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-A Message From Nadine -
Hello, if we have never met before I would like to give you a sample of how I coach by critiquing some photos of me on my horse Whisper.
The first four photos are frame-by-frame shots of us trotting. The last picture is of us cantering.
The Trot Photos:
Our trot is not too bad, but it could be much better. Whisper is balanced uphill (this means he is lifting his front-end as he lowers his hind-end while travelling forward), but it looks forced and doesn't looked relaxed.
The lift of his front end is being created incorrectly. I am balancing him more with my hands, and not enough with my weight and leg aids.
It seems I do not make this mistake on all of my horses, but I tend to make it on him. Whisper is a powerful horse and sometimes he uses his power for evil rather than for good. He doesn't do anything bad, but he does tend to be lazy. When I level up my aids he can show off his power and turn into a fire-cracker. I need to teach him to be somewhere in between.
My mistake is following his balance and not asking him to come to mine. He has suckered me to being pulled out of my position. My shoulders are a touch too far forward which has moved my center of gravity too far forward. Because my center of gravity is too far forward I have created more work for my hands.
My pelvis is almost in 1,2,3,4, (level), but it might be ever-so-slightly on 1,2 (the front of the pelvis is down, back of the pelvis is up and out behind me.) I am weighting his front legs slightly more than his hind legs which again makes more work for my hands.
(mostly because of my center of gravity being too far forward, but a tiny little bit because of my pelvis),
My pelvis is slightly tilled down in front, which creates a "bum out behind me" image, and because my bum is out behind me so is his, which means his hind legs will trail out behind him more. Each step isn't as powerful as it could be. Thankfully I only have my pelvis tilled down a tiny little bit, and not a lot. In fact, it is almost hard to see.
My leg has also been pulled out of position. I should sink my knee vertically down, and then sink my heel down. This will keep my leg underneath me better. In the trot pictures I have my lower leg braced out in front of me, rather than underneath me.
I do like there is a straight line from my elbow to his bit, and my eyes are up and focused on where I am going.
To fix these problems:
First I need to fix my mind, specifically I need to relax. You can clearly see the stiffness in my body is due to chest breathing. I need to belly breath so my muscles can be more flexible
The second part of the mind aid I need to fix is I am over focused and working too hard. I need to relax the level of effort I am putting in by about 10% or so
If I fix the first two problems it will be easier for me to fix the third which is my weight aid. I need to move my pelvis into hunter 3,4 (lift the front half of the pelvis, and lower the back half of the pelvis a little.) Because I am not breathing my pelvis lost its flexibility and got stuck, which caused the tension in myself and in whisper. When I shift to hunter 3,4, my pelvis will move my weight to the horse's hind legs, which will free up the horse's front legs. My weight we create the uphill movement, and thus my hands have less work to do
Also, when I breath my legs will soften and become more supple. I will then be able to sink my knee back down into position
Lastly, when my weight aid and legs start job sharing, the amount of hand pressure required will be less and I will be able to soften the whole picture
The Canter Picture
This canter picture is not too bad, but again you can tell I am not breathing and the whole picture looks a little stiff. You can see the lack of air to my body as my back looks a little hollow, Whisper's back might be a touch hollowed out too as he mimics me.
I am sitting on 1,2,3,4 (level seat bones) better, and it looks like my hands are a little softer as a result.
Don't be afraid of making mistakes. I'm not. No one can be perfect all the time. This horse is a new type of ride for me. I often prefer hot little thoroughbred horses with a lot of scope, and this guy challenges me as he is a different type of ride than I am use to.
By this time next year we will look a lot different as a team. I look forward to the journey.