What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-
- Understand how to become more ‘quiet’ in the saddle
- See the link between independent aids and an independent seat
- Begin being more mindful about your aids and how you are communicating with your horse
- Start working on increasing your coordination in the saddle
When was the last time you applied your leg aid, only to have your hand do something as well, completely of its own accord?! Your coordination has a direct impact on how you are communicating with your horse. There is a direct link between it and your horses responsiveness.
Actively working on improving your overall coordination will have an almost immediate positive impact on your aids.
In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast we are going to look at the relationship between your coordination and your independent aids. Improving them will lead to a more responsive conversation between rider and horse.
I am going to suggest sitting down somewhere quiet once a month, sipping on something nice and really deep diving into what worked and what did not where your riding was concerned.
Along with the ideas that I will share with you in this blog post today, I have also created a free resource for you to use. The Equestrian Fitness Challenge is ready and waiting for you. You can join by clicking HERE
Awareness of How ‘Quiet’ You Are in the Saddle
Most riders have a role model. A rider who they aspire to eventually equal or surpass where skills are concerned. Chances are that this rider makes it all look so effortless. It is a pleasure to watch them in the saddle because they really make it ‘look’ so easy.
Being ‘quiet’ simply means that the rider is using their more subtle aids when communicating with their horse, rather than their obvious aids.
‘Quiet’ is when you have refined your aids so much, that it looks like you are ‘thinking it’ and your horse is telepathically listening and responding. The secret conversation. This begins by working on becoming more ‘quiet’.
Are you shuffling or shoving in the saddle? Do you find yourself continuously adjusting the length of your reins; a case of ‘piano fingers’?
Improving your overall coordination begins when you become more aware of what you are ‘saying’ when in the saddle. You notice what you are saying and then you start to omit the ‘non-essential’ babble.
Your Independent Aids
Much of the ‘babble’ comes from your aids being dependent on each other. Your leg can only move if your shoulder moves as well. Or your hand can only ‘work’ if your other hand moves at the same time.
Independent aids are when you can apply one aid, let’s say inside leg, without your other aids being impacted or moved.
Over time, improving your independent aids will lead to you developing an independent seat. The reason we are all after the independent seat is because it plays a big part to that effortless communication we spoke about earlier in the post.
If your aids are not yet independent, the result is that when you ask one question of your horse, you will probably ask another conflicting or contradictory question at the same time… Confusing for the horse and frustrating for the rider!
Very often when horses become confused, they become anxious and overly tense. This just leads to the rider displaying even less coordination with their aids, which inevitably further exaggerates the issue.
Mindfulness Will Develop Greater Coordination
The answer to this problem is to become more mindful. Think of what you want to achieve first, the outcome. Then begin piecing together the best way that you can easily explain this to your horse.
It is only when you become aware of exactly how you are applying your aids, that you can then look at ways of improving the application.
If your horse is not responding the way you would like, or as quickly as you would like, turn the focus back to yourself. How could you be more ‘clear’ with how you are directing your horse? What could you potentially do to make your riding more ‘quiet’, so that the question can be heard?
Taking responsibility for what you are knowingly and unknowingly contributing to the conversation is how you can actively begin increasing your coordination skills in the saddle.
Asking the same way but ‘harder’ or with more ‘pressure’ rarely does anything to move the conversation forward. ‘Harder’ means that you have to ‘shout’ to be heard. Shouting louder is not a long-term solution or answer.
Rather turn the volume down so that you can actually be heard to begin with.
Practical Steps to Improving Your Coordination in the Saddle
Start by noticing how you are showing up in the conversation. I am going to suggest beginning with your hands or rein aids. The reason I say start here is because you can actually ‘glance’ down and have a look at what you’re doing.
It is difficult to really ‘see’ what you are doing in the saddle. Often we think we are doing one thing, only to later see a video or ride with mirrors and realise we are actually doing something completely different!
Dropping your inside hand as you ride through corners, bends or circles is a good example of this. The lowered inside hand is really only a symptom of something bigger, usually a collapsed inside shoulder. However, being able to glance down and see you are doing it will make you aware that you are doing it.
When you become aware of your ‘bad habits’ where your coordination is concerned, you can then begin making the necessary adjustments to replace them. You can only consciously change what you are aware of to begin with.
Developing Your Independent Aids
As you become more mindful, you will find that you will naturally begin to have more control over your aids. Thinking each aid through before you apply it will also help.
At the end of the day, your horse will be the best sounding board for you when it comes to developing your independent aids. Does he understand or are you confusing him?
Focus on becoming quieter and quieter. Only contributing to the conversation when you have something to say. Over time, as your individual aids become more independent, you too will have a ‘secret conversation’ other riders will aspire to as well.
Other Posts and Episodes that Relate to This Topic:-
- Equestrian Fitness Challenge – Join HERE
- Your Independent Seat is Everything in Your Riding
- The Evolution of Your Aids in the Saddle
- Improving Rider Coordination
- The Direct Relationship Between Your Fitness & Your Riding
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