The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:46 pm 
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Lunging: a change of direction
For all of us posture-strugglers :D a topic entirely devoted to changing hands/ directions when lunging - whether at liberty or with cordeo.

I guess there's no fixed way that works with every horse and I still have to find one that works best with Speedy (with Blacky and Sjors we go along fine), but Romy has given us a wonderful opening with her movie and pictures, so let's get changed! :rambo: ;)


Romy wrote:
This is a video of three new things I am trying with Pia: front crunch, direction changes and little hops (to become low rears one day). From 0:45-1:44 you can see our early turning attempts.

For those who have difficulties in visual movement perception (like me) or who can’t watch the video, I’ll describe what I am trying to do.

In the beginning of the exercise I am walking next to the horse. To start the turn, I make a step with the inside leg (the one that is further away from the horse) just like in any other forwards step. I set the foot forwards and shift my weight forwards so that it is on this inside leg that I have just set on the ground. I lift my outside (horse-side) leg, but instead of further shifting my weight forwards so that my balance on the inside leg becomes unstable again - like I would do if I was going to make a regular step by setting the outside leg forwards - I take my weight back again, do a half turn and set the outside leg down behind my body so that my foot is pointing towards the horse. While I put my weight on that leg, my hip automatically gets shifted backwards and thus makes room for the horse to come towards me. So basically I think what I am doing during the turns is drawing the front part of the horse towards me by taking my hip away.

While the weight still rests on the formerly outside (and now orthogonal to the horse) leg, I turn my body further around, so that I complete the 180° turn. My former inside leg (now the new outside leg) lands on the ground pointing in the opposite direction of where I was going initially and makes the first step in the new direction.

Here is an illustration of what I have just described:

Image

It seems like there are several factors that make it more or less likely to get a good turn. One is the timing of turning the hips. If you are too fast, it’s harder to take the horse around with you and he may get confused. So if you start practising that movement for the first times, it might help do do it very slowly so that both you and your horse have enough time to focus on your body language.

Another predictor for a good turn is that your formerly inside and then outside leg – the one you swing around – gets turned completely and lands in the direction of the new movement. In the video, both trials where Pia walked sideways instead of turning are turns where that leg landed before having completed the turn, so that it was almost orthogonal to the new direction of movement. As the pelvis and legs are connected, this also changes the direction in which my hips are pointing and in this way probably makes it hard for Pia to turn correctly, instead of being drawn towards me sideways.

My general feeling while doing the turns with Pia and also with Summy is that they hang on my inside leg and that whereas the turn gets initiated as soon as I start shifting my weight back and prepare the backwards step of the horse-side leg, their actual turning movement is synchronized with the inside leg - or perhaps I should call it the swinging leg as opposed to the stabilizing leg. :alien:

However, there seem to be many factors at work simultaneously. In the last turn of the video for example I am doing it all wrong and walk backwards on a curved line instead of turning around in two steps, and still she turns. :blonde: :funny:

The video shows better and worse turns, some where my timing and posture are okay, some where I am way too fast, some where my hips suggest a wrong direction so that Pia starts walking sideways instead of turning, and some where I am doing something else completely and she’ s still doing the turn. But I thought it was more interesting to put all our attempts into the video, so that we don’t just collect suggestions for what is working to get a good turn, but also learn about the things that produce or prevent wrong turns.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:16 pm 
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I like this video very much, but what I like most of all is the emphasis on encouraging experimentation and awareness to determine what works for the horse! :applause: :applause: :applause:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:53 pm 
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A well-deserved critical note however is that it raises the standard too much.

:D

Ooooh, it's so hard! With Blacky and Sjors it was easy. Apparently I solved our changing direction-problems back then by putting them on a voice cue and since then it doesn't matter where I stand, whatever I do, if I say 'changez!', the Blacky changes direction. The Sjors a bit less, and Speedy bumps into me on good days and then continues on the wrong side on bad days.

But I know where at least part of the problem with Speedy lies, and that is in the fact that most of the time I walk on his right side, and on his left side when just walking next to him I haven't really found my position yet, something I rediscovered yesterday to my shame. :roll: And as changing directions when lunging also has a part in it where the horse passes you on one side very close, I guess that is the moment where things get stuck with us - which mainly is the change from the easy side to the difficult side as well. As the draw in and the send out go fine, it must be that darn middle part that's ruining it for the two of us. Sooo, back to basics for us. :cheers: :evil:

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