I had a fantastic weekend in Gothenburg with students at different levels.
Here you can read all about our basic riding courses. The basic courses are totally five courses and are listed below in the same order you take them, one step at a time. That sums up as a long line of text J
Basic course in riding
This is the first one of our riding courses. In this course we work on the basic pelvis-control of the rider since the pelvis is the foundation for everything in riding.
There is much said about how the hors should angle his pelvis but you seldom here much about how the rider should be able to do the same thing. Horses do as their riders do (or don´t do) no matter what we think about it.
When we take control over our own pelvis and learn to stay seated in the middle of our horse´s back the horse will voluntarily give us relaxation – suppleness.
We learn to FEEL what suppleness means, we become more steady in the saddle and if we suffer from some kind of fear from riding we often come a long way in conquering this fear in this course.
We also learn to control our legs. The legs are, as you know, a large part of what horse-training is all about – to make the horse do things with his legs, step further in underneath his body for example. Since the horse do what we do (surprise…) it is a pretty clever thing to do to make sure you have complete control over your own legs before you ask the horse to do the same thing.
This course is quit a workout for the rider, a certain amount of muscle-ache due to training is guaranteed. All lessons are carried out at the walk. Your horse should be calm and able to walk straight forward. Of course your horse is healthy. Besides these qualifications your horse needs no further education. The course focus on educating the rider so therefore it is good for you if you have a calm horse, that makes it easier to focus on yourself instead of the horse.
The basic course is the first course in our series of riding courses, everyone no matter previous education start here.
This course is not for those who already know everything, for those looking for Quick Fixes, or for those who wishes to improve their showing results within a month.
This course is for you who are prepared to invest a large amount of time in learning how to actually ride and have as a goal to be a really really good rider within a couple of years.
You will receive one lesson a week for three months. At the end of the course there is a small exam where you show a short riding test and a short test in work at hand according to instructions you get in the last lesson.
You receive access to discussion forums where you together with other participants, also from previous courses, and me are able to discuss everything you wonder about. I dare to say we have an incredibly nice feeling in our groups, everyone feels welcome and pepp each other no matter if you prefer to wander in the woods or compete at higer levels.
I have students at the age 14 to 75, both men and women from all possible equestrian sports – western, dressage, show jumping, Icelandic horses, mounted archery, knights, forest riders, Trot racing, horse racing, long distance riding, Doma Vaquera and Working Equitation to mention a few of them.
You sign up for this course by using the bottom below or by sending me an e-mail with your registration to firstname.lastname@example.org In the mail you state what course you wish to register for and state your name and address. You will then receive an invoice in your mail which is to be fully paid at the latest 4 days before your course starts. If you or your horse gets ill during the course and you are not able to carry out the entire course you are welcome to, free of charge, take the course again when you are both healthy and up for it again.
Basic course – Trot
This is the second riding course. In this course we work a lot on balance and focus. If you have studied riders in the paddock you might have noticed that riding sessions is not so much about RIDING and educating horses – but more of some kind of symptom-solving, punishing, subduing and keeping the form.
People pull the horse by the reins because it walks too fast or because they wish to turn. They kick the horse because it walks too slow. Sometimes they both pull and kick at the same time, often in order to shape its neck (it seems really important to have a bent or curved neck) but also in order to make it pass things the horse is afraid of.
But you see, the thing about dressage is to get the horse to go forward to the riders hand. This means that you are not allowed to use your hand as a steering-wheel, a neck-bending-thing, or a “I´m super-afraid of speed-thing”. The hand must be a nice thing just existing for the horse to search towards.
The legs must be a thing that support the horse, not something that you use as some kind of throttle-pedal.
In this course we learn to control tempo and bend with our own body. We learn some pretty neat posting-techniques and we put a large focus on finding a balanced two-point-seat. The two-point seat is a somewhat forgotten thing among most people I´ve noticed. People simply don´t have the strength to stay balanced in that position. That’s why we train this.
Horses are clever –they listen mostly to what we think, not what we do. This means that it is incredibly important that you know what you are doing when you are mounted. Often we are so full of thoughts about all possible (an impossible) things while riding.
If the horse do something “stupid” it would be very logical that we think about what we want the horse to do instead. That is very seldom the case. Instead we spend a lot of time thinking about what the horse is afraid of, we also look up dangers – as a kind of prevention, in order to really give our horse the chance to be AFRAID of them. When we become afraid nothing works in our bodies, then the reptile brain take over in order to rescue us from the danger.
