This article is a written companion to the video
This is the first morning of a clinic for horse and rider and they are both clearly distracted by the new environment. I see the distraction in the horse not just by the obvious, head up, ears pricked but more importantly I am looking at the irregularity of the footfalls. I am looking at not only where he places his feet but the speed at which each foot is moving on the circle. When all four feet move at different speeds, the rider is not connected through her seat bones.
Remember, the horse’s hind feet step under the dropping weight in each seat bone. To begin with, the rider’s outside seat bone drops more than the inside causing the horse to step under more quickly and with a shorter stride and we see a constant ‘drift’ to the outside hind in order to ‘get under’ the dropping weight. This also causes a ‘twist’ in the horse’s barrel to the inside, seen clearly between 1:06 and 1:16 in the video.
In the middle of the clip at halt (3:01 to 3:06) notice how the horse bends his neck beautifully to the inside when I move the riders weight more correctly to the inside and watch as the weight falls to the outside when I release the saddle, the horse’s spine twists to the outside. The horse then has to adjust in the fore and haunches to catch the weight. This compensation is in every stride if the rider does not change her weight aid, if you look closely you will see it in the swing of the barrel and the tension on the side of the neck.
This is a common problem that most riders address with the inside rein, treating the symptom not the root cause of the problem.
At 4:20 we see a beautiful change in the speed, bend and connection between the horse and rider as she gets and keep enough weight over the inside side bone not letting her weight drop to the outside, with no use of rein. Well ridden!
Written by James Shaw and Gillian Ruddy
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