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In Stride....

Vol.:1 Issue 2 October 2003


A happy Jerri and Sir Striper, alias Bubba, were High Point at Sonador with a 65% for both Training Level and First Level 1 and 2. They were won the best averaged scores for Training Level. Way to go Jerri and Bubba!

Ask the trainer: This column can be answered by any trainer. October's highlighted trainer is Kristin Hermann again. Would anyone like to step up to the plate?


Please advise: I am schooling my barrel racer in dressage to make him more athletic. Please give me some tips.

Wow! You should remove your western tack and put on dressage attire and go beat those warmbloods! This Quarter Horse is stepping well underneath himself and stretching into the bridle (or contact). You can see that he is over tracking, or stepping beyond the print left by the fore leg. He looks happy in the mouth and is well muscled over his top line. His abdominal muscles are working, as they are taut because of his using his top line. When a horse's back is working, the abdominal muscles work too. Just like us! He has a beautiful extension to his front shoulder - what a nice trot.

The rider's heels could be lowered to give a more pleasant appearance, and by lowering her heels, she would get the spur out of the horse's side. For such big spurs ths horse does not seem to mind. The rider should bend her right elbow a little bit to gain a greater connection with the horse's mouth (, although you can see a nice bend to her outside elbow.

This rider as a barrel racer is likely not too concerned with her position, but to school your horse in dressage, and to have the optimum in communication, correct position is how you use your body to communicate with the horse. If it is out of alignment, the horse will not hear your signals correctly. This horse and rider team are on the right path when it comes to schooling dressage, or translated, means: gymnastic training. Way to go!

Free picture analysis - email - be sure to send a picture!

Trainer Tip:

"To get your horse on the bit, get your hands out of the pit!" Do not press your hands down. This breaks the elbow to mouth connection. Keep elbows by your hips.

The Elbows

I cal the elbows, "The keystone to on the bit". If your "elbow to bit connection" is not correct you will always have a problem with contact. A lot of tension is held in our neck and shoulders, so the elbows are affected. A good elbow connection is directly linked to the rider's seat. There are articles on entitled Elbows. Recommended treatment for tight shoulders and neck -- massage, swimming and yoga. Or, do full arm rotations keeping the elbow straight so the movement comes from the shoulder. Watch that your posture is aligned and your head does not tilt to one side.

Happy Riding!

Group or private jumping with
hunter trainer Kerri Guy,
starting Monday October 20th.
Call Kristin for more details.

From the Archives....

Who is this rider? Any guesses?
Boy does she ever need lessons before this horse is ruined!

Here is a picture of someone who has a lot wrong. First, the saddle is way too forward -- it is sitting on the horse's shoulder. Ouch! Next, the rider is obviously pulling on the horse's mouth to get it to drop its nose and give at the poll. Another ouch!

If this horse were trotting, it would have a short stride since its neck is crunched. It may look as though the rider has a good straight line elbow to bit, but actually her hands are over the pommel of the saddle and her elbows are behind her hips. She needs to allow this horse to stretch its neck forward onto the bit by bringing her elbow slightly forward, not compressing the neck backwards. Also, the rider is sitting in a chair seat with the ankle out in front of the hip. For correct alignment the ear, shoulder, hip and ankle should be in one straight line. The rider's boots are dirty and this detail takes away from the otherwise nice attire, but, the dirty boots accentuate the fact that her toe is sticking out, and the flat side of the hip is not on the saddle allowing the hips to open. She should drop the foot out of the stirrup, let the leg hang down, grab the back of the thigh to rotate the knee in and open the hip and get the foot and toes facing 5 to midnight, instead of 10 after midnight. And, a pet peeve, the mane is on the wrong side.

(See picture below of saddle fitted too far forward.)

Photo of how a saddle is not supposed to sit on the horse's shoulders, interfering with its forward swing.

Picture taken from Doris Halstead's book, "Release the Potential".



Release the Potential author Doris Halstead was in Saxonburg in September. Dakota and Johannis went to have a session with Doris. Let me tell you they enjoyed it. When they arrived at Braeface Farm, owned by Mary Schoder, they walked into a 12x12 stall and awaited their muscle therapy treatment. The hay there was great and the air was different. If could have been Mary's herb garden just outside the barn. Doris found different issues with each horse. She evaluated each horse first to check out their symmetry then she went to work. Doris' back ground is in physical therapy, but because she is an avid dressage enthusiast, she started working on horses too. Since, she has written two books, the one above and a new one called Awakening Rider's Pelvic Movement. Doris spent time with each horse first adjusting their shoulders. You know how your horse may throw his shoulder out, and you spend years trying to correct it...Doris did this by applying pressure to certain trigger point areas within the horse to get the muscles to release. She says each adjustment she does has to be non threatening to the horses, small and familiar. If a horse feels threatened, it won't be able to release. This only makes sense. She did adjustments to both horse's poll areas and their "gelding scars". This area where the geldings have been cut, holds a lot of tension according to Doris. She held the empty sack until the horse relaxed and let it go. Of course, doing this to your own gelding is not recommended without first knowing how he already feels about his "gelding scar". What Doris recommends is reading her book Release the Potential. She says every thing she did to Johannis and Dakota is in the book. I, of course, ordered the book, and she is right -- this book is so simple to follow and laid out with great pictures. If you see me groping behind your horse pulling its tail, massaging its gums or flexing the crest of its neck, you can be sure that I learned it from Doris Holmstead. To buy her book, contact, or ask your favorite book store or tack store to order one. And, don't forget the book about the rider's pelvis, too. Or, if you would like to see my copies just ask.

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