Most people have heard of “horse whisperers”. But I want to tell you about the horse whispering. Yes, horses whisper to us!
Belinda Trussell, my coach and trainer, told me that when she gets on and rides her students’ horses the horses whisper things to her. She told me they tell her everything about how they have been ridden. Everything!
When I returned from holiday last week Belinda told me what my horse, Biasini, had “whispered” to her. Not a whole list of things. Just one very important thing. When going to the right and being asked to turn to the right to go across the diagonal, I allow him to fall in. What does that mean …fall in?
For those of you who are not dressage riders let me explain further. Here is a diagram of the dressage arena.
So let’s say that I am going to the right and I go past A and then, at the letter K, I turn right to go across the diagonal to the letter M. When I turn on to that diagonal line I may do an extended trot across to M, or I may do a series of flying changes of canter lead, or I may do a half pass to the centerline. If I don’t get Biasini set up properly in the corner and in the turn, then the rest of the movement, whatever it is, will be all about trying to correct what happened to our balance in that bad turn.
Here is a photo of Belinda Trussell, on her horse Tattoo, riding in a competition in Wellington Florida. She is turning right and she is NOT leaning or falling in. She is upright and balanced and has her horse ready for the move across the diagonal ( you can see she is looking where she is going. ) She is riding her horse with both legs and both hands equally balanced. Tattoo is bending nicely around her inside ( right ) leg. This is how it should be done.
When I ride the corner and turn onto the diagonal on the right it looks like this.
Ok ,that’s an exaggeration.That would be an extreme falling in! Here is a more realistic photo comparison.
You see how the dirt bike rider has his right leg down ready in case he needs to use it to stop himself falling? Well , when I am riding Biasini I can’t put my leg down to stop us from falling over. But I can use my right leg against his side to remind him to stay upright and not “fall in”. If I allow him to fall in he is the one who puts his feet out to balance. He steps too far to the right and then we are not straight on our diagonal line and we are not set up well for whatever we are going to do on that line.
So when Belinda rode Biasini he whispered to her that on the right (going left we are ok) I am not using my inside ( right ) leg to balance him. And that, Dear Readers, is what I am working to correct. New muscle memory will have to be learned and practiced!