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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fit to ride Part 9: Arena Exercises Riding

Unless someone has another question, this will be my last review on this book. Hopefully the information presented will help you to determine whether you should pick up a copy of this book for yourself!

Three riding exercises are presented as especially beneficial for the conditioning, obedience, suppleling, for the eventing/endurance horse.

Shoulder In
Half Pass.

Shoulder In
I just learned this at my last lesson so I was excited to read what Bromiley said. Unfortunately she says how to technically perform it, but not the whys or even a good description of what a shoulder in is. If purchasing this book, it would be a good idea to have some background knowledge in dressage, or be willing to do further research before trying her classical riding exercises – I would not have been able to perform a shoulder in based on her description. I have found the shoulder in to be an EXCELLENT collection and obedience tool. It can be practiced any where at any gait. I am in LOVE with the shoulder in. In my opinion is in an exercise that should be in every endurance rider’s tool box.

Simply, the shoulder in is a 3 track movement. The horse is traveling forward, with the shoulder slightly in toward the inside flexion of the neck and head. The leg position to cue for the shoulder in is very similar to the canter, with the outside leg slightly back. I’m in the super beginning stages of learning the shoulder in, so if you are trying to learn this for the show ring, go somewhere else! For now, I am told to feel like I am neck reining the horse to the inside, while applying pressure with the inside leg at the girth, or just slightly before the girth, with the outside leg back.

I like using the shoulder in when Farley is a bit feisty on the trail and is giving me a VERY strong trot or canter towards home. I don’t want to keep pulling and pulling and pulling….so I ask for shoulder ins. We are still traveling in a straight line, but it’s a lot of work.

The shoulder in is also useful for collection. Again, I don’t like pulling on Farley. It’s pointless. When I ask her to come over the top of the bit, sometimes she refuses. If I then ask for a shoulder in, it seems to make her softer and supple-er and I get what I want with the minimum of fuss and hissy fits.

Again Bromiley does not provide a comprehensive description of a serpentine, assuming that the reader has prior knowledge

Half Pass
A detailed description of the Half Pass is given, as well as instruction. It is clear that of all the exercises given, Bromiley believes the Half Pass the most useful.

You have to crawl before you walk….
Bromiley stresses that movements should be introduced at the walk, then the trot. This seems obvious, but for some reason, it’s not. Whenever I stop to think about why I’m having problems with Farley, I will go back to the walk, master it, then move to the trot and voila! We have it! But in lessons, often something is introduced at the trot, or even the canter (this is true of my current instructor, as well as a few group lessons I took earlier). I will continue to have problems with the concept until I bring it to a walk and figure it out. Note to self: Need to be strong enough to say “let’s do this at a walk first” in lessons!

Further Recommendations
If purchasing this book without a background in dressage or other formal horsemanship training, it is my recommendation that it is paired with another book that better explains the pole work and riding exercises mentioned. I especially like Cherry Hill’s 101 Exercises series. I have used both the 101 Arena exercises book, and the ground work book that describes lunging and long lines. Both would make and excellent companion to Fit to Ride.

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