Monday, January 19, 2015

In an ideal world your horse would be bigger

A horse needs to be hot but at the same time responsive was what Grand Schneidman told another rider that I was watching on Monday evening.

"I like to think that riding a dressage horse is like driving a Ferrari. Only thing is that you are driving it in Helsinki."

What a privilege it is to be able to learn from professionals such as Grant Schneidman. After our move to Peuramaa this is now the second time that I was able to attend Schneidman's lessons and I am still completely overwhelmed by the fact that I can train in a great facility with someone that has such an extensive knowledge about horses.

The last time we caught up with Grant was in November and I got some really good exercises to help me deal with my own crookedness.

Grant started off by saying that I look a lot less crooked and Thor seems to be in a better balance than the last time so it was nice to begin the lesson on Sunday with those kind words. I like Grants way of training in general because just like our favorite trainer Mari Faria di Carvalho he always remains calm and takes the time to explain things over and over again.

"I want to teach the horse not the rider. The thing is that a lot of the time the problem is the rider so I have to deal with those problems first."

During both days we did a lot of transitions within all gaits. At some point Grant wanted me to do walk-trot-halt-canter in a really fast pace in order to get Thor to listen and carry himself better.

Grant also asked me to relax my legs when sitting down in the rising trot. He said that I braise my legs when coming down and that puts me too far back in the saddle.

During both lessons we concentrated on basic things and mostly sought after a good rhythm and balanced strides. Grant also wanted me to relax my hands more but make sure that I keep my hand closed. He told me that Thor gets confused when I keep my fingers open and is not sure what I ask of him. He also asked me to hold the reins with only two fingers the second day in order to be more gentle with my hands.

On the second day I told Grant that I feel that Thor's left shoulder comes out too much to the outside so Grant gave me some really great advice. He told me to start a shoulder-in (avotaivutus) in walk and try to engage the inside hing leg to step under his navel. He also told me to push with the toes of my outside leg (in this case the left leg) next to Thors girth by his armpit in case Thor did not want to engage the left shoulder. Amazingly that little aid really worked and as soon as Thor engaged the front better I was to take the pressure off from the toes of the left leg. 

We then started practising both ranvers and travers (sulku- ja vastataivutus) on a straight line and travers really helped get the shoulder in without loosing the hind as well. Then he also asked me to keep my hands a bit to the right in the leg-yield (pohkeenväistö) to the left-hand side so that Thor wouldn't just put his left shoulder forth but would symmetrically yield to the left.

What Grant pointed out all the time relentlessly and probably until he felt tired of pointing it was that I NEED TO SIT DOWN IN THE SADDLE. Not in the rising trot, but when sitting down in the trot, cantering and so forth. He asked me to be more quiet and keep my upper body upright and still. He told me that if he would show off a little mare for example he would be very careful with his upper body. And it was fantastic how he explained that every time I lean forward and make too much movement I block Thors shoulders and he becomes more heavy in the front. As you can see it is much easier for me to sit down in the saddle that I tried on Thor the next day since it has more room for my legs but even in my own saddle I got some very good moments and like Grant said: "see, you are using your seat now and not riding with your hands."

Grant also made me realise what a tall upper body I have. Of course I do realise that I need to sit down but after actually seeing in the mirror and taking in that I have such a tall upper body it was somehow easier to understand the effect it has on my horse if I move around too much and made me stick to the leather better.

Grant did point out at the end that "in an ideal world your horse would be a little bit bigger" however stating directly after that he does like my enthusiasm. I of course did tell him that just riding my own horse for him is living a dream so it doesn't matter if my horse is too big or too small. I am just so thankful to be right there in just that moment. And so thankful that I have such an amazing horse that is my own. That I can ride anytime I want, I can change the farrier, play around with saddles and take care of his problems in the mouth. I can have him craniosacralled, massaged and I can even teach him yoga if I want to. I can board him wherever I want and I can train with whoever I want whenever I want or just go for a walk in the forrest. Because even if he would be a lot bigger it wouldn't be exactly this horse. And this horse I love to bits.  

My little helpers photographing the session. Aren't these girls just amazing. And such talented riders. 

If you are interested in more information about Mr. Schneidman Jilla has written a lovely summary of their lessons with fantastic Finn horse Torsten. 

Really looking forward to the next lessons in the spring-time. 

More information: 
Difference in saddles, Day I and II


  1. Samaa asiaa jaksaa omakin opettajani joka tunnilla muistuttaa. Että minun täytyy istua sinne satulaan. Istu sitä pohkeenväistöä ja istu sitä ravia ja tahtia. Kun sen kekkaa niin kumma kyllä palaset loksahtaa paikoilleen. Itselläni on kyllä suurimpana ongelmana huonot vatsalihakset jolloin lysähdän lyttyyn ja istun huonosti, mutta kun muistan käyttää vatsalihaksiani myös istuminen raviin helpottuu. Uuden vuoden lupaukseni olikin nyt pilateksen maailmaan tutustuminen jotta oman kehon hallinta parantuisi. :) Tsemppiä! Oli mielenkiintoinen kirjoitus!

    1. Ihanaa kun opettajat jaksavat siitä muistuttaa. Ja kyllä ne lihakset ovat se juttu. Täytyisi olla vahva, mutta samalla joustava. Olen kärsinyt vuosia kroonisista vatsaongelmista, jotka vaikuttavat järkyttävän paljon istuntaani. Eli vähän menee ratsastamiset sen oman voinnin ja vatsan mukaan. Kun on kipeä vatsa ei oikein lihaksia saa käyttöön ja sitten meno on mitä on ja alaselkä huutaa apua.

      Pilates, yoga ja monet muut lajit ovat mahtava lisä ratsastukseen. Sääli vain että ihan kaikkea ei ehdi harrastaa. Olen nyt tyytynyt siihen, että yritän ehtiä joogaan niin paljon kuin mahdollista ratsastuksen ohella ja käyn juoksemassa sen minkä kerkiän. Helpottuu hevosen elämä kummasti, kun on joku kontrolli myös omaan vartaloon:) Australiassa istuntani oli aivan super hyvä koska kävin joka päivä urheilemassa ja tein töitä ratsastuskoululla, joten päivisin istumiset jäivät todella vähälle. Nyt odottelen seisovaa pöytää töihin koska olen huomannut, että yksi pahimmista vihollisista hyvälle ryhdille on jokapäiväinen könöttäminen työpöydän ääressä.

      Ihania hetkiä sinulle tämän mahtavan harrastuksen parissa!