Operation: Learn To Ride

Ambers Echo

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I have nicked Dolly a couple while Toby has been away. But Katie is competing in 2 weeks so it didn't really feel fair to mess about too much, riding her in a different way. So I just did fitness work with her.

But I guess all saddle time helps to an extent.
 

Ambers Echo

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Revisting this thread as had an utterly deflating ride yesterday from an 'I can't ride' POV. I was thrilled with Lottie but felt totally crap about my riding. Again. Interestingly I re-read the whole thread and saw that the last time I felt this dispirited and hopeless was in Dec after a lesson with the same instructor. That was the last time she taught me. She obviously really, really does not like how I sit on a horse! I rate her, I really do. And she is the one who got me from X-poles to technical BE100 lines in training on Amber. But I felt cr@p after both those lessons with no clear plan of how to improve! So either I need to process her feedback differently or find a way to put what she is teaching into practice. Maybe I should email her and just say I don't know how to fix the flaws she is identifying? She did give me an exercise but that made me feel worse as she told me to practice standing in the stirrups in walk to improve my balance - warning that at first I would need to sit every few strides. I was given this exercise YEARS ago and I can stand up in balance for as long as I feel like in walk and trot. So the fact that she thought I would struggle with that was a bit depressing. And begs the question - why does my balance look so bad when if you make me show balance (eg lunge lessons with no stirrups and reins, standing up etc) then I am in balance. Why don't the skills these exercises are supposed to teach translate to actual real world riding?

Anyway - my Ingestre lessons were halted as they only taught students for ages and have only recently re-started. I am now there every Thursday and have ridden some lovely horses. I get ok feedback from the instructor there so I do think I have improved:

- More balanced
- Straighter
- More feel for what is happening underneath me.

But in videos I can see that my old bug bears are still there - bouncing hands and overuse of the left rein.

So back to the drawing board. I plan to start updating again as think writing stuff down after lessons helps keep me focused plus I have a long list of tips from this thread that I am going to work on again. So thank-you everyone!
 

LEC

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I think you need to have more dialogue when you are riding. Question the trainer more and be quicker to go this isn’t working for me, next tool to help me process it. I don’t think I really stop talking in my lessons - but I am external with my thought processes or you need to allow more breathing space in your lessons to talk things through.

Saying that I have really struggled with my arms/contact. With Mark Phillips I really had it but he just corrected me and it was only recently I worked out why watching Olympia and top class sjing. So now have a blueprint in my mind. I have spent years being told have a softer arm (when they mean elbow) and keep hands down which is frankly counterintuitive.

I watch a lot of my videos back to understand feel vs what it looks like. My trainer now actually does it in the moment to show good and bad so you can match the feel.

The conscious competent stage is the hardest. Dr I find it really easy. Jumping I am inept. Marginal gains, the whole time which are hard to come by. I see Caroline Moore a bit and frankly her lessons terrify me in a good way. Massive holes are normally found and I get a lot of feedback. I can come away despairing and don’t have enough time to pick her brain but I then work really hard to resolve them. I am lucky as get my Caroline lessons videoed so watch them back over and over again.

Finally, I have seen one of my trainers for 14 years and on the 2 point position out the saddle thing she makes me do it every now and again and is slightly annoying about it but I just suck it up.
 

teapot

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I'd sack off the one who leaves you feeling dispirited and hopeless, you'll end up dreading the lessons. It's meant to be fun (as HHO kindly reminded me last year!)

Videos, even in situ (so you stop for two mins a lesson, doesn't matter) really help me, as does chatting away!
 

Marigold4

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A game changer for me and bringing back my left hand was watching a video by Heather Moffatt on her online dressage course. It's called something like "how to use the reins". Once I'd got the hang of the idea that you only need to use the fingers instead of your whole hand, my hands were MUCH steadier and my horse's jaw much more relaxed. I had never really been taught this and it has made SUCH a difference to get rid of my uneducated preconceived ideas of what I should be doing with my hands.
 

Skib

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Only the 4th finger really. As Mark Rashid said, the most sensitive part pof the human linked to the most sensitive part of the horse. Our UK RI used to say, imagne a newly hatched chick in our hands.

I have to say this can be hard with plastic type RS reins. I bought new leather reins for my share horse. No grip. She stopped leaning on the reins for a start.
 

milliepops

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for me i think overcoming handiness/moving hands is about an independent seat and then getting a good connection down the rein. independent seat helps the bouncing. and once you have that really good contact, you don't particularly need to change anything significantly (no need to fiddle) and you won't want to drop it either (helps any losing and picking up reins issues)

is the left rein issue just on one specific horse or do you have that problem on the RS horses too?
 

Marigold4

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Only the 4th finger really. As Mark Rashid said, the most sensitive part pof the human linked to the most sensitive part of the horse. Our UK RI used to say, imagne a newly hatched chick in our hands.

