The Importance of Correcting & Perfecting the Basics in Riding

The Importance of Correcting & Perfecting the Basics in Riding

The Importance of Correcting & Perfecting the Basics in Riding

The Importance of Correcting & Perfecting the Basics in Riding

What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-

  • Realising you can get by without them – until you can’t!
  • Starting from the beginning – what to focus on
  • Realising it will be a continuous, never-ending work in progress
  • Building on it in a system and way that works

You know they are important, and you know that it should be what you are focusing on every day (or at least 80% of your time in the saddle), you know how beneficial they are going to be – and yet you kind of got by without them … until you didn’t!

That is the Basics in horse riding – and that is what we are talking about today.

Realising you can get by without them – until you can’t!

The basics are important with most things in life.  They are what we should pay attention to and work on.  In fact, if we keep hammering on the basics and get them perfected, a lot of the time, other things seem to fall into place.

Horse riding is no different.  But the problem with horse riding is that, you can get by without the basics.  One of my trainers used to say to me that any idiot can jump a fence, but it is getting from A to B in style that counts.  This is so true, because any person can get on a horse and ride.

But it’s understanding and mastering the basics that counts when you want to start to go to the next level.  If you don’t have the basics in place, you find yourself going nowhere slowly.  Roadblocks and lack of progress will plague your riding.

It is only when this happens that a log of riders are open to admitting they may have missed a step or four…  And they need to go back to the start.

Starting from the beginning – what to focus on

Forward, forward, forward…  I say this almost every week inside of lessons in Daily Strides Premium – you must be going somewhere to do anything.  There must be forwardness – not only moving forward, but also thinking forward.  Because even if you are working on the halt, or maybe even rein back, you must be thinking forward.  Forwardness is key.

Relaxation…  A lot of people will work on rhythm and suppleness, but they forget that they are all built on the back of relaxation.  If you don’t have relaxation, you cannot have the others.  When I talk about relaxation, it is not to the point where the horse is falling over himself and can’t lift his feet.  It is the lovely ease of movement and fluidness that comes through the horse when he works.

You need tension to hold the horse together, but you don’t want any excess tension coming in and ruining that relaxation. There is a fine line that we walk with relaxation, which many riders unknowingly cross…

As I said, when you start out those things are not that important, but later when you want to build and start progressing, this is where you will notice that you might not have the full picture – not all the pieces of the puzzle are there for you to put together.

Position, Position, Position…  You must carry yourself properly in the saddle.  You cannot expect your horse to do anything, if you are not holding up your end of the bargain and carrying yourself correctly.

Your position is also important from the point of view that you are in the best possible place to give the clearest communication to your horse at any given point.  There is no point in you wanting to do something, and every time you would like to move your legs slightly, you find that they have migrated to the wrong spot.

As I said, when you start out those things are not that important, but later when you want to build and start progressing, this is where you will notice that you might not have the full picture – not all the pieces of the puzzle are there for you to put together.

Realising it will be a continuous, never-ending, work in progress

 Where this ‘trips up’ a lot of riders is that they think that once they get into the saddle and they can walk and trot, and maybe canter and pop a little fence – then they don’t have to think about these things anymore.

Are you familiar with the 80/20 rule?  Basically 20% of your efforts will give you 80% of your results.  In horse riding I think the 20% is composed of the ‘big things’.  Schooling over fences, working on the test, practicing your movements etc.  The other 80% should be devoted to the improvement and mastering of the basics.

The 20% will bring the big results, but that cannot really happen without the 80%…  Again, horse riding and the basics require a consistent effort in order to make progress.

If we take relaxation for example.  It shows up at every level of riding.  Just like rhythm; it is there all the time.  It doesn’t matter whether you are just starting out, or whether you are at the Olympics, you need to have those two elements present in what you are doing to succeed, and do it correctly and to the best of your ability.

Every time you reach a new level with regards to your skills and regards to what you and your horse can do, you will find that you are going to bump into something which have you work on these again, but from your new level.

So, as you progress, they come with you, they are there all the time.  It is like you are all on this journey together – yourself, your horse and all the basics. 

You are all the time trying to balance each other out.  Understand that you and your horse are obviously the big pieces, but for you and your horse to work, there must be a balance of all the little pieces.  The basics are all the little pieces that balance it all out – they need to be there.  If they weren’t there, there would not be a complete picture, and it is not going to work.

Building on it in a system and way that works

So with all this in mind, we need to a proven system to help us progress.  This is where a lot of people would turn to the traditional Training Scale.

I don’t have an issue with the Training Scale per se.  I have an issue with how people see the Training Scale as being exclusively for the horse.   The relaxation, the rhythm, the suppleness, contact and connection.  Then you take it to the next level it is impulsion, straightness and collection.  I believe that they all matter to the rider as well.

Very often you will see a horse that perhaps has mastered some of these elements or steps paired with a rider who doesn’t really understand it.   The horse will carry the rider for a certain amount of time but eventually the horse is going to start mirroring the rider.  Then you are going to get this breakdown of the basic aids from the horse’s perspective, because the rider is not consistent with what they are doing.  They should both be working through this together.

For example, take suppleness.  Not only suppleness as it relates to the physical body of the horse and rider.  But also considering suppleness as it relates to how they think about or approach things…

The basics are essential to correctly riding and working your horse.  Take the time, find different exercises that will help you incorporate some work on them into your schooling sessions.  Both you and your horse will benefit from them in the long run.

Happy Riding

Lorna

Links mentioned in the episode:-

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