The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:54 pm 
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You can watch the AND movie on lateral movements at liberty over here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0iV_CM1hfU


Bending towards sideways / lateral movements

(Just a short introduction on terminology:
The inner side of the horse is the side that his head is bent to. The outer side is the side that his head is bent away from. It's about the way the horse is bent (draw a line through his spine from head to tail: this line is a fragment of a circle: the center of that circle is the inner side of the body), it's not about where the fence and center of the arena are! ;)
So when you look at the pictures:
-travers: the left side is the inner side, the right side is the outer side
-shoulder-in: left is inner side, right is outer side
-renvers: left is outer side, right is inner side)


A horse is built to move forwards, and is quite good at that. ;) Problems start when a horse start to move forwards in a crooked way. And most horses (just like right- or lefthanded humans) do: they can be crooked in different ways, but suppose your horse is always walking in a shoulder-in-like bend (see picture), even when walking on his own. Then he always steps with his left hindleg under the body, while the right hindleg steps out of the body. The left hindleg therefore carries more bodyweight and delivers more forwards power. As a horse is moving diagonally (actually just like humans, when you step forwards with your left leg, your right hand will swing forwards too!), this means that the surplus of power of his left hindleg is pushed towards the right shoulder. And the horse is crooked, not straight.

The goal of sideways movements is to use four kind of bends the body can have when being crooked (shoulder in, shoulder out, travers and renvers) and teach them again in a better way to the horse - and to provide the counter bend. If your horse is the shoulder-in horse, you will teach him through shoulder in at the same side to not fall over the right shoulder (as he would do when he is left on his own), but to keep his shoulders straight and turn the forward push of the hindleg into a more upwards carrying of the bodyweight. You would also teach the shoulder in to the other side (then it's called shoulder-out, with the head facing the wall ) in order to stretch and strenghten the opposite muscles too. You would also use travers, because your horse is used to lead by the shoulder: he pushes his shoulder into everything and trails out with the hindquarters. With the travers you ask the opposite, to move the hindquarters in and have the shoulders out. The renvers counters that again.


The goals of sideways movements

When teaching the horse to go sideways in dressage, the goal isn't ot produce a western sidepass in which the horse just crosses his legs over another while maintaining straight in his body. Sideways in dressage exists of two parts, with two different, but both very important goals:


1. Stretching towards collection
the first goal is tp have the horse bending through his entire body, from ears to tail. This bending is part of the process of straightening the horse, as it lengthens the muscles on the outside of the bend and shortens those on the inner side. When you look for example at the shoulder-in picture, the horse is bent to the left, which means that the muscles on the left side of his rump and neck are shortened, and those on the right side are stretched out. The horse is actually floating between collection and physical relaxation: a relaxed horse, walking stretched down and out, will lengthen the muscles on both sides of his body equally. A collected horse will shorten the muscles on both sides equally too. That's why the sideways movements are seen as the bridge between riding relaxed, and going towards collection: you strengthen both sides of your horses body seperately, and then you put them together into real (even, and straight!) collection.

2. Engaging the hindlegs
When moving forwards, the horse places both hindlegs in the tracks of the frontlegs. When moving shoulder-in (see pic ;) ), the left, inner hindleg is now not using the same track as the left frontleg, but is actually stepping in the track of the right frontleg. With that it's stepping centrally under the belly (where you would imagina your horses navel). In that this hindleg is carrying more body weight than the other hindleg, which when is actually reaching out away from the body mass as it is moving towards the outer side of the body (right side). This means that when doing the shoulder in (or out), the inner hindleg is burdened/activated more than the outer hindleg, and is also burdened and activated more than in a regular walk. Again, you train one side at at time!
That is also why horses are taught the shoulder-in before they start the travers/renvers: with the shoulder in the outer (right) hindleg is stepping away from the bend, as the body is bent to the otherside. With travers (see pic), the left inside hindleg is reaching forwards and not under the bodymass, but it is actually reaching towards the center of the circle you can draw through the body of the horse: this means it is engaged and burdened more than usual. When you look at the outside right hindleg, you see that this one is moving towards the center of the circle too, and under the horses body. This means that in travers and renvers, the horse is actually asked to engage and burden both hindlegs more than usual. You can see this very clearly in practice when you watch a horse in shoulder in and in travers: while the first exercise can look very smooth and wide, the latter will always be somewhat shorter and slower: it is more collected. Where at shoulder-in you only 'collect' one hindleg, at travers you 'collect' both of them. And that's why getting travers and renvers with the right bend through the body will take some time: it's more difficult as it demands more collection. But that's also why the travers and renvers are seen as ideal preparation for piaffe and collected movements.