The thing is, we can´t both learn and be afraid. It´s either or. That´s why it is utmost important that our brain is telling our horse the same thing as our body, in order for our riding to be harmonic. With our brain we control for example pace and tempo. It is nothing magical, everybody can learn this, it´s in fact just a question about learning to live (and do) here and now, just as our good friend the horse does.
You sign up for this course by sending in an exam for the basic course. You either pass the test, and is allowed to sign up for the Trot course, or you get tips and advices about what you need to practice more in order to pass. You may take the exam as many times as you need, there is no hurry – we have all the time in the world.
The shoulder course is the third riding course. It is a course that is incredibly important in many different ways. The one who controls the shoulders controls the entire equipage (direction and ability to shape after the chosen track).
Besides that the case is that when you try to do what is very popular within horse-training – making the horse activate his hind-legs by using for example the shoulder in or –out – the horse will, if you don´t have complete control over the shoulders, just move the shoulder as much as you move his hind-legs, which means the purpose with the exercises is lost.
It is very, very hard to take control over the horse´s shoulders. This is because the horse is a flight animal. He runs away from danger. But if he has to he will fight. He will gladly kick with his hind-legs in order to defend. If all other possibilities are lost he will rise on his hind-legs, this is only done when all other defense-methods are lost.
The most sensitive part of a body is the belly, since the belly holds a lot of life-supporting and sensitive organs but it has no skeleton to protect it. Humans defend their belly by using the fetal-position. When we get scared we contract in our front-side and place our hands in front of our belly – this is a survival reflex.
The horse never wishes to expose his belly, that’s why rising is the last hand choice. When he rises he expose his belly and is very vulnerable. He prefers to have his front legs firmly anchored to the ground. A horse carries at least 60% of his weight on his front legs. The front legs and neck is often what the horse knows – he is seldom very aware of his hind-legs. Hind-legs are not important to a horse, but the shoulders… THEY are important!
It is easy to teach a horse to move his hind-legs, anyone can teach this to a horse. The hard thing is to teach a horse to move his shoulders. The one who is last to move a front-leg wins you might say. An Alfa-horse NEVER moves its front-legs. It stands where it stands. The higher the horse is in rank the more trouble you have in your riding.
Another problem with the shoulders is that horses since birth and by habit always carry more weight in one of his front-legs. You don´t need to be a genius to understand that this front-leg is the one leg that the horse will have most joint-inflammations in. As a rider you notice this as your horse biting on or hanging on to one rein, driving out one shoulder or being hard to bend in one direction.
I notice when I train students in high levels that the shoulder-course is the part missing for very many riders. This important information seems missing in the modern riding education. You should, logically, as a rider have the withers absolutely in the middle between your seat-bones – this is very very seldom the case. Can you understand that if it is 1 cm between your left seat-bone and the horse´s withers and 3 cm between the right seat-bone and the horse´s withers that the horse will drive his right shoulder out and hang on to the left rein?
This is what we work on in the shoulder course, to place the withers in the center between the rider´s big-toes so to say J We work a lot on the riders pelvis and spine-rotation. At the same time our horse is working on the same things as he, as you remember, doe´s the same thing the rider do (whether we want him or not). The trouble and difficulty here is that all humans have worked an entire life to receive these pelvis-rotations. It is not possible to change this in a hurry, muscles need to build and have time to change. This course guarantees aching muscles due to the training we carry out.
You sign up for this course by sending in an exam for the Trot-course. You either pass the test and may sign up for the shoulder-course, or you receive tips and advice on what to practice more in order to pass. You may take the test as many times as you wish, there is no hurry. We have all the time in the world.
Straightness is an art mastered by few. A horse may be held straight and it may be ridden straight. You can easily pull a horse straight by use of a small (or greater) amount of violence. It will then look straight on the outside because it´s legs are walking on two straight lines. But inside the horse is still crooked. Can you understand that a horse may walk straight forward on two straight lines and still not be straight in it´s skeleton?
Why is this? We can mention a few examples. If the muscles on the horse´s left shoulder are short and tight they will pull the spine to a small arch on that spot. If the muscles around the horse´s right hind-leg are short and tight that hind-leg will walk a little further in beneath the horse sideways. If you by violence force this horse to walk on two straight lines it doesn´t automatically make the muscles in the right shoulder or at the right hind-leg long and flexible. He may walk on the straight lines anyway. But th rider will have a lot of problems, for example she will in the right lead have a hard time to sit straight in the middle of her horse but instead be seated outside the horse´s spine with a great amount of tear in the horse as a result. She will have a hard time making the horse go forward to the hand and will instead pull the horse´s nose backwards to her hand. Horses can be crooked in very many different ways.
