold
  • Rein aids come into play because the horse is about to lose his balance/frame, change contact/energy or direction without rider's request. Also, rein aids apply when a rider requests a change in terms of a turn, a movement, or transition. In either case rider's frame/seat creates an aid either by not allowing a change when a horse tries to or changing on purpose to ask for something new
  • In order to feel like that to a horse a rider must be able to control his/her frame/posture/balance with enough firmness and coordination to invite a horse to bounce off the aids instead of leaning into them. Rider's frame gives the horse a feel of boundary, reins are extensions of a rider's frame. The horse feels the end of the frame and stays up to it but not leaning on it or pushing through it
  • Self-carriage is as important concept for a rider as it is for a horse
  • Arms are part of the frame, they are firm and stable, a sense of pushing forward in place instead of pulling back or holding on
What is required from a horse?
  • Basic understanding of the aids: go forward from leg/whip, yield to the rein pressure (taught from the ground to a young horse)
  • Attention and acceptance of the rider. This can be very basic for a young/green horse, just enough for a rider to feel safe and able to influence a horse in a simple way and for a horse to feel relaxed
  • Being in front of the leg (first thing taught to a young horse)
  • Enough desire to move forward on his own to feel self propelled. Energy is necessary to create enough firmness in the horse's body to be able to bounce from rider's aids (like a well pumped ball) Think of a very slow bicycle, very hard to ride. It needs a certain amount of basic speed to stay balanced. Also, a forward horse is always safer then a one that refuses to go!
Compare horse riding to dribbling a ball:
  • If you look at a good basketball players it is amazing how well they can dribble the ball, control it's path, tempo and speed. Try for yourself and realize how not easy it is and feels like the ball has a life of it's own - runs away from you or unexpectedly change it's bounce. Sounds familiar if we think of controlling our horses
  • When you dribble a ball you do not stop dribbling it even if you stop moving forward. ALL downward transitions should feel like you continue "dribble" the ball. Forward feel...
  • If you dribble well with one arm I bet with the other you are not so good. However, the horse must be controlled on both sides. Realize it is as difficult as dribbling two balls at the same time! Can you control both of them and go where you want to go?
  • When you dribble you cannot hold the ball, you can only direct it's energy and path! And go with it...
  • Imagine you are walking/running a dressage test on foot and you had to dribble a ball at the same time. Realize how much of your constant attention it requires, otherwise, you will loose it. Riding a horse requires MORE attention and concentration!
Happy riding...
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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