Riding Level 2: Riding without the reins
At famous Cadre Noir school of equitation in Saumur France, riders are put on horseback on long reins or the longeline for two years before they are allowed to pick up the reins. This insures they have a completely independent seat. Most of our students do not have that much time to devote to riding on the longeline, but we still like to check on the quality of your seat in our Riding Level 2 exam:
15. On a longe-line or lead-line, ride with reins dropped at walk & trot.
During this portion of the test you will ride with your hands on your hips, on your head, straight out to the sides and swinging back and forth. A bit like rubbing your stomach while patting your head (though not as hard), this checks to see that you can maintain the rhythm and impulsion of your horse's gait while doing something completely different with your upper body.
Not only is the independance of hands and seat important for your overall riding, it's vital for mounted combat, and especially mounted archery, where the horse must be guided by the legs alone.
To practice this skill, ask your riding instructor to periodically include a longeline session in your lessons. Or if you don't have that luxury, practice on your own, by knotting your reins (to prevent them from hanging low and tripping your horse) and periodically dropping them as you ride. You'll find as you get better at controlling your horse with your legs and seat alone, your horse will become more responsive to those aids and you will both become less dependent on the reins. Your goal is to eventually be able to ride your horse without reins at all.
This brings us to the end of our Riding Level 2 overview. To review the 15 items in the checklist you can search the tag Riding Level 2 in the blog. Next week we'll begin looking at the swordplay requirements for your Blue Spur.
The Cavaliere Program starts up again on February 2nd with Intro to Mounted Combat and our Mounted Combat workshop. Cavaliere classes will be held on February 9th & 16th. For a full list of classes see our Cavaliere Calendar. To register call the front desk at 604 568 9907.