I have to say this can be hard with plastic type RS reins. I bought new leather reins for my share horse. No grip. She stopped leaning on the reins for a start.
The Heather Moffatt/ classical training is not just 4th finger. It's a bit different. It's also about NEVER moving your hand (s) back
 

Ambers Echo

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for me i think overcoming handiness/moving hands is about an independent seat and then getting a good connection down the rein. independent seat helps the bouncing. and once you have that really good contact, you don't particularly need to change anything significantly (no need to fiddle) and you won't want to drop it either (helps any losing and picking up reins issues)

is the left rein issue just on one specific horse or do you have that problem on the RS horses too?
I’m better on the Ingestre horses. I am being given nice horses to ride - stage 3+ horses. My dressage RI has ridden Lottie and says she does fall in on the left - thought to be injury related. She does not want to travel straight on the left. So I think my issues are highlighted by her rather than masked by the RS horse x
 

Roxylola

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So, on the "stand up" I'm guessing she's seeing your lower leg swinging back, which is often a nasty habit of mine when I feel like I'm not really getting a connection and the inside hind isn't pushing to my outside rein. It's still a bad habit, but I know where it comes from at least
 

Ambers Echo

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I'm trying to make sense of the feedback. I have a new dressage trainer who also rides Lottie and says she has a tendency to run on and take over. She half halts every few strides and an exercise we do a lot is slow trot, move on, slow, move on etc using leg and seat half halts and keeping hands still. She really listens and comes back to me when I squeeze her with my upper thigh and bum. It works much better than giving the reins a squeeze. But in the XC lesson I was being told to 'stop gripping' as I think the assumption was I was gripping with my thighs to stay on not to slow her down. I had comments about balance, seat and gripping with my legs. And this in particular is what made me feel so frustrated because the tool that I was pleased I had developed was now being taken away - in fact when I said what I was trying to do I was told I was making her worse - that I was in a driving seat or 'toilet' seat and and I needed to sit more centrally in the saddle, much lighter and stop gripping.

In flat lessons she gets very onward bound and I can feel that I am losing position. But if I still sit and squeezewith thighs with every stride (which yes I can see does make me stick my arse out behind!) she DOES listen to that and when she stops bogging off with me I can sort the position out again. I do waterski for a few strides. The next step is to be able to half halt a running off horse without losing position at the same time. And then to stop her running off in the first place. But I felt that we were on the way to a solution. But now I just feel embarrassed. In fairness to the RI, she was encouraging and supportive. She is really nice and I like her a lot. And I have just remembered she taught at camp which was a good lesson too. But I have had lessons where what I am told to do turns a key and we improve. That one didn't. And nor did the cantering squares one. And neither lesson left me with exercises to do or homework I think would be useful. So I will try someone new. Sometimes getting the right fit for the rider AND the horse is hard.

Anyway, have a pic of the keen bean!

 

Bernster

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Obv we’re all dealing with different things so it’s tricky to be that helpful online. That said, I had a period when I got quite confused and my training wasn’t working when I had too many trainers and they were teaching me different things. Could that be happening with you?

I am now much more careful about who I train with and try to stick to a very small number who provide a more consistent method of training. It’s hard as it means I miss out on clinics and venues that I’d like to visit but I have decided that, if I want to go somewhere, I’ll book it myself with my preferred trainer instead.

I’ve also been dealing with Bertie rushing, losing balance and getting onward bound in flatwork. I brace in the downward transition and have a tendency to try to pull on the reins, which obv makes it worse. It’s taking me a while to unravel that and do something else instead. Still not cracked it but it’s def getting better!
 

Ambers Echo

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It is a good idea to limit input I think and a while ago I did decide to stop going all over the place for clinics. Having said that, I have had some great 1 offs (eg Nicola Wilson, Gemma Tattersall) who were just brilliant. But I do need different trainers for dressage and jumping. Some do it all but I love my dressage trainer (who is pure dressage not eventing). So iI need to find a regular jump trainer and get some consistency. I am also dependent on people who train at Somerford as I really want tyo make use of the XC technical arena. Sadly my usual SJ person just does not go there.
 

Bernster

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Similar here. I have a regular flatwork trainer at the yard. She does teach all disciplines but I don’t jump that often at the yard and she has limited weekend availability. I have 2 jump instructors currently, one who is new to me and travels around, and one who I visit at her lovely big indoor school. Those two are coincidently both Centre 10 coaches which may explain why they have a similar approach. Hopefully that set up will work ok for me but I’ll see as this year progresses.
 

oldie48

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Please ditch the trainer who makes you feel "dispirited", honestly, really good trainers don't try to change too much at a time, they have the ability to "see" the one thing that will make a difference and focus on that. They can also weigh up the rider and appreciate what can be changed and what has to be worked around. FWIW I find it so much easier to sit well on a horse that is going well ie soft in the back, on the aids, supple in the neck and straight but put me on a horse that is tight or behind the leg and I bounce around with my hands, tip forward and generally look a bit of a mess. I also loathe the pronouncements of some illustrious riders as few pretty competent riders would measure up to their expectations of what makes a "good" rider, sometimes there's a huge difference between an effective rider and one that looks pretty. I had some lessons with someone who did "centred riding", Sally Swift etc and she went to training with Charles De Kunfy. Her mantra was if you sit ride the horse goes well. I had a tricky lazy git, who I struggled with and after every session I felt so fed up because she made me feel it was my fault htat he didn't go well. I asked her to sit on him, she kept forgetting her hat but eventually I got her aboard and much to my amazement, she couldn't get him to canter and she even struggled to keep him going in trot. That was my last lesson with her. Find a new trainer. xx
 

