I had my last dressage lessons for 2013 today. I started on Bali, and felt like we had slipped a tiny bit, and given the weather, that wasn’t terribly unexpected. Inga helped with establishing the good contact, and was saying “Square the shoulders”.
When riding in lessons, there are a lot of terms and phrases used that are a bit elusive. They lack precision, which is ok, “it depends” is very often the best answer to precision driven questions.
Sometimes you stop to ask, but honestly, you could use an entire lesson talking about riding and never get around to actually riding if you aren’t careful, and once you are not a total beginner, you start to change something, if it works you get the student version of a releasing the aids “Yes! Do you feel that?”.
Squaring the shoulders was one of those for me today.
I was trotting along, and when Inga said “Square the shoulders”, I went through my mental checklist. She doesn’t want shoulder-fore or shoulder-in, we are square in the line of travel…hmm, let me hold my outside rein a bit more, and keep asking for that inside flexion. OK, that worked. She said it again, and I sorta got there again, and she said “do you know what I mean when I say “Square the shoulders”?
Since I had just gotten the release of the aids “yes, do you feel that?” when I felt Bali’s inside shoulder come up, in response to my attempt at the aids, I had an answer. I had a mental picture, but not the vocabulary, so I had to stop and gesticulate…but I have the interwebz!!!! There are pictures!!!
What was my visualization for the movement?
That is from Visual Dictionary
Yes, an airplane. I had been reading some aerodynamics basics a while back and reading some technical stuff to understand flying movement and an airplane’s attitude in the sky is the picture that came to mind.
Roll! Roll was the word I needed. “roll – Rotational movement of an aircraft around its longitudinal axis; it is caused by an imbalance in the lift of the wings.” The shoulders are like the wings. When the inside shoulder drops, there is roll. I need to keep my wings level! Whoa, a third dimension I’ve been ignoring…or more precisely, not noticing.
Then, I was thinking about it, and realized I’ve been very two dimensional in my riding. Left right placement of the shoulders, the yaw, where we are on the track, my shoulder in is yaw. “Yaw – Aircraft’s rotational motion around its vertical axis; it is caused by an imbalance of pressure on the leading edges of the wings.” I also had speed control, forward and back in the direction you are pointing.
I have been starting to play with the uphill balance of my horse, which is the pitch – “Pitch – Rotational movement of an aircraft around its transverse axis; it is caused by an imbalance of pressure on the nose and tail.” Being horses, they would be nose-diving to earth if left to their own devices. Horses naturally are on the forehand according to most studies and conventional wisdom. We are working to get them rocking back to a more balanced pitch.