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Critiquing Myself And Kemerton

Updated on October 19, 2018
Ellison Hartley profile image

Ellison is a professional horse trainer and riding instructor. She runs a summer camp program and offers kids a safe introduction to horses.


Kemerton is my main man, my baby. He is a big oaf and is retired now, but he still has the personality of a young horse. Like a little elementary school boy, always trying to get into trouble.

At the time these series of photos were taken, we were competing in a dressage schooling show which was being held at our farm. This was very early in his retraining, though he was let down for a bit before I got him. If I had to guess, we were probably only in training for a few months when I rode this dressage test. I believe it was a lower level eventing test.

Though the photos don't show it too much, he was super tense. His regular environment was different since we had the show going on and he was a little freaked out by it. Which surprised me, since I figured a racetrack would be much more intimidating! Obviously, we don't think the same way as our horses!


Photo #1

My first thought when I look at this picture is that it was taken at an awkward moment. Since I was on the "up" part of my posting trot.

My shoulders are slightly in front of that straight vertical line from shoulder, to hip to heel that they are supposed to be in. Not terribly forward, just slightly. Maybe if I was in the sitting part of the post I wouldn't have even noticed.

My leg position is good if I do say so myself, my stirrup is even with the girth, which helps with the straight line from shoulder, hip to heel.

I can see the tension in his trot. He is not "tracking up" as well as he should. Meaning his hind foot isn't stepping up under his body as far as it should. They should almost step into the footprint of their front hoof with the back hoof as it comes forward.

I also see the tension in him since he is slightly behind the vertical in his frame. In other words, we want the front of the horses face to make a vertical line to the ground. You can see Kemer's nose is slightly behind that vertical line.

I have a nice straight line from elbow to hand to the bit. So my contact is good. I should have my thumbs pointed up though. It also appears that both hands are a bit low. My outside hand is slightly forward of my inside. My best guess is that I was trying to soften my hand to get him to bend around to the left a little bit more.

I should have had my reins a bit longer, but kept pushing him forward for a longer, looser and more relaxed stride so that he would be in a proper frame and not behind the bit.


Picture #2

Interesting angle on this photo. I like my leg position again in this photo. I like the way I'm looking up and ahead.

It could be the angle of the photo but it looks like my left shoulder is dropping down in the turn, which means I'm collapsing my left hip. I have more weight on my left seat bone than my right in this picture. I should have had my shoulders back farther, especially the inside shoulder.

It appears that I have a softer contact in this picture, which I like. He is in a longer frame than the first picture. It doesn't look like his nose is behind the bit. I still see the tension in his back though as it still doesn't look like he is pushing his hind end up underneath of him as much as he should have been.


Picture #3

This picture is yuck to me!

I hate the way that I have my lower leg cranked up and back and I'm digging into him with my heels.

There is a nice connection from elbow to hand to the bit, a nice soft straight line. I like that he isn't behind the bit. I don't like that my hands are flipped over like I'm trying to play the piano.

I also don't like the way my shoulders are roached forward. I need to sit with my hips forward and my shoulders up and back.

Yea, this picture is yuck!


Picture #4

Kemer is rocking it in this one. Look at that long loose trot! He is in a nice frame, where he does not have his nose curled up to his chest like he tends to do.

I like my lower leg. I also like the straight line from his mouth to hand to elbow. Don't like my piano hands again though.

I also feel as though my shoulders are still slightly forward of where they should have been. Mind you, I was riding in my jumping saddle, which naturally is going to put you forward. I should have been sitting up and back nonetheless!

I also don't like that I'm looking down. I know better.


Picture #5

Why am I looking down again?!

It looks like my leg has slid slightly back, though it could also be the angle of the photo I guess.

It looks like my hands are a little less piano player like and more like a rider, So that is a good thing! I feel like my hands should have been softer though, just ever so slightly or ever so slightly more forward and he would not have been behind the bit.

My left shoulder still looks lower than my right to me.

I love Kemertons trot stride in this picture!


Picture # 6

My horse looks beautiful in this picture if I do say so myself!

I would say this is one of the best pictures so far. He is in a nice frame and his trot stride is long, loose and gorgeous.

My shoulders look a little better, though still slightly forward. Can't see my right hand, but my left-hand looks much better than some of the other pictures.

I'm still looking down for some reason, I guess I thought that would help keep his head down or something!


Picture #7

Picture #7 is another yuck.

My heels are up digging into him and my leg is back farther than it should be. You can tell he is not responding well to it. Look how short his trot strides are. His head is up and he is very tense like he is holding the bit and leaning on it on the right side.

My lower back is collapsed. I was probably trying to use my seat bones to send him forward into my hand, so I was sitting back and pushing. It is possible to push with your seat bones without collapsing, so I should have been sitting up straight, not leaning back like a hunch back.

As far as my hands, at least they aren't flipped over ( or the one we can see at least) . The pictures make it look like my right hand is almost braced on his neck, which is probably contributing to his tension and leaning.

I should have had, my right leg down long, sitting up straight, with my right shoulder up and back. Also, it is hard to find a connection when your hand is locked down. We were leaning on each other in this picture. I should have lifted my right hand up as I asked him to soften away from my right leg and then I think the tension would have gone away.

Also, I can't see my left hand, but it is possible it was too rigid and not allowing him to stretch his neck around and soften to the inside.


Picture #8

I like this one.

My leg is in the correct place, though I should have relaxed and dropped down through my heel a bit.

I'm sitting up straighter, and not as forward as some of the others. My upper body in this I find a lot more reasonable than some of the other pictures, considering I was in a close contact saddle.

He is tracking up nicely, his hind foot reaching into the hoof print of the front hoof. Meaning his back is relaxed and swinging. Also, note how much thrust he has in the hind end, you can tell the motor is really running.

Which is why since my hands are nicer and we have a good connection, he is in a great frame. The only thing I can say about my hands in this picture is it sort of looks like my left elbow isn't at my side, it is sort of sticking out. Maybe...who knows could be the angle of the picture.

Also, miraculously enough it looks like my head is up and looking where I'm going, instead of down at his head!

A more relaxed moment with Kemerton!
A more relaxed moment with Kemerton! | Source

Critique Yourself, It's Good For You

Critique yourself, it's good for you! Learn from your mistakes. Point out the good and the bad in your pictures!

It's fun, and a good way for you to see how far you have come!


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