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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