The Circle of Aids in Horse Riding

I posted recently on my biggest issue - a blocked pelvis.

But why is it crucial to have a supple and neutral pelvis? We need to see this problem it in a bigger context - the circle of aids:

http://horsezone.com.au/news/dressage-training-the-circle-of-the-aids-3893/

As stated in the article (http://horsezone.com.au/news/dressage-training-the-circle-of-the-aids-3893/), the explanation of the picture above reads as follows:

"The order in which the aids are applied plays a role in collecting work as well. The calves come first, asking the hind legs to step under. The weight is second, bending the hind legs and directing the horse’s body towards the hand. Finally come the limiting and flexing aids of the hand."The final result must be an elastic horse, an unweighted hand, and a rider who joins the movement in the horse’s center of gravity with an elastic seat and an active leg that maintains impulsion and hence collection. The horse has to step underneath the rider’s seat by himself on account of the impulsion from the back, and he must absorb the rider’s weight with his hind legs. Triggering himself the flexion of the haunches as well as the impulse to swing, the horse must absorb the rider’s weight with his hind legs. " - G.v.Dreyhausen (1951).
Leg aids are the starting point - without them you will not be able to engage the hind legs or as I call it: turn on the engine! And in case of horseback riding, the engine is clearly in the back! With the engine (i.e. the hind legs stepping under) running (not literally - even though Hafl oftentimes still feels like that), you will be able to shift more weight to the hind legs (and lifting the front legs).

With legs stepping deeper under the center of gravity and carrying more weight, the horse needs to lift his back which the rider then can feel with his seat. A round properly working back feels like an arch and your butt gets sucked into the saddle. Sitting in trot for example becomes way easier and feels like you and the horse are moving synchronous. I remember well last year when sitting trot felt like hell for me as he was not at all using his back (thanks to me not letting him though) and I was always fearing the sitting trot in a test. Any extensions in the trot caused me a pain in the stomach. That changed (thank God) significantly,sittting trot feels more and more comfortable and even "extended" trot (or the attempt) feels pretty nice. Here is a video from two days ago:

video

It is in his responsibility of the rider after feeling the energy coming through the seat to let it through to the horses mouth with his light and elastic contact to the bit. The rider will feel the horse stepping towards the bit (the horse will seek the rider's hand) and with the impulse coming from the bit, he needs to start over again with leg aids and so on and so forth.

As you can see in the picture above, with the circle of aids it is ensured that the horse and rider are connected, that the horse's front and end are connected AND that the rider's aids are connected. Any joint of the rider that is blocking the circle of aids (or the flow of energy through it) will disturb the movement. Let us focus on the hip joints as this is my number 1 issue at the moment:
"When the hind legs have entered the sphere of influence of the seat, i.e. when the rider can feel each hind leg clearly underneath his seat bones, the seat administrates the energy impulses that the hind legs send forward along the spine. The seat then dictates the rhythm, tempo, stride length, and direction of the horse's movement. That is why the seat is sometimes referred to as the conductor in the orchestra of the aids. The seat can also enhance the thrust or the carrying activity of each hind leg. Obviously, this can only work if the rider's pelvis is placed in the deepest point of the saddle, vertical and straight in its "neutral" position, so that it can tilt or rotate evenly in any direction that may be necessary for the application of an aid. The muscles that contribute the most to the control of the seat and its aids are located all the way around the rider's waist." - Dr. Thomas Ritter in the article mentioned above

As Dr. Thomas Ritter mentions the pelvis is a essential for carrying activity of the hind legs - no wonder that Hafl is having so many problems with that as my pelvis is not supporting him in that respect. Further:

"The rider's seat not only directs and administrates the energy flow coming from the hind legs, it also connects the horse's front and hind ends through his back. An interesting observation you can make is that when the rider's seat is balanced and connected in his or her own waist, the horse's back will be connected, i.e. it will rise and swing. When the rider's waist becomes limp and disconnected, the horse's back disconnects and drops as well, and the horse sucks back and inverts. In other words, the rider's midsection blends with the horse's back and passes the energy impulses from the hind legs on through the withers, the top line of the neck, the poll, to the horse's mouth, where the rider's hands can feel these impulses - if the hands are connected to the rider's midsection via the elbows." - Dr. Thomas Ritter in the article mentioned above

We know the issue - so we need to further work on it. I am happy though that all my attempts are already working out and geez there are moments that look like this (screenshots from the movie - quality is not that good):





Good boy for showing such movements even though I am making so many mistakes still.


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