The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:05 pm 

Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:46 pm
Posts: 250
Location: Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada
well, I looked at my little horse and I am confused. :)
Granted, it was just once, last night, but he stood perfectly square - with his barrel to the left. Slightly, but it was there.
he vastly prefers the right bend (at least through his ribcage/hindquarters), which does not go with the simple theory of contracted side bulges outwards ???
there seems to be slightly more muscling on the left side of his front quarters.

he is also much more willing to engage his right hind then his left. and lift his left front then his right.

the base of his neck likes to "live" over his right shoulder.

i am guessing there are many "layers" of asymmetries here, some injury caused, some possibly by my own asymmetries when riding :sad:

either way, I guess it doesn't matter so much what exactly is the problem, as long as we work towards straightness and balance?

The shoulder in left is a great place to start I think.
My recent idea of strengthening one hind leg is to use the school halt with the weaker leg more forward/towards the midline of the horse. Or even progress to lifting the other hind while in the school halt.

Any thoughts????

thank you


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:24 pm 
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Quote:
well, I looked at my little horse and I am confused. :)
Granted, it was just once, last night, but he stood perfectly square - with his barrel to the left. Slightly, but it was there.
he vastly prefers the right bend (at least through his ribcage/hindquarters), which does not go with the simple theory of contracted side bulges outwards ???
there seems to be slightly more muscling on the left side of his front quarters.

he is also much more willing to engage his right hind then his left. and lift his left front then his right.

the base of his neck likes to "live" over his right shoulder.


Relax, your horse is perfectly ordinary :funny: Most horses are asymmetrical in exactly the way your horse is. There are a few horses that are opposite, but most horses tend to weight the right foreleg. The right hind is the "bendy" or pushing leg and the left hind is the stiffer or carrying leg. Normal, normal, normal. :yes:

Quote:
i am guessing there are many "layers" of asymmetries here, some injury caused, some possibly by my own asymmetries when riding :sad:


Again...it's normal, so don't beat yourself up ;)

Quote:
The shoulder in left is a great place to start I think.
My recent idea of strengthening one hind leg is to use the school halt with the weaker leg more forward/towards the midline of the horse. Or even progress to lifting the other hind while in the school halt.


Shoulder in (four track verging on a leg yield) is gymnastically important for BOTH hind legs...so always work equally in both directions. It helps the stiffer hind to bend and the bendy leg to carry better. :yes: Also helpful is shoulder in and counter shoulder in on a circle as is travers and renvers on circles. All done in equal measure. :sun:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 7:51 pm
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Location: Netherlands
I agree with Karen (but hey, what's new 8) ): a one-sided horse actually has two 'problem-sides'. It's very logical when you think of it: if one leg pushes/pulls/lifts too much, then that means that the other one is doing too little, otherwise there wouldn't be a difference between them. So actually, instead of focusing on the 'wrong' half/leg/muscle, I would also just retrain the entire system so that both legs/halves learn will to do both tasks again, and your horse will become more and more balanced.

O, and a very big reason for horses to become crooked is the rider/trainer, so that is a very interesting part of the training as well. I know that I automatically tend to walk on Speedy's left side, and doing stuff on the left can be a real struggle as I will start out walking on the right, and then after a few minutes the 'How on earth did I land at his left again???'-moment happens again. Weird stuff, sides... :rambo:


By the way, last month I decided to stop believing the rather simplistic 'horse looks to the left, belly moves to the the side'-theory and instead do some research and compare every book/dvd I have on what exactly happens in the body, the curves and rotation of the spine, the influence of the movement of the hindleg in every part of the stride and that the frontleg does to the shoulder and how that influences the base of the spinal cord over there in walk, trot, shoulder-in and travers - and went completely beserk as everybody tells you the opposite - especially when you start to apply them to giving correct seat cues or training dressage exercises (which of course differ completely from just making a horse walk on a treadmill). It Is Insane! Everybody will tell you something else! :ieks:
And I still would love to know how the spine rotates under the saddle and how (and if!) the spine at the base of the neck, right in front of the ribcage rotates as well. But well, I'll look at the furry fluff of the outside of the pony's instead for now... :roll: 8)

