Up!Up!Up!

“Poll up to your sternum!” This is something my Canadian coach Belinda Trussell has said to me over and over and over. What she means is that she wants to see my horse Biasini’s poll, which is the area at the top of his head just behind his ears, up to the level of my sternum (the front of my chest).  Belinda asks for this knowing I will not just try to pull Biasini’s  head up. That is a big NO.  I must not raise my hands higher, pull more with the reins or anything  else that will cause him to tighten and drop his back lower, or tighten in his neck and brace against me.  His neck  should be rounded and my contact with his mouth through the reins light and he should be accepting that softly. In other disciplines such as the jumpers the head and the poll being high is something completely different.

Here is a photo of a horse with its head at the height of the riders sternum. This is fine for a jumper and necessary.

csi4-1949

This horse has raised its head to see the jump which is just ahead of it. Horses must raise their heads to see directly in front of them.  Here is another photo that shows the horse going toward the fence, head up , and then going over the fence.

csi4-1924csi4-1925

In dressage the head should be positioned so that the front of the head is vertical to the ground, nose not tucked in or sticking out in front. The poll should be the highest point of the  neck with good open space under the throat. Brittany Fraser, riding her horse All In, demonstrates this well in this photo.

CDI5-1980

So that’s what I am supposed to be aiming for.  I have seen lots of advanced riders and horses so I knew what the picture was supposed to look  like. But I was not able to produce this myself.  Somehow the whole poll up to my sternum was an elusive mental concept.  Then after my last show in Florida, my Florida coach, Lou Denizard started to do some work on the passage (the slow motion trot). All of a sudden there it was…..Biasini’s poll was up to my sternum! And not only that but the contact with my reins was light and I could feel he was lowering his hind end as he moved. All just as it should be.

AH  HA!  The light-bulb moment!  That is the poll up to my sternum! Now the trick is to get that frame and lightness when I am not doing passage.  That, Dear Readers, is not so easy. But I will be posting again soon on the good progress we are making on it at home with Belinda.

22 Comments Add yours

  1. Avery says:

    yay for light bulb moments!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gymah says:

    Light bulb moments are the best! I’ve had a couple of those with my mare recently. We’re still struggling with keeping her poll as high as my sternum, part of the reason is because she has a lower set neck so she finds it quite difficult (darn those quarter horse genes!). But we’re working at it and are slowly improving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      I sympathize with the lower set neck. BIasini is a Hannoverian but he does not have a high set neck either. But it sounds like you are working away at it and the strength and improvement will come. Thanks for sharing your experience on this topic. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. For a person who is unfamiliar with horse competitions, it looks pretty easy. But of course drassage is definitely not easy! And then you have the jumpers and the ones who will be racing this weekend at the Derby. Add to that hunters and pleasure riding. I so appreciate your blog because you help us understand more and more about what it takes before you get to the point where looks easy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Jo Ann! I think horses are such magnificent animals and i am more than happy to shed some light on how they can work with us. I think they deserve this for the loyalty they give us humans! Have a nice weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. shiarrael says:

    So very awesome! Those light bulb moments are magic! 🦄

    The more I read your blog, the more I understand why coach encourages us to try simple dressage exercises (or even some intermediate stuff, if we feel it’d be fun for the horses and us). The entire part about I will not just try to pull Biasini’s head up. That is a big NO. I must not raise my hands higher, pull more with the reins or anything else that will cause him to tighten and drop his back lower, or tighten in his neck and brace against me. as well as the “elevator effect” when you feel the hind end lower is exactly what you want a natural tölter to do.
    Because they can’t trot (or have trouble doing so), they won’t switch when your seat is pushing them onto the forehand, and then they try to balance by sticking the nose up … then you get tension and – whoops – the dropping back. Bad. Worse than piggy pace 😞

    But when you get them balanced and light… it’s like floating on a cloud.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Fabulous! I have only ridden an Icelandic once but i rmemeber the Tolt as being an amazing sensation. I guess for many disciplines the engine is the hind end and it needs to be free to give the power to the lightened up forehand. Thanks so much for this comment. I love hearing about other breeds and how they work.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe you can…💕🍀 and omg, it sounds too difficult but on pictures looks so easy…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dprastka says:

