So I will attempt to do a mindful Musing post on a regular basis. No promises, as sometimes life gets in the way.
So one of the things that I seem to say a lot to riders is “slow down”! In this instance, I am talking about to tempo of the horse’s feet.
How many times have you been told in a lesson…… forward, more forward, FORWARD? What were my coaches in the past trying to achieve because it never seemed to be forward enough? I also started saying this as well in my past coaching life as it seemed to be what was said by people in a higher authority.
I’m thinking this was to get the hind leg stepping more under the horse, and they wanted the horse in front of the rider’s leg. Yes, they are correct, but is this actually been achieved or is it harming the horse.
When a horse is sent forward too much, they actually are chased out of balance. The hind leg no sooner lands on the ground and it has to push off again, so the hind leg pushes backwards, opening the joints of the hip, stifle and hock. There is no time for the hind leg to bend and flex, it creates a brace. If the horse’s hind leg is braced, it will not be flexing, because the joints are opened and therefore the horse is pushed downwards onto the forehand as the sling system of the barrel is put into increasing strain. As the tension of the whole horse’s system is challenged, the pelvis rotates backwards, creating the back muscles to becomes tight; the horses’ mind also becomes tense and worried as now he flys around the arena he is out of balance and out of control.
So experiment this week and see how your horse feels if you slow or down a little, maybe 2-5%. Can you suddenly feel the backswing more, can you feel the pelvis rotate under more and the back lift, ask yourself does the steps now feel more elastic as the joints have time to bend, and is the horse more relaxed in the mental state.?
I would love you to join in on this conversation and give your views.
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