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'Self Carriage' or 'Behind the bit'

'Self Carriage' or 'Behind the bit'

Postby JennieF » Sun Apr 02, 2017 2:04 pm

Not sure how many of you on here will have a point of view but I will ask anyway as I'm not sure where else to discuss this ...

Riding Bandit - I have begun to find the point of what I consider to be the 'ultimate intimate connection' where he becomes incredibly light in my hands but the connection is still there ... its an amazing feeling and at the moments fairly fleeting but getting more consistent ... he feels like he is really working through his whole body but carrying himself - rather like you see when a horse at liberty is showing off and holds itself in a 'collected' position ...

My question is - as he is super light in my hands I guess in 'proper dressage circles' he would be said to be behind the bit ... but my understanding of self-carriage is that I dont want to be carrying my horse - I want it to carry itself ... I wonder if there is some sort of invisible line between the two and how you know which side it you are on ...

Just found this quote in a discussion on another forum ...... "and as my trainer says : when the horse is in self carriage my job is done - at that point in time i need to allow my horse to carry herself with little or no aids. this is her reward. its my reward too - it is what keeps me coming back as it is the best feeling out there"
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Re: 'Self Carriage' or 'Behind the bit'

Postby Trudi » Sun Apr 02, 2017 9:43 pm

I broadly agree Jennie, from the start I look to cue in such a way that it is a fleeting communication rather than a 'crutch'. I am still utterly confused by tight reins, uncomfortable mouths and upside down necks that working into a fixed contact result in. I am sure it is a result of people copying higher level riders that appear to ride with taught reins (yes OK some do but for the sake of this debate let's think about the good ones) without realising that the horses at top level are in a much different self-carriage to a novice horse.

At the start you are only looking for stop/start in self carriage, the head will be lower and it may be a little on the forehand BUT it is still self-carriage if the rider isn't doing anything to maintain it. As you then introduce soft neck/flexion, curved lines, reinback, yielding shoulders and 1/4's it should still be a cue and release never a holding aid and gradually the bend develops, the balance changes and the self-carriage allows for a more uphill posture again not supported by the rider. At this point the horse may choose to come to the hand because it offers such an 'intimite' connection thta it doesn't fear and feel comfortable to be close to but again it isn't a fixed feeling or a heavy contact.

I have lost count of the hundreds of tests that I've written 'allow more through the reins' on, it is sadly of epidemic proportions. I could go on and on; it is one of my biggest bugbears.

That said I also see many (especially bitless) riders lolloping along on a long rein that is in no way self-carriage because the neck is upside down, the back not supple, the hindlegs stiff and inflexible, the gaits not regular... all things that make carrying us very hard for them.

The test is ultimately can they change their posture- up, down, stretch on request throughout the paces and still remain in balance without a heavy contact.

Sounds like Bandit is going well for you but the easiest check is to watch video back- I do this all the time as it really is an easy way (without eyes on the ground) to know if the nose is tucking behind or the back hollowing etc- often I'm actually surprised that it is better than it feels.

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Re: 'Self Carriage' or 'Behind the bit'

Postby JennieF » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:04 pm

Thanks for your reply Trudi - I think I am on the right track ...

funny about you saying how it often looks better than it feels - we did a little bit of canter work in our last session with Denise and when she asked me how it had felt I said "ok, but ...." however, later on watching the video I could see how good it actually was and why she thought I should have been really happy with it :lol:

Anyway, need to get my little video camera charged up again so I can do more filming ...
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Re: 'Self Carriage' or 'Behind the bit'

Postby Chevalblanc » Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:17 am

Yes, some vid would be good :-D

I agree that most folks don't seem to have much idea about self carriage, I see a lot of horses being held in at the front. It's very noticeable that they don't have much balance when I get the rider to let go of the reins to canter! And I always ask people if they canter when riding generally without a constant contact and the answer is always no......
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Re: 'Self Carriage' or 'Behind the bit'

Postby Trudi » Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:59 am

https://warneyswhip.me/2017/04/05/this- ... lightness/

You might have seen this on FB Jennie? Agree with much of it although it always makes me smile when more mainstream riders quote Oliveira because he rode his horses into nothing like the dead stillness of the competition horse but the words are good and she makes some excellent points.
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Re: 'Self Carriage' or 'Behind the bit'

Postby JennieF » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:00 pm

yes - I like that Trudi :thumbup: thank you for the link
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Re: 'Self Carriage' or 'Behind the bit'

Postby fabikat » Sun Apr 09, 2017 5:26 pm

Pleased to hear you are getting on so well with Bandit now Jennie :thumbup:
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Re: 'Self Carriage' or 'Behind the bit'

Postby JennieF » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:32 pm

'Interesting' session with the boy tonight - for various reasons I haven't ridden him for just over a week ... after getting his attention with some groundwork I hopped on ... wow - was he 'operating' !!!!! I found myself on the wrong side of the 'fine line' a few times though when he really came behind the bit - and you suddenly realize that you have no control whatsoever :random: :random: but I was able to ride him forward again and re-establish the link ...

I am really enjoying the feeling of riding him in this 'super-sporthorse mode' but it does make you aware of what an incredibly powerful little horse he is ... I think I maybe should work him a bit more often ....

PS - will try to remember to set up the video camera next time ...
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Re: 'Self Carriage' or 'Behind the bit'

Postby Trudi » Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:07 pm

Sounds brilliant Jennie, so pleased for the two of you :thumbup:
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