Tag Archives: dressage

Half pass on a circle or large pirouette from the perspective of

tensegrity and physical intelligence.

We are not talking about the half pirouette presented in the dressage ring, where the hind legs mark the steps but remain almost on the same spot. From the perspective of equine physical education, the move is without interest. We are talking about the large pirouette or half-pass on the circle that we practice at the Science of Motion.

Going right, half pass on a circle or large pirouette commences with the engagement and light adduction of the outside hind leg. The left hind leg creates the propulsive force that is going to be converted through the muscles of the thoracolumbar column into right lateral bending, coupled rotation, and displacement of the shoulders to the right. The right hind leg moves forward, but as the shoulders and the body move to the right, the inside hind leg advances under the body in a position of support. The position of the right hind leg advanced under the body is likely to increase the intensity and duration of the decelerating phase. This is how a large pirouette or half pass on a circle enhances balance control.

However, the horse has many ways to avoid the greater decelerating activity of the inside hind leg. Slight acceleration of the body or a shift of the weight over the forelegs could easily cancel the greater decelerating activity of the inside hind leg. Acceleration of shift of the body weight is more likely to be perceived by the rider’s body than the hands. The horse cans easily accelerate the motion or shift the weight on the forehand and neck without increasing the contact on the bit. This is why limiting lightness to the contact on the bit is a false understanding of lightness. The rider’s response has to be at the level of the body tone, influencing the horse’s back muscles instead of the hands. As soon as one feels the slight acceleration or shift of the horse’s body, one needs to adjust tensegrity or body tone to the horse reaction. Eventually, one might feel a slight increase in contact on the bit. The fingers should not cut the contact but instead filter it, informing the mind about adjusting the tone of the rider’s body. The key is harmonic tensegrity, a tone of the rider’s body matching the horse’s tensegrity, and allowing to feel nuances as soon as variation in the nuance starts. Going from relaxation to an adequate tone is too slow.

This is a fundamental evolution from the equitation of the correct aids. Gestures can be made without an appropriate tone. In his book, “Physical Intelligence,” Scott Grafton explains that the body is capable of reactions and almost “thoughts” more sophisticated than anything possible through manipulations and gestures. The body and the mind guide each other through life. To be effective, the equitation needs to rise at the level of subtle nuances in muscle tone. During the large pirouette, tensegrity allows the rider to feel and control light acceleration of the horse’s body before the horse body effectively accelerates. Tensegrity and subtle nuances in muscle tone, keep the conversation on the decelerating activity of the inside hind leg. At this level of conversation, the gymnastic is effective. If it takes one stride or two for the rider to feel the acceleration, it is too late, and the half pass on the circle does not increase the duration and intensity of the inside hind leg’s decelerating phase.

If one thinks, “I don’t feel it,” it is not because one lacks perception; it is because the conditions rendering the perception accurate, are not created. Improper tensegrity, too much or not enough, numbs the perception. The whole mental processing has to evolve. The body and the mind guide each other. The mind creates the conditions allowing the body to explore beyond average. If the horse does not feel the rider’s leg, the horse does not need more pressure of the rider’s leg. The horse needs a better analysis of the rider, figuring the dysfunction hampering the engagement of the horse’s hind leg.

The frequency is another element of success or lack of success. The rider needs to feel the acceleration before it starts as an increase or decrease of the tone has to be done at the horse frequency. An increase or decrease of the tone executed quicker than the horse’s frequency stimulates a protective reaction. Before the body accelerates, the horse increases the propulsive activity of the supporting hind leg. The horse also stiffens a little the thoracolumbar spine muscles. The rider cans feel the changes before the body accelerates or the weight shifts over the forelegs or on the neck. The rider can then progressively and adequately adjust the body tone.

Many have the skill of riding efficiently. The problem is not the lack of skill; the problem is the crudeness of traditional equitation. One learns formulas, the theoretical effect of the shoulder in or half pass, and believes that repeating the move educates the horse’s body. The horse is willing but protects his dysfunction instinctively. It belongs to the rider to understand the athletic demand of the movement and entertain a conversation guiding the horse mind toward efficient use of the horse’s physique.

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” (Thich Nhat Hanh) For one, to ride at the level of one’s skill and the horse’s intelligence, it is necessary to converse with the horse within the space between stimulus and response. 

Jean Luc

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Posted by on August 4, 2020 in Uncategorized


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The Making Of Chazot

There are very good programs today that guide the newfound owners of thoroughbred race horses through the delicate task of introducing them to their second career. Problems often arise with conventional equestrian education, which emphasizes the “clever manipulation of reward and punishment”.  This approach does not take into consideration the imprint left in the horse’s mind from their experience on the race track. The wounds are real and influence the way the thoroughbred horse processes mentally.

This is true for all breeds of horses. The reeducation process is always hampered by the presence of bad memories that will be reawakened by any signal of near resonance. As long as training philosophies do not take a resolutely new direction, horses will protect themselves from a new type of submission the same way they survived previous submissive techniques.

Thoroughbreds do not submit well, but they excel in partnership. So do most horses. Given a chance, horses perform willingly. They even take pertinent initiatives. The chance they need is a great leader. Jim Collins (Good to Great) distinguishes good leaders who select skilled partners with whom they share their views, and great leaders who also select talented partners but adjust their views to the greater benefit of their partner’s talent.

“Leaders don’t force people to follow; they invite them on a journey.” (Charles S. Lauer) Every training technique claims to invite the horse into a journey, yet starts with thesubmission to the rider’s aids. The physical coordination that allows the horse to perform soundly and at its full potential demands more sophistication than does the submission to the rider’s aids. There are 183 synovial articulations in the horse’s vertebral column. The subtle and simultaneous coordination of these many articulations is controlled by the horse’s central nervous system, the brain. Such coordination can be guided by another brain, the rider’s brain. Leading the horse toward soundness and success can be achieved while engaging and respecting the horse’s intelligence.

One may say, yes but, when you start a young horse… This program is about starting a young horse and gives him a chance to perform soundly and at his full potential. The horse education from A to Z is segmented into DVDs. The first one is “The Making of Chazot”, DVD (A). The last one will be “The Making of Chazot, DVD (Z)

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Posted by on September 28, 2010 in Equine, horse news, horse training, horses


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