söndag 31 januari 2016

Trött och besviken

Är ganska less allt skit-snack som pratas.
Är det något man har en annan åsikt om så kom och prata med mig. Ni är varmt välkommna att göra det. Vem vet, plötsligt har vi en himla massa gemensamt och kanske vill fortsätta med att vara kaffe-kompisar? Vem vet..

Nej men seriöst, när det pratas om sådant som man inte ens själv vet om att man har gjort och man får gång på gång höra det bakvägen, så börjar man ju fundera vem det är som har problem.
Och ibland så skrattar jag bara och tänker "hmm vad bra att åtminstone andra, som inte ens har sett varken hästen eller mig träna, vet hur det går till och vad som händer".

Nej, besviken. Det är jag. Grymt besviken.

Trycker det ner mig?
Nej.
Snarare upp.

Det gör mig ännu mera fast besluten om att jag ska försöka vara en bättre människa och köra mitt eget race. Inte för någon annans skull, utan för min egen och hästarnas.
Och hittills har det tagit mig en bra bit på rätt väg med den tanken i bakhuvudet.

Det du sår får du skörda. Enkelt.

lördag 23 januari 2016

Proppfullt

Idrottspsykologi hela helgen på Norrvalla.
Bra föreläsare som orkar hålla en vaken och det resulterar ju också i att huvudet är proppfullt med ny information som ska smältas och präntas in. Men det är bra, det är jätteintressanta grejjer vi är inne på nu och det är grejjer vi behöver i vardagen, jobbet, hobbyn m.m.
Har "rensat" och lugnat huvudet litegrann med ridning nu på kvällen efter föreläsningen.
Var ute och busade med Lolli och Zantos barbacka i terrängen sådär jättelätt och kort. Lolli blev annars kollad i tisdags omkvällen.. Hon är ju 8 månader dräktig nu..!
Bebisen verkade pigg och kry inne i lilla magen, den hade inte vänt sig rätt väg ännu men det borde den göra när som helst i princip. Spännande!
Puuhis och jag kämpar på. Han har börjat runda till sig mera över hela kroppen och framför allt så är hans hals och rumpa inte lika "spinkkig" som till en början, yes! Det går bättre och bättre men sjutton i det vad jag får ge 120% och koncentrera mig så in i det sista. Pust. Han är så annorlunda emot vad jag är "van" med men så himla rolig att jobba med bara man orkar kämpa med sig själv ochkoncentrera sig. Nu när det inte är lika kallt längre ska vi ta lite filmsnuttar av Lolli & Puuhis så att man har att reflektera tillbaka på och så får man se både goda och dåliga sidor i nuläget. Vad som har jobbats bra med, vad som har jobbats mindre bra med och vad som ska jobbas mera och annorlunda.
 
Nu ska jag blunda någon timme och sen köra iväg tidigt imorgon bitti för fortsatt föreläsning om socialpsykologiska perspektiv på idrott. Mums, så intressant!
 
Måste verkligen få en före-ett år senare video på baby-Lolli som har blivit så himla duktig!

Och på store maffiga Puuha! <3


söndag 17 januari 2016

En trevlig men allt för snabb helg

Kallt som jag vet inte vad i lördags, men gladeligen pälsar man på sig bara och trotsar kölden. Vad som helst för hästarna, eller hur var det?
Jobbade flera duktiga hästar på förmiddagen. Och roligt med så många framsteg som både känns och syns! Man slutar aldrig att förvånas över hur pass stora framsteg de kan göra med så små förändringar och korrigeringar, det är helt otroligt ibland.

Fixade och donade klart i stallet lite tidigare på kvällen för att hinna byta om till något annat än det gamla vanliga man har på sig, och sen åka iväg och vara lite social med andra hästmänniskor på Esse Ryttares Ryttargala.
Jättetrevlig tillställning, god mat, levande musik och nära & kära runt en.


En mer seriös än den andra, haha!

En riktigt trevlig kväll och detta var verkligen något som borde göras årligen!

Idag har det varit ännu kallare. 
Alla hästar har haft ledigt och det var vi också haft. "Ledigt"..
Var tillsammans med resten av familjen flax till simmhallen på eftermiddan då det fanns lite tid. Simmade min 1,5 km sträcka och kroppen är som uppsmörjd igen. Att man inte kommer sig iväg oftare än vad man gör.. Det gör ju så himla mycket gott för kroppen. Kanske man fick ett litet startskott nu igen då man har fått friska upp minnet på hur gött det sedan känns efteråt och hur mycket lättare det sedan är att träna också. Alltid kan man ju hoppas.

Innan det sista stallfixet hos hästarna ikväll så fick jag äntligen ordnat upp bland alla mina papper, plastfickor och mappar! Så nu borde det vara lite enklare igen att hitta rätt mapp med rätta papper i!
Det har annars varit en ren omöjlighet att hitta rätta papper när man ska iväg på föreläsning till skolan eller på något annat ärende, allt har varit huller om buller och det har varit fel papper i fel mapp. Ajja Bajja, livsviktiga saker dethär, haha!

Nej, det har varit en skön helg, men som alltid, alldeles för kort.









söndag 10 januari 2016

"Judging should be about training, not breeding."

