April 12, 2016

Gripping With My Legs

The other positional thing we have been attacking lately is a new habit of gripping with my legs.  I'm not gripping for the normal reasons.  I have no problems sitting the trot and staying on.  I'm gripping because I learned how much leg it took to get bend and mediocre S-I out of him, and to "close his corridor" of movement, and I overstayed my welcome on that particular aid.

What this means at the trot, in general Dressage voodoo terms, is that the energy he generates can't go up, and instead goes flat and forward.  Combine that with my old standard position of rounded shoulders, braced feet, and sitting on my pubic bone, and you did not have a recipe for a horse that wanted to go round and in self-carriage.

Nothing about my position here says "Horse, I invite you to sit back on your hocks and elevate your front end so that we can alight to the highest levels of Dressage together."  Instead, I'm saying "DIVE ONTO YOUR FOREHAND AND CARRY ME WITH YOU!"

The new Dressage saddle has helped a lot with this one.  It wants my shoulders to be above my hips, whereas the CWD obviously does not, being a jump saddle.  (Although if you look at the picture above, you know my bad habits can definitely overcome the right tack!)

If I think about opening my thighs and sitting lightly and upright, combined with all of the positional changes outlined in my last post, he almost immediately seeks the bit and gives me a "better place to sit."  Which then makes it even easier for me to sit.  It's a good cycle.

You came along at just the right time, my friend.

But what about those aids I used to give so firmly?  In my lesson last Thursday, she had me really establish this new position and new way of going, and then try shoulder-in at the trot, with a special focus on not clamping down.  S-I at the trot has never been great for us, in fact I'd call it downright difficult, so I didn't know what to expect...

...and then HOLY COW WHAT WAS THAT?!  Who knew, timing my aids would give me a lot better S-I than just asking and praying and putting them on and leaving them.  It felt really, really cool, and so effortless compared to a normal S-I (for us).  My trainer was smiling.  I'm definitely looking forward to more of that.


  1. Loling about overcoming the right tack...I can do that too;)

  2. Ha! Yes, I can hunch and clamp in any tack. It's a work in progress.

  3. Oh, how I dream of that feeling... like, ALL the time!! <3

  4. I always love these posts, you help me figure out what I'm doing with my body that's not helping me and Katai!

  5. It may also be that Connor now knows what the aid for SI is, so you don't have to go all-out to get it. With Paddy I can just put my thigh on, with Taran it's still a massive struggle that usually involves a pony-club kick and a tap on the butt. I definitely find it hard to refine my aids once your horse can take a more refined aid!

  6. Oh man I grip like WHOA because it has historically taken so damn much leg to get Tristan to do anything. I once sat on a school horse that was the kick-ride of the barn and he practically leapt out of his skin, I used so much leg as my baseline. So I need to re-learn this one too. Sigh.

  7. Somehow I missed the new saddle. I might have to look in to one for Emi. Of course my saddle that I was using on Benny doesn't fit!

    1. You should, these are a great low-budget option for Cobs. If she's REALLY got a broad Cob back, they even make the same saddle in a broadback tree. Here is my review of mine: http://www.cobjockey.com/2016/04/product-review-thorowgood-t8-dressage.html

  8. "Horse, I invite you to sit back on your hocks and elevate your front end so that we can alight to the highest levels of Dressage together."

    LOLOLOL I can't stop giggling at this.

  9. Excellent! Sounds like everything is coming together really well. I definitely get in the habit of doing too much with my aids at times and need to sit back and reevaluate how much I actually need to do.

  10. Such an easy trap to get sucked into...particularly on greener horses where you get results from exaggerating the aids. Ask me how I know ;)
    PS thank you for that saddle review, been eying those and the kent & masters up for Bridget.

  11. Ugh why is it so hard to get that right dressage position tho?!? And why does the "right" position have to be so different from a strong jump position?!!

  12. Whenever I am struggling with a movement I look at my position and generally decide I'm always the problem