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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 4:56 pm 
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Donald Redux wrote:
Heels down, please. Toe out just a bit. The roll of the ankle joint tells you how far. Not some arbitrary instructors degrees of angle.

Donald


Hi Donald and all,

Hmmmmm...

As I am learning it from my CR instructor, 'heels down' is out, at least for flat riding/dressage???? Toe out yes, and relaxed!

When 'feeling both sides of the horse' CR concept is practiced, your heels would rise and drop ALTERNATELY with the motion of the horse, dispersing the energy, and because of each hip dropping and each knee rolling on and off the horse??? IOW, all joints are loose and moving/rolling with the horse, particularly as each hind leg is lifting and the swing of the horse barrel, side to side??

I 'think I have this correct??? Tho I am still a beginner CR student, this has been our focus for some months now.

I have a video of my instructor demonstrating these concepts on a small trampoline to simulate the horses energy, I am just waiting to get her permission before I blast it out onto Youtube!!!!

Brenda

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:07 pm 
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Brenda wrote:
Donald Redux wrote:
Heels down, please. Toe out just a bit. The roll of the ankle joint tells you how far. Not some arbitrary instructors degrees of angle.

Donald


Hi Donald and all,

Hmmmmm...

As I am learning it from my CR instructor, 'heels down' is out, at least for flat riding/dressage???? Toe out yes, and relaxed!

When 'feeling both sides of the horse' CR concept is practiced, your heels would rise and drop ALTERNATELY with the motion of the horse, dispersing the energy, and because of each hip dropping and each knee rolling on and off the horse??? IOW, all joints are loose and moving/rolling with the horse, particularly as each hind leg is lifting and the swing of the horse barrel, side to side??

I 'think I have this correct??? Tho I am still a beginner CR student, this has been our focus for some months now.



It isn't a question of "correct." It's a question of what works under the circumstances. Have you read Ms Swift's first book?

And too, it is important to remember that riding instructors, just as other teachers, have a style each their own. Yours, I presume, is moving you toward a clear goal, and has various intentional exercises along the way.

Flat/dressage riding calls for addressing the central element of balance and fluidity somewhat more precisely than cross country and jumping. In dressage I can't think of a moment you would need to close and open the two (actually three) body hinges as one does galloping at and over fences, hedges, and ditches.

For dressage (and we are talking current dressage, not the classical that we so often refer to in AND) precision cuing is extremely important. Stillness is prized and cultivated.

A kind of stillness is sought in jumping, but it had to do with the relationship and connection between horse's center of gravity and that of the rider being so often disturbed by the effects inertia being so much greater at times, both acceleration and deceleration.

I can't know what sports you've participated in in the past, but often there is more than one kind of game involved. Figure skaters, on ice, for instance, address these issues with their bodies far differently than competitive speed skaters do. While performance skaters, those doing those "shows," probably have yet another way of using their bodies.

And riding horses has an extremely broad spectrum of "styles," related to use. Endurance, stadium jumping, cross country, dressage, reining, cow work, and trail, to name only a few.

If you are not reading Swift as you do centered riding it could be more difficult to understand the instructor's directions.

I'm slowly building the library I lost in the same fire that I lost my tack in back around 1980. There were treasures there I'll likely never find again. One book in particular, terribly dry, but with important concepts, has echos in Ms Swift's work. I believe the author, British, was named Llewelyn something or other. If anyone reading this has any old riding books with this author's name I'd be curious to know and willing to pay to buy it, or at least have the title and his full name, and publisher, so I might go hunting it.


Brenda wrote:

I have a video of my instructor demonstrating these concepts on a small trampoline to simulate the horses energy, I am just waiting to get her permission before I blast it out onto Youtube!!!!

Brenda


Ooo...would love to see that.

In my searching so far for modern method, though I doubt I'll ever ride dressage again (I was never any good at it, as I had so little time to devote to it and lacked teachers) I think I'd choose Paul Belasik:

http://www.paulbelasik.com/

I know of him only through his books, and tend to resonate to his intent, but interestingly enough, not so much to his tactic. He rides with crop, bit, and spur, and though I believe very lightly, still, there is that steel in the mouth commanding the horse, rather than asking.

Image

I am still waiting for modern dressage people, him included, to show us the same haute ecole on a looped rein. At least that might go toward proving they truly can 'command' lightness from using the bit. (Not that I believe that for a second).

He, and others, have developed lightness to a fine art, except for one thing. It is through direct pain, or threat of pain, to my way of thinking. I was rather good at it myself, and horses I had advanced, while not subject to pain, had known it earlier, and it was the threat I rode them so gracefully, and artfully with.

I don't find pride in that, only sorrow that I did not know better sooner.

From the looped rein experience for them, should they train in that direction, it might come to them that training completely at liberty is not only possible, but superior.

My own appreciation of the AND philosophy does not come from emotion (though it's a part) so much as my practical experience. I did move to a loose rein goal. Some from my earliest riding experience with La Jaquima, and some later by my own choice in jumping, cross country, and the little bit of dressage required in Eventing.

You can imagine back in those times I was point penilized for my horse not being "in control," though of course it was. I simply would not hold a horse with my rein, because I had trained it to work free of that pressure, even if the implication of it remained for the horse.

That was where I stuck, and never really fully comprehended what I was looking for. And where my stallion Koko trained me, and introduced me to the concept that a horse at liberty could chose to play with me. And the kind of world that opens up.

So any instructor I might engage would always be subjected to my quiet, if internal only, judgment on how he or she was moving me toward finding freedom for the horse and I to play together. If foot level toes forward, or slightly out, or ankle cocked, and heel down is part of the package for finding freedom for the horse and I to be together in a more egalitarian relationship, then I welcome it.

Donald

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:23 pm 
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Oh, Brenda, this makes sense to me!

(I need to go back and read more Sally Swift!)

This is using your entire leg and ankle to move with the horse rather than provide a static locked energy -- the image that's popping up for me is a basketball player, when they dribble the ball.

If you greet the ball with a flat, tight, locked hand, it bangs off your palm -- but if you soften your wrist and hand and rise up a bit with the ball as it comes into your hand (so you are embracing the bounce rather than meeting it as a fixed opposing force) you can shape the dribble/bounce.

You are becoming a part of the action of suspension as the horse moves by doing this.

This is so intriguing to me -- as a dancer, I was trained to pull my energy up so landings were light and soft (always landing with relaxed and bent knees and ankles -- a plié in dance parlance -- using the whole leg as a shock absorber, and thinking of the feet, ankles, and knees as a soft spring. But always with core energy pulled up a bit (I wrote a post a while back about this being collection in the body of a dancer.)

When I started riding again, this was really problematic, because I was responding to the horse in the same way I'd respond to the ground (not seeing the movement as emerging from the horse). I was separate and trying to navigate keeping that lightness under a moving target -- which meant I "lightness" myself right up and out of the saddle! (And occasionally right off the horse!) 27 8) (This was the birth of my career goal as a spectacular pinging unplanned dismounter...) 29 23

So I worked really hard at bringing my energy down and heavy, getting more earth bound than air born. And the spectacular cork out of the bottle, flying through the air incidents disappeared.

But I felt really heavy on the horse's back here, and this flew in the face of what I'd learned about how you work with your weight and energy when partnering as a dancer.

I've been trying to figure out where that partnering connection can come from -- using the action/momemtum/spring of the horse as the origins of the movement, but finding ways to use my energy and weight to softly expand out of that (as in the rise on a rising trot, for example), and then softly, as I would with a dance partner, still keeping my energy up some so I don't slam into him, come down into the horse's movement as I come back down into the saddle.

I've been thinking of this as a core, pelvis, and thigh movement (trying to keep those feet in the right "heels down" position all the time!) -- then I 'read your post and had a serious "D'OH!" moment -- of COURSE! This suspension goes through the whole way through the leg, including the ankle and foot -- especially the ankle and foot to work the best!