Developing sideways movements

1. Stepping under with the inner hindleg
Stepping under while working in hand (you are walking next to the shoulder/head of the horse while facing the shoulder/hindlegs) is seen as the basis of classical training towards collection by various trainers. They train it with bridle or halter, but you can also teach it in cordeo or at liberty. In this exercise you walk a circle with your horse, you on the inside, and then you ask him not just to walk forwards (the hindfeet stepping in the tracks of the frontfeet), but to place his inner hindfeet more under the body: under the 'navel' of the horse, or in front of the other hindfoot.
In the beginning you only focus on the hindleg only, not on the place of the neck and head. That also has always been the thought behind classical dressage: if the hindquarters engage, the rest of the body will pull itself together in the right shape in the end too. When the horse starts placing his hindleg under his body correctly, he will start stretching and bending his rump and then bend his head and neck inwards, as you would like to see in for example the shoulder-in.

You start teaching your horse this exercise at halt, when he can be really conscious of his movements. Only when he realises how he should place his hindleg, you start asking this in halt, then when he steps under in halt nicely you can ask the same in trot, and in the end in canter too. By asking your horse to step under with his inner hindleg, you creact the soft bend through his body in which he curves his body along the track of the circle, with his head facing in and engaging his hindlegs actively.

On this website on classical dressage it's also used:
http://www.sustainabledressage.com/roll ... _volte.php

Over here she uses a halter/bridle, but the idea is the same: ask your horse to step his inner hindleg under. When working at liberty, I would maybe stand a little further to the back the first time and tap the hipbone instead of the belly. That could be more confusing for a horse who thinks (from training in the saddle) that this means going forwards. Of course you can fix that with the halter/bridle as a brake, but at liberty you don't have that luxury.

So when starting, I would first tap the hipbone or maybe even the hindleg in order to ask that to move away from the touch, more under the body. I don't ask that with touching the rump yet, because I would want to be as clear as possible that I only want that hindleg, that the horse is free to let the rest of his body be, in order to avoid him tensing or fleeing forwards or bracing against the bend.

Once he understand the stepping under with his inner hindleg (and has earned lots of rewards! ), I would ask him to start to walk while stepping under, by move towards his shoulder and tapping/touching the girth area or the shoulder. Again, as clear as possible in order to let him understand that all I want is moving sideways away from me. And then walk a small circle with him following in this slight stepping-under bend. Most of all don't forget to walk forwards yourself! It's only too easy to start walking backwards when the circle is small, by that going in front of your horse and straightening him again without meaning to. When you walk your circle, try not to cue your horse if he's doing well, and only add a finger-cue or whip-cue if his hindleg forgets to step under, or when the shoulder steps forwards instead of sideways a bit.

Initially your cue for stepping under with the inner hindleg might be tapping/touching the hindquarters with your whip or hand. Once the horse has gotten the idea, you can turn the cue into tapping/touching the side of the girth on your side - where your inner leg would be from the saddle. That means that you teach your horse from the ground to react the the cue of your leg under the saddle. Pressure with one leg, will from then on mean 'step under with this hindleg'. Pressure with both legs, will mean 'step under with both hindlegs', for example to collect or move more forwards...

Another cue can become that you step sideways yourself towards the hindquarters, asking those to step out and under, while asking the head to move inwards by lowering your inside hand. And to start more collection in this stepping under, you can slow down and raise that inside hand a bit, asking the head and neck to do the same. At least that are the cues that Blacky, Sjors and I are using now when lungeing at liberty.



2. Shoulder-in/out

Image

In fact the shoulder-in is just an extension of the steppin under on the circle: while asking your horse to step under with his inner hindleg, leave the circle and continue a few steps in a straight line with the horse turning his HQ away from you, while facing you with his head - and reward!

