The Art of Natural Dressage

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
Posts: 1072
Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Thanks you guys, I sent links of this topic to my friend who is trying to unteach a child whose only instruction has been in a local riding school, the kind where you sit up, keep contact, head up, chin down, heels down, "kick on" and "pull up".
Rio at 10 years has natural balance and flexibility, her toes are not just out but out at right angles, no spurs but those heels are always making contact and bumping the barrel roll of the ribcage on a moving horse.
Sue's horse Daisy is fully 14.2hh TB x Welsh Cob, bitless, barefoot with a keen forward gear, but sensible. Daisy walked faster and was uncomfy carrying a child whose heels were nagging her sensitive skin, when Sue realised the cause and had Rio face her toes more forward, Daisy relaxed.

Have you come across Jenny Rolfe? On her webpages she has published articles, I think she is in tune with Ms Swift, Sylvia Loch, Mrs. Sivewright etc.

http://www.spanishdressagehorses.com

RIDER POSITION AND SEAT By Jenny Rolfe
THE HORSE IS OUR MIRROR

The rider can become highly influential when he learns how to sit on a horse, in self carriage, allowing both stability and fluidity – from the seat and core.

If ‘the horse becomes our mirror’, it is fundamental to ride within a secure natural poise and self-carriage. In this way the horse can reflect our balance and posture enhanced by regular breathing. We can then effective ride to encourage a calm energy, within his movement.

The key to fluidity within riding is to understand how to use our seat and core whilst keeping freedom of mobility so we can move with the motion of the horse.
When we learn how to instigate movement from our core, we give our upper body more stability.
This allows our legs to relax and lengthen, more freely, to hang down around the rib cage of the horse.

SELF AWARENESS

It is helpful to become more aware, of places within our body, where we hold tension.

For instance, if you clench your fist tightly, your whole arms will become tight and restricted.

If you push too much weight down into your heel, the leg will become tight, right up to the inner thigh, which will restrict the mobility of the seat and core.

Try this simple exercise.
Whilst walking on foot, breathe deeply into your stomach and follow with a deep exhalation. Can you feel the swing and release within your hips and more freedom within your arms?
If you then try breathing in and then follow with more shallow breathing, much of this release and mobilization disappears.

It is interesting to watch a person jogging using regular, deep breathing as this enables them to maintain a steady rhythm and energy within each stride.
Every athlete can enhance performance, both mentally and physically by using lateral breathing.

The rider, unlike the athlete, has not only to focus on personal balance and energy flow, but also, upon another living being.
The horse is not only extremely strong, but demonstrates high sensitivity with a natural inbuilt instinct of both fear and flight.

It is little wonder that when we seek to understand more about harmony in horsemanship, the journey is one of our whole life!

A puppet could sit on a horse in a good position but would be totally ineffective as a rider.
We need to become balanced and harmonious with the horse which is enhanced by an awareness of the physical, mental and spiritual balance of the rider.

The horse is blessed with much intelligence and sensitivity. He will be tuned into our state of mind as well as our physical balance.
When you study a dance partnership, it may give the impression of being artistic and visual, but it is the unseen bond and the spiritual empathy which may be capable of creating the magic.

If we look at our body awareness and posture, we can begin to understand how our poise and breathing can affect the horse.
We are all different in our body shapes and hence we hold our tension in different places.
The techniques of yoga, Pilates and the Alexander technique, all have their place in helping us to achieve deeper and calmer mental attitudes, combined with suppleness and good posture. It is interesting to observe the body poise, balance and artistry within the martial arts; body movements are centred and flow in an amazingly balanced way.
It is possible to achieve a similar energy flow within riding which will enhance both performance and ease of movement, for the horse.

POWER OF BREATH

It is worth examining the influence of breathing which can either facilitate balance and mobility or conversely, has the power to block movement within our body.

You may find it interesting to try these easy exercises which show quite graphically how breathing can have a profound influence on our ability to move.

•Stand normally, in good posture then lean forward as if touching your toes. Now return to your normal ‘standing’ position

•Now take a very deep inward breath and try to repeat this exercise.

•You will find that the deep inhalation will block your forward movement. This is the power of our breathing. It can either enhance mobility or create stilted movement.

•A further exercise is to stand tall and really arch your back, placing your hands on your hips. Bring your sternum (breast bone) both up and out . Then take a deep inward breath.

•Now try to mobilize your seat and pelvis both backwards and forwards. You will find that your arched back tightens your spine which will restrict fluidity when you are riding. Our aim is for good posture whilst maintaining fluidity within our core. If we can ride whilst maintaining a ‘neutral’ seat or core, it can become effective to use to either instigate energy or to re-balance and steady, as a ‘half halt’.

•Stand normally in good posture and push your weight down into your heel –bringing your toe upwards.

•Now place your hand on your inner thigh and feel the tightness through your whole leg. When we overstretch and tighten any of our joints and muscles, this will be mirrored through out our body.

SELF CARRIGE; TOP-2-TOE

‘Self-carriage, for the rider, means that he becomes responsible for supporting his body through breathing and balance within a natural posture. Let us look at the rider – from top to toe, to gain more body awareness.

•Soften your facial muscles and the focus of your eyes

•Have the feeling of breathing, into the space around you. Grow taller and expand your posture allowing your head to come slightly forward and upwards. Do not tighten the back of the neck but allow it to lengthen, keeping a relaxed jaw. Create a feeling from within, of pride and self assurance

•Cultivate the feeling that your head is balanced in lightness, floating above the shoulders, as a balloon above your body . This lengthening of the neck helps to release the shoulders.

•Keep the softer feel in the sternum whilst breathing. Expand the chest but not by lifting through the ribcage but by breathing wide and full, ‘into your spine’

•Feel the centre of energy created through abdominal breathing. Lengthen the spine, and ensure the upper torso is in self-carriage, supported by the waist and abdominal muscles.

•Relax your shoulders, allowing expansion and elevation of your upper body through lateral breathing.

•The arms from the shoulder to the elbow form part of the strong centre. Allow the weight to drop down your arm, into a relaxed elbow.

•The arms from the elbow to hand are light in order to hold the reins with feel

•Legs should hang down either side of the horse - feeling relaxed – like wet flannels!

•The knee joints are released not locked.

•The feet are placed in the stirrup as if putting on a pair of ‘carpet slippers’

•The whole person should feel energized with a feeling of poise and pride.

MASTER THE BALANCE - MASTER THE HORSE

All paces and movements require that both horse and rider learn to move together with a natural ‘flow’ and balance.
When we sit on the back of the horse we immediately disturb their natural balance.
The art of balanced riding is to become aware of our own poise and equilibrium and this will allow us to feel ‘at one’ with the movement and spirit of the horse.
Horse and rider in perfect harmony.

It is extremely important for us to feel stability and balance, so it is essential to have a saddle, correctly fitted and sitting well on the horse. This will aid the rider in achieving a good, balanced position.

The horse moves not only forwards but upwards with each stride, whilst his rib cage will swing from side to side.
If the rider continually uses strong legs, this will prevent the horse relaxing his rib cage causing stilted movement and fluidity will be lost.

An athlete needs to move in self carriage and if the rider restricts movement with strong legs and hands, the horse will become tight and tense within his training.

See also this article, very helpful and her explanations are clear
http://www.spanishdressagehorses.com/en ... ection.php

_________________
Susie xx
http://www.flickr.com/photos/piepony/


Last edited by PiePony on Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:01 pm
Posts: 1479
Location: Quebec, Canada
Thanks Susie, just reading this makes me dream that one day I will ride Magik and he will love it!!
I don't want to ride unless I'm 100% certain that I'm moving with him and it will take the time it takes, but I'll do it.
Thanks
Joc

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Jocelyne
[Hug your animals everyday. You never know!