Thank you!!!!!

(And I was reading in another thread about whether it's harmful to ride our horses about uncertainties about riding during haute ecole jumps because we slam into their backs -- this is, I think, the way you could do this, in the same way that you'd land with a dance partner -- your body, energy, weight are moving with the horse up and back down again, and your suspension back into the stirrups and saddle match the suspension of the horse as he lands, always keeping some core energy up in lightness as you do so.)

This is a big lightbulb for me, thanks!

:-)

Leigh

(I think some focus (for beginning riders especially? but probably for all of us) in bringing the heel down is still helpful, as it extends the hamstring muscles and helps to think long and stretched in the leg and softer and open in the belly/core -- helping to counteract the 'scrunch into fetal position' fear response where the foot, leg, and core contracts over the horse. But I love, love, love this sense of movement with the horse!)

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:33 pm 
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Hey Donald -- we were posting just about simulataneously, I think! 8)

I've audited several Paul Belasik clinics (haven't had a horse that was ready to work in the way he was working, and now am at a point where while I'm excited to learn what I can from watching, but not interested in working the horse in quite the traditional way he does).

He does have a sense of lightness and awareness of the horse's movement that is really special, I think. He's also very focused and challenging to riders riding for him, but always with a sense of respect for their abilities -- there is an intensity to him but at the same time a kindness that I really like. (I've never seen him embarrass a student, ever -- and have watched him smoothly move between horses and people with widely differing levels of understanding seamlessly -- he can size up what's working and what hasn't come yet very quickly and finds a way to focus on a tangible but bite-sized piece in the lesson. I think this is a great clinician skill and speaks to his ability to do this with horses as well -- he is leading, but in a very responsive, open, respectful way.)

He is, however, a traditional dressage skill builder, through bits and repetition in that particular tradition.

Donald, have you looked at Karen's buddy, Paul Dufresne's work? I'm really intrigued with him.

23

Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:30 pm 
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Leigh wrote:
Hey Donald -- we were posting just about simulataneously, I think! 8)

I've audited several Paul Belasik clinics (haven't had a horse that was ready to work in the way he was working, and now am at a point where while I'm excited to learn what I can from watching, but not interested in working the horse in quite the traditional way he does).

He does have a sense of lightness and awareness of the horse's movement that is really special, I think. He's also very focused and challenging to riders riding for him, but always with a sense of respect for their abilities -- there is an intensity to him but at the same time a kindness that I really like. (I've never seen him embarrass a student, ever -- and have watched him smoothly move between horses and people with widely differing levels of understanding seamlessly -- he can size up what's working and what hasn't come yet very quickly and finds a way to focus on a tangible but bite-sized piece in the lesson. I think this is a great clinician skill and speaks to his ability to do this with horses as well -- he is leading, but in a very responsive, open, respectful way.)

He is, however, a traditional dressage skill builder, through bits and repetition in that particular tradition.

Donald, have you looked at Karen's buddy, Paul Dufresne's work? I'm really intrigued with him.

23

Leigh


I've read other commentary about Belasik that mirrors yours, Leigh, both as to his training and riding, and his instruction.

As for Dufresne's work, no I haven't as yet, but I am very interested in finding out more.

Donald

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 11:51 pm 
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Leigh wrote:
Oh, Brenda, this makes sense to me!

(I need to go back and read more Sally Swift!)

This is using your entire leg and ankle to move with the horse rather than provide a static locked energy -- the image that's popping up for me is a basketball player, when they dribble the ball.

If you greet the ball with a flat, tight, locked hand, it bangs off your palm -- but if you soften your wrist and hand and rise up a bit with the ball as it comes into your hand (so you are embracing the bounce rather than meeting it as a fixed opposing force) you can shape the dribble/bounce.


Hey Leigh!