When he wants to escape the bend by walking forwards, just ask him to halt and reward. Soon he will realise that even though you want him to leave the circle on a straight line, you don't want him to straighten his body, but instead keep the bend, with his hindquarters moving away from you and stepping under with his inner hindleg.


3. Travers(haunches in)

Image

In haunches-in/travers the horse has his head pointed yo the direction in which he is moving. It's like the opposite of shoulder-in: if it is performed next to the fence, the frontlegs move normally along the fence and the head is just facing forwards, while the haunches are kept turned in, pointing with the tail to the middle of the arena. (crude explanation, but I hope it helps visualising it ;) )

The traditional way of teaching the horse the travers is by asking for shoulder out and then bending the head the other way with the reins. Another way is turning a small circle in the corner of the arena and when leaving the corner to follow the fence again, you maintain the bend with your hands and legs, and prevent your horse from taking his hindlegs back on the track with your outer hindleg. It does require quite some rein- and handwork at the start to prevent the horse from straightening or going too forwards again.

The thing that makes training travers/haunches-in possible at liberty/in a cordeo without touching the head, is the fact that the horse has a travers-button on his body: a spot on the side of his neck where, if you slightly push it, causes both the head and the hindquarters to turn towards you, while the belly bends away. But... 8) it only works if your horse is supple and is not stiff, crooked or tense in one side of his body. If your horse is crooked and is bent to the left all the time, pushing on the base of his neck on the right just won't have a chance of making him flex to the right. So first your horse should be supple and even in his body, and that can be reached by the shoulder-in and stepping under at liberty. Even only doing so at walk will really make him move better, and strengthen him enough to be able to respond correctly to the travers (at least training that for a few weeks did it for Blacky, who has been very stiff and crooked all his life because a problem in the knee of his right hindleg).

The travers-button in reality is the third vertebre in the neck, counted from the shoulderblades. If you stand on the right side of your horse and ask him to flex his neck all the way to the left, you will see that a small lump appears on the right side of the neck in the lower half of the neck: that's the place that you're looking for. However, with a long wintercoat it can be a bit harder to find. ;) Then it's just a question of trying various areas around this spot untill you've found the right one.

The easiest way to teach the horse to turn his haunches in, is to place him next to the fence - as you want to prevent him to move sideways away in a shoulder-in. When your horse is standing next to the fence, you place your fingers on the spot of the 3rd vertebra, and gently push there. When your horse moves forwards, backwards or towards you, ask him to stand still again and reward. Standing still is the basis: all you ask from him for now is to move that 3rd vertebra away from your (slight) pressure - and the only way to do that in this situation is to bend it away from your fingers, by bending his head and hips towards you, becoming a banana so to say. ;) As soon as he only start to think of turning his hip in a bit, you release the pressure and reward. And reward big time, as you did use some pressure while blocking your horse with the wall.

If it doesn't work, try to see if touching another place on his neck does work, or if a little more pressure is needed. But if that doesn't work either, you should see it as a sign to make your horse more subtle first, as you just can't push through bracing musles.

Once your horse realises how to turn his hip in, he will very soon start to see your fingers in that position and your face pointing towards his hip as the cue for moving his hip in towards the center of the arena. Then you can ask from this standing with the hip in to keep the same posture when moving to walk. At first you do that by asking for standing with the hip in, one or two steps of walk with the finger in place, and then standing still with the hip in again. Soon your horse will realise that he can keep this bend while moving too - and you have haunches in/travers.

Some horses are really easy in this, like Sjors, who did it as soon as he was prepared enough with stepping under and shoulder in. With him it doesn't really matter either where you put your fingers on his neck, he immediately curls himself around you. With Blacky the realisation that he could really keep his hindquarters in while moving came a bit slower, and was really helped by using the whip as a target for his hip: I held it next to his body, asked on his neck to turn the HQ in, and and rewarded as soon as his hindquarters touched the whip.