    That sounds so difficult!! I LOVE lightbulb moments when you finally accomplish something even if it is for a moment or more so you get to finally experience what you are being taught. Such a lovely post, and I hope you will accomplish poll to sternum easier each day. ❤ – Diana

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      We are getting there! Thanks for your comment!😃

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jeff Rab says:

    Anne, sorry for the rookie question here, but do Dressage horses jump as part of competition?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Glad you asked the question! No they do not. There is something called Prix Caprilli which offers a dressage type test and a few jumps but nowadays this is seldom offered at horse shows. However in the discipline of Eventing they have competition over three days and the first day is dressage , the second cross country with jumps through and over water, up and down over banks and log fences and galloping in between the fences, and the third day is stadium jumping where they jump a course in an arena. This can be smaller fences and shorter cross country for the lower levels and it goes right up to the Olympics. In the USA the biggest Three Day Event is the Rolex in Kentucky. The other two events that are part of the Grand Slam of eventing are in England at Badminton and Burghley. Badminton is taking place this weekend so if you search it on Google you may be able to find some live footage of the cross country. It is a very extreme sport with high risk to both rider and horse. Horses and riders have died doing the cross country and now great efforts have been made to have the jumps breakaway so that they are a bit safer to jump. But for us dressage riders we don’t jump. There are no rookie questions Jeff. I am more than happy to give out some information about horse sports.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Jeff Rab says:

        So, I’m guessing in Eventing there are three different saddles for each of the three days, plus more safety gear on jump Day, and maybe different bits and reigns.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. anne leueen says:

          Yes they would have a dressage saddle and a jumping saddle. Depending on the rider and the horse they might use different saddles for the eventing and the stadium jumping. Bits will be specified in the rules for dressage but the bits for the two parts that involve jumping might be different but there will still be rules for what is allowed. Also for the jumoing they may use martingales which attach to the girth and the reins and also straps to keep the saddle from sliding back. The reins mau be graided or has ‘stops’ of leather to help the rider grip better. In international level they can wear a top hat for dressage although all riders do not choose to do so and may wear a helmet. For all the jumping they all wear helmets. For the XC they also wear padded vests and have emergency info in a plastic type of envelope on their arm. So if there is a fall the medics can have that info right away if the rider is unconscious. Also the riders wear large watches/timers on the XC so they know if they need to speed up or take it a bit slower while on the course. It’s not a race and there is a prescribed time range that they must. Be within on completing the course. For fun go to you Tube and see if you can find Rolex 3 day event cross country.2018. Or any year will do. It will give you an idea of the XC.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Jeff Rab says:

            Fascinating, Anne! The different saddles makes sense or both horse and rider safety. It also makes sense about the watches and medical information on the rider, which would also apply to the horse if vet needed specific information about the horse. It seems practicing, which would be alone more often than not, would be a huge risk time to rider and horse….you never know what might happen in the familiar area, but at competitions, there is the newness of the course, and nervous jitters of both horse and rider!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. anne leueen says:

            I think the top eventers in the world have a diminished sense of danger. Sort of like Formula One drivers! I hope you saw the link i put in my second reply. Do take a look Michale Jung is the current top eventer in the world. Also it will give you an idea of the XC and what a challenge it is.

            Liked by 2 people

        2. anne leueen says:

          https://youtu.be/3H7tebD75pM. This is a link to last yearwinner. Jung is a superb XC rider. So calm and the horse is fast and very brave.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Jeff Rab says:

            Just watched it! At ten minutes, there is that moment of danger when the horse’s legs hit the obstacle. Horse and rider have to be in really good shape for this! Much faster than I remember from before!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. anne leueen says:

            Yes the level of fitness is incredible. When the horse hit that fence the rider helped to keep him up. The worst falls are the rotational falls where they snag their front legs and somersault landing on their backs with the rider underneath. Mercifully it does not happen often. Anyway thanks for your interest and i have enjoyed our exchanges this evening on the topic of eventing!

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Jeff Rab says:

            Thank you Anne…and just for the record, the jumps with water afterwards are, and would be, the toughest for me….and maybe the horse because the landing is not completely visible, one other thing I noticed from what you wrote and the video is how the horse raises its head to see when approaching the jump. Beautiful!

            Liked by 1 person

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.