Monthly Archives: July, 2020

It’s all a question of Balance

July 29th, 2020 Posted by Dressage TestPro 0 thoughts on “It’s all a question of Balance”

Two sources of inspiration came my way when I came up with this blog.

One was a recent post about George Morris talking about balance in the rider with particular reference to rising trot.
And the other was when filling hay nets and bending down and having to regain my balance and use my muscles actively to right myself. This reminded me of how difficult it is for a horse to balance with us on board and how we need to work on exercises to help both of us develop correctly.

The trend these days in dressage is for riders to lean back particularly in the extended trot, this then causes their pelvis to tilt and the horse to hollow against the rider effectively disconnecting hind quarters from front. Not a pleasant sight in the dressage arena and one to be discouraged.

At the other end of the scale in those of us starting off on our journey it is more common for both horse and rider to be forward and on the ‘shoulders’. This isn’t an ideal situation and causes its own problems in particular with the horse’s balance and potential for the rider to fall off easily.

So what is the best option? A classical seat and an upright position in all paces except for when rising as a slight forward tendency over the knees is needed.

I am not a physiotherapist or specialist in biomechanics, I learn from my horses and the riders that I teach. My observations and reading over the years leads me to believe and teach that you need to ride ‘uphill’ before you can achieve and expect it from your horse.

Try this exercise out. Go for a trot (sitting) or canter and ride with your eyes looking at the wither, you will feel the chin drop, shoulders come forward and your seat start to come slightly out of the saddle. Now take the eyes up and forward above/between the ears. Your chin comes up, your shoulders now come back with the shoulder blades flat against your back and you start to engage your pelvis. Your horse will feel that straightening of your back and the engagement of your pelvis. You can actually use your body more effectively now to help your horse. This exercise can be quite transformational at canter.
If your position is good and you feel you are riding ‘uphill’ but are struggling with your horse here are some suggested exercises to try out.

Trot/walk/trot transitions – Transitions are the name of the game, they do not have to be on straight lines and in fact can work better when done through a corner or on a circle. Just make sure that there are no wobbles out through the shoulder. Make sure you are getting a good reaction off of your leg and you are keeping your body upright.

Walk to canter – again brilliant for engaging the hindquarters. Even better if you can get a bit of collected walk and manage a couple of strides of collected canter before coming back down to walk again. Best carried out on a circle. To help achieve a canter to walk transition use a 10m circle and as you come back towards the fence line ask for walk to back the horse off.

On and back in canter – this one is for all levels. At a basic level start with a little bit of difference. Don’t forget to ride uphill and not drop your contact or hand which would rather defeat the object of the exercise. At a more advanced level you can play with bringing the canter back to almost walk in preparation for canter pirouettes. And go forward into medium canter and back with a clear smooth transition. Watch the positioning of the shoulders ensure you are engaging the inside hindleg.

Shoulder fore – on straight or circle in trot and canter. Vital for straightness and engagement for that uphill tendency.

There are of course plenty of other exercises and everyone has their favourites! Next time you get on board think about your balance and uphill tendency first before encouraging your horse to match you.


July 2nd, 2020 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “FOMO or FOGO??”

As competitions start my thoughts turn to when I would like to take a horse out.

Wales, where I live, has taken a slower pace to opening up than England and Scotland so we are still in a strange half life and I have not even ventured to a training clinic yet.

So I sit here with a small amount of FOGO (Fear of going out) debating with myself about when to enter a competition, when to go to a clinic. There is that element of anxiousness, not about the virus per se, but about how I will feel in the new ‘normal’.

My new normal revolves around looking after the horses, working, online meetings and very little face to face contact with the outside world. The occasional foray to Lidl, other supermarkets are available (!), and that’s about my lot. So to actually organise to go to a competition seems a big thing at the moment in my mind.

Am I alone? Should I get a grip? ‘woman up’ ? Are the questions in my mind legitimate ones? Well I’ve discovered that there are a lot of people with doubts right now, if you are with me on this we are not alone. There are plenty of people in the FOGO camp!

Lockdown has been a time for us all to reassess our priorities. Mine have changed in a few ways partly due to lockdown and partly due to Elena having sinustis resulting in a stay at Rainbow Equine. With my girl now seriously unfit, although Denver is in the wings, I realised I haven’t missed competing much. I love the training, and being with the tribe but all the faffing about and travelling is not looking very appealing at this moment in time.

But after reading this article I feel that I am on a journey, and the competing will happen when I am ready. I am going to get back to keeping a journal to write some thoughts in. I already have some goals (competing at PSG) set out in it, but I think writing everything down helps so much, it seems so much more achievable when it is written down!

If you are in the FOMO (Fear of missing out) camp, then Yay!!! I will be cheering you on and watching your progress in those competitions. I hope you enjoy your outings and I will see you soon within those white boards!!