Another thing is that at first the horse might turn his head away from you while stepping in with this HQ, as if he is doing shoulder-out towards you. At first it's just about the hips moving in, so reward that. Later on you can ask his head to bend towards you by asking him to touch your hand while moving sideways towards you, or by rewarding as soon as he turns it towards you himself. In the end the cue for travers can simply become that you turn around, facing his HQ, and start walking backwards away from the horse. Your horse will respond by turning his hindquarters in, 'curling his body around you' and follow you in travers.



4. Renvers

When your horse can do travers (haunches in) without you touching his neck, you can transform it into renvers too: In renvers next to the fence the horse is turning his hindquarters towards the fence while walking forwards with his frontlegs and facing in the direction of the fence with his head.

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Last edited by admin on Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 7:05 pm 
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Stepping under with Blacky:

With Blacky and Sjors I still use this stepping under a lot. Actually about every circle we do. Not in this extreme form anymore, but just when lungeing, I still ask the hindleg to step under in walk and trot (much harder, especially for Blacky!). When we forget that, he will soon lift his neck, tense a bit and turn his head away from the circle.

By the way, even with Blacky being very stiff when we started, he could step under within one training with both hindlegs. One of course a bit better than the other, but still. My hypothesis is that horses don't find it hard to step under with a hindleg naturally, but can find it hard when they are tense (and the muscles are blocked) or when they are held by the head and brace against that, stiffening the neck. That stiffening the neck doesn't even need to be against real rein/leadrope pressure: even with the rope hanging through, the horse can brace himself against a jab/pressure that might come.

When I first asked his hindleg to step under (at liberty), Blacky also braced himself, walked backwards, and I rewarded him when he halted again. Then he walked forwards, and I rewarded again when he halted. We went to that for a minute or two, and then he stepped with his inner hindleg under his body. Which of course earned a big reward. And soon, he decided not only to step under with his inner hindleg for whole stretches, but to also bend his head in. Apparently he had found his balance. Forget about the head, just ask the hindleg to step under. Every horse can do that at a calm walk, even a very stiff horse (Blacky). Getting the same in trot will take much more time (I only got that with Blacky after more than a month), but in walk this can already build and stretch his muscles a lot.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 8:04 pm 
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Miriam wrote:
Stepping under with Blacky:

With Blacky and Sjors I still use this stepping under a lot. Actually about every circle we do. Not in this extreme form anymore, but just when lungeing, I still ask the hindleg to step under in walk and trot (much harder, especially for Blacky!). When we forget that, he will soon lift his neck, tense a bit and turn his head away from the circle.

By the way, even with Blacky being very stiff when we started, he could step under within one training with both hindlegs. One of course a bit better than the other, but still. My hypothesis is that horses don't find it hard to step under with a hindleg naturally, but can find it hard when they are tense (and the muscles are blocked) or when they are held by the head and brace against that, stiffening the neck. That stiffening the neck doesn't even need to be against real rein/leadrope pressure: even with the rope hanging through, the horse can brace himself against a jab/pressure that might come.

When I first asked his hindleg to step under (at liberty), Blacky also braced himself, walked backwards, and I rewarded him when he halted again. Then he walked forwards, and I rewarded again when he halted. We went to that for a minute or two, and then he stepped with his inner hindleg under his body. Which of course earned a big reward. And soon, he decided not only to step under with his inner hindleg for whole stretches, but to also bend his head in. Apparently he had found his balance. Forget about the head, just ask the hindleg to step under. Every horse can do that at a calm walk, even a very stiff horse (Blacky). Getting the same in trot will take much more time (I only got that with Blacky after more than a month), but in walk this can already build and stretch his muscles a lot.


Miriam, this coupled with your prior post on the subject in this sequence helps tremendously to understand the relationship to releasing the ribs, unblocking the leg, and exercising and stretching both.

Giving the leg more scope of movement, including added another point on the arc...deeper under the body...can't help but serve with Cody's body challenge.

I've come down with a little head-cold so won't be going to be with and work today. But I look forward to incorporating this into his routine specific to this problem.

Interestingly, as a matter of course in my training, I always would teach the horse to disengage the quarters resulting, of course, in the very movement you are suggesting.

I think I see too that this explains why, in teaching Cody to disengage the hindquarters, he had a strong tendency to step BACK with his off leg first. And in fact, start backing up to avoid flexing his ribcage.