Yes! Great analogy!! The joints need to stay soft! You can read Sally's book of course, but if you hook up with a good CR instructor you will really have a lot of light bulb moments!!! I am so lucky to have one locally who will come to my house!

And dribbling side to side rather than just up and down is even better!!! Dispersing the horses energy from side to side has changed EVERYTHING I do now, transitions up and down, sitting, rising, cantering, balancing, turning, etc.

Also, I think the only problem with driving both heels down is tension?? Alternating, side to side, so one heel down and the other up, etc. for me was a big AHA!! I could finally sit Jacks trot, and I think it is a HUGE difference in the stress to the horses back!! And Jack has responded to this by rounding and relaxing down!!!! So cool!!

CR is so much like dancing for sure!

Brenda

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:58 pm 
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Hey Brenda --

I would love to take some lessons with a CR trainer -- no one terribly close by (one in LA but it's such a PAIN to get into the city I don't go very often).

So I will read and experiment for the time being, doing my best to translate her technique into my movement understanding...some day I'll be closer to a trainer, I hope, to get exterior eyeballs and ideas in real time...

I think your point about the flexed ankle with perma-heel down and tension is a good one. But, I also think that it's a great place to start for people, and a good place to go back to from time to time, because of the lengthening that happens in your leg as you stretch into that long sense of leg/hamstring/achilles tendon -- especially when combined with some imagery about stretching your whole body in both directions. (I revisit this each time I get on, and throughout the ride -- imagining my legs, ankles first, growing down towards the ground and my torso/head/neck growing up to the sky -- softly, with breath, opening my torso and hips, and feeling the warmth of the stretch through my hamstrings and achilles tendons. This helps me release tension from my body and deepen my seat so I don't feel perched like an uptight little monkey up there!) :) And the heel down is important in this, I think, because of the natural contractions that happen in your calf and hamstring when you point your toes.)
(Part of my harping on this is about my own inclination to hold tension in my body and learning to use this as a sort of yoga move on horseback and part of it is from watching the folks who ride where I board -- the vast majority of people i see are SO tensed and clenched up in the saddle -- I have to clap my hands over my mouth to keep myself from getting in there and getting 'em stretched out and relaxed...) :twisted:

All that said, I love the idea of allowing that stretch to deepen on alternate sides as the horse moves! And I need to check out the side energy dispersal -- I now have an image of the Globetrotters and all of the marvelous things they did with the basketball in all directions...

:)

I'm really enjoying this conversation -- making me think lots! Way cool!

:kiss:
Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:13 am 
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That's so neat that you danced for so long, Leigh! I also really like your analogy of trying to be light and dancer-like on the horse's back and "lightness-ing" yourself right off... :) :) And yet as you are finding ways to get that lightness while staying grounded and rooted around your horse... oh, such excitement! To have the feeling of floating, but that of floating IN your horse, so that you are simultaneously grounded and light.

Leigh wrote:
Where are you thinking about for college Hannah? How exciting! What an amazing experience. And I so think you should explore other movement disciplines while you're there -- I can guarantee you that it will deepen your understanding of riding.


Well, right now (note: emphasis on right NOW... who knows what comes LATER...!) I am planning on attending Northwestern College (www.nwc.edu) and majoring in some sort of Communications, with possibly a minor in Christian ministry/counseling, I am not certain yet. For a while I was looking into physical therapy (possibly using horses) but I truly did not feel passionate enough about that to go through all of the school and then be somewhat tied to the job. Instead, for years I have dreamed of doing something like this (www.crystalpeaksyouthranch.org) and as other doors (such as therapy) started closing... and closing... and all that really was remaining is a completely unending love for God, horses, and children, I started to realize that perhaps a ranch like that was where God wanted me. So that is the plan for now. I am not certain how it'll all work out, but even if I don't know what the future holds, I know Who holds the future! In any case. I at least have the college/major thing kind of down and so can work out the other details as they come.

Did you know that you always wanted to dance?

