Repetitive or Restorative?
I have always enjoyed teaching riders to better understand creating an ideal partnership with the horse. This is first and foremost having an understanding of how the horse needs to prepare and coordinate the demands of balancing under a rider. The importance of Dressage is not a style of riding but a knowledge of educating the horses mind and body. This can be compared to the suppling work of Yoga and Physical Therapy exercises.
Stretching the tight muscles that have contracted at the expense of the stronger opposing muscles
Giving you repetitive drills that will re-awaken dormant neural connections that are inhibiting your muscles from activating in the right sequence can-correct-muscle-imbalances
Working on repetitive movements with your horse who you are asking to be an athlete is no different than a basketball player or competitive runner working on form and drills to become better at their sport.
Are you bored with your arena schooling?
Performed correctly, Repetitive movement is what allows bodies to take the movements we aren’t used to doing and turn it into muscle memory. This creates habit and an automatic response. At first, the horse seems to be resentful and unable to perform the exercise asked at a correct biomechanical approach. As consistency and posture are redesigning the mental and physical capabilities of the horse, he begins to seek the comfort that correct muscle use provides. Choosing harmony over “ frame “ is what creates a deep connection with the horse. Once this door is opened for a better way of training, the rider who sincerely seeks a quiet dialogue of communication will be willing to change their way of thinking.
Yoga can be compared to the suppling benefits of correct Dressage movements.
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Additionally, yoga’s focus on mobility and flexibility can contribute to better alignment by releasing muscles that are often tight, such as the hamstrings, and improving mobility of the spine
Many rider’s attempt to ride the horse in the “ finished picture” where the horse feels collected, up, and “on the bit.” What is really happening is the horse is bracing the back muscles and using the trunk to carry himself. This places the horse heavy on the forehand and keeps the front legs from doing the job of balance control. The rider’s mind needs to understand how to guide the horse to correct movement. Intuition is a tool that helps create quiet communication with the horse.
When the horse is crooked he will tell the rider that he can’t do it, but he will not be able to find the solution himself. It’s the responsibility of the rider to analyze the crookedness in the horse and to find the source for it and correct it. -Jean Luc Cornille/ Science of Motion
Spine control with lateral bending provides equilibrium, flexibility, balance, lightness, strength, etc. However, Jean-Marie Denoix warns that the functional anatomy and sequence of locomotor events that take place are often poorly misunderstood. To the naked eye, the horse appears to be performing sophisticated movements at the highest level. The trainer educated with the knowledge of biomechanics understands that the horse is physically as well as mentally suffering. Incorrect muscles are developing at the expense of the rider seeking excitement of moving up the levels of Dressage.
, Francois Robichon de La Gueriniere warned riders with his published books back in 1733…
“One often demands things that the horses are not capable of doing in a desire to push them too fast and teach them too much. These excessive demands make them hate exercise, strains and tires their sinews and tendons, upon whose elasticity and suppleness depends and often these horses end up ruined when it is believed that they have been trained. Thus, no longer having the strength to fight back, they obey, but without grace or any spirit.’
Instead, a partnership where an educated mind, the rider’s mind, guides the horse’s mental processing toward sophisticated control of the horse’s physique. JLC
Lateral movements are key to helping the horse that has developed improper muscle or has been mentally shut down in submissiveness to pain. Correctly executed lateral movements develop proprioception of joints, tendons and muscles of the limbs and also the vertebral column which is responsible for correct movement and bend. The horse that is heavy on the riders hands or the rider that holds the horses head in a “frame” is continually contracting the back muscles. This eventually keeps the hind legs from doing the job of “ pushing “ the horse from behind and over the back. The improper use of back muscle creates compensations of the proper kinematics, interfering with movement, comfort and finally behavior.
Shoulder in for example is a great gymnastic for developing suppleness as well as symmetrical back muscle use.
The shoulders can only be suppled when the inner hind leg comes close to and in front of the outer hindleg. This creates correct rotation of the spine enabling correct bend.
“The key to good riding, however, is to be able to control and correct oneself constantly. If the rider encounters a problem, he must first look for the cause in himself. Most of the time, the rider is the cause of the problem. Only someone who looks at his own riding critically and is willing to improve constantly and learn more will be a good rider.” - Ernst Hoyos: Dressage Today
How to Ride and Utilize Shoulder-In with Ernst Hoyos
“A partnership where an educated mind, the rider’s mind, guides the horse’s mental processing toward sophisticated control of the horse’s physique.”
- Jean Luc Cornille/ Science of Motion