And of course, with this backing response more pronounced on one side than the other. Being as his left is blocking, as I worked the right hind leg, he would back up more than engage his right foot.

It can seem so complex when in words, but so obvious and simple when one is actually at the horse's side doing it.

I'll focus on this with Cody. And acknowledge to the owner, who I'll also teach to do this with Cody, where I got this support and good information you've shared.

Virtually every horse comes, unless purposefully conditioned, with a side that is blocked...or rather we should say, less free than the other.

Humans have this problem too, so that as I age, and not having a done a lot of flexing work on my stiff side, I notice that I can quickly become sore on my right side, hip, to heel, even shoulder at times.

Now let me see. I shall stand with my feet apart, about a foot, as in opening Tai Chi, and bring my left foot across my right, while raising my hands to arch to the left...thus stretching my right side...mmmm, yes, I'll bet that will work.

If you know the forms (Tai Chi, Yang Style) you'll note that for the past 30 years or so, I've been starting, raise arms, MOVE HAND TO RIGHT.

Tsk. That BLOCKS my right side.

My wife plays with doing all the movements in Yang style "left handed." That is in reverse of the regular execution. No wonder she's more flexible than I.

I think I see a new set of Yang style in my future. :lol:

And Cody's.

Please correct my understanding if it appears I am not understanding your information.

And know you've given me some wonderful ideas to try in addition. I can see some of this stepping under work with cordeo, from the ground, to leave the horse's head alone.

You do know that between you, and many others here, you folks are certainly giving an old man a lot of hard work to do. :)

Thank you.

Donald

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So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 9:34 pm 
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Indeed, this forum is all about hard work, constant improvement, and we expect nothing but the best results! :twisted: :roll: :wink:

I'm afraid I don't know that much about Tai Chi, well nothing at all to be honest, but I can see that it must be a great help in realising where physical blockage distort your movement. Isn't Tai Chi also based on moving very slow in order to gain the maximum awareness, equilibrium and result? Now that would be really interesting, as that is the idea that real baroque classical dressage was based on too: teach your horse everything in the slowest movement, and only it faster if he has really incorporated it. So piaffe would be taught before canter, things were learned in hand before they were done while riding...

Even more interesting is that in the 19th century this focus shifted to moving more forwards, and forward movement as basis of equilibrium and strenght, and only then you start to slow down and collect. Bent Branderup, one of the few baroque dressage scholars wrote that this focus on forwards movement didn't only stem from using more forward (Thorougbred) horses, but also from a misinterpretation of the old texts on dressage. The classical masters did write about straightening the horse by riding forwards - but Branderup thinks they didn't mean more speed with forwards movement, as that's never really pointed out in the texts and pictures. Instead he thinks that with forwards movement they meant that the horse was moving his hindlegs further forwards than swinging out backwards again - viewing the piaffe (with both hindlegs only stepping further forwards under the body, never being pushed out behind the body) as the most forward movement... Very interesting thoughts.


Quote:
I can see some of this stepping under work with cordeo, from the ground, to leave the horse's head alone.


For me that was a real eye-opener too: the idea that you could bend the head in or out without touching it. I had read about all these exercises years ago already (also on the site I linked to), but there it was always coupled with the use of a halter or bridle in order to keep the head in the same time as you ask for the stepping under. That made it look like you needed to do both in order to make it work. Then I saw a baroque dressage student (one of Branderups Dutch students) doing this same exercise with a stiff horse, without really minding the reins hanging through. And after half a circle of walking like this, the horse lowered his neck and turned his head in on his own. The interesting thing was when she remembered the reins again and began steering along, the horse started to fall in over the shoulder, and out over the shoulder, and she grasped that in order to show the public how to fix that, but for me the click came when I realised that the horse was doing fine when she was focussing on the hindleg, and started to brace and stiffen when she took the reins up again. Of course at liberty too a horse can fall over his shoulder, but with a few well-timed rewards you can easily tell him that the other movement is better.