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 5:05 pm 
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Location: Alberta
Miriam, I have subscribed to the notion that the withers tip outward on the bend, and the undercarriage of the horse tips in, causing a lift on the inside of the ribcage, under the saddle (lifting the rider). So when I ask Tam to bend, I lift my inside seat to allow the bend. If necessary, I stretch my outside leg down and under the belly. None of this is done to excess of course...it is an AIDING and not a MAKING. :)

It is shown quite nicely in a Bent Branderup video on bending. At the beginning of this trailer video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrOGXN_QN6U you can see that when he asks the horse to bend in hand (seen from above) the horse leans out slightly and ever so slightly the inside ribcage lifts up. So this is what I try not to block while under saddle (by not pushing my seat to the inside of the bend or leaning to the inside which would cause undue weight on the inside).

I have learned to manipulate Tams haunches (from the ground) to induce a lifting of the back, or by asking him to curl the haunches to one side, and I can clearly see him lift the inside ribcage.

I had been taught to push the ribcage away on the inside with my inside leg but at the same time knowledgeable people (who were telling me to do this, or to bend Tam with the inside rein pulling IN or worse...both) were telling me that Tam was NOT bending (so basically, their only solution was for me to try harder). Well no wonder he wasn't bending. :huh:

Basically, the image I had in my mind (that was placed there by people who should know better) was that his outside ribcage should bow OUT and he would become somewhat concave on the inside. Uh Uh. No, no, no. Not according to Tam. Now when he bends, my inside leg shortens because he's pushing it and my outside leg gets longer because his outer rib cage is dropping down and away.

As soon as I started to ALLOW the bend rather than pushing on him, he bent willingly and well and the bended exercises began to flow freely.

I was recently at a clinic with JP Giacomini (it was in July) and he rode Tam because he's heard so much about him that he wanted to feel what he was like. When he got off, he pronounced that Tam would not bend and that I would probably need spurs to get him to bend. I discussed it with (with a very frightened look on my face because I've never used spurs) and told him I had to try without. After JP explained how the bend should occur and how to aid it, I rode Tam for awhile. JP said nothing but I assumed that I was doing ok or he would tell me otherwise. After a very long time, JP only said (with a smile on his face) "you are getting the bend". And it's been no issue since then. Tam is SO much happier. I also got my riding position adjusted and found out that Tam wasn't lifting his back...now he is. Very much so. :applause:

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:50 pm 

Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:46 pm
Posts: 250
Location: Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada
Thank you Karen and Miriam.

yes, I agree about "2 bad sides" :) It's more about educating my eye and feel - to figure out the horses' patterns. Although I think you don't necessarily have to know exactly what's going on to be able to help...

About bend and lift: Racinet writing about the work of Dr Giniaux:

"If the rotation goes outwardly with respect to the lateral flexion, the vertebral column will tend to display a convex profile (will "round" itself);

If the rotation goes inwardly, the vertebral column will tend to display a concave profile (will "hollow" itself)"

the diagrams show that he means the top of the vertebral column - for the direction of the rotation

- this makes so much sense! the horses forced to bend with the spur and bit - moving the lower ribcage towards the outside (inward rotation of the upper ribcage) are so often hollow in their carriage.

another useful way to think of this is in terms of the long back musculature - if we subscribe to the notion of the horse being shorter on the inside of the bend - those muscles contract while the outside lengthens. Contracted muscles are always bigger then lengthened ones... (the "make a muscle" with your biceps illustrates this)

I don't think there's much rotation/tilt of the base of the neck (in a correct bend - upright horse) - because the neck vertebrae are so flexible... But to say that the wither tilts outwards - that may be a great fix for the unbalanced horse's way of leaning into the turn (tilting wither inwards)... interesting :)...


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