Monday, September 19, 2016

Mobility and Collectibility Exercises

As discussed in previous posts, Dressage Naturally is classical dressage with a few twists.  The order of the stairs doesn't exactly look like the drawing above, but they lead to the same place.  There is a heavy component of Natural Horsemanship, so the horse is very responsive in ground training and in under saddle training on a loose rein or "freestyle".  After this foundation is established and the horse is working off of seat/body aids for go, whoa, and steering, then riding in connection with the reins is started and work in "connection" begins.  The connection work is focused on having just the right amount of relaxation, alignment/balance, and energy which leads to the "Sweet Spot" where everything feels easy.  

All of these things are a base for the true dressage work which is the flexibilty, mobility, and collectibility exercises.  The flexibilty exercises are things like spirals,  figure eights, serpentines, leg yields, and counter bends.  Once these are all established then the horse is adequately prepared for the mobility and collectibility exercises.  Because the horse can work on a loose rein at any time, because the horse has all the elements of the "Sweet Spot", because the horse has mastered the flexibilty exercises which get him more supple in the shoulders and able to shift to the outside aids, the horse is much more prepared to start the lateral work.

I think this is the genius of DN.  It is the slightly different base upon which the lateral work is built.  Because there is so much emphasis in the beginning on body/seat aids and the horse being straight and using his back, the mobility/collectibility exercises go so much more smoothly.  These exercises are the standard lateral work with a bit of a DN twist.  The explanation of how the horse bends(or does not bend!) is the most clear I have ever seen.  Some different approaches are used to introduce the lateral positions including establishing the positions at the halt and introducing counter shoulder along the rail in at the walk.  The linking of different lateral exercises is also not the standard I have seen.  And as crazy as it sounds, it works great.  It took Jet from struggling to get in the lateral positions sometimes, to offering to move however I wanted to get the position correctly.  Easily.

Right now Jet and I are mostly polishing up the flexibilty exercises and touching on the mobility/collectibility exercises a bit each ride.  Every day the foundation work stays solid, the flexibilty work gets closer to 100%, and the mobility/collectibility exercises get established in a no stress way.  Fun stuff.

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