Friday, March 25, 2016

The Circle of Aids

As trainers we all try to help our students understand how to keep their horse between their leg, hip, seat and rein aids. This is a long process with years of feel development by the rider. Each time the rider feels something correct, they have the chance to learn the correct feel. Many times when things get off track the trainer will ride the horse and fine tune the feel and then have the student get back on so they can see what they are looking for. This process was not possible this winter for my students as I broke My sacrum in January and was unable to sit on a horse for a few months. So with no ability to help my students by riding the horse, I was forced to think of another way to help them. The energy of the horse needs to flow forward in a circular fashion for the dressage horse to function well. They need to come forward from your leg without rushing and they need to wait or hold themselves with the riders seat or hip and they need to come into soft contact in the bridle. This sounds easy and is way harder to achieve than one would think. If a rider asks for a canter depart and tightens their thighs and hips and throws away the reins, then the circular energy is lost and the horse's balance is compromised. To compensate for not being able to sit on students horses, I helped them with a standing martingale this winter. Adjusted so the horse can come above the bit or out in front of themselves but not so far that the balance gets really bad. This helped the riders because if they made a mistake the horse stayed in balance in a basic way and did not become stressed. This allowed them to have a chance to try again to coordinate their aids. This chance to try and to make mistakes and then solve them is really helping my riders understand how to coordinate their aids. The standing martingale was used as it attaches to the nose band and allows for a normal feel for the rider and horse for the rein aids. At this point I am thinking breaking my sacrum was lucky for my students because I had to come up with a way to help them improve their circle of aids and overall effectiveness as a rider.