The rider should at all times be able to give the horse her hand and the horse should then search contact with the riders hand evenly on both reins and still be able to walk straight and be straight. A straight horse has better paces and strides – which is what you want in the dressage –ring. When a horse is straight it is easy to bend him to both sides. When a horse is crooked or held straight it is often hard to bend him in one lead which gives problems for example in the flying changes.
In order to be able to ride a horse straight the rider must first become straight herself. She must learn to feel if she is straight. She must also learn to feel and be aware of the horse´s bodyparts separeately so that she knows what aid she is to give in order to correct that specific part of the horse´s body. We work a lot on making the horse search forward towards our hand.
The magical thing about straightness is that when you straighten the body´s crookedness you let go of the tensions that makes the horse´s body crooked and the top-line then becomes longer. To make a horse straight means to make it long and free of tensions. This is incredibly much more important than to make it walk on straight lines with his feet. When the horse is long and free of tension it is easy to make him trace, he will do it by himself.
Though – I have never said it is easy J But we learn step by step.
You sign up for this course by sending in a video of the exam of the shoulder course, which you find in the last lesson of that course.
The hind-leg course is the last one of our basic courses. In the previous courses we have learnt to take control over all that is in front of, and below us – now time has come to do so also with the hind-legs. The hind-legs are somewhat hard to take control of, because the rider has to have come really deep down in the saddle and that is what we have been working on in all the previous courses so that we now can fin-tune it. To ride the hind-legs demands a great riders-feel and a clean mind.
We work successively by small steps towards our goal to ride the horse from behind. It is in the horse´s hind-legs the fun lives. We have until now in the courses been solving symptoms of wrong-calibrated hind-legs. BUT it is necessary to address the hind-legs AFTER you are able to control the rest of the horse´s body since the horse himself doesn´t have any interest or pleasure in re-calibrating his hind-legs. If we would address the hind-legs first he will only change the rest of this body so that the ratio between hind-legs and body is kept the same no matter what you do.
A well educated horse has four hind-legs. Every hind-leg needs to be able to work as both an inside- and an outside hind-leg. So the horse has two inside hind-legs and two outside hind-legs. We can at all times choose freely what leg is to be an inside leg and what leg is to be an outside leg. This means he can bend and shape in both directions.
An uneducated horse has only two hind-legs. One inside leg and one outside leg. These legs are in the same place no matter what lead you are in. No matter how much you pull the horse´s head and try to bend his neck or push with your legs – you will not be able to shape him on a bent track before you have given your horse four hind-legs.
Or…. In one lead it should go pretty smooth. Ironically though an uneducated rider often thinks that the horse shapes nicely to the bent track when the horse has the outside hind-leg on the inside and the inside hind-leg on the outside. This is probably because the horse doesn´t fall as much inwards in that lead since the inside hind-leg is pushing towards the outside front-leg, which makes it possible to create a larger bend at the neck without the horse falling in on the circle.
If you look at uneducated riders they often, ironically, have their inside leg on the outside and their outside leg on the inside. Of course it sums up that for the horse to be able to have two outside legs and to inside legs the rider must have the same, since the horse (as said before) is doing the same thing we are (no matter what we think of that).
We start looking at shoulder-out´s and canter-leads. These are movements that require a bent horse, they are bent movements.
This course teaches us this. Of course muscle-pain due to training is guaranteed J
You sign up for this course by sending a video of the Straightness-course exam.
After this course we have learnt to take control over the horse´s entire body with our own body. Some of my students stop here and go back to their sport or orientation to fine-tune their riding. Now you have all the tools you need to easily take your trainers instruction. That is what I find missing in many trainers – They focus in changing the horse and instruct the rider to do this. This means you can only pick out the qualities of the horse when the trainer is standing besides the equipage. It is hard to recreate that when you ride at home by yourself. You don´t really know what you feel or even what you do or what function your aids have.
This is the purpose of my basic courses. To train the rider so that she then may educate her horse together with her trainer in whatever sport she is active in.
Some students choose to continue with the continuing courses within the Logical Riding system. In those courses we start to educate the horse within the art of Classical Riding. The horse is now, thanks to all the basic courses, well prepared both physically and mentally. He is ready to take in the training, and you, the rider are ready to educate your horse.
