Using Video to evaluate your Horse and Riding

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)

Continuing now with the second of two blogs related to using photos and video to evaluate your horse and riding.  In my last blog (click here) I discussed using photos to evaluate your horse and riding.  In many cases videos are so much better…but there are a few things we can do to make the use of video better.  In the past few years a number of opportunities have become available for showing or getting horse evaluations by video.  International Performance Horse Development (click here) and North American Western Dressage Association (click here) offer what has become known as virtual shows.  There are a number of other options for virtual horse shows and I encourage you to look for opportunities that fit you the best.

Back to our discussion.  Here are some of the issues with using video and getting feedback about your horse or riding.

1) Many videos are shot from only one perspective that gives more of the side view and forgets to show front and rear views of the rider and horse.  If you want a true evaluation of your horse or riding…a knowledgeable person needs to see front, side, and back views of what you and your horse are doing.

2) If you are shooting a  video for a show, the riding most often is restricted to a particular pattern or series of movements.  This is great for the judging aspect we want in virtual shows…but if you want a true evaluation with details that will help you improve — a narrated freestyle is more likely to benefit your needs.  How do you narrate and ride at the same time — go back and write out a narrative as to what you were doing or trying to accomplish at a particular point of time on the video.  While giving the evaluator some words it also helps you see if your words or goals are being achieved.

3) We put our best foot forward with a video shoot.  Plain and simple my friends.  In photos and videos we try to look our best and therefore we lose out on the true evaluation of our normal riding.

Above are just some of the issues that occur with using video for an evaluation of the horse or rider.  As always I like to offer some of my suggestions for how you can use videos to get evaluations of your horse and riding.  Here are some suggestions and I look forward to your additions.

1) Make sure you include video taken from the side, rear, and front … and when I say side, rear, and front I mean directly on, not at an angle or close to being in front or behind.  These three positions help evaluate for straightness/correct posture, where you are looking, what the horse’s feet are doing, how the horse and rider work together, and where your legs and hands are located.  I know nobody likes our backside photographed but there is a lot of information we can learn from watching the horse and rider move away from us.

2) Make sure you add a short narrative to the videos you post.  Give the viewer/evaluator an idea on what was happening at a particular time.

3) Film a freestyle or just 30 minutes of riding and use a video editor to put together those minutes (times) that you want evaluated or are seeking guidance.  Try to ride normally and not “better” while your riding is being captured on video.  One way to make this happen is by having someone shoot video of random times of your riding…that way you will have those lapses that hopefully get caught on video and can be used to help you get better.

Both photos and videos are great for helping to evaluate your riding.  Taking the time to review video or photos with your coach is a huge benefit and any coach/trainer not willing to do this with you is not using all the tools at his/her disposal to help you as a rider.  Remember — the more information and detail you provide with your video or photo — the more help you will receive from the evaluator.

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Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).

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Using Photos to evaluate your Horse and Riding

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)

With the advent of social media we see numerous photos of people riding horses.  People share photos on Facebook or Twitter and many times ask for comments.  Sometimes photos are shared and comments are given, even when not asked for, but that is another story.  Quite often people will send me an email with a photo of a horse and rider and ask me to evaluate if I can help the person with his/her horse.  That is really hard to do with a single photo.

So let us talk about the one picture is worth 1000 words idea when it comes to evaluating your Horse or Riding.  The phrase ” Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” was first used in 1911 ….. but I digress since we are in 2013.  We all would agree that it would take many many words to describe everything we see in most photographs.  But there are some MAJOR problems with using a single photograph for commentary on your horse or riding.

Here are some of the issues with using only 1 photo and getting feedback about your horse or riding.

1) Most riding photos are shot with exposures of 1/30 second to 1/60 s.  Quite a few factors go into determining the exact amount of time but this ranges from  0.03 seconds to 0.016 seconds.  So we are looking and evaluating something that is happening in less than 1 second.  How much do you normally accomplish in a second?

