June 14, 2015

Posting and Throughness

I know last time I said I was embarking on a new series, but spring got crazy busy around E&S! 
Our mare Sekretia gave birth to a beautiful colt. We named him Kolaiah, which means "voice of God" in Hebrew. We think he is adorable (what baby isn't?!) and his personality is that of a complete trouble-maker. We started a therapeutic riding program named Green Pastures. This program is managed by Linda Cupp and already has a couple students. If you, or someone you know, are interested in this program and what it has to offer, you can get more information here. We took on a new sales prospect named Galaxy. He is gorgeous and his training is coming along well. You can read about him here. We started planning our summer clinic (scheduled for June 26th and 27th). There are still a few spots available if you would like to join us! See the page here for details. The clinic will show you in person what I write about in these posts, and more importantly, help you feel it! Lastly, we revised our website to showcase our expanding services and riding programs.  So we have been busy!

Before all the craziness started, I wrote about how the two most important things are straightness and throughness. I also started to show you how our bodies can actually hinder a horse from being able to do that. We can unwillingly prevent them from being straight and being through, just like a stick in bicycle wheel can stop it from rolling.

In this blog we are going to focus on throughness – how and where it starts.

More than likely you have heard the phrase before: "throughness starts from the hind end." And you have probably heard that you need to "ride from back to front." And this is definitely true. But have you ever thought that we, as riders, help create this throughness with our posting? Let's review what happens in posting. It has two phases. It has an "up" phase and a "down" phase. Most of us do the down phase great. It's easy to sit down, isn't it? But most of us do NOT do the up phase. Or, we don’t do it very well. You might be saying to yourself "But of course I do! I am up! I have to go up in order to go down!" And you are right. The key is the timing and how far you go up.

The up phase and the timing of the up phase is critical because this is happening at the same time that the hind leg is in the lifting and reaching phase. This lift and reach allows the hind leg to then come further under the horse's belly. The further under the belly, the more prepared the leg is to then be able to sit, and then push off over the horses back and start the whole process over again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

THIS is where throughness begins.

For the most part, riders go into the sitting phase far too soon. This prevents the hind leg from being able to come under enough to push over the back. We put the stick in the wheel. We get in the way.

It's not our fault. Most of us were taught to post off the shoulder. "Look down and fix your diagonal" is something almost every rider can remember hearing. We are not taught to post off the hind end. Again, we hear those phrases of "ride the hind end" and "back to front," but have we ever learned what that really meant?

In my school of biomechanics, I teach that riding back to front can start with posting to the timing of the hind leg. So next time you are riding try this: when the hind leg is in the sitting phase, start your upward phase of posting. Continue to rise and stay up until you are standing over the top of your knee. Pause. Then start the downward motion back to the sitting phase. 

Think "slow and steady." 

If your horse is going too fast try slowing him down with your posting first, not your hands. 

One way to check yourself is to note whether or not you are having trouble getting to the fully, vertical UP phase. This is a big clue that you are not posting truly off the hind end, and your horse is on its forehand. It can be helpful to look back and see that hind end moving (be careful doing this!). It's also helpful to have someone videotape you.

This posting exercise is a key to teaching throughness to your horse. It's also key to helping him get stronger and truly reach under, lifting up and over the back. 
If you really want to learn more, I would like to remind you of the clinic on the 27th. Register, bring your horse, and ride with me for a full feeling of what it is get throughness.

Keep up the good work, good luck, have fun, and most of all have a conversation with your horse!

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