Here you can find information about our first six Work at Hand courses, they follow below, listed in the order you take the courses.
Work at hand 1
Here we start the education of our horse. I have a philosophy that a rider you educate best on the back of a horse, but a horse you educate best from the ground. When you have trained both parts (horse and rider) separately these two may then easily be put together to a nice equipage.
The advantage of doing like this is that the conflicts you often see in horse training decreases if you focus on one individual at a time. That is pretty logic. Besides that it is easier to build a nice relationship while working your horse from the ground.
This is the first work at hand course. Here we start with basic training. We learn to ask our horse to walk on a specific, chosen, track, we teach him to let us lead him in a way that straightens him out. We also develop our hand, become quicker in our aids. This is something I experience as a big problem today. Most riders have way to poor control over their hands. They pull the rein too hard and they let go too late. Besides that they don´t really know what the aids are supposed to do, but the reins are instead used very randomly for almost everything.
Horses are incredibly sensitive animals who easily can feel (and be irritated by) a fly walking on their coat. It is completely un-logic to me that you should need to pull and drag them by their mouths in order to make them obey. Horses are to be able to be ridden for small, light aids.
My absolute role model within horse training (Lisette Hedman) once said the following, very wise words:
“The feeling in a riders hand should be as if she is holding a little toy boat by a thread in a swirling stream”
The problem many riders struggle with is that they CAN´T stop pulling the horse because then the hors will run away. That’s why you very seldom can tell someone to stop pulling. You always have to teach them what to do instead, because people pull their horses for a reason… like the will to survive for example 😉
That´s what we do in this course. We become quicker in our hand. With our eyes we see the horse´s legs and body and we feel with our hands what the unwillingness to do certain things comes from. We increase our understanding for our good friend the horse.
The horse learns that he actually has four legs, four corners in his body. He learns to listen to smaller aids, he becomes calmer and easier to turn.
The entire course is carried out in the walk and there are no bent tracks which makes this course suitable also for convalescents and young horses. We use bars to walk around (not over). If you don´t have bars then sticks and trees the forest provides you with will work just as good.
The course is four weeks and you receive one lesson a week.
You sign up by using the bottoms belw or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com where you state what course you wish to sign up for and also your name and address so I can make an invoice for you. The invoice is to be paid in full at the latest 4 days before the course starts.
Work at Hand 2
Here we focus on learning to analyze the horse´s motion pattern in the hind quarters and understanding the consequences they have in our riding. What the horse do (or don´t do) with his hindquarters will always have impacts in the horse´s entire body. If you correct the hindquarters you automatically correct the rest of the horse´s body.
Unfortunately the opposite does not work – you can not correct the horse´s front in order to affect the hindquarters. This is somewhat disturbing, just imagine how easy everything would be we could just work with the bend in the horse´s neck and at the same time correct all errors in the rear end…. Just imagine how easy riding would be!
Oh, well, after we have learnt to understand the motion pattern we learn to correct this pattern. We also work with learning to understand the meaning with leading reins and how to carry them out correctly – and we teach our horse how to correctly, with his entire body, respond to a leading rein. This is a course that gives many moments of insight and a horse that is easy to turn and have a positive attitude towards the rein.
Your had will again become a bit more educated, which you will also notice in your riding.
You sign up for this course by sending in an exam for the Work at Hand 1 course.
Work at hand 3
Here we focus on teaching the horse to move around a curved track. We learn how nice and easy we need to be in our inner hand in order to lead our horse around a curved track without the horse having the feeling we will roll him over.
The horse actually gets this feeling, of being rolled over, when you by the inner rein try to pull him around the circle. The higher the pace the less inner rein the horse can take without losing his balance. Unfortunately the thing is that the faster the horse run the harder you unconsciously pull the inner rein since it feels like the horse will run out from the circle otherwise.
And that is true. If you pull the inner rein the horse´s nature is to press against it (horses are back pressure animals by nature). If he pushes against a hand that is pulling him he will lean inwards on the circle and his inner hind leg will end up in front of his outer hind leg which leaves the horse with two choices. He can either run out from the circle or try to jump/hop/crawl over his inner hind leg. If you argue enough with your horse he will eventually learn how to create enough tensions in his body to fix this. Ah- problem solved you might think. Well, if your goal is to have a horse that has learnt to create tensions in order not to fall then your goal is accomplished. I have a hard time seeing the use for this though. A tens horse is seldom very flexible. The paces disappear, the horse makes himself unsensitive to your aids, suppleness is but a memory….