By the way, about stiffness in riders: some time ago my sister was riding Blacky with the cordeo, and asked me to help her because he seemed very stiff. When going to the right, he did his circles nicely and turned as she wanted, but going to the left he broke out of the circle, tried to turn, didn't want to go forwards and ignored her cues for going left. It sounded rather serious, so I went out to see what was happening. I watched them a few minutes and gave her some advice that didn't really work as well as it should, and then suddenly I realised that she was holding the cordeo in her right hand, with the left hand holding the excess rope - and didn't change hands when she changed directions. Lydia therefore was sitting 'to the right' all the time, also when going to the left. I told her to change her cordeo-hand whenever she changed direction and to straighten up in her body when she did, and Blacky's stiffness was gone. He has just become very sensible to weight- and seat cues. I know that baroque and western riders ride with the reins only in one hand too and they seem to manage fine, but when you're stiff or sitting a bit crooked as a rider, changing hands every time you change hands ;) might make it easier for your horse to understand what direction and bend you mean when. It's just an thought that popped up in my mind when reading your Tai Chi ideas... Maybe it will help Cody's owner untill he's found his balance and straightness in the saddle?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 1:17 am 
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Miriam wrote:
Indeed, this forum is all about hard work, constant improvement, and we expect nothing but the best results! :twisted: :roll: :wink:

...

By the way, about stiffness in riders: some time ago my sister was riding Blacky with the cordeo, and asked me to help her because he seemed very stiff. When going to the right, he did his circles nicely and turned as she wanted, but going to the left he broke out of the circle, tried to turn, didn't want to go forwards and ignored her cues for going left. It sounded rather serious, so I went out to see what was happening. I watched them a few minutes and gave her some advice that didn't really work as well as it should, and then suddenly I realised that she was holding the cordeo in her right hand, with the left hand holding the excess rope - and didn't change hands when she changed directions. Lydia therefore was sitting 'to the right' all the time, also when going to the left. I told her to change her cordeo-hand whenever she changed direction and to straighten up in her body when she did, and Blacky's stiffness was gone. He has just become very sensible to weight- and seat cues. I know that baroque and western riders ride with the reins only in one hand too and they seem to manage fine, but when you're stiff or sitting a bit crooked as a rider, changing hands every time you change hands ;) might make it easier for your horse to understand what direction and bend you mean when. It's just an thought that popped up in my mind when reading your Tai Chi ideas... Maybe it will help Cody's owner untill he's found his balance and straightness in the saddle?


My subject field title reflects not only much of the other things you've offered, but the vein in which our minds travel as well.

I just offered, via a post I sent to the owner with images of his work on the longe line with Cody, to train and teach him through this winter in exchange for him providing me with a cared for horse, Cody, to ride myself to keep me in shape.

What I have in mind, of course is to introduce him to the ideas we are discussing. To understand the horses body and mind and how they manifest, both in challenges and wonderful accomplishments.

I also was reviewing the video of him, and that part where I began to instruct him how to align his body with the horse to produce differences in rate, gate, collection, extension. And of course, take the crookedness out of his, the owner's body.

It's all of a piece, isn't it then?

I liked very much the web page you linked to concerning the subject of stepping under. Very clear.

For those unfamiliar with western riding I'd like to add this.

There is a feeling, sometimes rightly so, that there is conflict between the styles...say western, and dressage.

The fact is, the best riders in both disciplines create light supple, agile and willing horses. My mentor, as a child, was very persistent, as he trained me in the use of the traditional hackamore, to create lightness by progressive cuing, from the very lightest touch, of all aides, and to seek to work with the horses head free, the back rounded up to the level, and head low and forward.

Sadly the media depictions of that style of riding badly represented the truth. Mostly movie stunt riders that had to create dramatic effects for visual impact...hence, high headed, highly agitated horses, with mouths pulled open.

My childhood teacher was appalled at such things. Our horses looked nothing like that, even as they collected with the lightest touch and held themselves together with a loose reign.

Your mention of the use of the cordeo and switching hands, the crookedness of the body effecting the performance of the horse brought back this memory. I cannot say how many times he corrected my crookedness, and each time I could feel the difference, and see too, the difference in the horse for the better.

And in traditional hackamore training we worked many months with two hands. And most gently at that. And rather than hurt the horse later, with the bit, if he was not responding, we simply moved back to the hackamore.

It makes the rider recognize right away what HE or SHE was doing causing the resistance in the horse.