Quote:
And dribbling side to side rather than just up and down is even better!!! Dispersing the horses energy from side to side has changed EVERYTHING I do now, transitions up and down, sitting, rising, cantering, balancing, turning, etc.


Hi Brenda! I may have missed it in the long posts going on (excellent posts!!), but could you explain this a little more? Does it relate to how you were describing posting a little to the side?

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:03 am 
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Leigh wrote:

...

I'm really enjoying this conversation -- making me think lots! Way cool!

:kiss:
Leigh


And I am absolutely fascinated by it.

Who, I wonder, suggested an always down heel and 'tension.'

And if they did, how much tension were they talking about?

Possibly the same amount it takes to hold our bodies upright and from flopping completely over like a cooked noodle? :) :)

The exercises one does to learn to flex the ankle produce tension while the hamstring, calf, and ankle accommodate by stretching. Once stretched, all becomes in fact a relaxed state.

Ms Swift, in her first book, describes this very much as I do in her chapter on jumping. pp164, where one sees a model, on horseback, described by Ms Swift as an example of the "jumping seat."

And across the way, pp 165, figure 135, we see what appears to be the same horse and rider, with the rider sitting, heel still down.

Having spent a great many hours in this position, much of it while training hunters and jumpers, and also hacking with my students over trails, and also galloping over cross country courses, I can confidentially say that if the hamstring, heel, ankle, or any part of the body is unduly tenses, either it's not being done correctly, or the stretching exercises were not done sufficiently.

My calf is always relaxed in this position, except when I'm out of shape. A few minutes then, (a bit more now with age), and my tendon is stretched again, and I'm quite comfortable and can ride for hours without discomfort. Not as much as when I was 30, but enough.

I suspect if I got back into a schedule say about half what I used to, say 3 hours a day instead of the six and 8 that was more common for me back then, I would, now, be in good condition and relaxed.

Let me know what you think of the chapter on Jumping. The concepts Ms Swift discusses are nearly exactly what I was doing and teaching in the 60's. She does have a wonderful way with metaphor to get you to see the picture. I had to cultivate that skill as I learned to be a better teacher.

I hope no one thought I was, as I was accused of in another web forum, advocating a braced tense position in any part, or the whole of the body, when I discussed how to deal with tired strained legs, by stretching down and moving to the median with the ankle.

Summing up, I don't advocate tension any more than is needed to relax into the heel and ankle, except for those moments of high force stress, or while exercising to practice.

Actually riding? Nope. And with proper instruction one won't become tired, sore, and tense. Leigh, your description of the stretching down is right on target.

In fact, some other analogies you use are perfect. There is something about doing these exercises to the point you do lower your body down your legs that also moves you more into the horse, as though you are beginning to share our center of gravity with him.

It's quite a lovely feeling. The Centaur feeling I always described it to my students as.

Your body moves and flexes with the horse, in all directions. Hips loose and rolling with his, compressing the body, as Ms Swift describes by her opening and closing the angles of hip, knee, and ankle to absorb but still follow the horse, and then extending the body as the force of the shocks subside through ankle, knee, and hip joints and their tendons and ligaments.

She calls them shock absorbers, and right she is.

It's exactly how the spring and levers work in an automobile.

Here's a quote from pp 165 where she is discussing this:

"Your lower legs, thigh, and body create the shock absorbers mentioned earlier. You ankles, knees, and hips are hinges --- the hips the most active hinges, and the knees second. That doesn't mean the ankles are rigid, just that they have less room for motion, since the heels remain constantly down but with a springy feel to them."

I daresay that her students did exercises to stretch the hamstring and flex that ankle downward.

As for the rolling of the ankle? She cites, later in this chapter an Olympic level (he took Gold) competitor, Bill Steinkraus, whose career I was following closely in the 60's before I left the horseworld.

I used to point to photos of his showing a fault he and many other jumper riders had, that they did not maintain good straightness with their horses approaching and over the jump. And not only could one see this in their body and head position, but their bend would lift one heel. You can see it in the picture in Ms Swifts book.

