Very well done to our equestrian teams in Rio, and of course to the fabulous dressage team. The special and the Kur were great classes to watch. So much talent to see. Explaining to my non horsey friends, just how much work and time is needed to make it all look so easy, is a difficult one!!
The position of the rider was also interesting, with some very different styles. We saw the Russian riders sitting back behind the vertical, (and they were not the only ones), and driving with the seat into a fairly strong contact. Then there were the British and a couple of Germans and others, who sit much softer, allowing the back to swing, and the contact is much lighter. Some riders have their legs against the side of their horse all the time, and there are others like Edward Gal who sit very strong through his back, but has his legs off his horse completely, except to ask a question. His contact is also firm. We say that we all want the same end result, but I am not sure the riders see the end picture the same.
The seat we have talked about before and needs clarifying often. The hips are the centre of our position on the horse, and their upright stance is controlled by the rider’s core muscles, right behind the tummy button. We should sit at the back of our seat but with the body upright and not behind the vertical. We then have a gap in front of our crutch. It is important that the inside of the thigh muscles relax to allow ourselves to sit on our backsides, and then our horses can sit on their back ends or quarters.
The seat aid is telling the horse to travel forward, and moving your weight a very small amount, makes a huge change to the horse. It is important to control your weight to the inside of your horse and not be off balance to the outside. Control with your seat and use the leg as backup.