Saturday I attended a fun gathering of good friends and fine horses at Marianne and Joe Jolley's, Stars and Stripes Farm in Finecastle VA on Saturday. The Jolley's breed, show and sell Rocky Mountain Horses. The reason for the get-together was trainer extraordinaire Diane Sept's clinic on Connected Riding®, the main focus on Saturday was helping riders find their "Neutral Position."
Neutral Position, or Neutral Pelvis, is the position a rider assumes where they are free from bracing, resisting or restricting the horse's ability to move in its most natural and healthy state. It is a healthy and comfortable state for both the horse and rider. It is both very important, and not very difficult. It does require a bit of thinking and practice, but everyone can do it with a little practice. Riding in "Neutral Position" allows your horse to be off her forehand, lift her back and engage her hind legs.
|Gathering at the barn|
The day started with coffee and visiting on the patio at the barn, a few laughs and lots of chatter as friends caught up on old and new news. Diane started the lessons with a talk on the importance for your horse's long term health and of a rider's responsibility to learn the "Neutral Position" in the saddle. "Horses don't break down overnight, but years of dealing with riders who slouch, sit too ridged, too stiff or leaning front or back causing the horse to forever compensate, does take its toll, and eventually we begin to see health issues." Diane explained.
|Martha Chatten balancing a rider in the saddle to demonstrate "Neutral Position"|
It was then time for everyone to mount up and be "balanced," in the saddle, on the saddle stand. It was important for each participant to be balanced so they could learn the feeling of "neutral" on a stationary saddle, and understand how that can take away "resistance" in ourselves which allows the horse to move freely and healthily. There were lots of great comments from riders becoming aware of their posture, breathing and tightness, and finding the "lightness and release" of "neutral." (If you read my novel, "We'll Have The Summer" you might remember the scene when Sam brings all the guests to the corral to ride "Woody" the stationary horse. That scene came from Diane's teachings.) I was tickled to find that I was still really close to neutral having not been ''balanced" for a number of years. Proof that when you learn it you can maintain it. It's my belief your horse will help coach you.
Then it was time to mount up and practice "neutral in motion." Some mighty fine Rocky Mountain and Tennessee Walking Horses took center stage. I felt like I was at a first rate Parade of Gaited Breeds, as they strutted into the arena. I was in Heaven! They all looked beautiful as they took the rail. This happened to be an all gaited day, but the lessons learned here apply to riders and horses of all breeds and disciplines.
|Diane coaching as riders discovered "Neutral"|
Diane did her thing and began to offer suggestions and guidance to the riders, helping them to find "neutral" now in their saddle, on their horse. Now these were all accomplished riders on great horses who looked wonderful. Little by little, step by step each rider and horse began to change. The riders softened, the horses evened their strides and lengthened their bodies. The changes in the riders' and horses' postures was absolutely amazing.After lunch Diane divided the attendee's into two groups, so each rider could have a bit more of one on one time to really fine tune what they had learned in the morning sessions. By the end of the day the transformations were simply amazing in both the riders and the horses. It was plain to see each participant learned something of great value they could take away and not only enhance their riding pleasure, but their horses' health too. And I had a terrific refresher too!
Thanks for putting this all together, Marianne and Diane! And thanks for the invite! If you'd like to learn more about the importance of finding "Neutral Position" check in with Diane Sept on facebook here - https://www.facebook.com/djsept?fref=ts
You can also read all about it in Peggy Cummings lastest book "Connected with Your Horse From The Ground Up" you can order on her website - http://www.connectedriding.com/
Check out Stars and Stipes Farm and some beautiful Rocky Mountain Horses here – http://www.starsandstripesfarm.com/StarsandStripesFarm/Home.html
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry