|A shot of the pad I made for the clinic.|
Okay...... on to what we were told:
Riders should be in self carriage at all times. This means less than 2lbs of pressure in the stirrups. Thighs rotated inward towards the saddle, heels rotated out from the saddle, feet flat for Dressage, and toes either straight forward or pointed towards the girth (pigeon toed)(without touching horse). The aid comes from your calf, not your heels. Basically the shape of your legs shall follow the form of the horse and saddle in a upside down "V" shape, with the lower legs clear of the barrel. You will carry your weight with your knees and thighs almost exclusively. Like I mentioned there should be less than 2lbs of pressure in the stirrups at any time. Sound hard? Yeah it is!!
Abdominals: Muscles in torso should be engaged and in a "bare down" mode. She had riders cough to feel what that feels like; place hand on upper abdominals, and middle of back, cough, feel that? That is engagement of the right muscles. Do not forget about the obliques. You should sit and hold those muscles in a way that makes you stable enough that someone would have a hard time pushing you in any direction.
Lower back: FLAT!!! No curve. Instead push your back towards your belt, without bowing backwards. make sure your seat bones stay pointing straight down. Sit on your hands to find seat bones, roll forward and back to see what straight down feels like.
Upper Back: Straight, with shoulder blades towards each other.
Chest: have your collarbones forward, without tipping forward and without sending your girls upwards. This is not a Wonderbra moment. Just open chest without heaving.
Shoulders and arms: Arms should be spaced the width of your hips with reins in a straight line from elbow to muzzle. Straight line not just in up and down, but from side to side.( Reins should not touch the neck of horse.) Close shoulders by closing the back of your armpit.
"Following" eyes:(does not apply to jumping courses) Instead of following the old mantra of looking ahead, the "Ride with your mind" Instructors wants their riders to use "following eyes." Do not look into a turn, meaning turning head and looking in the direction where you want to go, you will instead keep your gaze somewhat averted. Looking over your horses outside ear, and using your periferal vision to navigate the turn. The idea is that when you look ahead you turn a very heavy part of your body, your head, and your shoulders, and you then put extra weight on the inside of the turn, pushing your horse towards the outside. This causes dropped shoulders, and a falling out in the turn. (The reason why this does not apply to jumping courses is because the body is on a half seat. or a two-point position thereby having less strain on the horse.)
Those were the main lessons from a very informative clinic. I would recommend going to one, as it does make you really think about how you adversely affect your horse when in motion. I learned a lot, and Denise and I will now see which parts we intend to keep, and which parts are discarded. The clinician shortened stirrups without fail, saying that all Riders these days ride in too long of a leg. This seemed to apply especially to Dressage riders.
Video and Pics to come......