Why is long and low so important.
Long and low is where your horse first starts to learn to lift their backs, drive from behind and seek the contact of the bit. This is also the place that they learn to begin to balance themselves and then their riders.
Most horses and riders do long and low incorrectly.
When this is done correctly, your horse will be able to lower their neck out of their shoulders from the 7th vertebrae, not the 5th (the 5th vertebrae is where most horses lower their neck).
In order for our horses to be able to do this, their shoulders need to be straight so that 5,6 and the 7th vertebrae, which is attach to their sternum, then to their first 5 ribs can lift. The next step would be your horse can now lift their withers, then their backs and then drive from their hind ends and step into the contact, aka the bit.
Another phrase that i use regularly is "A kinked hose".
Just like a kinked hose, you have to straighten out the kinks before the water can flow all the way through, from one end to the other.
This is also true when it comes to your horse.
Before you can get a horse to step into the contact and come over (or through) their backs and drive from behind, you have to get the kinks out (meaning straighten your horse).
This always starts from the front to the back so you can then ride them from the back to the front.
The first picture is a picture of the skeleton structure of the horse. Here you will see vertebrae 5,6 and 7. See how they are in a U shape. This is why most horses only lower from the 5th vertebrae.
In the second picture you will see how this horse is stretching out of his shoulders but not lifting his back and driving from his hind end. In part two I will show you how to accomplish getting your horse to lift their backs and drive from the hind end.
Well now that you are spending time working on strengthening your seat its time to understand what your horses body is telling you about their strong/braced side and their weak/supple side.
Have you ever looked at a horse and wondered why their mane lays on one side or it lays all over the place?
Well there is a reason for that. These are areas that tell us where they are braced or where they are weak. This is the starting point to your horses road map.
Just like us your horse uses different parts of their bodies to balance themselves.
For instance if you are right handed, your strong areas will be your right arm and your left leg. You right knee would be what you would use on your right side to move forward which makes your right hip your weakest part of your body (just like your horse).
So back to your horse. Ever horse has a strong/braced side and a weak/supple side. When you look at your horse, the side that has the most mane on it is your horses weak/supple side. Meaning this will be the side that you can flex their neck easier and the rein that has very little weight or less brace on it. This will also not be the rein that you will gravitate to unless it is your inside rein.
Most horses mane will probably lay on the right side. Also confirming why the right lead is the lead that gives people the most problem to pick up.
As we start to study our horses and understand where they brace and where they fall to the in or outside of our circle, we can become more prepared to helping them become more balance and are able to carry us as their riders.
Helping you to understand easier we are going to look at the horse that has their mane on the right side and nothing on their left side.
I use a term "Northbound" when i talk about how horses move. This means that a horse uses their front end to go forward. When ever you have weight or other words a strong inside rein, that is where they have all of their balance and this is where they are moving forward from (Northbound).
Their balance should ALWAYS, i will say it again ,ALWAYS be on their outside hind. This is where they need to carry their weight so they can pick up the proper lead or put you on the right diagonal.
Horses were never meant to be ridden but since we choose to do so, it is our responsibility to help them learn to balance their weight on their outside hind not on their front end (head, neck and shoulders). This is how we can help them carry our weight when we are riding them.
This is why it is so important that we spend so much time developing and strengthening our seat and gettinh our bodies independent from our horses.
I have a saying "Our horses can only be as strong as their riders".
So i don't overwhelm you with to much information we will stop here. So go out and see where your horses braced/strong side and their weak/supple side. Also as you ride feel which rein is the one that is the heaviest. Also look and see which side you have the most trouble getting the correct diagonal. No cheating now, as soon as you ask your horse take that first trot step you need to be going up and leading them in their trot. Another words don't wait a stride to pick up the proper diagonal. Remember the reason for this is this will be the strong/braced side of your horse. This is where they will carry most of their weight and leading with instead of balancing on their outside hind.
All of this information is here to help you understand who is influencing who and why is your horse doing these things you don't want. Remember YOU are the LEAD dancer. YOU are the one who influences the horse not the other way around.
So go out and have fun. This is a journey. May all your rides be GREAT!!!!!
Here we are for phase two on developing your seat. So i hope everyone has spent time doing this exercise and can really feel the difference between a heavy seat and a light independent seat. I am sure you are asking yourself "How am i suppose to do this and really ride"? Well when your seat is truly independent (meaning not using the reins nor the stirrups for balance) . Trust me you will be able to do this with lots of practice and patience. It does take time time to be able to get strong enough but well worth it. Remember we are expecting our horses to be strong and balanced which only happens with long and hard work. I have a saying "Our horses are only as strong as their riders". So you can do this for you horse.
One of the most important pieces to an independent seat is that you have a straight pelvis and a strong core. These two things go hand in hand.
You can't have one with out the other.
Your core is so important to a independent seat and if your pelvis is not straight YOU CAN NOT ACCESS YOUR CORE!!!!!!
So your probably thinking how do you know if you have a straight pelvis and if not how do i get one? Look at the first picture below. This is how a straight pelvis should look like.
You will have to spend time doing this exercise and then be able to do this all day long without thinking about it. Realistically this is how your pelvis should be ALWAYS.
Good luck it is really eye opener once you realize how hard it is to keep, but i believe you can do it.
This won't only help you in your riding but also in the rest of your life. This is a big part of having great posture.
When you are ready to put your feet back into the stirrups you will start putting only one in at a time. You will start with putting your inside foot in the stirrup first and your outside leg will remain behind the back of the saddle.
The reason for this is because we need to strengthen our outside leg which is a big part of our outside aids.
When you look at the second and third picture, this is a picture of how you will put your outside leg back behind the back of the saddle and ride.
I will cover more on why this is so important later on.
Spend time either on the lunge line or in a round pen while working on your balance and gaining an independent seat. This way you don't have to think about steering at the same time.
Be patience, I promise you it is very hard but well worth it.
You will see in the pictures below on how much of a difference keeping your outside leg up does.
Best of luck to you all on your journey. If you stick with all that i am teaching you i promise you will definitely notice a difference not only your riding but also in your horse.
There is so much information regarding Bio-Mechanics of horse and rider that i really don't know where to start.
2630 Wilson Rd SE
West Jefferson, Ohio 43162
2630 Wilson Rd SE
West Jefferson, Ohio 43162