We will as usual take the long way to teach the horse the technique for circle-tracks. Because that is what really is the problem – the horse doesn´t understand how to handle his body on the circle. So, we teach him this in this course. The rider receives a sensitive inner hand and she receives a horse that doesn´t need to be pulled around the circle, win – win. We also learn to manage the horse´s pace with our own body and we learn the grounds for turning on the hind quarters at hand and start the shoulder in at hand.
You sign up for this course by sending in an exam for the Work at Hand 2 course.
Work at Hand 4
Now our horse is beginning to become really well schooled so we can now start doing more advanced things. We start the school-halt. I use the school-halt to explain to the horse how he should relate to a transition. We all know transitions are of great importance within horse-training. A transition works kind of like a sit-up for horses – strengthen the abdominals.
There is very much talk about that the hors should work with his back – I´ve never quite understood that. A working muscle, as far as I know, contracts. If the back muscles contract the horse shortens his back and become stiff and numb, it may also start to sway. We don’t want either of that. So – we can assume that it is a bit stupid for the horse to start working with his back.
It would be more logical for the horse to start working with his abdominals. If working means that the abdominals contract and shorten, then technically that would lift the back upwards. But not if the back muscles are tense and short too of course. If so is the case the horses entire barrel will be compressed and pushed together, which would make the horse short and without elasticity. That is the exact opposite to what we want, we want to have a horse that easily can extend his stride (but who is also able to shorten at command) which gives what you call a repertory in the horse´s paces, from the piaffe to the extended trot.
Transitions is something that mess up things for many riders. Many riders complain that the horse breaks free from the rider and hand, especially in transitions down. So, we need to think about why the horse does this. What does it mean that the horse breaks free? Well that’s what we call it when the horse throws his head up in the air as a reaction to the riders aids with the reins. It is completely logic for the horse to do so – it is an animal who go against pressure, if you pull backwards all of the horse´s instincts will tell it to pull against your pull.
So – one could say that if you hadn´t pulled the horse in the first place it hadn´t needed to strike free. So – why do you pull a horse to stop it? Completely unlogic.
That’s where the school-halt comes into the picture. It is a way to teach the horse to stop without pulling it. When you do that, magic things happen in the horse. The hind legs will com further in beneath the horse, which as we already know is a good thing.
We use a special technique to teach this to us and the horse – then you may very easily transfer it and use it when mounted as well.
It is said that a horse needs four million transitions before it becomes a Grand Prix horse – so learning how to do transitions is crucial for us. Simply to teach our horse how to maintain balanced in a transition, when a horse loose his balance he is often mistaken for stupid, clumsy and disobedient… pretty sad when you think about it, that poor balance is mistaken for disobedience.
Oh, well, the focus of this course is the school-halt.
You sign up for the course by sending in an exam for Work at Hand 3.
Work at Hand 5
In this course we work on the lunging. Straightening lunging. Lungeing is a fantastic way to school horses. We work on fine-tuning the body language we learnt from previous Work at Hand courses, in order to make it work also when we are located in the middle of a circle – i.e. a bit further away from our horse.
We learn educating, straightening lunging. This is an art far more complicated than you can think. It is very easy to end up in a tug of war if you start lunging your horse before you developed a good communication. We want every step the horse takes to make the horse a little bit better. This means we have to learn to affect the horse´s step, affect how it uses every part of its body. But you also need to learn that you cant affect everything at the same time – one thing at a time is the rule within horsetraining.
We learn to affect beat, tempo, shape and what track the horse walks on. We also start the shoulder out at hand. Everything in order to help your horse become the best he can be.
Another positive effect from lunging is that horses feel better and in fact need to be regularly trained without a girth around their chest, since the girth no matter how well fit or ergonomic it is constrains the horse´s movements even if it´s ever so little. Muscles are pinched, the bloodflow is constrained a bit. To let the horse move without disturbance of a girth around the belly allows the blood to flow free in the entire horse. When I worked with racehorses you could notice a big improvement within the horses if you allowed them to move regularly without disturbing girths.
You sign up for this course by sending in an exam for Work at Hand 4.
Work at Hand 6
In this course we work on the rein back and turning on the hind quarters, as a preparation to teach the horse how to do half step or tramp (a preparation for the piaffe). The tramp itself is not the goal though – the techniques are primarily used to get to the horse´s hind legs, make the horse lift it´s back, come further in underneath it´s body, i.e. all that is included in collection.
