How-to..sit like a Shoebox…..

Two of my younger dressage enthusiasts, Sheba and 10+ Jordan prompted me to come up with a way to explain lateral balance in a way a young rider could digest.  It was either that or continue watching them canter around corners like champion barrel racers!

Lengthy dressage analysis tends to make the rider’s under the age of 65 eyes glaze over.  Mine included.  Not only are they overly mechanical in their explanation but usually don’t inspire any logical reaction physically.  I think “”knowing” the definition is important but using it in an internal dialog with your horse is confusing. 

In searching for a kid friendly way to describe a laterally balanced horse and rider combination, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a dear friend and accomplished equine artist Jean Abernathy.  Jean has, among many other artistic achievements, illustrated a book for Monty Roberts.  When I expressed envy at her drawing abilities, she explained that everything was just geometric and gave me many examples that were available where we were sitting.  It very much reminded me of the elementary how-to-draw books we have all seen, with the circles and rectangles connected to make horses and people, etc…

I told the girls to think their horse Prince like one of these drawings, his body a three-dimensional rectangle, like a shoebox, with some cylinders and the like coming out for legs.  The girls torsos were also like little shoeboxes, only they are sitting up on end with little heads on top.  When they were going around corners his shoebox was tilting in as if balancing on its edge, and the girls were also tilting onto their “shoebox” edge.  The goal being to get the horse to distribute weight back on its outside legs thus making the shoebox flat again.  In order to do this the girls had to concentrate on keeping equal weight in each corner of their “shoebox”.

I don’t know if that made any sense to them at all, but the lateral balance improved and I could open my eyes again.

10 thoughts on “How-to..sit like a Shoebox…..

  1. Whoa! That gave me a headrush! Imagining riding dressage on a poorly made wooden horse that resembles a shoebox. One thing for sure this, Umm, unorthodox explanation surely woke me up. Think ‘shoebox’ when you ride your corners. Fit the shoebox into a corner. Then, think 2 shoeboxes and try to fit them into a corner. It’s like advancing through dressage levels.

      1. I think it means a serious gap in how different generations deal with shoeboxes or horses. And you are the bridge. Both generations step on the bridge on opposite sides and then have a fight in the middle. Who is going to win?

  2. So, guess what happened to me today.. I went to ride my shoebox after work and while we were working I kept hearing this metal sound from time to time in the middle of the arena. It didn’t sound like forging. When we almost finished our workout I heard the sound again. I dismounted and started walking to where I heard the sound. Soon enough I found a shoe size 2 with 7 nails in it and a piece of hoof still attached to it. I got really concerned about my shoebox. He never lost a shoe before, especially in the arena. I checked and all 4 shoes were still in the shoebox. I was so relieved. So, apparently, the shoe came from another shoebox that was in the arena earlier. Some shoeboxes are just not good keeping the shoes in.

  3. KIng James, you are right. I need a little imagination. Where can I get one? Can I have yours? If yes, how are you going to read this blog without one?

  4. You two are great draws for my blog!!! I like people that are willing to participate! It gets lonely out here- remember what another famous King said “Can’t we all get along?” 😀

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