To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Visual images

When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics

Attain Remarkable Riding Rapport with Your HorseBeth Baumert
Within riding there exists a fundamental conflict of interest: The rider needs to have control—her confidence depends on her ability to control the balance of her own body as well as that of her very powerful horse. The horse, by nature, needs to feel free—free in both mind and body to express himself through physical movement.
In When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics, author Beth Baumert, writer and editor at the internationally recognized equestrian magazine Dressage Today, resolves the freedom-control enigma by taking a close look at the individual components that make up riding and dressage. Beth provides insight gleaned from years of working with the best riders, trainers, and judges in the dressage world, and details practical ways riders can learn to harness the balance, energies, and forces at play when they’re in the saddle.
Readers will discover how to use “positive tension” and what the author calls the four physical “Powerlines”—Vertical, Connecting, Spiraling, and Visual—to become balanced and effective in the saddle. Readers will then find ways to understand and manage the horse’s balance and coordination challenges, including the fact that he is inherently crooked and naturally inclined to do too much with his front end and not enough with his hind.
Ultimately, the rider learns to regulate and monitor the horse’s rhythm, energy, flexion, alignment, bend, the height and length of his neck, and, finally, his line of travel by properly aligning her spine with his. When the center of gravity of a balanced rider is directly over the center of gravity of a balanced horse, that place where two spines align becomes the hub for rider and horse harmony—a dynamic and remarkable riding rapport that yields beautiful performance.

Recently the above book advertisement landed in my inbox. I glanced through it, and went about my day. But that evening when I rode Lance, "align the spines" kept running through my head. So I consciously did my best to do just that – and what do you know? We had a really good ride!

It's another golden nugget to add to the treasure chest that contains various phrases or visual images that have contributed to my dressage education over the years. One of the earliest I can recall came from the first clinician I rode with and the first horse I danced with, over 20 years ago. To help me understand how to turn him properly, she told me to think of driving a bus around a corner. It's still a great visual and kinetic tool to keep the shoulders where they should be in relation to the hindquarters.

Lance feels good and I am really enjoying our short, frequent schooling sessions, 30 minutes or so at least four and often five times a week. I'm even considering entering a schooling show November 9, if I can get the management to respond to my questions. If it works out, it'll be my birthday present selfie.  ;-)


TBDancer said...

Thanks for the information on Beth's book and on the report of your GOOD ride! My problem when I'm riding alone is that my mind wanders off to things like chores that need doing, errands I have to run, what I'm fixing for dinner ... and I lose that very important concentration that puts me in "the zone" and gives clear messages to my poor horse ;o) This book may help me focus more; and "riding vicariously" from blogs like yours and books like this help my overall journey. The showing prospects for me are slim to none, but riding well and concentration are always things to work on ;o)

Michelle said...

You're welcome, TBDancer, and thanks for letting me know that my ramblings can be helpful! Yes, remaining mindful throughout one's ride is essential to really connecting with one's horse. Which prompts me to write the next post....

thecrazysheeplady said...