Thoughts on hips and aids

So this past week we’ve had a weekend clinic with Arne Koets and as always the theroy sessions are quite interessting, especially when it comes to the movements of the hips in the different exercises. So after talking about it all weekend, trying out different stuff infront of an audience, trying to get the movement through the hips on the ground I was going to try once again today. It has been a couple of days since the last lesson, Finorio had treatment so a few days off. I’ve had some days off and been relaxing, perhaps just a tad too much.

So today I started with doing some yoga before going to the stable. Focusing on my problem areas, hips, hamstrings and shoulders. Probably several more, but there are the areas that I have troubles with during yogasessions. After the regular asanas I tried to focus on the different movements of the hips in the shoulder in and the travere. It made me feel very silly and I was nowhere near getting the movement I was searching for so no wonder I can’t do it on horseback.

Since this was the first proper training session after treatment I started easy by doing some work in hand. The following pictures are not from today but earlyer in the week, but they show the exact same thing that I was working on today.

Walking forwards

First of all we need to walk forwards. This can be challenging enough, as you need proper contact on both reins, lift the hand that is close to the bit to place the head where you want it. Use the outside rein to move the outside shoulder into the circle and keep the bending through the body. I need to adjust my steps to him and turn my shoulders forwards and signal that we are moving forwards. And most important, how I hold the crop! This was new to me and i struggeled a great deal to hold the crop properly when it was off the horse. On the horse was allright, but keeping it off did take some brain capacity, and trying not to break the crop. Arne brought me a proper wooden crop he had brought from Portugal, and Finorio was a lot more sensitive to this than to the other whips I’ve got.

Trying to sort out the reins and the crop

Then onwards to the next important thing, halt. To be able to do proper in hand work, you need to be able to stop the horse correctly. This seemed to be more difficult than I thought. Luckily for me I’ve taught Finorio to stop on a whistle, but I wanted him to stop on my body language aswell. So as I was walking forewards, with my shoulders turned towards the direction of travel I had to prepare to halt. Do a halfhalt in my posture, close my hands around the reins, both of them simultaneously, and turn my shoulders towards him, even backwards if that’s what it takes.

Halt

After halting I trun my shoulders all the way towards his hind quarters and with contact on both reins ask him to go backwards. Here it’s very important to keep his head up, it is very easy for him to lower his head behind the vertical, but if he does, the rein back will not be proper. He will stiffen off his pelvis and go backwards with stiff hind legs. So very important for me to remember to keep his head up in this excersise.

Rein back
Rein back

The fun thing today was that I could feel how much he actually collected in these excersises, and it showed me how easy it will be to get some proper collection in hand once we manage to refine the signals. This is new to both me and the horse, but I see a ton of potential for us to use!

After working from the ground I got up to see how he was from the back. I started doing the regular exercises, shoulder in, travere, renvere on both hands. And for once it didn’t fall apart! Shoulder in worked perfectly on both reins! To get my aids straight i started out by riding on one hand, and trusting my hips and legs to sort out the bend and direction of trave. And it worked perfectly! Shoulder in to the left was almost impossible this weekend, but today, easy peasy! The traveres were quite good, especially to the left, but also managed quite a few good ones to the right. The travere to the right usually turn into some weird teenytiny circles to the right and I struggle with everything in the excercise. Today it seemed like the coin had slipped into the right sloth and we knew what we were doing.

I did some walk canter transitions and let him roll in canter for a while, especially on the left rein, where he seemed a bit more stiff. The canter has a nice loosening effect on him aswell, and he released a lot of tension by just rolling in canter. At the end we did quite a few hind quarter turns from both legs. Some of them were quite big, but he did proper traveres, and half passes when we had to adjust if the circle was to big. For once it seemed easy to ask this of him, and it seemed like I got my hips better in place. After quite a few hind quarter turns each way, we cantered a couple of rounds on both reins before I got off.

Travere to both sides and a “good boy” pat on the neck

As you probably can see in the pictures, the bend in the horse is not exactly where it should be, but this is the first time I’ve actually been able to feel it and that there might be some adjustments to be done with it. But small steps at a time and soon we will be able to do proper shoulder in, travere and renvere to both sides in all gaits, not only walk.

This was so much fun and it just goes to show, I need to do more yoga, and more rehearsing of hip movements infront of the mirror. If I can’t do it here, how on earth am I going to be able to do it on the horse?

Tomorrow we participating in a easter joust training, I’m curious to see how Finorio will act there. Will bring a camera, hopefully I’ll get some pictures.

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