This is the story of my quest to train my three Dales Ponies for classical dressage, primarily by using Alexandra Kurland's clicker training methods, with a touch of others such as Philippe Karl and Anja Beran thrown in. I turned to clicker training because I had come up against some issues that I didn't know how to fix and because I wanted to inspire them to become enthusiatic partners. Bella and Jack are all my own work and have never been ridden by anyone else.
Friday, 20 February 2009
Paul Belasik - The Seat and Hara.
I'm on the 2nd tape 'The Rider's Seat and Position'. Paul Belasik says that the PRIMARY method of giving and receiving information to and from the horse is through the rider's seat - from the horse's back to the rider's back. He says that is why the novice should be taught on the lunge, without reins or stirrups, because if the rider is taught first to influence the horse with their extremities (hands and from the knee down) they will always revert to these habits.
He says that when you put a two legged on top of a four legged they very quickly discover that they can get away with murder in terms of balance, compared with standing on their own two feet, but "unfortunately, while they're getting away with murder, it's the horse they are murdering, because he's the one who has to compensate for their lack of balance."
He says that in the East the centre of gravity and of balance is referred to as the 'hara', but hara means much more than that. It's not just a physical thing but has a strong mental element too; it is a centering and balancing of the individual, with psychological and spiritual elements.
He says that there is far too much emphasis (generally) on the rider's calf and lower leg, and that really excellent riders can generate impulsion and produce exemplary work from the horse without ever using their lower leg at all. They do so by projecting their centre of gravity forward, towards the pommel of the saddle. He says:
"One of the magical things about seeing the really good riders is that they can generate impulsion from the back, from the seat; they don't GO to the lower leg.
The seat is where the emphasis should be - not in the calf, not in the spur. Learn about generating impulsion by first mastering your centre of gravity, your centre of balance - the hara - and THEN you will be able to make the horse impulsive by projecting it, or restraining it, or holding it steady, and so on. Too much talk of the lower leg is just chatter as opposed to the importance of the upper leg and how it connects with the seat."
There is a quote by Karlfried Graf Durckheim, from his book 'Hara, The Vital Center of Man' read out on the tape:
"One rides with hara. Only with hara does that flexible and yet firm and relaxed posture, which keeps the rider balanced and which gives him that unforced control over his horse, release that action and non action to which the horse willingly submits.
The good rider sits erect but without tension. In form but without rigidity. Rider and horse form a unity - a unity of symbolic significance. The horse adapt itself to the rider because the rider has adapted himself to the horse. They feel each other, as it were, from centre to centre, and whatever the rider demands is achieved; not by his conscious will but by the force of hara, which produces it, as it were, involuntarily".