You have to become aware that everything you do with a horse, schools, bend, tramp etc. in themselves are not the primary goal. It is no goal to perform a shoulder out or shoulder in, it is only a milestone, a tool used to improve your horse´s qualities. Qualities that are improved in order to make your horse more aware of his body and to make him good at carrying his rider and do what she asks from him.
To me the goal in horse-training is to teach the horse to move forward in a way that becomes more elastic, comfortable and easy for every year that passes. If you train your horse in a smart way you can enjoy it for many, many years – many more than what is common today. Way too many horses break during their build-up training. This is mostly because the horse is not given enough time. People are in such a hurry, which is a pity. Incredibly many horses never get the chance to show their full potential due to this.
We want to help our horse to become the best it can be and it takes a long time to do that if you want to do it good. Did you know that it takes about four years of slow, calm training before the horse´s hind legs are strong enough to carry a lot of weight for longer periods? It is not just muscles that have to build but also joints, tendons and ligaments must be successively trained to withstand a higher load. Muscles build up pretty fast and easy, it’s the rest that takes time.
You sign up for this course by sending in an exam for Work at Hand 5.
This is a very common and frequently asked question in different horse- or riding forums. It is completely logical to me that horses just pick one lead in the canter.
A horse is born shaped like a banana seen from above. It means that it´s hips are moving in one direction and its shoulders in the other direction.
It is also born with 60 % of it´s weight on it´s front legs and 40 % of i´s weight on the hind legs.
To mess things upp a bit more it´s also a fact that the weight isn´t evenly distributed within the two pairs of legs. It always carrys more weight on one of the front legs and one of the hind legs.
As a concrete example the weight-distribution between the legs of a horse weighing 500 kg may look like this. The example is made up, I have not tested and found out the exact numbers.
The right front leg carries 175 kg
The left front leg carries 125 kg
The right hind leg carries 125 kg
The left hind leg carries 75 kg
The weight of the horse in the example then has an evenly distributed balance of it´s weight between the left front and right hind legs. These are the horse´s pillars in life. Here we have equilibrium. Here he wants to be all the time. Here it is safe. And easy. Left lead canter is smooth as can be, he falls into it very natural.
The right lead canter then. That one is really, really uncomfortable to be in. It feels like he is constantly falling and darn how hard it is to lift the right front leg – it just wont work. So he ignores this lead and keeps falling, on and on, into his normal, safe, left lead canter. If he ever succeed getting the right lead this canter is really super fast. And his head is held high since he looses his balance and feels very unsafe.
It is quite easy to realize where the difficulty with the canter lies now huh? The horse is built by nature to just pick one of the leads.
Here you can also find the answer to why your horse gets inflammations in the joints in one of the front legs. And why these inflammations keep comming back as soon as you start working your horse again after his sick-leave.
A horse that is fully schooled doesn´t look like a banana seen from above anymore, it looks like a… hmm… like a… pen? A very curved pen 🙂 i.e. it is straight.
It has shifted weight to the hindquarters which makes him now carry 50 % of his weight on the front legs and 50 % of his weight on his hindqarters.
Besides that he also has the weight evenly divided between all his four legs.
This makes the distribution of weight look like this
The right front leg carries 125 kg
The left front leg carries 125 kg
The right hind leg carries 125 kg
The left hind leg carries 125 kg
He no longer has a favourite leg to hang on, he can change just as it suits him. He doesn´t loose his balance and hence has no need neither to ruch nor to throw his head up. Both leads are easy in the canter.
In order to acheive this “simple-stage” all you have to do is to help the horse to distribute his weight evenly on his legs, then his banana-shaped spine will straighten out so that the shoulders are walking the same direction as the peslvis and the spine will also be pointing in the same direction.
When the horse has come this fare there are no problems with anything left. The problem is the time it takes to come here. To shift the weight of a horse takes long time. Joints, tendons and ligaments must be given time to adapt to the new way of being. It takes about 4 years before the horse´s joints, tendons and ligaments are strong enought to be able to withstand working straigt for longer periods. 4 years!!! of calm and methodical work.
What makes this hard is that we humans have the same crooked weight-distribution and we are shaped in the same banana-way as the horse. You can imagine what happens when you put one banana-shaped individual on top of another banana-shaped individual and then the first banana is trying to make the second banana to become straight?
Can you imagine how much violence against the horses mouths that comes from us beeing as crooked as our horse.?
Can you imagine how much fur is molded off by legs and spurs in order to comensate for us not being straight ourselves?
