As Mia trains my hands to her satisfaction I keep finding myself going back to Piero Santini’s discussion on hands in his books, “Riding Reflections” (1933), and “Learning to Ride” (1941). Santini was a student of Caprilli’s, and his books were the first ones in English explaining the Forward Seat, back then the new system of riding. In an earlier blog, “Another Blast From the Past--Caprilli on Contact“, (… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on May 27, 2012 at 3:45pm —
It seems that no matter how old I get and how much experience I have, I still have more to learn. I started learning how to train with my first horse, who was just green-broke when I got him. I did not have enough money to get him trained and I had to learn training from reading books, trying stuff out on my horse, scratching my head and trying again. Fortunately my green-broke horse was cooperative, intelligent, quick to pick up new knowledge, and willing to forgive me for my… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on March 21, 2010 at 4:00pm —
After last week's rides I suffered from new pains in my back, the result of trying to change my riding posture. My new way of getting my shoulders in the right place works very well, but I got sore muscles in places that I did not realize I had muscles. Not only my back, but my hips and all of the muscles in front and to the outside of my thighs. After a few days of hobbling around I realized that I was being totally unrealistic about my physical fitness and my body's ability to quickly… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on February 28, 2010 at 3:00pm —
The last several months I have been working hard to improve my position, with probably the vain hope of getting secure enough on horseback to safely jump two foot fences. My legs have improved greatly, I have gotten my seat forward in the saddle, and I feel like I am moving with the horse more. The biggest problem remaining has been my shoulders and back. My spine is mildly curved in two places, with a minor hump, and I had begun to despair about being able to get my shoulders… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on February 14, 2010 at 2:00pm —
When I finally got diagnosed with MS back in 1993 I sort of went through an existential crisis about my riding ability. I was SOOOO weak, unsteady and uncoordinated that I despaired of ever being able to start riding again, much less being a good rider. After a few days I finally remembered a tale I had read back in 1970 in the book "Riding Reflections" by Piero Santini (1933), Caprilli's fellow cavalry officer and student, and this story showed me a way forward.
In this book during… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on January 31, 2010 at 3:30pm —
I have been spending these last two months TRYING to get my body into the Forward Seat. Though I am showing great improvement in the stability of my lower leg, I am having great difficulty in keeping my knees in the knee roll. I start out great, but as the horse moves I find that my knees migrate back toward the stirrup leathers, robbing me of both my security and my main shock absorbers. I was beginning to despair, as nothing I did kept my knees in place in the saddle, unless I used a death… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on November 22, 2009 at 4:34pm —
Jane Marshall Dillon owned, directed, and taught riding at the Junior Equitation School in Vienna, Va. from the 1950's into the 1970's, where she taught the Forward Seat. In 1961 her wonderful book "Form Over Fences" was first published. This book is unique, it only deals with the jump, and has lots and lots of pictures to train the reader's eye, both of mistakes and of good form. Mrs. Dillon taught TWO USA Olympic Jumping Team riders, Kathy Kusner (Team, Silver, 1972), and Joe Fargis (Team,… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on November 1, 2009 at 12:00pm —
The Forward Seat position for jumping adds several features to insure rider stability during the horse's vigorous movements while jumping. All the features of this seat work together, and if one is wrong then the whole position is weakened and the rider can interfere with the horse. While there are a few very talented riders who do not have to have a proper position over jumps, the normal rider will be much more secure and will interfere with the horse's efforts less when riding in the proper… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on October 25, 2009 at 10:30am —
The Forward Seat position for fast equitation is quite similar to the Forward Seat position for slow equitation. There is a logical progression in learning position in this system since riding forward seat requires physical strength, and it takes time for the rider's muscles to develop and get strong. Though the differences between the slow equitation seat and the fast equitation seat are few, they are important to develop a secure jumping position. I am quoting the same books as my blog on the… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on October 18, 2009 at 10:00am —
This description of the Forward Seat for Slow Equitation is from Vladimir S. Littauer's "The Forward Seat" (1935) p.34-36, with additional comments from "Common Sense Horsemanship" (1951, 1974) by the same author p. 61.
I have gotten questions about the Forward Seat position. This is probably the best description of the American System of Forward Riding. In the next two weeks I will write about the position for fast equitation and the jumping position.
This is the "seated"… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on October 11, 2009 at 12:00pm —
I started reading non-fiction books about horses for about 47 years ago when I got my first serious horse book "Cavalcade of American Horses" by Pers Crowell. Since then I have been trying to read just about every non-fiction horse book I have run across. In 1963 I got access to books on HOW TO RIDE in my junior high school library and have been reading books on how to ride ever since. In high school I finally got access to two serious riding books, "Common Sense Horsemanship" by Littauer, and… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on August 10, 2009 at 10:00am —
During my youth, I used to read dressage books that insisted that a person could learn to ride dressage only by riding an already schooled horse. I used to dream of finding a stable full of these wonderful equines who could transform me from my usual slightly effective riding to become a polished top rider.
And guess what? I never found that dream dressage riding stable, not that I would have been able to afford lessons at one. When I finally got to go to a horse school (North Forks… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on June 28, 2009 at 12:00pm —
Most of my riding life I have been trying to lighten my aids, especially with my hands. Since I ride the Forward Seat system I had a wonderful beginning by following their system of riding with loose reins part of the time and hewing to the ideal that no hand aid should ever alter the head carraige of the horse. I accomplished alot, and as I got better my horses got happier and happier with me, giving me quiet and smooth slow-downs and halts. However I wanted to get better and lighter, and… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on June 19, 2009 at 6:00pm —
Back in 1970, when I began riding seriously, my BHI (graduate of Morven Park) instructor introduced me to the concept of behind the bit quite early in my riding career. What she said: Continue
1) DON'T DO IT
2) It was a sign of bad horsemanship
3) Good riders NEVER rode behind the bit, at the top levels it JUST WASN'T DONE.
Almost 40 years later, everywhere I look, horses ridden behind the bit are EVERYWHERE, in all disciplines, winning top prizes, including medals at the…
Added by Jackie Cochran on May 28, 2009 at 9:00pm —
When I started riding seriously 38 years ago, one of the top achievements of any serious rider was to develop SOFT & EDUCATED hands. Beginners rode with loose reins until they developed an independent seat, advanced beginners through intermediate riders concentrated on developing soft hands, and advanced riders were acknowledged for their soft, educated hands. In fact if you did not have soft, educated hands you were NEVER considered an advanced rider, and were spoken of just as a… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on May 20, 2009 at 2:30pm —
For the last two years I have been experimenting with various bridles, both bitted and bitless on five different horses. Although I tend to be picky about the fit of my tack, and read and follow directions well I have noticed various degrees of resistance to rein contact with each different piece of gear. Lately I have been riding two mares (Arab and Arab-Welsh), trying out various bitted and bitless systems. I find that mares often express their displeasure a bit more emphatically than… Continue
Added by Jackie Cochran on May 11, 2009 at 4:30pm —