2) The photo is taken but there is a lack of details.  We may only see 1/2 of what the rider is doing (if this is a side on photo) and we do not know what the rider was feeling at that moment in time….and let us face it most of us cannot remember our exact feelings at the time the photo was taken (unless we are flying off the saddle).

3) The angle of the photographer with respect to the horse may cause us to think the rider or horse is leaning or off-balance.

4) When taking a confirmation shot of a horse…the light and the time of day can really alter how a horse looks.

Above are just some of the issues that occur with using a single picture for an evaluation of the horse or rider.  As always I like to offer some of my suggestions for how you can use photos to get evaluations of your horse and riding.  Here are some suggestions and I look forward to your additions.

1) Always show at least 10 to 20 photos (use a photo album as a best way to share the photos if you are using Facebook). Take the photos as a random sampling and make the album.  We need to realize we all want to ride perfectly but there are times when our leg might be out of position and using more photos shows that to be the anomaly rather than the norm.  If it is the norm that you have a leg out of position then more photos will show that as an issue you need to correct.

2) Make sure you include photos taken from the side, rear, and front … and when I say side, rear, and front I mean directly on, not at an angle or close to being in front or behind.  These three positions help evaluate for straightness/correct posture, where you are looking, what the horse’s feet are doing, how the horse and rider work together, and where your legs and hands are located.  I know nobody likes our backside photographed but there is a lot of information we can learn from watching the horse and rider move away from us.

3) Make sure you add a short narrative to the pictures you post.  Give the viewer an idea on what was happening when the photos were taken.  Were you riding a pattern, are you working on an issue in the photo … details are necessary for helping the picture get the right information in words from the person commenting.  Evaluating a photo of a first ride on a 3-year-old horse is way different from evaluating the 100th ride on that same 3-year-old.

So next time you want that picture to equal 1000 words — give more details and share more photos and we all might be able to provide better advice, guidance, and coaching.  For those who want to jump in and say video is the answer — check back for my next blog where I discuss the world of horse videos….you might be surprised on what I have to say.

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Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).

Four Ways To Drive Your Riding Coach Crazy

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)

We are going to take a moment to step away from my educational or thought provoking blogs to have a little bit of fun.  We all like some fun.  Have you ever wondered what you might be able to do to test the patience of your riding coach?  Maybe have your riding instructor pull his or her hair, cry, or grimace.  Come on — you know you have thought about it.

1) Each time he tells you to go left — you choose to go right.

2) You stop in the middle of the lesson and ask your riding coach to loan you $5 dollars because you found this really awesome bargain on some music and need to purchase it right after the lesson.

3) You ask your riding coach to critique your dating profile or better yet — see if he can set you up with the trainer at the barn down the road.

4) You show up to your riding lesson wearing pajamas and tell your coach “I am so exhausted after each lesson I just want to make sure I am ready for bed once I get home.”

Just having some fun here my friends.  Maybe you have some thoughts on how you might drive your riding coach crazy — please share … life is always better with a bit of humor.

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Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).

“Broke,” “Green,” and “Finished” Horses – Is this what we want?

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)

Have you heard about the “Dead Broke Finished Horse” that a friend purchased the other day.  Or maybe you heard about the trainer down the road that has a “Horse that is Broke to Death” that you need to purchase or ride.  I have seen people get giddy with excitement about the prospect of purchasing a “Broke” Horse.  Still others are joyous about getting a “Green” horse.  Some excitedly tell me that they finally have their horse “Broke” and can get some things done now and maybe even move on to getting him “Finished”. Normally about this time when I hear these stores I am grimacing and groaning.  Broke and Green are not terms I want to use to describe the quality horses I work with and here is why.

Many of the online definitions for the word “Broke” center around — having no money; bankrupt; To cause to separate into pieces suddenly or violently; smash;  To vary or disrupt the uniformity or continuity of.

As we move on and look at the online definitions of “Green” we find —  The hue of that portion of the visible spectrum lying between yellow and blue, evoked in the human observer by radiant energy with wavelengths of approximately 490 to 570 nanometers. (Had to throw in the nanometer range for a few of the science geek friends who know me).  I have not seen a naturally green colored horse so far in my life.

