Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stacey/Riley, Sunday April 3

Well, here is the best footage from the session. Video is a great teacher, and I can pick apart a lot of stuff but will refrain here, except to say that when I was riding this felt "super-forward." I really, really need eyes on the ground when I ride. Comments welcome.


  1. You two make a lovely pair. :)

    My only comment would be that there is a lot of up and down motion in your hands. Some of that is correcting his balance and bend, which is appropriate, but some of it appears to be linked to your posting in the early parts of the video. When I catch myself doing this, it is usually because I am stiff in the wrists and elbows. This could be contributing to all the head waggles (though some of that just looks like a young horse learning to balance himself too).

    Interestingly, though he does have the quieter hands = quieter head going on with your trainer aboard (at least this is my general impression from the clips you've shared), he seems less likely to bring his nose behind the vertical in this clip as compared to when your trainer rides. He seems more "reaching" through his neck in this clip.

    Really though, those are tiny nit-picky things, and you two look great together. While not "super forward" he does have a nice workmanlike trot in this sequence. He obviously likes working for you, and you enjoy riding him - you've done such a nice job bringing him along. He is a lovely horse and I'm so glad you share his progress with the internet - I get my horse fix vicariously here until I make enough money to get back into riding again.

  2. Let me just start off by saying that you are doing a wonderful job riding Riley forward into soft contact. He seems to be very happy about how you are riding him as well. The one thing that stands out to me that could be improved upon is that the contact isn't always consistent because you are posting with your hands. I notice this because it is also something that I do. After months of my instructor screaming at me that my hands should not have posting diagonals, I finally started to quiet my hands down a bit. Your hands actually become much quieter at the end of your ride, and you'll notice that it causes Riley to become more steady in the bridle. Other than that tiny detail, you are really doing a great job.

  3. Thanks all -- my trainer also says that when Riley is straight his contact is steady. When the shoulder is lost (falling in or out) the head comes up. But when I put my hands softly on the fuzzy part of my mattes pad he is more steady.

    Work to do :-)

  4. I like how Riley is reaching forward with his nose. He seems to be experimenting with this and finds a comfy place towards the end of the clip. I am also happy with the amount of forward energy that he is giving you and he is relaxed. I like how straight you are in the saddle when the camera is at your back.

    Nice ride!

  5. Your reins seem a stitch long, causing you to bring them up and towards your body here and there...I think a 2" shorter rein would help you find a more comfortable rein carriage for both of you.

    Also, you might get a more powerfully forward ride by controlling your posting a bit.

    Try posting off your thigh more, and perhaps close your hip angle just a bit. Post up towards the pommel more and avoid letting your pockets/seatbones come down so far back in the saddle. Your posting is a bit behind the motion here, and you are tipped back here and there. That causes him to hollow and suck back a tad, while a more controlled/forward posting position will help him lighten up and meet your hand. Post for the trot you want (forward, ahead of the leg) not the trot you have.

    Overall,though, you look great. These are little things.

  6. Ditto to all the above!! You two look very straight and pretty. It's great to look at progress where about where I should be. And the hands issue, I'm so there! My solution, lunge lessons, when I fully trust/relax my seat light quiet hands are so much easier.

    BTW, I notice you use the sports medicine boots, apologies in advance, but maybe you can survey the reader's on these, I've seen several varying opinions in the dressage world.

    No need to publish this post,
    Keep up all the good work,

  7. I just wanted to say that I see a big improvement over the last few months - he's always looked good, as a young horse should, but now I see him staying in front of the vertical more and looking more balanced. Good for you.

  8. I like the way you keep Riley ahead of the vertical, and yes, he does look nice and forward.

    Your position is nice and straight as well, with good carriage. The shots from front and back show you are sitting evenly. All of that is important to a young horse.

    My only negative is that your hands are "posting" with you and that MAY be affecting Riley's steadiness. What happens is that you are giving a little "bop" on his mouth as you post.

    I honestly think this is one reason so much of the later dressage work is done at sitting trot. It allows the rider to be a much steadier force.

    Your elbows need to be at your sides, and your forearm and wrist need to steady up to give Riley an even, constant contact to work into. I have a feeling he is very light in the mouth which makes him respond even more quickly to what your hands do. If you could encourage him to take a bit more contact on the bit, you would be able to find it easier to make your hands more still. When the horse is too light to the bit, it's hard to maintain a steady feet.

    All that being said, I do not see Riley ducking behind the bit as he has in some past videos, so that is a big plus and definite praise for how you are riding him.

    You suit each other really well.

  9. I love how Riley looks with you riding him - even with the slight movement of your hands, he seems more relaxed with you, and your legs are quiet, which I think he probably appreciates.

    One thing I noticed is that when you're trotting away from the camera your right leg seems a slight big longer than the left. It doesn't show much if at all from other angles. I'm not sure if you're using your inside leg and drawing it up a little, or if (like I have on and off) you might have a pelvic rotation going on. If you do chiro you might have that checked. It makes a huge difference for me when I get it adjusted.

  10. I agree with all the comments above. :)

    I have a question, though- what is the rider's hand position supposed to be like? I'm too poor have a horse or take lessons (lol), but I do notice that, when I'm watching riders at the barn I work at, a lot of people have their hands similar to yours. They look like driving reins, so high up and far apart. The trainer at my barn seems to encourage it (hunter/jumper barn) but it seems to really affect the overall balance of the rider, not to mention the horse.

  11. The height of your hands is dependent on your horse's head carriage. There should be a straight line from elbow to bit, so if your horse is carrying its head lower, you should hold your hands lower, and vice versa. The width of your hands should be no wider than the width of your horse's neck, though wider handsets are commonly used when schooling younger horses because it lessens the nutcracker effect of a snaffle. Your hands should not move up and down as you post up and down. They should stay stationary except to make corrections.

  12. I enjoyed watching you ride in the video and reading everyone's comments. I agree that Riley is carrying himself well in the clip and looks relaxed.

    I struggle with rein contact with my 4 yr old - it seems she likes it different every ride.

  13. Kelly, Riley is a different ride every day.

    McFawn, thanks (!) for the tips -- some of these issues (long reins) are a constant struggle for me, also the sitting in the back of the saddle problem.

    Viola, I used to use dressage boots but Riley regularly clips himself slightly under his fetlock and that wraparound piece is the only protection I can find. I have ordered some fleece wraps that may also help, the Pro Choice material is a big pain.

    Billie -- I tend to grip when I use my leg so you are probably right.

    Ashley, My hand positio is not something to emulate :-). Heather Mason tells her clients to put their hands on the front of the saddle pad, which helps me. Upper level riders might find a use for high hand position, but I never hear it recommended at the lower levels...

  14. I see improvement! Lots of it! I think I'm mostly summing up what I've seen above, but I think the hand thing comes from your shoulders. A couple of places it looks like your elbows are pointing out a little, instead of hanging down. I have the exact same issue, and I've struggled mightily to correct it.... This means tension somewhere in your shoulders, hands are rotated in slightly (doesn't help the posting with the hands). I think this shoulder thing is also what I'm seeing as you sit your post. It looks almost as if you're sitting back into a chair, I can't quite pinpoint a fix, but there is a subtle 'backwards' to your down post, part of which could be slowing his trot if he's sensitive. I don't get a 'light forward' from your body language. Lower hands, freer from the shoulder, and held farther up the reins should help correct this posture. KEEP UP THE FANTASTIC work, you two look lovely! Love that he's ahead of the vertical!


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.