Tag Archives: Jane Savoie

How to Fix a Head Tilt, by Jane Savoie

When your horse tilts his head, it’s often a sign that he isn’t “through”. So, if you’re tracking right and his right ear is lower than his left ear with his mouth going to the left, you’ll need to supple the left side of his poll. (Supple the right side of his poll if he tilts the other way with his left ear lower.)

Remember, you can’t use your connecting aids successfully if he’s locked anywhere including the poll. (Suppleness comes before Connection on the training scale.)

Continue reading How to Fix a Head Tilt, by Jane Savoie

The What, Why, and “How To” of Shoulder-In, by Jane Savoie

Shoulder-in is the father of the advanced lateral dressage movements. It does many wonderful things for your horse. Here are just some of them:

Shoulder-in is a suppling exercise because it stretches and loosens the muscles and ligaments of the inside shoulder and forearm. During shoulder-in, your horse passes his inside foreleg in front of his outside foreleg. This motion increases his ability to move his forearm gymnastically in other movements.

It’s also a straightening exercise because you should always straighten your horse by bringing his forehand in front of his hindquarters. Never try to straighten him by leg yielding his hindquarters out behind his shoulders.

Shoulder-in is also a collecting exercise. It increases your horse’s self-carriage because he lowers his inside hip with each step. As a result, his center of gravity shifts back toward his hind legs. His hindquarters carry more weight and his front end elevates. Read more> http://www.horsesinthesouth.com/article/article_detail.aspx?id=10240

Learn to Feel When Your Horse’s Hind Legs Are on the Ground, by Jane Savoie

ezine22_img2Can you feel when your horse’s hind legs are on the ground? This is an important skill to develop because you want to time your leg aid so that you give it when your horse’s corresponding hind leg is on the ground.

In fact, the exact moment to influence a particular hind leg is just as it’s getting ready to push off the ground.

You can learn to feel where the hind legs are by feeling your horse’s hips. When a particular hind foot is on the ground, your horse’s hip is higher on that side. It feels like your corresponding seatbone is being pushed forward.

You can start developing your sense of feel by doing some transitions from walk to halt. Read more> http://www.horsesinthesouth.com/article/article_detail.aspx?id=9808

Program Your Position – A Review by Johnny Robb

ProgramYourPositionMy New Years resolution is to improve my riding.  If you share a similar goal or resolution, I can recommend an incredible tool that I have been using, Program Your Position.  This is an amazingly effective “program”, and I can honestly say it has helped my position immensely.

The program, developed by Ruth Hogan-Poulsen and Jane Savoie, has three components. These include 5 DVDs, 3 audio CDs and an illustrated pocket guide.

No matter how you absorb information most effectively, Program Your Position has you covered. Personally, I like all the audios and illustrated pocket guide the best. But I must add that the DVD segments are like attending a clinic.

For me, Program Your Position is better than a clinic because the series teaches you to use a simple set of buzz words to “program” your position corrections.  I ride around saying the buzzwords and correct my riding position almost effortlessly. The buzzwords are easy to remember and effective and the program also encourages you to add your personal buzzwords too. Read more> http://www.horsesinthesouth.com/article/article_detail.aspx?id=9632

Counter-Flexing in Canter, by Jane Savoie

Several of you have asked me if there’s any value in counter-flexing your horse while in true canter so I’d like to discuss that here.

1. Generally, you want to flex your horse in the direction of the canter lead he’s on. That goes for true canter as well as counter canter. So if you’re cantering on left lead, position his head so you just barely see his left eye and/or nostril.

2. I do often ask students to counter-flex their horses while cantering. For example, they’d just barely see the right eye or nostril when they’re in left canter. I do this to help riders feel if their horses are straight. Read more> http://www.horsesinthesouth.com/article/article_detail.aspx?id=8812

AHorse Blog – 3 Tips for the Correct Length and Height of Your Horse’s Neck, by Jane Savoie

Lots of you tell me you’re confused about the correct length and height of your horse’s neck so I thought I’d address that in this article.

1.     Neck too high: The height of the neck is determined by the degree of engagement of the hindquarters. So, the height of the neck changes as you go up through the levels and your horse becomes more collected.

Always keep in mind, however, that if you ride with the neck too high and short and the angle of the throatlatch too closed, there can’t be any bridge from the back end to the front end.

The neck has to be in line with the power train of the hindquarters-not above it. When the neck is too high, the hind end is disconnected from the front end.

2.     Neck too short: I like to say the length of the neck is proportional to the length of the stride taken by the hind legs. So, if you crank the neck in and it gets too short, the hind legs take shorter steps.

Always strive to keep your horse’s neck long.

Even though you want more and more of an uphill balance as you go up through the levels, you still want to see a long neck blooming out in front of you.

This is an exaggeration, but I like to pretend that I have 1/3 of the horse out behind me, and 2/3 of the horse blooming out in front of me. The last thing I want to see is a short neck with 1/3 of the horse out in front of me and 2/3 trailing out behind.

Now, it’s really not 1/3 behind and 2/3 in front, but that gives you a good visual for always having a long neck blooming out in front of you. And that’s the case whether you’re in the horizontal balance of Training Level or the uphill balance of Grand Prix.

One of the mistakes you see at the FEI levels is that riders think they’re collecting their horses, but all they’re doing is shortening their necks.

This creates all kinds of problems because the hind legs are blocked. For example, in a canter pirouette, a horse might switch leads behind or break to the trot. In piaffe, the diagonal pairs might break up, and the piaffe is no longer a real 2-beat trot.

3.     Rules of thumb for your horse’s balance: At Training Level, the horse has approximately 60% of his weight on the front legs and 40% of his weight on the hind legs.

That’s the same balance that a horse has in nature because a horse is built like a table with a head and neck on one end. By virtue of the weight of the head and neck, horses naturally have more weight on the front legs than the back legs.

So, at Training Level, with 60% of his weight on the front legs and 40% of his weight on the hind legs, the horse is in what I call “horizontal balance”. His topline looks pretty much parallel to the ground.

At First Level, exercises and movements like smaller circles, leg yields and a little bit of counter canter, cause a slight shift in the center of gravity back to the hind legs. That’s because those exercises create an increase in the bending of the joints of the hind legs. The horse’s croup goes down a little bit, and the forehand goes up proportionately. So at First Level, you might have approximately 55% of the weight on the front legs and 45% behind.

At Second Level, you begin “modest” collection. More weight shifts toward the hindquarters by virtue of the exercises such as shoulder-in, haunches-in, renvers, and simple changes of lead. So you end up with about 50% of the weight on the hind legs and 50% of the weight on the front legs.

At Third Level, you have the beginning of real collection with more weight on the hind legs than on the front legs.

As you go up through the levels there’s a progressive increase in the loading of the hind legs. As a result, the horse, like a seesaw, gradually sits more behind and comes more “up” in front.

Jane Savoie
1174 Hill St ext.
Berlin, VT 05602