The Art of Natural Dressage

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:21 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:15 pm
Posts: 584
Location: Georgia (USA)
There are those instances where time just goes by and before you know it it's been 6 years and you've forgotten what it was like "before" if that makes sense. Needless to say the issue stopped my life in it's tracks (I would have gone to college right around the time or after I had the surgery).

Leigh wrote:
Then -- a couple of weeks ago I was out doing a little ride on a new friend's Percheron -- she has two, and she was riding the other guy. Seven years ago she was driving them with a brand new manure spreader and they geeked and bolted -- she ended up getting thrown and the manure spreader landed on her, crushing her pelvis.

Like you, she decided that this wasn't going to stop her, and so she still rides them.

The reason I bring this up is that we were talking about her riding and she said that she'd found that she could do anything she wanted as long as she kept her belly and seat soft.

Oh yikes :ieks: But yes a very encouraging point... and one I'll remember. :yes:

I very much made that bellydance connection when I first started following what Josepha said about letting the seatbones "walk" with the horses hind legs. 8) I thought "You know... I feel like a belly dancer at the moment :D "
I have only taken a few brief workshops at conventions but I love it (certain styles). Our first lesson we spent a good portion of the lesson standing with our knees softly bent trying desperately to raise one hip or the other ONLY with core muscles in a 'drawing up" type motion. No leg pushing. Oh the groaning and straining that went on in that room! :funny: My left side muscles could not budge my hip in the least wile my right side could easily draw that hip up. (they are more even now thanks to me working on it!)

I agree about the huntseat position. :yes: I grew up riding that way, keeping a nice vertical line from ear, shoulder, hip, heel just with shorter stirrups (than dressage) and a pelvis rotated forward. The position is perfectly comfortable to me, I think alot of that (discomfort) depends on the saddle as well and my Ghost is comfy in the seat and has no twist. :)

I think stigma and various comments from different sources led me to believe I could not be soft, or balanced properly for the horse, or effective in my aids etc. if I rode with a slightly arched lower back & tilted pelvis. And yet as your personal experience showed you differently, so did mine. I remember thinking "What do you mean my back is locked when the pelvis is angled down and the back is lightly arched?" as I adopted the position in my chair at work and proceeded to wriggle the hips right to left easily. (SO glad no one walked in and saw that :funny: :roll: ) All the years I rode I rarely had any problem with horses not wanting me on their back, even to the point people would say I was one of the few that could ride XYZ horse. I honestly believe it was because I was a very light, soft rider. Not light in weight but light in my movement. Everything was done with ease and I hated banging on anyone's back so I utilized my stirrups well. I also had soft hands because my arms were not locked.

Now that I look at the bigger picture it seems I developed more of my problems after taking up exclusively Dressage lessons when I got older. :blush: I learned to sit much further back, I couldn't balance in my stirrups as well for some reason anymore. My seat adopted a more upright "jackhammer" motion into D's back. My abs were super strong but only from holding me upright, my seat had no idea how to move side to side with D's hips. My shoulders were locked back and thus my arms locked, hands couldn't follow his head anymore and forgot how!
:ieks: Wow I have alot to work on!

With all that said, here is my preliminary report from trying the new (old) riding position lastnight:

I didn't ride for very long but I wanted to A) see how my new pad would balance my saddle and B) if I could stay soft in this more forward position. Both actually turned out to have good news :)
The saddle, while not perfectly was instantly more balanced which helped me feel more secure!
In turn, I also tried to ride light and soft, but with my center of gravity more forward. It's been so long, I could definitely feel it in my back muscles. :yes: But I bounced very little and I did some posting etc. I was really really pleased at how much easier it made it, not being worried about "correct" (in my mind) but more what was light and comfortable for me (and soft for Diego). I think this may really help me sitting the canter again when I start that back up as well! :applause:

Diego's Journal
There's no more looking back - no more grey skies black.

 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 7:45 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3688
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
I have at times taken heat for the huntseat position. I tend to hollow my back on the flat much like we used to over jumps. (aside: I don't jump any more - promised Kate I wouldn't).

There seems to be, just as you note, (and from those not proficient in huntseat/forward seat/caprilli) that the hollow back makes one stiff. I never had a single student or eventing team member that was stiff.

Those attempting hunt seat for the first time do experience stiffness while learning. What new position on the horse, including first time riders doesn't result in some stiffness that eases with practice?

The accusation of stiffness when first trying huntseat is akin to accusing someone of having bad hands that just started riding. Huntseat needs to be taught. And practiced with drills like any other "seat."

I've ridden many "seats," because I could, and practiced them so that I was proficient. Even Western riding at one time looked to some seat styling that the researcher/trainer/teacher modeled after Caprilli. A forward seat. He called it "Balanced Seat." Monty Foreman, who many have never heard of but at one time was the leading author/clinician in the country.

He was working reining stockhorses using a forward seat style. Really.

Hard to believe, but the photos of his and his students sliding stops, rollback, etc. with a forward seat showed huge talent and effectiveness.

They stood as though to jump, came up off the saddle, heels down, knees and hip angled, and absorbed the shock of the front end so that they didn't load it (though it was claimed they did by those who could not accept the change), and they got OFF the hindquarters so the horse could bring them up under the belly without the extra weight to the rear we saw then, and sadly see now.

In western reining work today hock and stifle injuries and wear are an occupational hazard for the horses. And you likely have seen the current popular, sit down, shove your feet forward, tuck your butt under style that's dominant.

When those that practice this - all currently - describe the mechanics it's as though they build the horse anew, and defy both basic physics and biomechanics.

Horses have to work like never before.

If you can get ahold of any of the books of Monte(sp) Foreman take a look at pics of him sliding horses. The current idea that a horse can't balance with the rider shifting weight to stirrups and off the bum and saddle is laughable when one looks at the top jumpers.

I couldn't afford one of Forema's Balanced Ride saddles back in those days, but had a saddle maker that owed me big time and he built one on a tree I provided. Flat seat, pommel to cantle. Leathers hung a bit forward so as one rose it was more like a jump saddle feeling.

I started training green colts with it, and boy oh boy did it ever work.

No one had ever, up to that time, about 1965, seen knee support rolls on a western saddle before, but I had them built in, and found out a few years later cutting horse people had started to order saddles built with them. I suspect my friend had started the trend as he was a cutting horse man as well as a saddle maker.

All that exploration in the past has made me attentive to the current efforts to move ahead with saddle design and especially with treeless.

Soon we will see more partially treed, or partially treeless, saddles out there and materials with properties that better fit and move with horse and rider while providing the support and variable degress of stiffness in reaction to movement, weight, change of balance, inertial forces etc.

We have strange polymers now that if you hit them hard you'll hurt your hand but of you move slowly into them you can bury your hand painlessly as though it's a cushion - and all degrees of resistance along the spectrum from very hard to very soft impact response.

Exciting changes taking place, and I hope some that will accommodate the rider with compromises of various kinds. As I age I certainly am finding more of them in my own "seat," and ways of riding.

Best wishes, Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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

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