Roxylola

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The moment of tensing the thigh and buttock might work for pure dressage but I think there is a risk of it putting you out of balance if you're using that approaching a fence. I can't offer a solution really other than finding a different aid but I did wonder if that had come from someone pure dressage 🤔
 

Ambers Echo

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Her mantra was if you sit ride the horse goes well. I had a tricky lazy git, who I struggled with and after every session I felt so fed up because she made me feel it was my fault htat he didn't go well. I asked her to sit on him, she kept forgetting her hat but eventually I got her aboard and much to my amazement, she couldn't get him to canter and she even struggled to keep him going in trot. That was my last lesson with her. Find a new trainer. xx
Yes! I leave Ingestre thinking I CAN ride and then I get on a trickier, less educated horse and feel I really can't. Toby made me feel like a complete beginner at times
 

Ambers Echo

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The moment of tensing the thigh and buttock might work for pure dressage but I think there is a risk of it putting you out of balance if you're using that approaching a fence. I can't offer a solution really other than finding a different aid but I did wonder if that had come from someone pure dressage 🤔
Oh that;s interesting. It would make sense that different discpline and saddle needs different approaches. And maybe I did look all over the place trying that in the wrong place. Incidentally it was not on the approach a fence but on the flat between fences but I can still see why the saddle might not lend itself tho that aid really. Does there ever get to a point where you can just feel what to do/not to do. I am so literal. If I am told 'squeeze the thigh to slow down' I just will. I won't think 'that won't work here' or sense wrong place/wrong time. Though I guess if I spent more time on it I would begin to realise she is not responsing well to it?

Thanks!
 

j1ffy

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I agree with others who say move on from the trainer who is draining your confidence. I like a fairly tough and direct trainer but they have to be able to be constructive and give 'homework'.

Re: the rushing problem, I read an article recently that talked about the difference in half-halt for dressage vs. jumping but I can't find it for the life of me! I thought it might have been George Morris but I can only find a few words in articles featuring him, so maybe it was WFP or Christopher Burton. The premise was that the dressage half-halt uses the seat / thighs but a half-halt when jumping can't, so it has to rely on body weight and often you need to train from the rein first and sensitise to the body weight. Sorry I can't find the article :(
 

Tiddlypom

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Going back to getting your lessons videoed- yes, do. My riding improved hugely once I had my lessons videoed by my long suffering OH.

Looking back on the whole session afterwards from the instructor's eye view is invaluable. Plus you may see that what you 'felt' was happening at a particular moment wasn't how it looked at all - whether that be for good or for bad.

Videoing tips. It's going back a bit but I've done a fair bit of videoing of training sessions. A camcorder set up on a suitable tripod works the best for longer sessions of more than a few minutes (assuming lesson is in a relatively confined area such as an arena). The footage is much steadier than if hand held, and it's much less tiring for the camcorder operator, who can just concentrate on keeping the subject in frame at an appropriate zoom range.

A decent microphone is needed to pick up the trainer's comments.
 

Ambers Echo

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I agree with others who say move on from the trainer who is draining your confidence. I like a fairly tough and direct trainer but they have to be able to be constructive and give 'homework'.

Re: the rushing problem, I read an article recently that talked about the difference in half-halt for dressage vs. jumping but I can't find it for the life of me! I thought it might have been George Morris but I can only find a few words in articles featuring him, so maybe it was WFP or Christopher Burton. The premise was that the dressage half-halt uses the seat / thighs but a half-halt when jumping can't, so it has to rely on body weight and often you need to train from the rein first and sensitise to the body weight. Sorry I can't find the article :(

Ok that actually fits really well with what the trainer was saying. I think it was just a case of miscommunication then? I tried something that didn't work at all as it was an aid that was never going to translate from dressage - RI assumed I was gripping to avoid falling off/ because my seat us too unbalanced- and gave advice based on that reading of what I was doing? That actually makes her feedback and homework make more sense from her POV. And I can just ditch the half halt and try something different next time.
 

j1ffy

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Ok that actually fits really well with what the trainer was saying. I think it was just a case of miscommunication then? I tried something that didn't work at all as it was an aid that was never going to translate from dressage - RI assumed I was gripping to avoid falling off/ because my seat us too unbalanced- and gave advice based on that reading of what I was doing? That actually makes her feedback and homework make more sense from her POV. And I can just ditch the half halt and try something different next time.
Possibly, but it still sounds like the RI could have been more constructive and asked you more questions about what you were trying to achieve - it's not as if you're a complete novice!

Are you doing jumping lessons at Ingestre as well as flatwork? I've done some really good flatwork lessons recently at Prestige, but I haven't jumped in ages so was thinking of doing some jump lessons. I suspect I will have all the same challenges as you but three-fold! The position and weight distribution feels so different in a jump saddle, I'm going to be all over the place :eek:
 
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