"You're never going to be perfect, let go." ~ Chris Bartle
"I would rather have heart and desire than ability any day of the week." ~ Tamie Smith
Longitudinal suppleness (which is what gives them the ability to collect easily) is only possible when the horse is laterally supple. Don’t take a horse that is laterally stiff and ask him to collect! You have to improve his lateral suppleness with judicious use of lateral exercises before he will be able to give you true collection.
Always strive to keep the feeling that two thirds of the horse is in front of you. This means staying behind your horse's shoulders, and allowing the horse to have as long of a neck as possible. This allows the rider to have a greater amount of security, and gives the horse the best chance to stay in good balance.
"The greatest hindrance to driving the horse properly comes from riders stiffening their legs…. The horse cannot monitor tight legs as aids and will sour to the pressure, which he will interpret as a meaningless second girth." ~ Charles De Kunffy
"The forehand is not to be raised by the rider's hands ! This mania of trying to ride a horse with a 'Grand-prix neck', a horse who moves with Training level hindquarters, is abominable." ~ Charles de Kunffy
When you look down, your shoulders follow your eyes and begin to drop downward and forward. This makes it much more difficult for you to communicate correctly with your horse through your seat - often causing you to need to use your reins more than you should.
"When you think you need a half halt, try releasing first....then aha, there's your real half halt. Don't let the status quo be a heavy hand!" ~ Devan Cottrell
"When my horse tells me he is tired, it’s important to stop and listen to him and not keep pushing so I make him a sour horse." ~ Charlotte Dujardin
When doing movements like turn on the haunches, pirouettes, haunches in, and half pass, even the most experienced riders have to remind themselves to sit over their inside seat bone throughout the entire movement. Consciously thinking about stepping into the inside stirrup every couple of strides during these movements is necessary to avoid any tendency of the rider's weight slipping to the outside.
A horse will respond best to an aid when the rider has the ability to give it smoothy and within the rhythm of the horse's stride.
You drive your horse heavily into your hands every time you lean back even slightly behind the vertical.
The old masters learned early on that riding accurate arena patterns is the key for improving a horse's balance and straightness. Always keep this in mind in your training.
"The rein connection should be like a solid handshake. Don’t have a wimpy handshake. You know what a bad feeling you get when someone gives you a creepy handshake, so don’t give that icky feeling to your horse." ~ William Fox Pitt
A strong back is necessary for the horse to be able to achieve and maintain self carriage and collection for any length of time under a rider. Make sure you don't ask for too much too soon. And be diligent and proactive about strength training and conditioning.
"Don't delude yourself into thinking that you have light, soft hands, if you ride with loose, almost dangling reins on a strung out horse. That can be done with insensitive hands as well. A soft hand requires the rider to feel whether the horse is softly on the bit, chewing, and whether it responds to a light pressure, in other words, whether it has an active mouth. If he rides with loose reins, the horse can have a dead mouth, which will only show up when you use the reins to stop or to shorten the strides, as it will either let you pull its nose onto its chest, or it will invert, and in both cases it will open its mouth." ~ Oskar M. Stensbeck
If you have a refusal at a cross country jump that offers an easier option, it can be a good idea to take the easier option on your next attempt. You are likely already out of contention with the 20 penalties, so don't try to be a hero, and instead make sure that your horse has a good, positive experience on the rest of the course by taking your time, and choosing the easier options if there are any. Adding more refusals can easily demoralize both horse and rider, causing a setback to their confidence for future events.
Think of your leg, seat, and rein aids as communication with your horse. You don't physically push or pull him anywhere, you give him subtle signals. And if he doesn't initially respond to your subtle signals, you need to teach him to - EVERY horse can learn to respond to light cues, if taught properly.
Remind yourself to breathe before and after every difficult exercise. Of course you need to breath while riding each exercise as well. But thinking about checking your breathing before and after is a good first step!
Riders can benefit SO much from discussions about their riding. Riding is as much cognitive as it is physical - both aspects need to be exercised to truly improve!
"When xc is ridden properly it doesn't look like show jumping. They need to stop teaching kids to count strides and start teaching them to use their eyes and their leg." ~ Jules Stiller
"Have you reminded yourself lately that horses are wonderful? No matter how haphazard or awkward our efforts, horses seem to figure out what we want them to do and happily do it." ~ Jimmy Wofford
"I've always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I don't do things half heartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half hearted results." ~ Michael Jordan
"Good riders land over an obstacle, go the the next jump and make a good arrangement. Great riders land with their horses already arranged for the next obstacle." ~ Bill Steinkraus
"You see a lot of horses drifting over their fences. There is no such thing as the ideal horse – they all need help somewhere. That’s why the rider is there – to help the horse. You must use your aids to keep the horse from drifting. You must keep operating in the air. Don’t be a passenger, be a pilot. Don’t put your safety belt on as you take off and say – 'See you on the other side!'" ~ Jack Le Goff
The hindquarters are the engine, but you turn the horse by directing his shoulders.
Never forget that the way the distance rides between two jumps changes as the fence height changes. The horse will land further into a line or combination when the jumps are larger, which makes the distance effectively shorter.
When you ride powerfully forward to the base of your jumps you allow your horse to jump in such a way that is actually the easiest and most natural for him. Building the horse's power right to the base of the jump means that he stresses his hocks less on the takeoff. The horse that is underpowered has to push that much harder to get over that jump. And being balanced with his hind legs well under him means less stress on his front legs on the landing side.
Balance and rhythm go hand in hand. Focus on maintaining an even rhythm, as every time the rhythm changes, the balance changes.
"Your horses are all capable of jumping more than they are asked to do at events and they should be. He has to jump a five foot, nice, well-made fence, if he cannot, he flies too low as far as I am concerned. I am not going to ride a low flier! It is one thing to jump a four foot fence fresh, it is quite another to jump the same fence at the end of a cross country and you come to a big fence at the end. If you don’t have a horse with enough scope, you are in deep trouble." ~ Jack LeGoff
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