Andrew McLean investigates Objective Dressage Judging 
At the recent Global Dressage in Denmark, Andrew McLean presented a paper on the need for changes to make dressage judging more objective. It’s a topic that has been on his mind for some years now and he has been working away in developing these ideas. Andrew pointed out that: “Unlike Jumping, where judging is objective and easy to calculate, Dressage is very subjective but unnecessarily so. Much of the problem is that we have inherited a traditional system of training and judging has naturally reflected this. Inside traditional systems are justifications for doing things that may be false or misleading and there are misleading knowledge hierarchies that that arise from our efforts in trying to make sense of what we do and see.”
As Andrew sees it, dressage can, and should be, more objectively assessed and pointed out that this assessment would and should always be an ongoing ‘work in progress’.
“Objective judging is a mega-important topic that needs careful thought. Subjective systems don't need ‘one-off’ revolutions, instead they need constant refining, and even more especially when a sport involves animals. We need an ongoing FEI Judges Working Party continually assessing and refining the process. To be successful, we need original thinkers on it as well as a few outstanding open minded judges who will lead the way.”
“We have a more vocal and knowledgeable audience nowadays and we have high resolution TV and a sport that already lives on the borderline of elitism and Olympic credibility. But I am absolutely convinced that if we did make changes toward a more objective, pragmatic and transparent system, judges would be more accountable and they would have more confidence in precisely how they allocate their marks. Judging drives the direction of the sport of dressage and so I would expect that intelligent judges should welcome the potential for as much objectivity as possible.”
“So as I see it, far from being something we should be afraid of, we should set up a working party to see if we can achieve this and if we can road test it. If it’s worse then we just revert to what we had. But I’m sure it won’t be”.
Objective versus Subjective
Andrew feels that the problem stems from a fuzzy understanding of how the actual training of a dressage horse actually progresses, and judges need to understand that process in order to judge objectively.
“Training animals is about the step-wise shaping of responses. Therefore judging is necessarily about de-constructing these steps, defining the level of achievement for each rider. Judges have to know how these steps follow one another if they are to be able to objectively assess success or otherwise. When you are judging variable criteria with end-goals, four conditions must be met and these are not wholly satisfied by the so-called FEI or Classical Training scale:
1. Scalarity: A scale of judging steps should be identified. The FEI scale (formerly the German Scale) that is the basis of the judging rules is not sufficiently scalar in that some of the steps of that scale do not lead to the next one. When first described in the HDV 12 last century, (German military handbook) the elements of the scale weren’t written as a scale then. In fact these elements were briefly rebirthed twice later in the 20th century and then in the 1960’s, the concept of the Training Scale came into modern equestrian literature. Most importantly, because classical ideology pervades the equestrian world (when it’s convenient to voice it), the Training Scale has achieved ‘Ten-Commandments’ status, so it has never been subject to peer review, not even within the equestrian world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the whole scale should be shelved, but I do think some reorganising, addition and deletion is called for. As it stands now, it is a good ‘set of directives’, but it isn’t a scale.”

“Let’s look at an obvious example - How can ‘straightness’ be positioned after ‘impulsion’? How can a horse be powerful and impulsive if its hindlegs are eccentric to its forelegs i.e. the hindlegs are not following the forelegs on the same line? How can straightness be after contact? If the horse is not straight how can the contact be even – and what use is contact if it is uneven? What it will likely mean for the horse is dullness to the heavy rein (or leg) - it will habituate to the heavy rein - it will have uneven rein responses.”
“If judges are to work objectively, then they have to see straightness as a subset of an even more crucial first step, rhythm. In training, as rhythm develops, the horse becomes straighter which adds weight to the argument that the two should be adjacent on the scale.”
“The most powerful evidence for straightness being a subset of rhythm comes from biomechanics. The lack of straightness, i.e. crookedness, is largely a function of laterality, and to a smaller extent asymmetry. The effect of laterality is that one diagonal couplet tends to provide more propulsive thrust than the other. The other couplet tends to provide slightly more reverse thrust. The effect of these two different couplets skews the horse. (Crookedness is normal for quadrupeds as it allows them to place the hindlegs deeper so that one leg goes in between the forelegs as in jumping or galloping – a straight horse would over run his own heels in an attempt to escape a predator, so crookedness is therefore typical of quadrupeds). So if a trainer focusses on making the diagonal pairs as even as possible (slowing the running pair a little more than the other one and quickening the stalling pair, then the horse straightens and can come into a perfect rhythm. So rhythm and straightness are actually inseparable. If straightness were moved to be following rhythm then I think this makes sense.”
“Contact would then be in the right place just after straightness. When a horse is in self-carriage in rhythm and straightness, the rein, leg and posture aids achieve a more sophisticated subtlety which assists in the development of Contact. It is at this level where the physical development of the horse can now proceed via the continuum of impulsion through to collection. So as the Training Scale would have it: Rhythm – Suppleness – Contact – Impulsion – Straightness – Collection, most judges are trying to assess the worth of a dressage tests with this somewhat muddle-headed ‘Scale’ as their guide to what is and is not important…”
“This development of the dressage horse through to collection leads me to a further criticism of the Training Scale. Impulsion itself is part of a scale of physical development through to Engagement, Throughness and finally Collection. We should expect a horse at novice level to be developing impulsion, which should further develop into the beginnings of engagement in Elementary/Medium horse, then Throughness (the ‘sitting’ effect and one-hoofprint deeper step of the hindlegs) begins to appear in the Advanced horse and all the while Collection which strictly requires these preceding qualities is slowly emerging. Collection shows its greatest development in the Grand Prix horse. I would place the impulsion through to collection continuum at Contact level because it is the same criterion of increasing physical development and, of course, it would be marked according to the level of the test. They should not be seen as separate entities, but instead as a continuum of the same physical goal.”
“The modern scale is not logical and doesn’t make enough sense to me, yet most judges and most trainers swear by it. That is at least until you point this all out as I did at the Global Dressage Forum. There the opposition evaporated and turned into agreement that yes, the scale is a great set of directives, which it is. But it isn’t a scale.”
2. Objectivity: “Optimally, criteria should be directly observable with no exceptions. You cannot directly observe submission. In fact the word ought to be rubbed out – it has no place in training. Training is about setting up a behaviour, reinforcing it and repeating it until it becomes a habit. Anything less shows up as the horse trialing an alternative behaviour (because he can) or as confusion and this is mistaken for lack of submission. When you’re riding a dressage test, you are not asking questions but eliciting reflex reactions that you have installed. The horse isn’t obeying you like a slave, but reacting to what you have correctly or incorrectly reinforced in your training. Things happen far too fast in a dressage test for a horse to ponder what he might or mightn’t do (environmental stimuli excepted). The job of trainers of all animals is to turn action into habit, just as we do when we do sports or drive a car.”