How lucky I was to have him, and how lucky we are to have you.

Let's see if Cody's owner and I can benefit from what you are sharing here. I do think so.

Here's Cody, obviously curving more easily into the left side, on about a 5.5 meter circle. He's calm, and can bring that inside hind-leg pretty well up under himself.

And he is cantering with the left lead. It just happened the shutter caught him in a moment that doesn't appear like it.

He can though, counter canter well on this side.

Image

Then you can see the most grotesque, and I presume very uncomfortable for Cody, attempt to canter on the right hand, with the stiffness on the left distorting his body from nose to haunch. Now that IS blocking.

Isn't this terrible?

Image
He is such a good boy to try so hard though. Though the footing is excellent he stumbles behind when he is trotting or cantering in this direction. Never on the left hand though, because he can get his inside foot up under his center more.

I hope by spring of 2008 we will see a photo that shows him nearly as flexible to to the right as he is to the left at present.

Donald

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~~~~~~~~~
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:07 pm 
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Great topic! Thanks Miriam :-)

Just one thing:

Miriam wrote:
When teaching the horse to go sideways in dressage, the goal isn't ot produce a western sidepass in which the horse just crosses his legs over another while maintaining straight in his body.


Even in dressage you usually start lateral movements with leg yielding (not mentioned here). You do it just to give a horse an idea of moving not-just-forward. It's not about bending, just introducing the new "universe".


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:23 pm 
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In my new book about stretches there are some interesting passive stretches describe that can help to perform the active stretches like sideways movement. It is mainly about stretching the legs sideways in both directions (so away from the body and past the body. Eventually you should be able to stand at the horse left leg and taking his right leg and move the right leg past the left leg. Also moving the leg to the other side. Is that clear? I will try to find a picture if it is not :oops: )

I have a question though. When I do shoulder-in with Amiro and take some distance he is fine with it. But sometimes he loses his balance or swings out his hind, normally he corrects himself fast with it, but now I noticed that it is easier for him to do some exercises when I am close to him and guide him more. But when I am too close to him in the shoulder-in I think I am not clear to him, since he does not move his front legs but turns his hindlegs around his frontlegs. He is able to do the exercise, like he shows we when I am at a distance, and I know he does his best to do the right thing. So I obviously do something wrong which gives him the wrong cue for the shoulder in. Should I just take more distance, or work on my body positioning to be clear when I am near him so the shoulder in can get more precise and gives a better stretch for him (and is better for his body).


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:39 pm 
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I think that all you need to do when you're up close, is communicate to him that he should move his shoulder away from you. Because when he takes his shoulder along while moving his hindquarters away, he goes sideways like you want him to. An important point though is to step forwards to his shoulders yourself too. Because if you remain passive and stay in place, he will have no option but to turn his hindquarters away from you while keeping his head in place if he doesn't want to lose you. ;)

I can see your stretches in front of me very clear by the way, thanks for that! And do explain more about them, if you want to start a topic on them. What is the book called exactly? It sounds really interesting.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:00 pm 
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Miriam, thank you!
I will try to add more forward movement to my steps when I come closer to Amiro. It are often the easiest things that I forget when I try to keep in mind all difficult theory :lol:

I've started a topic :wink:


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 2:42 am 
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Miriam, thankyou! I've just come across this wonderful topic and intstruction.. you must have posted this soon after I was bemoaning my ignorance of the positions for shoulder in renvers and travers and begging for pictures and then I didn't even see it.

I have been working a lot with Sunrise and Rosie on this "shoulder in on a circle" at liberty. Just fumbling along on my own and making it up as I went along, I found that the easiest way to let Sunrise understand what I wanted was to get her to target onto my hand as I lowered it and swept it into a deeper curve. When I tried asking her hindquarters to step under, she just escaped in the head and shoulders, and left me thinking grrrrrr maybe I really DO need head gear for this. Then I just forgot about her hindquarters, and focused on teaching her to target and curl her head in towards me. Once she understood this, she loved it. It makes her really bouncy and prancy and cheerful. Now she's really confident with that, I've started introducing more lateral bend and stepping under, by keeping my "leading" hand at her head, but using my focus and other hand at her hindquarters. Your explanations of how to cue this will be very useful.

