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 Post subject: Riding Myths Busted
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:16 am 
White Lady
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Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 4:18 pm
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Location: Eriksbråten, Skotterud
There are many myths and dogmas in riding. Many of them are surprisingly true, and some are just very long lived and stubborn myths. Let me show you a couple of them, and let me try to prove to you if they are true or false.

It is impossible to change the seat and posture of a grown-up rider. Ergo: You need to start riding at a young age to become good.
Wrong. But they have a point. The older you get, the harder you are set in your ways, and the more difficult it is to learn movement by just rattling along on horseback. The older you get, the more you will need specific help to change your posture. But it is not impossible. The ones who claim this, are just not able to help you themselves. It does not mean no-one else can.

Seat lessons always means lunging without stirrups in trot for hours and hours until you get it.
Wrong. This MAY work on very young riders that still have the athletic ability to adjust to movement on the fly, but very few people have this ability nowadays, when we sit too much, and become passive through the seat. For everyone else, it just makes you sweat and the horse get pain in its back. For most people, specific, individual lessons beginning in gaits with as little impulsion as possible is more helpful. It also saves the horse's back.

Riders who don't do what the instructor tells them to do lesson after lesson are either stupid, deaf, unwilling or lazy.
Wrong. The instructor has not yet found out where the problem really sits, and has not yet been able to explain this so that the rider understands. Some problems are very difficult to eradicate, because they are rooted in complex problems such as stiffnesses, blockages, psychological reasons or all of these together. That makes it very hard for riders to change, and they just give up doing what they are told, because the instruction does not work.

It is impossible to give individual instruction to groups of riders at the same time.
Wrong. Riders have a brain. They also are able to feel and put two and two together. If you assess their problem individually, and explain to them what they must do to change, they will work with the problem alone while you are instructing the others. They will even develop more feel if you leave them alone for a while. But this depends on your ability to find out what the problem really is. No, the problem is not the unsteady hands. It is in the stiff hip joint. Find it, and the rider will happily work with her problem in groups as well.

It is easier to sit correctly when I have used my hands to make the horse come to the bit.
Wrong. If you use your hands to make the horse come to the bit, the horse learns to avoid the contact to the bit, and loses his back stability. Then the horse's movement becomes more difficult to sit to, because you have warmed up letting the horse park out its hindquarters and move with straight hind legs. It's just like pissing your pants to get warm. It feels better in the beginning, but soon you are in trouble, and you need to start from the beginning to work with your seat and legs to balance the horse. Why not start there in the first place?

Collection is something very difficult and very straining for the horse. That must wait until you are a very advanced rider, and the horse very strong.
Wrong. Collection is not an absolute value. It comes is grades. And riding the horse on the forehand for years and years does not bring you closer to balance. In order to be able to balance the horse, you need to be able to understand what collection is. Collection does not necessarily mean forcing a young horse to do the passage.

The horse needs to have his nose in front of the vertical all the time, and it must always be on the hindquarters.
Wrong. Many people who follow this absolute, end up with horses with "broken" backs. That is, a horse that is unable to stabilize its midsection and loses its rythm. You need to be able to stretch the horse's back in order to let it stabilize. That does not mean that you must ride on the forehand all the time.

You get a horse that is light on the aids by using light and giving aids.
Wrong. You get a horse that is light on the aids by being steady and predictable. To obtain this, you must be able to sit completely still, so that the horse is able to understand what you want, and to respect your frame and your signals. Of course you want to give the aids temporarily to reward the horse, but too much elasticity in the aids just bewilders the horse. A rubber band is not a good rail for support when you try to balance, and a wobbly or weak hand is very difficult for a horse to trust.

Paradox is a pointer telling you to look beyond it. If paradoxes bother you, that betrays your deep desire for absolutes. The relativist treats a paradox merely as interesting, perhaps amusing or even, dreadful thought, educational.

Frank Herbert.

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