“Suppleness (another element of the so called scale) is another subjective notion. You can’t be sure that ‘suppleness’ is entirely a trained thing, especially nowadays. You can buy at least some amount of suppleness because many modern breeds move so athletically it looks like, well, suppleness. Since dressage is about, or should be about training, a genetic contribution of ‘suppleness’ is a questionable judging criterion in such a sport. We have to be comfortable with losses of judging transparency and elitism if we are happy to place a lot of emphasis on suppleness beyond the training effects that are seen in the throughness of movements such as extended walk, trot and canter, and lateral movements.”

3. Robust definitions: “Each element on the scale needs a fundamental definition. Take rhythm for example - every trainer and rider has different view of its fundamental definition. My own surveys of judges and trainers say rhythm is about regularity, fluidity, fluency, evenness and many other qualities. But there is a more important definition: “the horse keeps doing whatever it has been asked until asked otherwise”. This definition is old, because even Grisone mentioned it 455 years ago the trend continued through Baucher, Steinbrecht and as recently as Decarpentry and Oliveira last century. Today many trainers will stress this point, but it isn’t given enough consideration in judging. If they did, the rankings would change.”

“I think this ‘self-maintenance’ definition should be paramount in determining rhythm where the judge can see that the horse is not held in its speed by rider but is trained to remain in gait, tempo and stride length/height. The notion that the horse should ‘continue to keep going’, means that if the horse is seen to be held by the reins or rider’s leg in speed, straightness or outline, then it isn’t going ‘on its own’ – it isn’t in self-carriage and it’s bad for the horse’s mental well-being. Elements such as regularity are subsets of this notion. This has to be the fundamental definition of rhythm, for many reasons especially the horse’s mental welfare. It seems a relatively easy task to see whether or not a horse is going ‘on his own’. Also many issues that are seen as ‘contact’ issues are in fact rhythm issues (i.e. the open mouthed horse would run if you let go of the reins). Precisely sticking to a definition of rhythm as self-maintenance of speed would be a huge step in improving the welfare of dressage horses. It would significantly alter the positions of many riders at all levels of competition. It would make dressage riders better trainers.”
“Straightness also is misunderstood in terms of its causation. Crookedness is only a symptom, the cause is that the horse is drifting or attempting to drift. The reason why a horse may be crooked but not drifting is that the rider is holding one rein stronger or one leg on stronger to prevent it. Horses learn to profit from drifting and not going to where they are pointed. In fact it is true to say that controlling speed AND line and training them to be self-maintained is the fundamental art.”
“The origin of the drifting is the laterality I described earlier. This sets up the dominant direction of drift. Most horses have a running right foreleg (and left hind) and so are heavier on the right rein (notwithstanding the laterality of riders!). When the running leg is held in the hand, the horse typically falls out to that side, so the tendency to drift right is pre-wired and then, though the actions of the rider, installed.”
4. Firewalls: “A firewall is where the judge can ‘freeze’ a mark at a particular level if any step is not present in a scale (say of A, B or C), then the mark is ‘frozen’ at the step before. Rhythm should be firewalled. If the horse isn’t in self-carriage then no matter how flash it is, it can’t go higher than, say 6.”

