“Observe the parameters of the gait: the line of travel and the alignment of the horse’s body. The rhythm and tempo of the footfall. Is it regular or uneven? Is the tempo too fast or too slow, or just right? Listen to the sound of the footfall. Are all four feet touching down with the same intensity, or is one foot louder than the others? Pay attention to the energy level. Is it suitable for what you are trying to do, or do you need to raise it or lower it?”– Quoted from the article “Inclusive Focus. Getting Into The Right Frame Of Mind” by Thomas and Shana Ritter with http://www.artisticdressage.com
Like many readers, I subscribe to numerous horse-related newsletters. In my blog posts, I often reference online articles that I first found by scrolling through my email inbox. Today, I am highlighting a piece from Thomas and Shana Ritter from their Artistic Dressage website titled “Inclusive Focus. Getting Into The Right Frame of Mind.”
I learned about them through my aunt Lynne Sprinsky Echols, author of A Good Seat: Three Months at the Reitinstitut von Neindorff. Thanks, Auntie Lynne!
“Inclusive Focus, Getting Into The Right Frame of Mind” is quite meaty. There are lots of informative tidbits to digest. The authors remind us how much there is to notice about our horses as we ride.
“Zoom in to observe a certain part of the body without losing sight of the whole. Zoom out to observe how all the different areas of the body interact with each other and influence each other. Does any specific joint, limb, or muscle group stand out because it is moving oddly? Can you see or feel where this anomaly is coming from?”
I suspect sometimes we as riders think that if we aren’t doing some exciting activity with our horses, our rides will be dull. But what if while we ride, even “just” at a walk, we focus on all the quiet details that the article describes?
“Observe the horse’s muscle tone. The feel of his back and hind legs. The mobility of his hips, shoulders, rib cage, and spine. Can you feel the hind legs in your reins? Can your weight flow through each of the four legs into the ground? Can you reach all areas of the horse’s body with your aids, or are there areas that you can’t feel or influence?”
The authors reminded me that at slower paces and during simple maneuvers, there is still lots going on between horse and rider. We can absorb much information from and about our horses if we hone our awareness. To me, that’s a pretty exciting idea in and of itself!
What about you? Do you find fun in the details?