I have some old post on this subject for the one who is interested in digging a bit deeper.
Is your horse straight?
Words about crookedness from students after courses
I´ve been to the chiropractor – now I´m straight
Awareness in the aids
Straightness training is the foundation of everything. Before the horse and the human is somewhat straight it isn´t of any use to fight about leads in the canter. Neither is it of any use to keep going on about bending and shaping the neck. The rider will not become less crooked by this – neither will the horse.
Riders that are more straight is my goal. So that we can have more of the straight horses. Then and only then can we start affecting the sad and violent riding-trend we have today.
Want to become a straight rider? Our basic riding course starts the first friday every month. You sign up by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My last blog-post about slanted pelvises started many discussions. Many, many scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor and concluded they most certainly are aligned and straight in their bodies. How good for them. But do you know what? It doesn´t matter at all that you are straight in your body, or that you became straight after he or she pulled and yanked you a bit. It is pretty easy to become aligned and straigt due to “outer forces”.
The trouble is that it doesn´t take very many days before your muscles have made you crooked again. The skeleton is – much simplified – a pile of bones without any will of their own. The skeleton can´t move, manouver or make anything at all by itself. It is like a marionette completely in the hands of your brain. It is the brain who is the boss over your skeleton, and to it´s help it has got a whole bunch of miniones – the muscles. These muscles are very conservative things, they want to do things the way they always have, they aren´t very interested in doing things in new ways. This is because their boss (a.k.a. the brain) is conservative.
When we are born we have no real motion patterns, these are developed as life goes by. Some patterns we take after the ones we see the most, often our parents or some other person close to us. We like to imitate. Imitation is carried out by our mirror neurons among others. If we are in a “stiff-legged” environment with stiff individuals we become stiff. If we are in a “movable” environment we become movable and more flexible. There are lots of other factors that affects ur of course, what I am writing about today is just part of the truth. You may therefor take the syaing “You are what you eat” and transfer it to “You are what you see”.
We don´t have any direct limitations when we are born (we now look away from genes, diseases etc.) and we have a lot of different ways of doing things – and we can do them without any problems. We can see this for example when the children starts moving, first they can roll over, make a lot of different noises, play with the fingers´and toes´motions, put a foot in the mouth, start crawling in the most unexpected and incredible ways. But as time goes by “unwanted” motion patterns are sorted out and only the most effective ones are used. This is when the limitation starts. We would have been able to … wll… eat? in 37 000 different ways, but we stick to the way of bringing the food to our mouth with a tool that we hold in an specific way in one of our hands, we bring the glass to our mouth to drink in a specific way.
This is called nurture and training, common sens… Adaptation to society. When we make this adaption we abandon a lot of different ways of doing things, we abandon a lot of motion patterns. We start to develope our non-equilaterality, we do certain things with our right hand, we always put our head in a specific way when we listen. We start walking properly instead of childishly jumping around, we stop balancing on pavements and walls, we stop climbing trees. We simply grow up and become adults. We put on our pants in the same way every day, always standing on the same one leg, lifting the other. We sit by a computer and always use one hand for the mouse – which makes this hand extremely fine-coordinated.
Meanwhile our horse does the exact same thing. He learns to graze with one foot in front of him (this hoof will become wide and low in the heel) and the other foot behind the first (this hoof will become high in the heel and also may have a tendency of stumpyness, it will also be narrower). He learns to be lead on his left side and he learns that when he runs off while being lead his head will be pulled to his left. He learns that when he is taken from a pasture he goes out, turns in the same direction every time in order to wait for the human to close the gate. I think you know what I mean, he stars to develop his non-equilaterality.
Now these two individuals are to start dancing together. One seated on top of the other. Gosh this is working just fine… or not… 😉
Hence, we are to take to crooked, non-equilateral individuals and make them straigt. Often we notice we aren´t straight, so we bring out a chiropractor, naprapath or osteopath, or acupuncturer… either for ourselves or our horse, or both. Squirk, bang, poof and we are straight…. All the way out to the pasture where the horse starts eating with one hoof in front of the other, and we ourselves go to our work and sit down in front of our computer, eat lunch, drink coffee etcetera… Bang, and we are back in our crookedness.
We must understand that what has been bent can´t become straight just like that. It takes time. Almost eternal time. Dressage has gotten som many menaings these days, mostly they are all about the shape of the neck and working the horse in an outline. I don´t know from whre this subsided, but dressage seems to be about one crooked individual pulling some strings attached to the mouth of another crooked individual in order to make the later one bend his neck, and then by kicking it a littel with the legs making it move in different directions. It mostly doesn´t work that well, it is mostly very stiff and crooked and un-harmonic.