“Straightness should also be firewalled because the lack of it may mean the horse is subject to ongoing pressures on one side or the other. So if the horse isn’t straight the marks can’t go higher than 7. These should be seen as fundamental ceilings for welfare reasons. I firmly believe that these things will have a positive impact on the sustainability of dressage. I must admit, I’m not enamored by the worldliness of equestrian folk. As I see it, most live in a narrow world and never question what they do or what is done. Unintelligent and totally indefensible arguments are used such as “He gets fed and housed like a king” and so other aspects of welfare may not be considered. When something is done habitually in an industry or culture, it becomes normalised.”
“So very few individuals really do look at what they do from the perspective of the onlooker. But they should and we have to be ahead of the game and improve welfare as much as we can. The eventers led the way with such huge changes to the cross-country that it’s quite a different sport from my day. They saw the writing on the wall. The problems in dressage are far more subtle but no less pressing. Judging and welfare should be synonymous, because judges are the housekeepers of welfare. The system should be transparent for all. An objective and transparent system will make judging tenfold easier and will mitigate the 4 current biases that Wayne Channon pointed out: Conformity bias (where some judges may feel the need to be in line with other judges), National bias where judges of one country score their own riders higher), Order bias (where riders in the afternoon get better marks than in the morning) and Memory bias where riders past performances infect judging of their current ones.”
“Also we need to be very cautious in rushing in and thinking its ok breed even fancier horses. Horse people need some education in genetics to recognise that there are huge consequences for the animals themselves when selecting for narrow traits like movement. Judging should be about training, not breeding. With all other domestic species we know that when you breed true for narrow traits, the wheels fall off other elements of the animal’s life. There is no breed of dog without congenital defects, some of which are life threatening, some painful and some of which are subtly deleterious. Every animal carries a certain number of lethal genes that remain concealed from expression yet when we selectively bred for narrow traits, these surface and we see some very bad examples. Eyesight is one where wheels can easily fall off because the anatomical, physical and physiological constraints are so precise. In fact it was one of the creationist arguments Charles Darwin faced when he proposed the Theory of Evolution where it was claimed that eyes could not possibly have evolved because they are far too complex. We need to be cautious. At a dog genetics conference, I suggested that if pure breeds were out crossed every 4th generation, then the masking genes may reoccur however the dog people either didn’t understand or chose to bury the idea because the idea would naturally reintroduce more variation in offspring, which is after all a breeders nemesis.”
“So we need to step back and reflect on the recent dominance of only a few stallion lines. And we need to ensure that Judging isn’t a meat market for expensive horses, because the IOC will see that the sport is too elite and questions logically arise such as how can poorer countries afford to participate or be competitive? If we want to see dressage go into the future it must be sustainable and it must move away from its cultural prison and be informed by the greatest possible objectivity.”
Christopher Hector comments:
I was with Andrew all the way until his last paragraph about not breeding fancy horses. Andrew had hinted at something like this in his comments on suppleness. So unless we clone a ‘standard issue dressage horse’ and hand them out to prospective dressage riders, I am not sure how we can eliminate the effects of breeding, good or otherwise, to create a level playing field of horse flesh. Maybe we can’t eliminate them but we can drastically mitigate them by making judging more focused on objectivity and actual training criteria.
Interestingly Carl Hester recently suggested that somehow dressage judging could be modified to take into account the peculiarities of different breeds – his example was Rubi, the Lusitano stallion, who found it difficult to elevate his poll to the highest part of his neck. Should we then, take into account that Thoroughbreds are allegedly lacking in a calm temperament, so that the final score should be mathematically adjusted in terms of the proportion of Thoroughbred, Arab or Trakehner blood? Absolutely not. Tbs are no more reactive then some modern warmbloods. At any rate in an objective approach, the playing field is level. Perhaps only at the determination of whether a movement is a 9 or 10 would subjectivity rear its ugly head. Or what about individual stallions, the Rubinsteins find it hard to show a big extended trot, should the score for extended trot by modified according to the percentage of Rubinstein blood? No, baroque horses also have trouble with covering ground. They may make it up by easier collection. They will get a lower score. Every horse will still have its strong points.
Just as the role of the rider/trainer is to eliminate idiosyncracies of movement, making the horse equally supple to both sides, equal on both diagonal pairs, etc, so the task of the breeder is to breed out weaknesses and improve the individual. In many ways the nature of the Grand Prix test is weeding out the super modern individuals because the results of the last few years prove that they may look wonderful at stallion licensings and young horse classes, but the true stars of Grand Prix dressage tend to be shorter, less modern individuals like Totilas, Valegro, or Breitling and his tribe of Grand Prix progeny. Breeding quibbles aside, Andrew has once again, lifted the shroud of ignorance and pointed us in the direction of clearer, more horse friendly thought and practice. There is nothing to lose but a lot ot be gained from at least giving some fresh air to old ideas and I hope the FEI have the good sense to listen.

The real meaning of straightness in the horse


jlc-spine

Warning: If you believe that straightness can be achieved between the inside legs and the outside rein, or any other simplistic formula, do not read this article; you might experience shortness of breath, palpitations, high blood pressure, heart acceleration, fever, anxiety, depression and keyboard attack.

