I am now at the end of the Florida winter season and my training with Lou Denizard. I know that many readers have enjoyed Lou’s training tips so before I head back home to Canada I would like to pass on three more of Lou’s tips.
UNDER THE LIGHTS.
The covered arena has lines of overhead lights. In order to help me with the riding of the shoulder in on the center line in the Intermediare 1 test, Lou has had me ride “under the lights”. The directive is that I must turn and go down the arena, with my head under the lights. “Get your helmet under the lights!” “Keep his ears under the lights!” Horses do not see the necessity of trotting or cantering in a straight line and they like to have a fence or wall to go along. So travelling without the support of a fence or wall needs the support of the rider. The idea is to keep the horse moving on a straight line with a minimum of aids; too much and oops…you are off the line. I have to be very aware of where my seat bones are, do I have more weight on one side or the other, where is Biasini, is he wanting to drift to one side or the other, do I have more weight in the right rein ….the left rein, where are my legs, is my lower leg on to stop the drifting to the right or to the left? Oh….and am I maintaining a good quality trot or canter while doing this?
Here are two photos so you can see us start up under the lights and come up the arena.
This may look like an easy exercise but it is not so easy to execute properly. But it will be a tremendous help to that shoulder in on the center line !
THE MOTORCYCLE HANDLEBARS.
I know that in a previous post I said that riding a horse is not like riding a motorcycle. Well I’m not going to completely contradict that now but Lou has a different reference that does bring in motorcycle riding in a positive way. The handlebars. Where are my hands on the handlebars?
When holding the reins I cannot have one hand heading up to my chin and the other drifting down to my knee. My hands must be out in front of me and held evenly. If I start getting my reins too long and my hands are coming back to my hips or if one hand is up and the other down Lou will say: “You’re riding a Harley Davidson.Where are the handlebars?” That immediately fixes the position of my hands and arms.
THE TOO TALL CRUTCHES.
Last year I wrote a post about riding with crutches. Not literally of course but this is another of Lou’s mental images to help me , the rider, with my position. I will leave a link to that post at the end of this post. Imagine you have crutches. If they are too tall they are coming up under your arms into your armpits. If Lou says: “Where are your too tall crutches?” It makes me feel those ‘crutches’ under my arms. I immediately bring myself taller in the saddle and if I am tipping back I bring myself upright. Then the crutches are where they should be and are not poking up under my arms.
So there you have it! Three more of Lou’s training tips. Do try them and see if they will help. It is surprising how much of a difference just visualizing something like crutches or handlebars, or a white zipper down the middle of your body, or putting a stability leg out in front of you, can make in the effectiveness of your riding.