Showing posts from April, 2011

Following Release Follow-Up Questions

AoifeTheRambler asked some great follow-up questions in a comment on my previous post , so I thought I’d take a few minutes to answer them because I think they are important issues we all deal with when using the following/automatic release.  While I don’t claim this is the definitive ruling on any of these issues, in my opinion and based on my experience, this is how I’d address them: Q:    “I used to keep my shoulders back (along with most of my torso) no matter what back in the age of the crest release, but now I curl up slightly when I go forward. Is this due to the release, and if so, do you have any tips to fix it without interfering with my release?” A:   Most of us are taught to ride with an arched back and square shoulders to go along with the crest release.  And with the crest release, this kind of position is possible because the elbows are bent and the support of the upper body rests in the hands, not the hips and back.  Pressing into the hands will actually tend to p

Learning the Following Release Over Fences

Many of us agree that the ideal way to help our horses jump their best is to use the following--or automatic--release.  But this is obviously easier said than done.  So, what are some ways to practice and perfect this method?  Here are a few I’ve found helpful in my own riding and when helping students to wean themselves off the crest release: 1) Flat work: Probably most important is to practice a secure and balanced half-seat and two-point/jumping position at all gaits for at least some portion of your ride every day.  Once your legs, hips, abs and back are strong enough, practice this while concentrating on keeping a fluid, mobile arm; shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers should all remain relaxed, independent and capable of following the horse's head at all times.  Once you're able to maintain a secure position while keeping a soft following hand in jumping position, practice this without stirrups. 2) Hill work: Chances are there is someplace on y

Happy B-Day Nate!

4/9/11-- Just a quick post to say Happy Birthday to my "Tater."  He's 16 today, which means he's been with us for 12 years now!  Above is a picture from the first day I ever saw him.  He was 4 year old DWB fresh from Holland sent to me for training by a breeder I worked with.  For those who don't know how he got his name, his reg. name is "Napoli," but I worried that his inevitable nickname "Nappy" could also mean either a diaper or a recalcitrant horse - neither particularly flattering.  But we also had a running joke that he had the attention span of a gnat... and 'gnat' turned into the slightly more flattering "Nate."  But of course that has since degenerated into "Nate-o-potato" or just "Tater." I can't get over how little he's changed since then - just as big and goofy as ever ;-)  Once he arrived and I started working with him, I just fell in love with him and ended up buying him for myse