In Sweden we don´t have any good culture of straighness, we have more of a hard-labour-work-culture packed in fast-food apperance. this means that this is what we see all around us. The we of course try to mimic this, because it is in our nature to mimic things we see, both concious and un-concious (those mirror neurons). This is one of the reasons why it is hard to learn to RIDE in Sweden, we don´t have very many good things to mimic. If we are to look at the good things we must look utterly close. We don´t find it in riding schools or at competition arenas. There we mostly see a kind of competition in “most humps per second wins” or “hardest hand and best neck-curl wins” or “most bangs with a spur in horse-belly wins”. the riders are kind of seated above their horses and they are rocking and swaying and jumping all over the place. I get dizzy by looking at this. But ths is what we have got to mimic. Most learning is made by mimic… We become good at doing what we see a lot of… We mimic….
But this isn´t what riding is about. There are other ways of RIDING. Where riding is about dressage as straightness training. I don´t mean banging straight by the help of outer forces like chiropractors or spurs, but about trying to recreate all the small motion patterns we have lost in the process of growing up. To become as moveable and flexible as we were when we were born. To make the horse supple and flexible like a foal, make us a flexible child.
Dressage to me is exactly this – straightness training – to make us (the equipage) flexible and equilateral, find all the coordinations we once had as children and start using them again. It is not easy, you can´t rush it, because when you rush things the reptile brain comes in and takes over and the motions become big, harsh and jerky and we won´t dare to use our lost motion patterns, neither us nor our horses. This kind of training is done at peace and quiet conditions, we become happy for every single millimeter of use of a forgotten motion pattern. When we can change a superficial motion pattern even the slightes bit the deeper muscles will be able to loosen their posture, make us a little less crooked in some direction. If you can make the deep muscles to let go of one millimeter a month every year – oh darn, then you have acheived lasting progress. 1 mm a month is not a big thing, the concervative brain can accept this (the brain controls the muscles- remember?) and lets this little change stay. But if we try to change like 5 cm in one minute (common when you try to bend the horse´s neck by use of the hand) the brain will NOT accept this. It may give in after a little debate and nagging, but it will NOT let go of the deeper muscles, more likely contract them even more and make the tensions bigger.
Within riding the saying “Less is More” really applies.
What makes it so hard to learn how to RIDE this way in Sweden is that there are very few equipages to mimic. Many feel stared out if they don´t ride like everyone else, if they don´t have their horse on the bit, that they are not really riding… This makes it incredibly easy to go back to old harmful patterns of riding.
More horse-y discussions on Facebook.
Some call it a slanted pelvis, some call it legs of unequal length. We all have it, both humans and animals. A pelvis can be slanted or crooked in so incredebly many ways. I have found lots of pictures that may speak for themselves. Which of all muscles make you, personnally, crooked i leave without comment, but as you can see it is not ONE muscle that makes you, or your pelvis, crooked or slanted. It is all about muscles cooperating as a long chain, pulling us unevenly all the way from our feet up to our ears… Never ending story. You don´t need to learn all the fancy names or go into details – you don´t have to become an expert at it. The “only” thing we need as riders is to work on making our muscles more even on both sides, so that we can become straight. Then we can continue and make our horse straight by loading weight on the horse evenly. Easy-piecy huh?
Here we have a rotated pelvis with thigh bones. This condition helps our horse to go forward unevenly to our hand – among many other things… 😉
A rotated pelvis seen from behind, can you see how much tensions that comes as a reslut from the rotation? What is the hen and what is the egg you might ask?
Here we see pelvises that are of unequal height sideways. This condition helps our horse to push out a shoulder or always pull towards one direction.
Here we can se some of the muscles that MAY help a pelvis become slanted or crooked or of unequal height.
Here we see another muscle that MAY be helpful for this, or should we rather say un-helpful…
Some more “helpers”
Even on the inside of us there are helpers. The old-fashioned contraction-exercises are no bluff *hint hint*
If it sounds like an undoable task to become straight – start with these, they are the foundation in all riding. Without complete control over these little bastards riding becomes very hard. Often they are super-strong on one side and nowhere-to-be-found on the other side. Train the ones that you cant find instead of loosening the super-strong ones.
There – more questions about tilted pelvises? 😉
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