I know. You can’t ride if you are holding onto crutches. And if you need crutches you should not be riding anyway. I do know that. But these are not actual crutches. These crutches are another “outside of the box” idea from coach Luis Reteguiz Denizard. You may remember he was the coach who introduced me to riding the mounting block. Well I wrote a post about that and it got a lot of attention so now…….Riding With Crutches.
How does it work?
To start, imagine you are sitting on your horse. Legs are nicely draped around the horse, hips relaxed and hands holding the reins in front of you with relaxed arms and wrists. Then….imagine you are holding crutches. I have had quite a bit of real life experience with being on crutches so this is fairly easy for me. The crutches are in your hands. They are long , as crutches tend to be. They are under your arms but not stuffed up into your armpits. They go down along the sides of your horse. Have you got all that in your imagination? OK! On to the next step.
Visualize your ride!
Now, you ask your horse to move off at the walk. Where are the crutches? Are they still nice and even? Are they straight? If you think about it, you will know that if you were walking with these crutches they would have to be pretty much straight up and down. If one crutch goes inward in front of your feet then you are in trouble. It’s the same if the crutch goes too far out to the side. You will have lost your support.
Next, you come to a corner in your imaginary arena. You ask your horse to turn. Where are your crutches? Has the crutch in your inside hand suddenly collapsed inwards , or has your hand gone across your horse’s withers? If so, where the heck is your crutch? If you use an outside rein to turn your horse has the crutch gone out at the bottom and you have lost your support? Carry on with your imaginary ride until you get used to this business of riding with crutches.
Actual riding with crutches!
Now it is time to actually ride your horse and imagine the crutches. If you have Lou as a coach ,as I do over the winter in Florida, he will ask every once and a while:” Where are your crutches?” or just “Crutches?” Then I will know that my crutches are not where they should be and the minute I get them back into place, whatever movement we are doing, will improve whether it is a 20 meter circle, a leg yield, a half pass, or just a corner of the arena. If you do not have Lou or someone like Lou then just ask yourself every once and a while. You will be surprised where you may find one of your crutches.
Here are some photos to help you get the idea.
In the photo above my crutches are pretty good.
In this photo my crutches are a bit off. My outside crutch is probably too far out at the base and my inside one is turned in. I’m doing a shoulder in here and just about to ask for the 8 meter volte , Biasini is pulling down and I’m dealing with all that. But…if I could have remembered my crutches at that moment I would have had a better chance of getting him up and light for the turn into the volte.
This photo above is of an expert. This is Belinda Trussell on her horse Tattoo. Even though she is navigating a turn and about to go across a diagonal on this very expressive moving horse she has her crutches in the right place. Can you see this?
Belinda does not have Lou reminding her about her crutches, she is a tremendously accomplished and experience rider. But I know that if I were to tell her about Lou’s crutches technique she would enjoy hearing about it.
What is the point of riding with crutches?
If you try this you will be surprised to find how the rest of your body falls into place better and other faults ( sitting to one side or other, twisting in your upper body, legs creeping back or forward) are automatically corrected when you get your crutches right.
It’s important to understand that this is not just about where your hands are. The image of the crutches is something more than that. I know it may seem an odd idea but give it a try. See if it helps you. It has certainly helped me a lot in the past few weeks of training.
This is another “outside the box” training technique from Lou Denizard. If it works for you great. If not ,don’t worry about it. Lou will suggest things to his students and if it works for them he will carry on with it. But if it does not, he will not try to keep a tenacious grasp on that on that concept, he just moves on to something else. Like standing on your “duck feet”. Ah…but that is another post.
Till then…. Dear Readers!