However, while he still had the misalignment of body, his OTHER heel and ankle maintained the correct position. I speculated to my students that he rode out his jumps despite his fault in alignment for two reasons: one, that he was a superbly trained athlete riding a superbly conditioned and trained athlete, and he kept THAT OTHER HEEL DOWN AND COCKED.

And here he is on a Gold Medal round in the Mexico City Olympics.

Image

An example of Centered Riding even before there was Centered Riding as Ms Swift introduced it.

Yet, :smile: :smile: still with that silly fault he and Pessoa, another jumping champion, shared. Slightly off center, but still with at least one foot, ankle, and lower leg in that position.

I don't think it should be practiced to exclude practice of other placement attitude on the horse. Not every jumps all the time, and for that matter, not everyone jumps. But should a horse bolt and gallop cross country with one, I'd hope they solidified their seat more securely with their heel down, deeply.

Though I admire her chapter on jumping, still she does mention one thing that for some reason has become common, and I faulted my students for, while she is teaching it.

The "releasing the crest." This is bridging the horses neck with your hands on his crest and moving them forward over the jump to follow the horse.

Now this seems logical. But it has a serious fault.

If one relies on this brace to maintain one's position one gives up practicing balance, true balance. Learning to allow the hinges to open and close, as shock absorbers, so that the body parts maintain their relative positions around the center of gravity.

If you brace your hands on the horse, this is gone. And one can get sloppy with the body parts.

I only allowed my students to use this while learning, and not much at that. They would take their hands off more and more frequently for longer and longer periods of time as the searched for, then found their balance, occasionally losing it, then finding it again.

Until, of course, they had it with them all the time and did not need to brace on their hands at all.

Though I considered Jane Essling, my student I show going over a jump in my photo album, a very talented jumper, that particular day at that particular jump she bridged. She was most apologetic after her round. And she knew that it slightly unsettled her position with telltale even if tiny mis-alignments, as well as degradation of the shock absorber effect.

Fortunately the horse was well trained and very well conditioned. I think this highest jump she'd attempted to date intimidated her just a bit. But nothing did after that. Not on that horse. He demonstrated to her his real ability.

Well, I've gone on and on again.

I do encourage folks to read Sally Swift whenever they have questions about Centered Riding. And especially when they have read or heard someone who claims to teach it.

It may be that some interpretations are taking place that aren't really in Centered Riding repertoire. As introductions to Centered Rider so often state, this method is used in many styles of riding. Jumping and galloping as well dressage and other flatwork. And whatever the style demands is augmented by Centered Riding, I think, rather than fundamentally changed.

This is why the Jumping chapter in her book so delights me.

She could have written one on racing, and it would be the same thing, only more flex of the levers around their joints, and more following with the hands, etc.

Still the principles of aligning the body parts to do those two important things, absorb shock, and remain fluidly in balance with the horse would and do apply.

These thoughts remind me that the 'seat' isn't static, and that it changes as needed, and that there is a continuum, from the most closed of "levers," as in racing, to the most open, as in dressage, and that all between those two, are still available to be enhanced by the principles of Centered Riding.

I wonder if Ms Swift would disagree with me?

Donald

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:24 pm 
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Hey Donald!

Thanks for all the info!

So, yes, you have answered my question that for some types of riding, 'heels down' is necessary! And also one might add that all 'heels down' are not created equal:

Sally writes in CR2:

"Heels down" is essential in jumping...<snip> In an effort to get their heel down, many riders jam their heels down as far as they can, locking their ankle joints and driving their feet forward. This stiffens all your leg joints, making you stiff, ungrounded, and pushing your center of gravity up where it makes you less stable.

So for my flat lessons, particularly sitting and posting trot, my heel must follow that corresponding knee and hip, which means that, if I am 'feeling both sides of the horse', my heels will alternately rise and fall as they are connected all the way up thru my knee to my hips and pelvis?? Sally refers to this as 'backward pedaling' using your seatbones, see page 112-113 in CR2.