I've also just started trying to get this curl in towards me on a straight line, and a couple of times she's got it, but I'm afraid I haven't got my body positioning very legible. How do you position yourself when you want to transfer this to straigth line?

My latest invention is to get her to target a drum and shoulder in around the drum. That's fun, and she can do it now without me needing to go round with her, so I hope that will leave me free to do some other cueing.

Our final groundwork game last session was to figure eight with shoulder in around two drums set one and a half metres apart. Actually we set that up for Rosie, just to weave around to help her with her flexability, but Sunrise invented this fun trick.
Sunnie is super flexy, like rubber, but Rosie is still really not flexing at all.

Rosie I need to do a lot more targetting work with I think to gain her confidence. She's had too much negative conditioning and is much more inclined to move AWAY from signals. Then we need to spend lots more time just perfecting this little trick. She still cannot really flex at all, she moves her hind end over one way, and her forequarters the other way to turn, so this is a double challenge for her.

I wasn't really sure whether what I was doing with this circle work was the right thing or not..
Great to have this topic to check in with. :D
Sue


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:49 am 

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The video that you added is plain wonderful!

I was wondering, Bianca, I saw you teaching Imperia the first steps of lateral movement. It was so natural! I am back to basics with my horses to make sure they really understand a really soft 'pushing' hand for sideways away, and I teach them to target my hand with their hip and shoulder for sideways towards. I think I see you also have a 'button' for forwards, because you have youre hand on Evita's butt (close to the tail) when you want more forwards movement during lateral work. Am I seeing this correctly?

How did you start?

Do you start of at halt? Especially Donanta is very quick in her movement, and starting from halt gives her more understanding of what I want. When I try it at walk, she gets fast and it seems that she feels that any motion on her body means walk faster. Or it could be that in walk, any lateral movement hurts her muscles, so she tries to run away from my hands? Does any of you have any advice about this?

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:59 pm 
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I think Bianca trains it from the halt too, and so do I. When you try to train it from the walk, your horse probably is already going on something like an automatic pilot and can't focus on specific new leg- movements.

So I start from halt and the first sessions only ask for one or two steps and reward for the right placement of all the legs, and then make sure that going from halt to sideways is okay, then add halting from moving sideways and only then really introduce the transitions from walk to sideways to walk again.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 2:23 am 
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Nearly a year on from our last post.. Sunrise loves shoulder in so much that it's pretty much become her default offering now, on the ground or ridden. :lol:

A couple of ways I dealt with the getting too fast and out front in forward movement:

Focused on targeting head and bending shoulders in at first, rather than pushing hips away.

I walked along the fenceline, with Sunrise on the inside, so there was a barrier to her curving too far and coming round in front of me.

I kept up the same rhythm in my walk while holding my cueing position, and if she walked off too fast (as she often did in the beginning) I would just stop and wait silently until she noticed, came back to me, then we'd quietly start again and she quickly learnt to pay more attention to my pace.

:D

Sue

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:04 pm 
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What works wonderful to get a shoulder-in from forwards movement is using your hips: you walk next to your horse´s shoulder and then turn your hips and upper body to the inside (away from your horse) but keep on walking forwards - with your legs crossing now. If your horse is attending to your body language, he will curl himself around you. You can also vary the bend or the angle of your horse´s sideways movement by changing the degree of your turn.

The nice thing about this cue is that it seems to be easily understandable for most horses and even young horses who have never practised shoulder-in often understand it right from the start. :smile:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yesterday Titum and I finally managed to do the travers. :) So now I have a question: how do you improve the travers quality so that the horse is stepping under with his hindlegs?

I have no (tested) solutions yet, because we only started experimenting with this yesterday and at the moment I am still over the moon that he does it at all instead of only sidepassing towards me, so I haven´t tried to influence his movemnet yet. But as soon as we will have worked on this a bit more, I will report back what we have been doing and what has worked best for us.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:37 pm 
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hey Romy, how is the travers going now? Did you figure it out? I notice that while his shoulder in and stepping under gets better, he understands the meaning of travers better too, so he tries it out and then I CT him, it seems to be an ok solution

big hug
Barbara

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