The bullfinch combination was an interesting “question.” In the three-day-event, a bullfinch is a brush that can go as high as 6 feet or more. The game is not jumping over, but rather through.  The brush is dense until about four feet and then becomes lighter, allowing the horse to jump through the branches. The combination was composed of two bullfinches separated by three short strides. Making it more interesting was the fact that the two bullfinches were not in a straight line. The second one was angled toward the right. A straight line would be possible jumping the first one at the extreme right and the second one at the extreme left. This was not a viable option as bushes and higher branches were quite thick toward the outside of the jump. The middle was definitely lighter.
Coming in oblique has its own set of difficulties as the branches are easier to jump through going straight than approaching and jumping at an angle. For my horse, the three short strides were a problem. It is the same horse from the two previous stories and this was his first advanced-level competition. As you know, his favorite options were fast and faster and he did not like shortening the strides when cantering at speed. Another consideration was that he did not have the experience of this type of jump. Often, horses will try to clear the brush jump, leaping too high and consequently landing further away after the jump. I was confident that he was intelligent enough to jump through the branches; however, I anticipated a big jump and consequently an even shorter distance between the jumps.
The visual impression was another consideration. The horse could see the second jump only while flying through the first one. Several horses had already run out at the second jump under these circumstances, and so I considered coming in a sharper angle, which would increase the distance between the two jumps. The benefit was more room for three normal strides. The risk was approaching the second jump on a sharper angle. “On the top of that,” commented the coachthe angle is toward the right which is his difficult side.” I told him that we have made progress about his straightness but the coach cut me short. “Every horse makes progress but doing better is not having resolved the problem. My question is do you think that he is athletically straight enough to keep the line through this combination. It is one thing to make the horse look straight in the dressage ring. It is another thing the stay straight in action.” I forced a strong yes out of my mouth but the thought in my mind was that I should have kept my mouth shut.


Increasing the obliquity was a risk but opting for the short strides was a greater risk. I decided for the sharper angle. The horse performed flawlessly. I come to the first bullfinch on an angle and he jumped quite high as expected. He kept the line for the second jump, which was also quite high. Due to the angle, the length of the three strides was comfortable and my horse kept the pace without hesitation. After the cross country, the breeder of the horse came at the stable very happy about the performance of his “son”. Breeders always think that their horses are perfect and that all the problems are the rider’s fault. The breeder said, “I watched him at the bullfinch combination. He was great, fast, clear, at ease, perfectly in line and you did not even came on the jump straight.
What puzzled me during the combination was the feeling of straightness. All the energy was directed in one direction. The thought of “dynamic straightness” crossed my mind. We always talk about straightness thinking geometry, the shoulders in front of the haunches, the body straight. Gustave Steinbrecht straightened the horse between the inside leg and the outside rein. I remembered the Chinese proverb, “If you are standing upright, do not fear a crooked shadow.” My horse’s spine was a crooked shadow; I knew that I had not fully corrected his back muscle imbalance, but in action, when we were both concentrated on the performance, his energy was absolutely straight. I have no doubt that straightness was essentially a dynamic phenomenon, but nothing in the equestrian literature as well as in the scientific research truly addressed the concept.
In its simplest form, straightness is about a horse travelling with the shoulders in front of the haunches. The thought is not incorrect but, placing the shoulders in front of the haunches is only visual straightness. A horse can be apparently straight, maintaining the shoulders in front of the haunches and travelling with a thoracolumbar spine totally crooked.
On this picture of a severely crooked thoracolumbar spine, we draw a straight line from the wither to the haunches. If the horse travels in the direction of the red line, it would be visually straight but it would be biomechanically crooked.

Another simple theory of straightness is a horse travelling with a thoracolumbar column perfectly straight as illustrated on the figure C. This is possible on a diagram, but this is not possible in motion. At the walk for instance, the right foreleg moves back, as illustrated in the graphic (A), and thoracic spine bends laterally to the right. In the thoracic vertebrae, lateral bending occurs between T9 and T16. Simultaneously the forward swing of the left hind leg is associated with left lateral bending of the lumbar vertebrae. In the lumbar vertebrae, there is a small capacity for lateral bending between L1 and L5. At the next sequence of the stride, the left front leg moves back, bending the thoracic spine to the left and the right hind leg swings forward, bending the lumbar vertebrae to the right, as illustrated in the picture (B).

Basically, there is not a single moment of the stride where the thoracolumbar spine is straight. This of course applies to the trot and canter with different kinematics of the thoracolumbar column.
We have voluntarily designed greater lateral bending on the figure (A) illustrating the fact that back muscles are never perfectly symmetrical and there is always a preferential lateroflexion. It is not necessary to the right as illustrated on this diagram but there is always muscular imbalance which, if not specifically addressed by the training approach, will be protected by the horse’s central nervous system. The horse will travel crooked and will have difficulties bending in one direction.
As you know, lateral bending is always coupled with a movement of transversal rotation but in order to soundly comprehend the biomechanics of straightness it is easier to approach the problem, one force at the time. Straightness has nothing to do with stretching and relaxation. On the contrary, straightness is about forces acting on the thoracolumbar spine and how the muscular system of the equine back manages, reduces and redirect these forces. Dr. Betsy Uhl, DVN, PhD, Dip, ACVP, explained for the members of the course how forces were directed oblique from the limbs to the spinal column and how the muscles had to resist and redirect these forces. Emphasis was made on the intensity of the forces acting on the metameric structure of the vertebral column. Uhl pointed out the wear and tear visible on the articular facets of the vertebrae of two different skeletons.

