Different Phrasing, New Meaning

I had a lesson filled weekend and really need to blog before I forget all the nuggets of wisdom I learned. So strap yourself in and get ready for my word vomit.

Saturday I rode my friend’s very hunky grey. I am a firm believer that you can learn something from every trainer you ride with, so I am not only excited about getting to ride her horse, I am excited about the educational opportunity of riding with a new trainer. I ADORE my barns’ trainers, but there is no such thing as too much education. Every trainer says things in a little different way, and sometimes it takes hearing something phrased differently for it to truly click.

So, what clicked for me? This was my 3rd or 4th lesson on Dalton, but first lesson with the head trainer. Since it was my first time officially lessoning with him, he spent a lot of time explaining concepts to me one-on-one. At one point he asked me where I feel the canter rhythm in my body while riding, like what body part. I had to think on it for a moment, as it wasn’t something I had consciously thought about previously. I decided that when I am in a full seat I feel it in my seat most, and a half seat more of my core.

He explained that I should be feeling it in my legs, which are hugging the horse and feeling every step, and therefore the best indicators of a change in rhythm. This question was followed up with do I count my rhythm, and if so, how do I count it? I replied that yes I count in a 1-2-1-2 pattern, but only as I approach a jump, not all the way around the ring.  He then advised that I should ALWAYS be counting, and counting in  a 1-2-3-4 pattern.

Counting all the way around the ring makes total sense. How many times have you seen someone with a decent pace approach their first fence and take, take, take until they crawl up to it? *raises hand*

If I don’t start counting until my approach, I won’t have an established rhythm and won’t notice myself slowing down. Speaking of noticing the change, that is why counting 1-2-3-4 is more beneficial then 1-2-1-2. When counting to 4 you can more easily identify a variation in tempo versus just counting to 2.

Let me just say that little little nugget of wisdom basically blew my mind once I started to incorporate it into me ride.

It’s not like this was REVOLUTIONARY information, but something about it just seemed to click for me. I instantly felt more confident about my distances, and I started to picking up on changes in rhythm better too. I have always struggled with keeping a beat (ask my high school band director), so anything I can do to help myself sounds good to me. Anyway, this is just your friendly PSA that sometimes even easy concept have to be told to you for maybe the 1000th time before it sinks in.

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  1. I read that somewhere not too long ago, that counting to four worked better than 1-2-1-2, and it totally does! I don’t count all the time because I can’t walk and chew gum… but it is really helpful to think of the rhythm in a string of 4 vs 2 for sure.

    1. I would be lost without counting at all because my eye SUCKS! Counting is the only way for me to realize if I have room for another stride or not HAH!

  2. I actually have to count to 8 for it to make a difference. Kind of like when you learn a dance routine? Not that I ever really did dance… but idk that is what helps me.

  3. I’ve always counted to four! My trainer usually says because you should make any changes three-four strifes out so if you only count to two it’s hard to know exactly where you are in that sense.

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