For these first two words — nothing in the definitions I just shared with you are useful in describing a good quality horse.  Surely most people know what you might be speaking about but that is the problem — these two words are totally open to interpretation based on experiences.

Finally we come to the description of “Finished” —  Highly accomplished or skilled; polished; Having no more use, value, or potential; washed-up; nothing more can be done with the item. Okay — so I might not mind having a highly accomplished or skilled horse but  I certainly do not want a horse that is “washed-up”.

What is the solution to this problem?  In the next section of this blog I want to share with you how I describe the skill levels of horses.  With this description we shall all understand the ability of horses.

In many things — a picture is worth a thousand words. I shall begin with Figure 1 that summarizes how I describe and categorize horses. I welcome your thoughts and comments and hope this blog is shared and discussed so we can all cease using terms like Broke, Dead Broke, Green, and Finished..

HORSE SKILL LEVELS

Figure 1: Horse Skill Levels

Foundation —  On the ground or in the saddle the horse goes forward calmly, backs, and moves left and right (side to side).  The horse knows to respect your space, stand quietly, tie to a solid object, pick up feet on command, and be groomed — all in a safe manner.  The horse is learning that pressure and release cues/aides mean something and the horse responds.

Mindful — A horse that is mindful has awareness.  Certainly cues and aides are something that the Foundation horse learns. When they reach the mindful level, pre-signals and soft/subtle aides guide the horse.  We might describe a horse being mindful as one that is moving forward and is feeling the rider and knows what is coming and responds with the lightest possible aide.  Once you have a horse at the mindful level you are making that connection that leads to harmony, rhythm, relaxation and balance.  A mindful horse is seeking guidance from the rider to know what it should do next.

Practiced — This is a horse that understands the job and can get the job done.  This horse can easily respond to aides with athleticism, quickness, and agility.  With a practiced horse we no longer see hesitation by the horse.  The practiced horse is one that comes with experience and is working towards that perfect maneuver with the rider.  A practiced horse is frequently limited by the ability of the rider.

Competent — This is a horse that has the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully — sometimes even when the rider is lost in the saddle.  99% of the time the competent horse can respond to the aide without hesitation and achieve success.  A horse at this level excels with a good rider but can also help the less experienced rider succeed.

As I wrote this blog to describe skills of the horse it dawned on me that we might be able to describe riders in much the same way.  I look forward to you sharing and commenting on this information.

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Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).

October 2013 Riding Challenge Exercise

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)

I thought I would start of October 2013 and share with you one of the Exercises from my Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Riding Exercises ebook (available for all eReaders and from my website in pdf format).  Of course you can change things up a bit so take a few minutes and work with your horse through this exercise…I look forward to hearing your comments on how you and your horse succeed in complete this task.  Inserted here is a pattern and then the directions.

 exercise

Pattern:

1)Walk to cone #1.

2)Walk ½ way over (1/2 way means front legs of horse are on one side and back legs are on other side of the log (log = ground pole)) log #1 and side pass complete length of log both ways and then return to the center.

3) Trot over log #2 and trot ½ way over log #3.

4) Over log #3, side pass complete distance of the log both directions and then return to center.

5) Walk to cone #2.  Begin figure 8’s using cone #2 and cone #3 as guides. Walk 2 figure 8’s, trot 3 figure 8’s, walk 1 figure 8, then lope two figure 8’s with simple lead changes.

6) Stop at cone #3 and then walk straight to cone #4.

For added work — perform step 7 —

7) Back 4 steps and then spiral down at the walk going right, then spiral back out and change directions and spiral down to the cone again and stop.

Spacing –

1)Cone one #1 to #2 is 20 feet.

2)Logs are spaced 5 feet apart.

3)Cone #2 to #3 is spaced 28 feet apart

4)   Cone #3 to #4 is 10 feet apart.

 Share your thoughts on how this worked out for you and your horse.

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Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).