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
Posts: 1072
Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Quote:
but I'll do it

Of course you will Jocelyn. Go For It.
And even if you are 70% right, Magick will be forgiving and guess what you mean, but you would work out a system between you that is special and unique to just the two of you.
I think all horses understand as much from the thought waves and intention of their rider/handler as from the actual skills.
I have no chance of riding my pony as well as I rode my Arab or my Thoroughbreds, I am decades older, less flexible, less rider fit, but even though I am not at my peak I have enthusiasm, greater patience and empathy and I need less in terms of horse fitness since I am no longer riding fast and jumping.
If you have a trusted instructor or someone who has a good eye and can tell you when to bring a leg or your seat further back, or to lift a shoulder or raise your head, if you note the change in your horses paces you will know what to change and what to keep.
Hope you manage to have a Josepha meeting near you sometime, or find someone who can inspire your confidence.
Bad habits are hard to break, I must have lots of those, keep repeating them will not be helpful, but if I do not ride at all, I will be less rider fit and then even less able to help when I get my pony in a muddle.
Daniel is smart enough to figure it out and correct me, as long as I go where he is taking me I won't need to steer, break or stop.
Maybe if I get it right he will grant me a promotion and allow me to make odd suggestions or take decisions. xx

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Susie xx
http://www.flickr.com/photos/piepony/


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:01 pm
Posts: 1479
Location: Quebec, Canada
Unfortunately, I live in Canada so it's pretty difficult to find someone who can assist me. But I'm not into any discipline. I just want to be with Magik and if I can just walk with him, that's fine. I do want to ride and see if the relationship is different. I started into the horse world I was 45 y.o. and knew nothing about horses (except that they were huge and I was scared of of my mind just seeing them). Now I'm passionate about them, can't stop thinking about them, and want to learn more and more everyday.

My next dream is to be able to ride Magik and he tells me what to do. But of course I need for him to listen to the emergency instructions (like stop, walk, etc).

I'll be working on that this summer.

thanks so much for your guidance.
Joc

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Jocelyne
[Hug your animals everyday. You never know!


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:10 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
Posts: 1072
Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Do you have someone who can take videos of you riding?
Perhaps you could post some and ask for criticism to point out what little changes may be helpful.
If not on Magik, perhaps on a friends regularly ridden horse? xx

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Susie xx
http://www.flickr.com/photos/piepony/


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:42 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:01 pm
Posts: 1479
Location: Quebec, Canada
Hey Susie,

I found a Centered Riding instructor!! :applause: :applause:
She lives about 200 miles from here but she is coming to Quebec for a show with her daughter so she said she will spend 4 hours with me and then we'll see.

She believes that the only thing stopping me is my fear of riding. I can take classes from her every two weeks and I will video myself when riding Magik.

This should be fun!!

So she is visiting in July. Thanks for your encouragement.

Joc

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Jocelyne
[Hug your animals everyday. You never know!


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:19 am 
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Location: Natal, South Africa
:cheers: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Jocelyn, that is the best news so far!!!

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Glen Grobler

Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled. Anon


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:25 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:01 pm
Posts: 1479
Location: Quebec, Canada
Thanks Glen. I am so excited.

I told her exactly my thoughts and she agreed completely. Finally :cheers: :cheers: :cheers:

I told her my philosophy was that the horse was always right, I want to go in the horse's world not bring my horse to me. She understood completely.

She also seems excited since I don't think there are too many "fanatics ;) " like me.

We'll see!!!

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Jocelyne
[Hug your animals everyday. You never know!


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
Posts: 1072
Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Currently Brenda with her brilliant trampoline video's is the nearest I get to CR instruction, and so much on these few pages to glean, become self-aware and make small improvements from.

Great for you Joc that you will find the support and encouragement you need to unlock you and allow you to enjoy your riding.
Once you trust yourself, you can gift more trust to Magik.

Any more updates Brenda? xx

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Susie xx
http://www.flickr.com/photos/piepony/


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:56 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
Posts: 1072
Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Hi Brenda and Jocelyn, any updates? xx

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Susie xx
http://www.flickr.com/photos/piepony/


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:28 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:01 pm
Posts: 1479
Location: Quebec, Canada
sorry I didn't respond earlier, I was on vacation and I adopted a dog (Ziggy) from the local shelter and he is taking 99% of my spare time.
Well, as for my C.R. course, it was a fiasco!! She was at my place for about 3 hours and Magik, who never panics or loses it, he lost it when she cinched him the old cowboy way, just jerked on the cinch like he was an object. I was completely blown away by everything. We finally were able to remove the saddle and then he continued to panic in the round pen. Finally, when he did stop, she insisted that we had to saddle him again and ride him. Since I'm not an expert in riding I said ok but I would cinch him. He was fine the rest of the time, but this experience just blew me away. Two days later, I did get on for about 5 minutes just to show him that I wasn't the enemy and he understood right away.

