Going on from my last post “Engagement – not just for dressage”, I have another video from Equitopia to share with you. I have watched it many times now & find it illustrates engagment & explains the reasons why particularly well.
For me, the most beneficial thing I gained from watching this was regarding flexion. Without proper engagement, lateral flexion is restricted. The horse needs to lift its back in order to open up the vertebrae, particularly the spinal processes, in order to allow lateral flexion. Too often lateral flexion is incorrectly believed to concern the neck, whereas it needs to be concerned with the body. I now understand why it is that many horses I have seen in a particular discipline often have no lateral flexion, as they are often ridden in a hollow frame. Remember, “roundness” is in the back, not the neck. A good illustration of correct engagement can be seen in the trot, where the diagonal pair should be moving together.
These silhouettes provide an illustration of a horse at the trot engaged with diagonal pairs moving together (left) & one disengaged (right). Unfortunately, we often see movement similar to that of the silhouette on the right, rather than the left.
This leads into the other lesson I learned & that is, we need to retrain our eye. We are so used to seeing horses that are not correct, even in the higher levels of competition, that it becomes the norm. Video series such as the Equitopia series help us to not only recognise when horses are correct, but also to understand why it is so important.
Another great video to watch along with the one by Equitopia is the following, which further illustrates & explains engagement:
I hope you you gain as much as I did from both these videos.
Cheers for now & happy riding!