Monday, March 25 2013
Day 1 of our training week. Yesterday, we arrived safely after some trouble getting stuck with our horse truck in the snow. Aranka is a veteran when it comes to these trips to Denmark, and Fitzer (it's his 1st time!) is so cool, he is not bothered by the traveling nor the new paddock. I believe Aranka is having a great influence on him with her experience.
The lessons for week students start on monday morning 10am. The lessons on monday are to determine this week's topics and for Bent to check the progress on our previous home work. The last time he saw Aranka was almost a year ago and our last home work was to continue the development of her collection. We have made some steady progress in that area, she develops slow but continuous in her carrying capacity of her hind quarter. Not bad for a 20yr old arab! Almost immediately Bent noticed that we can still increase the quality of her inside hip and the suppleness on the inside rein if I can allow her more freedom in the outside shoulder. This has been an ongoing experiment for me in the last year, trying to find ways to do just that. One 'tiny' bit of advice of Bent made all the difference in the world: allowing my outside hip not only to come up, but also bringing it a bit back while my inside seat is going down and forward. The results were immediate and amazing! We continued to work on this in walk and trot in forward down and collection. The moment I was doing it right, she came freer out of her shoulders. Another important lesson of this morning was the use of the lower legs: when up on your upper legs in the 'light' seat; allow the lower legs to swing together with the hind legs, from the hips down. When collecting, the hips should continue to move with the hind legs but the lower legs need to be independent of the seat, so that they can be used in any timing that you want.
With Fitzer we continued the seat lesson, adding the rotation of my spine into the movement. Just like we want our horses to stretch the outside upper line in the bending, so should we riders. So, when the inside hind leg is coming forward our inside hip goes down and the outside hip goes back and up and when the outside shoulder of the horse is coming forward, our outside shoulder comes forward. In trot this means that the outside hip going back and the outside shoulder coming forward happens in the same moment, stretching the outside of the rider and allowing the horse to stretch his outside. Also with Fitzer, we worked on keeping the awareness of the seat in the various lateral and collecting exercises. As Bent puts it: "Always ride the horse, do not use the horse as an object to do gymnastics on". You should not feel your seat, but feel the horse THROUGH your seat, just like you should not focus on feeling your hands, but be focussed on feeling the horse THROUGH your hands.
In conclusion, we should always work on our seat, but at the same time not forget that with the seat, we direct our horses and that we should always make sure that our horses are improving from our riding.
I like to share my thoughts on the Art of Riding with you here. Topics related to training and keeping horses and reports of my own experiences you can find here. Enjoy!