More later...

Brenda

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:57 pm 
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Makana wrote:
Quote:
And dribbling side to side rather than just up and down is even better!!! Dispersing the horses energy from side to side has changed EVERYTHING I do now, transitions up and down, sitting, rising, cantering, balancing, turning, etc.


Hi Brenda! I may have missed it in the long posts going on (excellent posts!!), but could you explain this a little more? Does it relate to how you were describing posting a little to the side?


Yes! And to the 'backward pedaling' I mentioned in my previous post.

On page 119, Sally explains how rising equally from both knees at once results in a stiff, mechanical, 'jack in the box' posting motion, and how it leads to tight pinching and heels that slip up as the rider rises.

Sally writes on page 119 CR2:

The exercise is simple: each time you rise, release your outside leg backward and downward a little as if backward pedaling. Do nothing with your inside leg; just keep your knee soft and the foot grounded. <snip> You must release you kneecap in order to pedal backwards. This makes this exercise valuable for riders who tend to pinch with their knees and tighten their thighs.

She goes on to descibes how this motion helps you to follow the movement of the horse's back and barrel more accurately.

Sally writes on page 120 CR2:

Each time you 'ground' your outside foot backward and downward, the motion creates a momentary stronger contact, like a rub, between the horse's barrel and the calf of your inside leg. This amounts to an automatic inside leg aid created by the motion of the horse's barrel. IOW, he puts the aid on himself. By releasing down and back as you rise (on the outside diagonal), this automatic inside leg aid occurs just as the inside leg pushes off the ground and swings forward. This asks for a longer stride with more engagement which helps to raise the horse's back up.


And their are a few sketches in CR2 that are helpful. On page 120, the text below on sketch reads:

By releasing your outside leg and softening your inside knee at the rising trot you will increase the horse's roundness and engagement (raising his back)

REALLY cool stuff, eh?????? I am finding it so refreshing to have such detailed descriptions of proper riding, instead of simply 'sit the trot', etc. or 'get more implulsion', and heaven forbid 'get him on the bit' ,etc.

Trampoline videos to follow later..must tend to my animals and do morning chores!!!

Brenda

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:00 pm 
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Brenda wrote:
Hey Donald!

Thanks for all the info!

So, yes, you have answered my question that for some types of riding, 'heels down' is necessary! And also one might add that all 'heels down' are not created equal:

Sally writes in CR2:

"Heels down" is essential in jumping...<snip> In an effort to get their heel down, many riders jam their heels down as far as they can, locking their ankle joints and driving their feet forward. This stiffens all your leg joints, making you stiff, ungrounded, and pushing your center of gravity up where it makes you less stable.



Interesting. That is exactly what happens if the toe is pointed forward, but not if it is allowed to rotate outward naturally, and the ankle allowed to roll into the median. That frees the lower leg. And produces the springiness she mentions in the jumping chapter in CR1.

I am very familiar with the attempt to put the heel down with toe pointing forward resulting in the foot being jambed forward. Riding instructors that don't understand that slight pronation that results in the ankle roll are constantly yammering at their students to get the heel down, and the lower leg back ... an extremely tiring and tension producing stressful state.

It's quite easy, and effortless and in fact relaxing, to let the ankle roll to the median. And results also in an extreme improvement in security. That is why one consistently sees riders in high impact horse sports using it, and when the lose it they get in trouble.

If the heels come up, it's usually in response to other body position and movement errors. One of the things I like so much about Ms Swift's work is dealing with

Quote:

So for my flat lessons, particularly sitting and posting trot, my heel must follow that corresponding knee and hip, which means that, if I am 'feeling both sides of the horse', my heels will alternately rise and fall as they are connected all the way up thru my knee to my hips and pelvis?? Sally refers to this as 'backward pedaling' using your seatbones, see page 112-113 in CR2.

More later...