In motion, the thrust generated by one hind leg induces an oblique force on the spine. Without compensation of the muscles situated on the other side, the thrust generated by one hind leg would bend the lumbar vertebrae or move the croup sideways as illustrated by the drawing on the left. Instead, forward movement is created by the propulsive thrust of the hind legs, (red arrow), that is resisted, managed and redirected by the back muscles and in particular the muscles situated on the opposite side of the pushing hind, as illustrated on the drawing at left.
Straightness is therefore how the muscular system of the thoracolumbar spine manages forces. Hind and front limbs induce forces on the thoracolumbar spine and the muscular system resists, diffuses or redirects these forces. For clarity, this model focuses only on lateral forces. The reality is more complex since there is also gravity pulling the spine down; upward forces resisting the attraction of gravity; transversal forces, which are pulling one side of the body down while the other side is supported by the limb on the ground; and the combination of all these forces. But the muscular system functions under the same principle; it resists, diffuses or redirects force. There is no room for stretching and relaxation. Locomotion and performance are not created, increasing the range of motion of the thoracolumbar spine. Instead, locomotion and performance is created through the subtle orchestration or numerous and minuscule contractions and compensatory contractions.
The biomechanics of the vertebral column forms the basis of all body movements and when the thoracolumbar spine is not functioning in a proper line, there are inevitably repercussions on the kinematics of the hind and front limbs.

This diagram illustrates a horse travelling with a thoracolumbar spine slightly bend to the left, (red lines). The black lines are there as a reference. Lateroflexion occurs in the vicinity of the 9th to 16th thoracic vertebrae but modifies the alignment of the whole spine. The lateroflexion of the thoracic vertebrae affects pelvic and shoulder placement in respect of the direction of the motion. The consequences are going to be the loading of the right foreleg and deviation of the croup to the left.
Lateroflexion
This was exactly the situation of a Swedish warmblood named Dominique. Repetitive loading on the right foreleg created kinematics abnormalities inducing excessive stress between the distal sesamoid bone and the deep digital flexor tendon. Dominique developed navicular disease on the off side. We restored soundness, correcting the scoliosis of the thoracic spine. Basically, we restored soundness recreating straightness. The problem was aggravated by the fact that the lateroflexion of the thoracic spine was coupled with an inverted rotation, shifting the dorsal spine to the right. Normal rotation shifts the tip of the dorsal spine toward the inside of the bend. In case of inverted rotation, the tip of the dorsal spine is shifted toward the outside of the bend. In Dominique’s case, left lateral bending of the thoracic vertebrae was coupled with an inverted rotation, further aggravating the load on the right foreleg.
dominique
Simplistic equitation suggests straightening the horse between the inside leg and the outside rein. In the case of this diagram, straightening the horse would be achieved between the left inside leg and the right outside rein. Such techniques would move the croup and the shoulders but would not have any effect on the lateral bending of the thoracic spine. In the next illustration, we push the shoulders toward the left with the right outside rein and contain the haunches with the left inside leg. We move the body but we have no effect on the lateral bending of the thoracic spine.
lateral

