Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day Two Lecture: Positioning Ourselves for Success

The second 8:00 am lecture began much as the first, with Jimmy asking for questions (though he’d prompted at least one upper level rider to ask a particular question!). Jennifer asked about the “Light Three Point” seat.

So Jim asked us back: “What does the ‘3’ refer to? What are the three points?

Several guesses: “knees and seat”; “feet and seat”; and so on. Nada.

“Pubic bone and seat bones.” Jim informed us.

We need to be able to hold that position through balance only, without reins and stirrups—we need an independent seat. Ahh, I KNEW he’d come to that freakin’ ride w/o stirrups in this clinic!

Other people refer to this as a “half seat” in which the point of your shoulder is slightly in front of your hip.

“Why do we ride in this position?” Jimmy asked.

“Because DeNemethy said so.” He answered, laughing. But he added that we have more communication, more influence over the horse in this position.

As our stirrups lengthen, we have more weight in our seats, and a more upright posture. Jimmy quoted LaGoff saying that a dressage rider sits above his seat. A jockey, however, is way above the seat.

As our speed increases, our inclination forward increases as well. But at ALL TIMES the stirrup leather should be perpendicular to the ground.

So in stadium jumping, we’re in a light three point all the time.

In cross country, we’re in galloping position/two point until some point before the jump—say 8-10 strides out—at which time we “enter the horse’s back” (a Blythe Tait expression). We’re not looking for a change in speed, but a change in the shape of the horse before the fence.

“You need to start to feel poised at speed.” Jimmy noted. Too many people equate increasing speed with loss of balance—what we’re after is a consistent, balanced speed.

Jimmy warned us that there is a twenty year learning curve. Sigh. I wish I’d started all of this earlier!

I asked how often we should be jumping/doing gymnastics, and Jim said in the winter, 2-3 months before we start competing, we should do them twice a week, including curved gymnastics (which our group didn’t get to).

To feel that balance, we need to do exercises like lifting our legs away from the horse’s side while still maintaining our balance, and spending five minutes every day sitting “into” the saddle (as if you were on a lunge line).

He talked about getting a horse fit, and while all this information is in his book, he gave us a guideline: For Novice and Training level riders, we need:

5 “ (minutes) at 220 mpm (trotting) 3 times, with a 2” (minute) walk (Lt) between “sets”
4” @ 400 mpm x 3 w/ 2” Lt
Every five days

So we might do dressage twice a week, hacking once a week, jumping once a week, and these sets once a week.

For Prelim, it would be:

5” @ 220 x 3 W/ 2” Lt
6” @ 400 x 3 w/ 2” Lt

He quoted the calvalry:

Walk for muscle
Trot for balance
Gallop for wind

Now that we’re “fit”, it’s on to cross country!

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