I've put my riding aside for awhile since I have to concentrate on educating Ziggy (which I have no experience at all). The dog is in the barn beside the horses so I do see all my "friends" together but Ziggy is scared of the horses so he doesn't approach too much.

Anyways, I still believe in the C.R. technique, but I'll learn this method on my own.

Joc

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Jocelyne
[Hug your animals everyday. You never know!


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:29 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
Posts: 1072
Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Oh Joc, the instructor sounds horrendous.
Bad practioner rather than bad riding philosophy from Sally Swift perhaps?
I expect Lesley Pavlich can help with tips for Ziggy. Enjoy your furry friends. xx

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Susie xx
http://www.flickr.com/photos/piepony/


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:02 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:01 pm
Posts: 1479
Location: Quebec, Canada
Thanks Susie for the tip. I didn't know Leslie was into dogs too!! I'll get in touch with her.
:applause: :applause:

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Jocelyne
[Hug your animals everyday. You never know!


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:11 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3688
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
Jocelyn, may I make a suggestion?

It's axiomatic that various clinicians, some good, some not so, will have followers that are the same, both good and sorry.

You got a sorry one. I wish you had not, but there it is. Now is the time to look at other paths open to you.

May I suggest that you get Sally Swift's videos and book.

While it's wonderful to have a coach watching you and correcting you you have in this newsgroup a wonderful party of supporters.

Some of us are very good riding instructors (you do remember that Josepha is a Centered Riding instructor, right?) who would be more than happy to support you as you explore the challenges of riding.

And the master will always be with you - your horse.

I will very happily assist.

Sally Swifts work built on already well known principles of riding. I was practicing and teaching very similar disciplines in the 60's. What Sally did was put it together, and add her wisdom, and her wonderful ability to use analogy and metaphor to reach into the student's mind and body.

Look at the talent available here.

Surely we won't all agree, but the richness available to your exploration can take you way beyond what a less than superior instructor can give you.

You have my pledge that I'll help you with every question you have. And this way you'll be forced to take your time, and the time of your beloved companion, to reach your goals. With an instructor, paid, they, and you as well, will fell compelled to go with a more strict time table and possibly rush things.

One of the beauties of AND is that we have the opportunity to use time ... as much as we think we need ... to reach various goals.

I once had time-lines. Now I do not - even though I'm getting very old. Now I can look at Bonnie and say to her, "take all the time you need." and it just makes me love her more, and trust her native primitive intelligence even more. She'll outlive me I'm sure. And this is my gift to her and to whoever comes after me in her beautiful and valuable life.

Even if your horse lives out to the end of his life with you this too is your gift to him - take all the time you and he need.

My signature line says it all.

(and poo on sorry idiot instructors)

Hugs,

Donald

_________________
Love is Trust, trust is All
~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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 Post subject: Re: Centered Riding
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:26 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3688
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
In the same spirit of my preceding post I shall tell you where I start with my own students regarding "the seat."

Look at the masters of the past. Look at their posture. Observe and incorporate the elegant powerful line, the vertical line, the perpendicular line up from heel, through hip joint, through point of the shoulder to the ear that provides the driving force, the softening the utter communication with the horse.

Contemplate it silently as you sit on the horse at rest.

Think on it when you feel the natural but destructive tendency to contract around your center (the fear of falling we are born with) and instead open your body forward, open into the future, open into the potentials of your horses impulsion and power and softness and lightness.

Feel your center, just above your naval, reaching forward, look at the old masters and see it in the old engravings - that center that drives forward, even on a loose rein, and you will have the central tool, the focus of Centered Riding.

Bring your shoulders back. Sit tall, no, taller than that, very tall. Defy gravity. Defy your fear of falling. Laugh at it. Make fun of it. Your horse wants you to stay atop him and will help you when you project your confidence to him.

Grow deep into the ground and tall into the clouds.

Feel your horse respond with reflected confidence.

If you fall the ground and I will catch you as softly as we can. But you won't. Not as long as you follow this model. The horse would have to fall himself. He does not want to.

He loves feeling you are a part of him, and this is the path to that state of mind and body.
Let me know what you think of the book and video. One can't help but love her work, the dear lady. I miss her.

Donald

_________________
Love is Trust, trust is All
~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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