lateral-bendLateral bending as well as transversal rotation of the horse’s thoracic spine occurs between the rider’s upper thighs. It is more accurate to refer to the rider body including the upper thighs. Body alignment is a dynamic phenomenon that is better explained by the concept of a corridor.
On the circle as well as on straight line, the rider’s body creates a corridor inside which the horse’s body moves. On the circle, the horse’s thoracolumbar spine is not evenly bent as it was believed in old theories. Bending occurs between T9 and T16, and transversal rotation occurs mostly between T9 and T14. Basically, lateral bending (red line) and transversal rotation (blue line) of the horse’s thoracolumbar spine occurs between the rider’s thighs. When the horse shifts the rider’s seat toward the outside of the circle, the rotation is inverted. Walking or trotting a horse on a small figure 8 helps in identifying the horse’s preferential rotation. On one circle, the horse shifts the dorsal spine further toward the outside than on the other circle.
Identifying the horse’s preferential rotation is always interesting since straightness is about narrowing these rotations and therefore correcting the inverted one.
jump-bendThe picture at right shows a spectacular example of right lateral bending coupled with an inverted rotation shifting the dorsal spine and the rider toward the outside of the bend. In fact, the rider compensates very well; if you look at his stirrups and then his body you can see how well he compensates for the torsion of the horse’s spine. Due to the spine torsion, the horse cannot lift the croup as normally required and it clears the jump, increasing the rotation of its thoracic spine and passing the hind legs sideways.  Vertebral column dysfunctions are the main cause of limb kinematic abnormalities and consequent injuries.
In this picture, the spine torsion redirects the load on the left front leg, inducing intense stress at the landing.
At the walk and trot, the equine thoracolumbar spine bends alternatively right and left in synchronization with the limb movements. Straightness is therefore not about a thoracolumbar column remaining straight but instead, straightness is about a reduction of the lateroflexion and control of transversal rotations allowing the horse to travel in a narrow corridor. At first, lateral bending and transversal rotations displace the shoulders toward the left and the croup toward the right as illustrated in this diagram. The corridor is then wide. It can be the opposite, the shoulders shifting to the right and the haunches to the left. Sometimes the feeling is the shoulders and haunches shifting in the same direction. The horse is bouncing from the right wall to the left wall of the corridor.
bend-walk-trotAs symmetry and proper coordination of the back muscles is progressing, the amplitude of the lateroflexion reduces and the transversal rotation remain closer to their higher point, which is the middle and the horse travels more straight, within the limits of a narrower corridor. There is no formula for straightness for the very simple reason that each horse commences its education with its own morphology and muscle imbalance.
There is a Samurai proverb that says: “To know and to act are one and the same.
The proverb applies to straightness. Guiding the horse’s brain and body on how to direct all the forces in a straightforward direction demands knowing about the forces acting on the thoracolumbar spine and how the muscular system manages these forces. Truly, straightness, balance control, forwardness, suppleness, easiness, calmness and efficiency, are one and the same.
spine
Transversal rotations have a considerable influence on straightness. They are created by the way the vertebrae articulate with each other and the attraction of gravity. Old theories followed that lateral bending placed the inside side of the vertebrae in contact with each other while separating the outside. (On the above diagram, from Richard Tucker, the vertebrae are illustrated as rectangles). Old theories also believed that lateral bending was even all along the thoracolumbar column. More advanced knowledge exposes a totally different mechanism. The front part of a vertebra is shaped like half a tennis ball while the back of the previous vertebra shows a concavity matching the convexity of the following vertebrae. Vertebrae rotate around each other. During flexion, for instance, the rotation occurs as illustrated by the red arrow and the dorsal spines separate from each other. During extension, the rotation goes the other way and dorsal spine becomes closer. (This diagram is by Jean Marie Denoix. We just added the red arrow.) However, the reality is three dimensional as the vertebrae also rotate for lateral bending as well as transversal rotations.
trioNature cleverly adapted vertebral anatomical features to the function. Richard Tucker wrote: “When one side of the body is supported by the limb on support, the other side is pulled down by gravity.”
Watching the Eadweard Muybridge picture series, we can visualize Tucker’s observation. On the left picture, the left front leg is on the ground supporting the left side of the horse’s body. The right front limb is now off the ground in the swing phase. Gravity pulls the right side of the body downward as illustrated by the red arrow. This is referred to as “passive rotation.” If not corrected, such passive rotation would hamper the forward movement of the right front limb. The passive rotation is therefore immediately converted by the muscular system of the forelegs, as well as the back muscles, into an active rotation turning the thoracic spine in the opposite direction.
This diagram, created by Jean Marie Denoix, DVM, PhD, illustrates a left lateral bending coupled with a rotation shifting the dorsal spines to the left. This rotation, which is the correct rotation, is referred to as right rotation since the ventral part of the vertebral bodies is facing right.
This diagram, created by Jean Marie Denoix, DVM, PhD, illustrates a left lateral bending coupled with a rotation shifting the dorsal spines to the left. This rotation, which is the correct rotation, is referred to as right rotation since the ventral part of the vertebral bodies is facing right.
As the left front leg moves back, the thoracic spine bends laterally to the left and the rotation shifts the dorsal spine toward the left. This is named right rotation as the scientific world names the rotation by the direction faced by the ventral part of the vertebral bodies. When the dorsal spinous processes turn left, giving to the rider the feeling of left rotation, the scientific world defines the rotation as right rotation. This is a little confusing and this is why we talk about the direction of the dorsal spine.
Even if they have been comprehensively explained in 1999, transversal rotations have always been there. Classic authors interpreted and explained them differently. The expression dropping the shoulder for instance is simply the feeling given by an uneven rotation of the thoracic spine. Transversal rotations are going up and down, down left, up middle, down right, up middle, down left, up middle and so on. Mild muscle imbalance will induce greater rotation on one side. More severe back muscles imbalance will accentuate the rotation in one side giving the feeling that the horse drops the shoulder.
jlc1
Straightness, which is balance, forwardness, suppleness, easiness, calmness and efficiency, demands reducing the rotation and keeping them as close as possible to the higher holding of the trunk between the forelegs, the middle. In order to do so, the rider needs to realize that he or she is the corridor. Riding is pure physics, interaction of forces and consequent actions. In this picture, the horse is at trot. The left diagonal on the stance, the right diagonal is on the swing. The propulsive force of the right hind leg is acting on my spine in the direction of the blue arrow. If I absorb this force, bending my vertebral column laterally (yellow line), the thrust generated by the horse’s right hind leg, aggravated by the lateral bending of my vertebral column, would move the horse sideways, thus loading the left foreleg (yellow arrow).
jlc2
Instead, if  I reduce the lateral movements of my spine, I create a corridor channeling the horse’s forces in a straight forward direction.
The upper thighs are truly the parts of the rider body enveloping the horse’s thoracic spine. The corridor needs therefore to include the back, the pelvis and the upper thighs. The calves control the hind legs, continuing the corridor created by the rider’s body.
jlc3
Narrowing the corridor does not mean squeezing the horse between the calves and the upper thighs.
Narrowing the corridor does not mean squeezing the horse between the calves and the upper thighs. It means feeling and controlling in the calves the eventual deviation of the croup and feeling and controlling in the upper thighs, the pelvis and the back, the eventual deviations of the horse’s shoulders.
Straightness, balance, forwardness, suppleness, easiness, calmness and efficiency, are one and the same. General Lhotte magisterially summarized the concept in three words, Forward, Straight and Calm. The calmness suggested by General Lhotte is not the one gained through poor nutrition and/or drugs. Calmness in action is the serenity and confidence of an athlete properly developed and coordinated for the athletic demand of the performance.