Brenda


An interesting concept, this. And definitely something to attend to as one rides to develop their feel to the horse and his movement. When I was training Dakota, after my 30+ year layoff from riding, it was precisely the feeling, and action, I worked on cultivating. I noted that it came with far more difficulty than when I was somewhat more flexible -- could that have to do with aging? ;)

For myself, it came best when I attended to my heels down position, feet directly beneath me. And yes, the springiness is still there though I wasn't conscious of the alternate foot to foot, or heel to alternate heel movement, I don't for a second doubt it was happening. I was too pleased to feel my hips rolling forward alternate hip to alternate hip, with the horse's stride.

Because I was, most of the time, focused, as I was being paid to do, on the performance of the horse, I did not spend enough time on myself and my riding toward a higher level of perfection. Next time, should I take up riding again, I'll want to revisit our conversation and reference passages that apply from CR1 and 2.

I've never really sat down and studied them end to end, but tended to skip about, a habit of mine in reading how to or informational books. I think of them as resource, encyclopedias, and tend to use them in that way.

But following this thread with you and Leigh has helped me grasp concepts much better than slogging through alone. Thanks.

I would so love to visit Ms Swift and discuss certain lines in her CR1. And see if she had explored the relation to toes out, that she recommends, (not too far out, mind you), and the natural result, rolling inward of the ankle joint.

I have found that when I let the toes (the angle of the foot) find their comfortable position it is slightly outward, pronated, and a bit more on my left than my right. That bit of stiffness (and constant soreness under stress in the right hip to heel) could be our, mine, in this case, body's tendency toward rightedness or leftedness (ah, new words, I do so love them) in our asymmetry, or it could be the long felt effects of the injury I sustained when I was kicked by that stallion and breaking my right leg.

So many ideas to explore. If nothing else, when and if I resolve the philosophical issues around riding, and if resolve to the side of riding being okay, these ideas will be useful to follow up on once back in the saddle.

There are even concepts that need exploring in western riding and especially since I'm currently teaching some folks some training and reining work. I see such a need to improve their seat, and I'm looking for concepts from CR that might apply.

Thank you for thoughts and sharing. You make me think.

Best wishes, Donald

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:46 pm 
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Hi all!

O.K. so here are a few clips of my CR instructor demonstrating a few concepts on a trampoline. Tho a trampoline is not a horse, it has helped me to feel and also visualize the motion that Sally refers to as 'backward pedaling', as discussed in previous posts. Please note that I put my instructor on the spot to film this, and also ignore the blabbering camera person (me!) <G>

This one demonstrates the movement at the simple walk and sitting trot:, called 'feeling both sides of the horse':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0c3SHQjKb0

And in this one, I asked her to demonstrate turning and cantering:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6DqP01JBQk

Hope these help! They have certainly helped me!!

Brenda

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:21 pm 
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Very cool videos, Brenda!

Thanks to you (and your instructor) for sharing.

I went to pull out my copy of Centered Riding last night so I could read up on your references and I can't find the durn thing!! :evil:

I think I may have lent it to someone....grrr...I may have to break down and get another copy. Rats-a-frats. Every month I promise myself I'm going to have some discipline about this..

But I've gotten all jazzed about reading this again -- it's been a while!

:-)
Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:30 am 
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Location: Minnesota, USA
Wow, Brenda, thank you for those links and the information from CR2. CR2 sounds like a wonderful book -- I think I may have another Christmas gift idea! ;)

For a very long time, now, I have let my feet fall parallel to the horse. They tend to "lock in" parallel (ankle rolled out), but after a very long time in the saddle, my ankles would get sore and things wouldn't be as good. So today when riding I sought to roll in my ankles just a little, and it was such a lovely feeling! At first, it felt wrong (foot isn't parallel! foot isn't parallel!) but I started to love it. I felt like I was standing around Caspian more than sitting on him, my inner leg and calf fell along his side much more closely, and I could even sit the trot better.

How interesting, and exciting!


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