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I can ride, pretty well but I still can't "feel" the diagonal in trot

18 replies

orangefusion · 09/07/2014 21:19

I was a rider through my childhood with weekly lessons and had a pony on loan for a while in my teenage years. I am confident but not knowledgable and have to confess to not really understanding the jargon used by teachers.
How do I find a yard and confess to being able to ride a cross country course but dont know what they mean by many of the terms they use?

E.g. "keep the contact"
"Get more impulsion"
"Feel the diagnonal, don't look for it" (I can see when I am on the right diagonal but I cannot feel it).

Any suggestions of how to find a good yard where I can admit my lack of understanding and improve?

OP posts:
mrslaughan · 09/07/2014 21:27

Where do you live?

orangefusion · 09/07/2014 22:40

Bristol, Mrslaughan

OP posts:
Zazzles007 · 10/07/2014 00:49

It sounds like you have the practical side of riding in hand, but not the theoretical side. There is a whole lot of theory that goes with horse riding that not all instructors teach. If you find a good yard, make sure to explain to the instructor your predicament, and that you will let her know if you need further explanation on something. Also make sure you ask questions if you don't understand something, you are there to learn!

Also there are many good books out there that explain the theoretical side of horse riding. I am sure other will have suggestions of good books to read (its been a long time since I read any such books!).

As far as your examples go:

  • "Keep the contact" - usually means "shorten your reins, and so that you can 'feel' the horses mouth", ie your reins are getting too long

  • "Get more impulsion" - impulsion = energy, so the instruction is "get more energy"

  • "Feel the diagnonal, don't look for it" - this one is harder to explain in a post. I was taught this by a very sympathetic instructor who had me feel the way the shoulders were moving forward at the walk, and calling out "left, left, left,...." when the left shoulder moved forward, in time with the movement of the shoulder. Same for the right shoulder. Once you can do this competently at the walk, then you move to sitting trot and do the same exercise again. This then helps you decide which diagonal to rise with. It takes time and practice, but it can be achieved. It has struck me that if you are simply being told "Feel the diagonal" your instructor has missed an important step in your lesson.

PetulaGordino · 10/07/2014 01:05

I was taught that impulsion was "the desire to go forward", so it's not about the horse necessarily going faster, it's about a buildup of energy, but in a controlled way so that the horse is ready to respond to your directions.

goodasitgets · 10/07/2014 01:16

For impulsion imagine a slinkie type thing
If you let go of the back bit, it slides away. If you let go of the front, it slides away. What you want is it bouncing between your hands, so impulsion is in a way the collection of speed. You want more energy, but not necessarily to go faster

The horse should be like a ball underneath you, not trailing hind legs or having the energy run out the front. It's so hard to describe!
When I want more impulsion, I keep the contact the same in the reins and I tap with a schooling whip or my legs to get her hind legs to move quicker but the contact stops her speeding up. So I end up with her coming "up" like a ball underneath me

It's not easy, it has taken me years and years, but when it first clicked I grinned like mad because you can just sit there and it just feels right

PetulaGordino · 10/07/2014 01:41

A ball is exactly how it was described to me too - you feel the nose and hind legs tuck in and everything becomes more concentrated

PetulaGordino · 10/07/2014 01:42

I must earn more money so I ca get back to riding!

orangefusion · 10/07/2014 06:13

I must find a yard and start again. Any ideas I'm near Bristol.

OP posts:
RinkyTinkTen · 10/07/2014 07:43

You need to think of a horse as a rear engined car. The power needs to come from the back legs so they're pushing themselves rather than pulling with their front legs.

By keeping a contact, you are using that energy to create a bit of uplift without going faster.

You need to keep your hands 'soft' for a good contact, so you need to have the reins taut enough so you can feel the horses mouth, but not so much that you're pulling on his mouth. Your elbow joint acts as a sort of spring so that your hands move with the horse.

