I am in Florida and working with coach Luis Reteguiz Denizard (Lou to his friends). Lou is a coach that always thinks outside of the box and comes up with novel ways of helping his students grasp certain concepts. For those of you who have been with me for awhile you may remember when I wrote a post about ‘Riding the Mounting Block’. Then last winter there was a new ‘app’ added to that concept; the Stability Leg. If you don’t have the vaguest what I’m talking about just click on those titles to see the original posts.
So what’s new this year? Two, yes, TWO new apps. Keep in mind that the term “app” essentially means ‘application’ and these two techniques can be applied to your riding and will provide a lot of help. Let me explain.
Sit toward the back edge, of the top step, of the mounting block.
Use your seat to move forward and bring the lower step of the mounting block up off the ground. Keep your body upright and don’t lean back
You can rock back and forth bringing the bottom of the mounting block off the ground and then letting it go back down. This mimics the movement of the horse.
This is the new “application”. TIMING. Every time you are in the Step Two position , forward with the mounting block off the ground behind you, is the time the horse puts his front leg onto the ground. After you have the feel for the mounting block movement and how you move your seat, try it on your horse and ‘‘imagine’ you are on the mounting block. Start at the walk. When your horse’s leg goes forward and touches the ground you are forward. Forward, back, forward back. At the trot it is the same; each front leg going forward you are moving forward on the block. One, two, one, two. At the canter both front legs come forward and touch the ground almost simultaneously. So again as the front legs go forward your seat goes forward: forward, two, three, forward, two, three. With all of this you are not collapsing forward or doing any weird swivels with your hips. You just move the way you did on the mounting block.
HOW DOES THIS APP HELP?
This app gives you a great clue to your tempo. Is it too slow? Too quick? With your body you can improve and regulate that tempo. When you imagine the mounting block your seat is engaging the horse. This is NOT driving with your seat or pushing with your seat it is going with your horse.
Here is the second new app. When you are seated on the mounting block place a whip about six inches above your knee. Here is a photo.
How does this work? I know you can’t ride with a whip like this once you are on the horse. You imagine the whip when you are on your horse.
HOW DOES THIS APP HELP?
This “whip app” has helped me because in just one lesson it revealed that I am not keeping the imagined whip level. Going to the right the whip would have fallen off to my right . This reveals that I am slightly pulling up my left leg and that means my left seat bone is coming off the saddle and my weight is uneven. How is my horse supposed to react to that? He is wondering what the heck I am asking him to do.
If you can keep the whip level you will be level. Legs level ,seat balanced, seat bones level and weight balanced. That way if you want to change your weight from one seat bone to the other, as an aid, your horse will recognize it as an aid and not just a random bit of you shifting about up there.
There you have it. Two new apps for riding the mounting block. And this is not something that is just for dressage riders. We do ride seated and upright but for the jumpers this concept will help for all those moments when you are in the saddle; lengthening the stride to get a distance right, or bringing a horse back to compress before a tight combination.
We can all use these techniques. Do give them a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below!