Jean luc Cornille

tisdag 5 januari 2016

Mål

Inga nyårslöften i år, som man ändå bryter, det struntar jag i.
Man blir ändå bara så besviken över sig själv om man inte klarar dem.
För mig känns det bäst och jag lyckas bäst med att sätta upp mål istället. Realistiskt "huvudmål" och realistiska delmål på vägen. Inga löften om att man måste klara detta under detta år blablabla. Utan ett realistiskt mål som du gärna vill uppnå, helst kanske inom en viss tid, men den behöver inte nödvändigtvis uppnås inom ett år t.ex. Tiden väljer man själv, men välj realistiskt. Det är inte tiden som avgör dina mål, dvs att det är inte hur snabbt det har gått att uppfylla målet som avgör utan det är vilka vägar och delmål man gör under hela sin resa, som avgör.

Jag har flera delmål som jag siktar på att få genomföra detta år. Om jag av någon orsak inte skulle kunna genomföra något mål, så försöker jag på nytt nästa gång jag får möjlighet bara, men andra gången ännu klokare och starkare än första gången.



Lolli har, trots sin lilla bebismage, hittat sina första steg i passagen! Jag är såå glad! <3 Balansen och bärigheten blir bara bättre och bättre hela tiden. Det är helt otroligt och en sån varm känsla, att kunna sitta på sin egen skolade lilla skrutt-ponny-bebis och få henne att hitta sin egen balans i kroppen och kunna hjälpa henne att stärka sig och därifrån göra rörelser man aldrig trodde att hon skulle kunna klara av att göra. Allt det utan press. Och det gillar jag massor - en äkta passage, där handen inte drar ihop hästen, tvingar den att bromsa, kickar med skänkeln i varje steg så att den hålls igång och en medhjälpare går på marken och hjälper till med passagetakten med spöet så att hästen sätter höften "under sig" alltså i en helt fel rotation. En äkta passage/rörelse kommer ifrån en ärlig och korrekt hittad balans i kroppen. En dressyrrörelse som görs utan rätt bärighet och balans är endast en cirkusrörelse som aldrig kommer att ge hästen någonting gott utan tvärtom - ont.

Puuhis är på god väg att hitta samma steg som Lolli men det krävs mycket stärkande av hans balans ännu. Men det är spännande och roligt att jobba med honom. Han blir bättre, hela tiden, men jag får koncentrera mig till max under den tiden jag rider honom så att jag hela tiden kan känna av och hjälpa honom så bra som möjligt. Ska bli så spännande att få utvecklas tillsammans med honom! <3

lördag 2 januari 2016

fredag 1 januari 2016

Happy New Year!

Har haft det riktigt trevligt under jul och nyåret.
Umgåtts med vänner och familj, ätit alldeles för mycket gott och ridit Lolli och Puuhis.
Det har gjort kropp och knopp riktigt gott att ha en lite lugnare period under julen och nu börjar jag sakta men säkert känna energin och motivationen komma tillbaka! Det som sporrar nu ganska mycket är att ha ett helt nytt år framför sig, med nya utmaningar, nya äventyr och nya lärdomar. Det är motiverande.

När jag tänker tillbaka på året som gått så känner jag mig ändå nöjd.
Jag har gjort saker jag inte trott jag skulle göra, lärt mig så massor mer, tävlat med mycket bättre resultat, tränat mer än någonsin, studerat mer än någonsin och utvecklats som person, mer än någonsin.
Det har gått frammåt, det har det.

Jätteroligt!

Det är nu ett år sedan jag klickade ihop denhär lilla blogg-dagboken.
Målet med "den" under 2015 var att den skulle hjälpa mig att våga vara mig själv, hitta mig själv och fundera som mig själv, ännu mera än vad jag gjort tidigare. Och jag tycker att jag blivit bättre med  under året, faktiskt. Kanske till och med bättre än vad jag hade trott. 
Jag behöver inte fundera lika mycket på vad andra ska tycka och tänka om mig och allt vad jag gör. Utan jag kan "måra opå", säga det jag tycker bättre och göra det jag tror på och vill göra, utan att fundera en massa innan. Allt det jag tycker eller tänker är ju bara ur mitt egna perspektiv, det är hur jag ser det, känner det och uppfattar det. Man får välja sen hur och vad man lägger det fram, både sådär i vardags och på nätet. Det finns massor med sätt att utrycka sig själv på. Och det är väl lite det som jag har börjat våga slappna av lite mera på. Det är en bra bit kvar men jag har tagit mig upp ur min egen grävda grop och kan nu bara fortsätta frammåt.

Tanken var då för ett år sedan när jag klickade ihop denna blogg att jag skulle ta bort den vid nästa nyår, det vill säga, nu.
Men på något sätt så känns det ändå så som att jag inte ska göra det nu, i alla fall inte ännu.
 Det har varit motiverande och bra för mig att ha någonting att skriva på där jag samtidigt har hamnat och lära mig att inte fundera så mycket på andras åsikter. Så kanske jag behåller den ett tag till, för att motivera mig själv, mer konkret, och för att utveckla mig själv som person.