It's tricky to explain, but I'd pop onto the horse and hound forum to see if anyone there can make a recommendation for a good riding school near you.

It's hard but wonderful when you get it! Grin

Booboostoo · 10/07/2014 08:21

Impulsiveness and contact are things you will learn by feel, so what you need is hours in the saddle, riding different horses and having someone on the ground talking you through it. A good instructor should not just say "more impulsion" and leave it at that if you do not understand, they should try to give you more step by step help, e.g. "Use your leg, then keep your hands still, half halt before the corner, bend around your inside leg in the corner, give the inside hand as a reward..." Etc.

The wrong diagonal will also feel wrong in time although with a very well balanced horse you can't tell you are in the wrong diagonal by feel alone. I don't see anything wrong with a quick glance down to check your diagonal so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

FlockOfTwats · 10/07/2014 11:46

I find it easier to feel the diagonal on finer tb types than bigger heavier types. No idea why. My instructor seems to aswell as she commented the other day.

Booboostoo · 10/07/2014 15:36

Sorry "impulsiveness" should have been "impulsion"! Autocorrect fail!

Poledra · 10/07/2014 15:58

If you were near me, I could recommend the exact horse to help you 'feel the diagonal'! He's a wonderful horse but quite bouncy and believe me, you know when you're on the wrong diagonal! Grin But equally, there's another horse I ride there, a beautiful ID, and I just cannot tell with him, as he's so comfortable even if you're wrong. So I just look down...

FlockOfTwats · 10/07/2014 16:14

I absolutely don't see a problem with a quick look down tbh, it's not like you're competing in a top level dressage competition. If you can't tell you can't tell. What if you can never tell? What if they simply don't have a horse that is easy enough for you to learn to feel in the first place?

I agree with the comments about your RI explaining things. I find that because i 'look' fine on a horse people tend to assume i know more than i do, when in actual fact, i'm a bit behind what i should be due to negligence on my part (I rode western for 2 years after 10 years of english, then had a year off) and really need refreshing sometimes.

When i first started riding though i had a riding instructor who flat out refused to explain anything. I had been riding all of three weeks and he kept telling me to go large and i hadn't a clue what he meant - And when i asked he went nuts at me and told me i shouldn't be in his class (Seriously, he taught beginners, he needed to get over himself, parents were often complaining about him for this).

There is absolutely no point in having an instructor who just barks orders at you with no explanation, but equally, you do need to speak up and just say 'Refresh my memory' 'talk me through this' etc, They're not (usually) going to have a go, laugh or anything - And if they did i'd hope they would lose a customer - and will oblige.

EnlightenedOwl · 10/07/2014 19:43

Forgotten most of this but isn't the correct way that you sit as the shoulder comes back (inside) I think we learned by doing the left, left, left method and counting.
impulsion - the engine analogy is very useful. Generate the power behind and it should come up into your hand.

saintlyjimjams · 12/07/2014 08:29

That's the position I was in OP when I returned to riding. I was just very honest & have gradually learned the lot. I've found I live that sort of technical side or riding & it has improved my riding dramatically. You just need a good instructor.

saintlyjimjams · 12/07/2014 08:31

Mine explains everything - why we do various exercises, the effect it has on the horse, she'll go down on all fours to demonstrate something. It's great. When I first returned to riding I went somewhere else & was barked at without explanation - you just need to avoid those places.

carabos · 12/08/2014 13:48

"Impulsion" means "go forward, but no faster". You are trying to create an energetic, upward and rounding feeling of containment, rather than the energy coming out the front door as when you let them off the bridle to gallop. Think of galloping as a lowering of the forehand frame and impulsion as a lifting of it - bridge versus hammock. Ride leg to hand - put your leg on to say move forward and control the speed with your outside hand - that is the beginning of the half-halt.

Don't worry about the diagonal thing - Edward Gal reckons he can't feel it either and it hasn't held him back Wink.

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