Glenda Player of Playland Equestrian Center is a current student in the MBS Foundation training. Since beginning to train with MBS, she has been finding ways to incorporate what she’s learning to her riding instruction, both for individual riders and in clinics. Here, Glenda shares how the most recent June 2013 segment added a new dimension to her riding clinics.
“In our most recent MBS June training, Leora really focused on core principles: principles of movement, as I understood them. For example, looking at the reversibility of a movement, the quality, how far the movement travels through the body, the timing, or what gets involved with the movement. Looking at these core principles makes the experience much more about the learning process itself, and not just about doing a movement.
In riding, and specifically in dressage riding, you are evaluated on the quality of each movement you make. However, riders too often forget about the quality of the movement and focus on just getting the movement completed. When this happens, people tend to think they can ride at a particular level as soon as they can perform certain movements. In some cases, though, they aren’t using quality movements! The core principles point us back to what makes a quality movement, whether you apply them to a horse or to a rider, whether mounted on horseback, or in an ATM class.
Before I’d even left for our course last June, I had been planning my most recent clinic. (For non-equestrians: a horse clinic is basically a whole day where you bring in a professional, and riders of all levels attend: it’s a full educational day.) For my twist on it, I teach at my own facility and I start with an ATM, and then go into group riding lessons.
One thing that’s particularly challenging for me in doing these clinics is that I have never met some of these people before, and I have never seen how they ride. So, I try to pick something that will be the most beneficial for each student to learn, which can be difficult without ever having met them before. They provide their levels on a piece of paper, but I really don’t know how they ride in terms of which qualities their movements are missing. Now, though, with an understanding of movement that’s based around core principles, it actually doesn’t matter what level each student comes from or which movements they still need to work on. The principles of quality are all the same, regardless. And that applies to the riders’ movements and the horses’ movements.
A lot of the time, people who come to me are looking to have an ATM session with the exact same movement that we would do on a horse, and then we would analyze it in great detail. It is true that there are a lot of things that we can do that way, where we can mimic the same movement off of the horse, and then teach them on the horse. However, I’ve found it much more difficult to plan that type of clinic if you don’t really know your students’ levels.
So this time, I decided to keep it really simple. I figured I would pick one of the very beginning ATMs that we learned, but not necessarily a movement that mimics something you would do on a horse. I chose the twist while lying on the back, in which you cross your legs and tilt your knees to one side. That ATM had a lot in it about where you start the movement and how far the movement travels up your body. You ask, Is it reversible? Is it the same each direction? Where do you initiate the movement? What moves first? What’s next? And so on. Those were sort of two themes I really focused on in the ATM.
Afterwards, when the students got on their horses, I went back to the same questions, asking: How far up your body can you feel the horse moving you? What’s stopping you from feeling the movement go further up your body? Where is the movement starting? What’s moving next?
I really stuck to the same core principles, even when the movements were not exactly the same between the ATM and on horseback. This approach worked beautifully, because no matter where the riders were, the lesson was still relevant to their level. Planning my clinics this way actually helps me teach because it makes my lessons more applicable to a wider audience, and it keeps the riders’ focus on the quality of their movements.”
Visit Glenda online! http://www.playlandequestriancenter.com/