So, as I alluded to in my last post, I have been working my way through Beth Baumert's new book When 2 Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics. Let me start off with a bold statement: this book is a total game changer for me. It combines a wealth of easy to understand dressage theory about how dressage concepts and exercises gradually improve the horse, while also covering the "how" of the rider's position, seat, and influence. The book is divided into 3 sections, how riders work, how horses work, and how two spines meet in balance. There are so many informative ideas and interesting images in all 3 sections that it's hard to know where to start, but I will give it a shot and start with how riders work.
The first section, how riders work, talks about the 4 "powerlines" and how they basically make up the well functioning rider's seat and biomechanics, with many exercises and images to improve the quality of the rider's powerlines and thus the rider's ability to get correct work from the horse. Included in this is the best description/explanation of a half-halt and how a half-halt connects the two ends of the horse that I have ever come across.
After each chapter about each powerline there are several exercises to check if you have it right and also to improve the quality of the powerlines if you sort of have the idea. There are lots of images and emphasis on circles of energy, which I find very reminiscent of Sally Swift's Centered Riding but in a more detailed and complex way. The last chapter in this section talks about the aids and gives a framework for organizing and implementing the aids to have the most chance of a successful outcome.
Just by adding the concepts of the 4 powerlines I got some of the best, most connected rides on Jet that I have ever had. I still feel like it takes so much thought to remind myself of the things I need to do differently, that it will take a while for the changes to become my new "home" but even with doing the changes somewhat, I see and feel vast improvement. The engaging/collecting half-halt has been hit and miss, but the times I have gotten it have been AMAZING and presto I finally have that uphill balance with engaged hind legs and some beautiful transitions that skip gaits.
More to come on section 2, how horses work, soon!