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 Post subject: Charles Harris Quotes
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:54 am 
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White Lady
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Location: Eriksbråten, Skotterud
Charles Harris was a student at the Spanish Riding School from 1948 to 1951. While he was there, he kept a notebook where he wrote down things he learnt at the school. Renate has recently bought this book, and I take great pleasure in it, perhaps especially because it confirms so many observations we do in our training, that we have never been able to get confirmation on at other places. (Apart from the oral tradition in Portugal, wich of course also is very valuable, but not easy to use as references because it is not written down and readily at hand for everyone.)

I will bring you some quotes from the book in this thread, and perhaps add a comment or two explaining our experience regarding the actual quote.

Quote:
A horse who carries its head to one side loosens the opposite shoulder and restricts the one on which the weight of the head and neck is leaning


I was surprised to find this quote yesterday, the very same day we released the video on lunging to stretch the outside shoulder, exactly by bringing the head to the side. As stated in the quote, this is not something one wishes to do regularly, as it definitely has its side effects, but as a preliminary stretching method, it works wonders on problem horses. Not that I think horses in the spanish school ever gets so far as to get problematicly stiff in the withers. ;)

Anyway, nice to see the reference.

Hanne

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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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 Post subject: Re: Charles Harris Quotes
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:08 am 
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Today, I have chosen a quote that applies to everyone that has trouble riding the horse over the back and to the bit. Whether this is because they cannot do it, or because they think the horse must move with a high head regardless of the state of the back and hindquarters.

Quote:
When riding a horse who is star-gazing and has a high, faulty head carriage, do not attempt to sit in the saddle, always rising trot and get the tempo and cadence correct - sitting trot hollows the back of this type of horse and will aggravate the fault. (Keep changing directions.)


Lately, we have been in many discussions with riders who follow philosophies stating that the horse's poll MUST be the highest point at all times, and that the nose MUST be in front of the vertical. These two are signs of good training, but one must not look at them alone.

Let's look at some photos that all show horses with the poll as the highest point and the nose in front of the vertical:

Totally over the bit and struggling against pulling hand. Nose in front of the vertical and poll highest:
Image

Nose in front, but not the poll. hind cannon and lower arm not parallel, as shown by red lines:
Image

Nose in front, poll highest, but not over the back, thus the extended trot falls apart:
Image

Nose in front, poll highest, horse tense and not over the back.
Image

Balanced and over the back, hind cannon and lower arm parallell. Carrying over the back and able to put weight behind:
Image

Over the back and collected:
Image

Over the back from behind, because of the impulsion. (Energetic power from behind.)
Image

Nose in front, poll highest, but flat trot and too little schwung because of stiff withers and blocked hindquarters (open behind):
Image


Nose in front, poll high, but not over the back and falling out through the outside hip:
Image

With straightness. legs parallel, over the back:
Image

Not over the back, crooked:
Image

Poll at the top, nose in front, straight behind, but the challenge is to keep this while moving forwards:
Image


Over the back, poll high, nose in front. Light seat:

Image

Poll high, nose high, back hollow, heavy seat blocking the horse's back:
Image

Nose to the front, high poll, over the back, seat following the movement:
Image

I have chosen to add so many illustrations in order to show how it is impossible to judge how well a horse is moving just by observing the head and neck only. As Harris states, a horse that is not moving over the back is difficult to sit to without hollowing its back. We will get more into this in our training videos later.

Hanne

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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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 Post subject: Re: Charles Harris Quotes
PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:38 pm 
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Quote:
In moving, the hindquarters must always precede the forehand, otherwise the horse must be re-collected. (Usually young horses will start with the forehand.)


This is something Pelle has stated, sometimes very stubbornly and lonely for many years. I have also come to understand the importance of it these last two years or so. But we have never seen anyone else stating the same until this book. Maybe very good riders, like David, for instance, just does it without thinking or putting it exactly like that. David just states that the "horse is open behind" or not.

Many people think that this has something to do with collection, so that it can wait until they start real collection work. But that is misunderstood. The rythm in the horse will be completely wrong if one lets the horse start with the wrong leg, and it is almost impossible for the horse to re-gain the correct rythm when in motion.

This is the main reason why so many riders struggle with getting the horse off its forehand and onto the quarters. It is impossible to change this through ordinary half halts, because the whole rythm of the footfall is wrong, and the horse is open behind. Pelle's videos on ground work shows how to work on this, and will continue later with this work and show how it leads onto real collection, and perhaps we may also show how it looks like when the rythm is wrong.

Hanne

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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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 Post subject: Re: Charles Harris Quotes
PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:49 am 
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Quote:
The rider must keep his horse's nose low and his own high.


:D Good one. No comment necessary.

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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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 Post subject: Re: Charles Harris Quotes
PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 4:00 pm 
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Quote:
The feet should be almost straight and square, any exaggeration tends to take the knee and thigh from the saddle. (When the feet are turned inwards, this lifts the seat of the saddle and puts the rider on his fork.)


This comment is about the foot of the rider. Many riders press their heels too far down. This causes all sorts of faults further up in the leg and seat, and the hips and knees cannot flex as smoothly as they should, because the low heel blocks the ankle joint.

We agree completely, and often correct this in our students. They usually are shocked when we tell them to raise their heels. We guess they never heard that comment before! But everything must be balanced. Yes, one must keep one's heels down, as opposed to keeping them too high, because that is a sign that the calves are too tense. But that does not mean "the lower the better". The sole of the boot should be almost parallel to the ground, with the heel just a tiny bit lower. Then the ankle may flex softly in time with the gait. A very important final sign of a good seat.

Hanne

_________________
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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 Post subject: Re: Charles Harris Quotes
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:29 am 
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Location: Eriksbråten, Skotterud
Quote:
A series of "simple exercises" to be carried out on the longe. They are only simple inasmuch as they are not tricks or acrobatic movements. They are very necessary to bring about the complete independence of the upper and lower limbs - and to supple the rider's body.

a) Arms turning "forwards" and "backwards".

b) Arms sideways, body turning right and left.

c) Arms folded behind the back (and in front)

d) Hands on the hips

e) Wrist turning (i) round, (ii) sideways

f) Arms flat over shoulder right and left. (Illustration of hands meeting behind the back, crossed over, one from the top, the other from the bottom)

g) Legs swinging backwards and forwards.

As the rider gets more proficient these exercises can be continued dureing the change of gait, i.e. from canter to trot - trot to canter - trot to walk- walk to canter - canter to walk etc.


Now, how many of us can do this? Have we tried? Have we thought they are not necessary?

But often we feel that we are losing the horse in the transitions. Maybe because we are losing our aids just then? Because we lose our seat?

Many riders still think that the aids are independant from the seat. That it is possible to learn exercises without a good seat. If you try that, you will end up by learning the exercise wrong, because the seat is what makes up the aids for the exercise, and if you learnt the exercise with that wrong seat, you learnt the wrong aids too.

So, what about taking some lessons in the longe? Many riders have bad experience in the longe, because they did not get the right instruction when doing it. It is quite possible to sit very wrong in the saddle when being longed, too. It does not come automatically.

Hanne

_________________
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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