Thursday, January 15, 2015

Uri Geller

Remember Uri Geller?

He was that "psychic" who used to bend spoons. Uri's secret was that he would bend the hell out of the spoons off stage, so that by the time he got on stage the spoons were flexible enough that they would bend with just the slightest provocation, appearing to bend with just the power of his mind.  Sound familiar?

Of course it does, us dressage riders are always trying to bend things with just our minds.

Usually without success.

Here's the thing: It only works if you bend the hell out of the spoon off-stage first.  Now, I'm not talking about the "R" word*, here.  Although there is often some exaggerated bending necessary for training, it's not sustained or forced.  Forcing or sustaining an exaggerated bend creates tension. We're not looking for tension, we want to just flex and bend the horse until he's as malleable as one of Uri Geller's spoons.

(*Be careful! If you say "Rollkur" three times, a lady in too-tight purple breeches and a cat tee-shirt will appear to tell you everything that's wrong with dressage. ) 

It's a lot like yoga. Nobody needs to contort themselves into the Half Lord of the Fishes pose for anything they actually do during the day (unless you're a yoga instructor), but contorting yourself into those poses at home will help you stretch and strengthen your body so that you can do actual everyday things easily and without hurting yourself. You exaggerate the bend, so that regular bending is no big deal.

It's the same for your horse.  Again, I'm not talking about forcefully sustaining the bend or yanking  and kicking the horse into a position he's not ready for yet. I'm talking about exaggerating the bend in a way that does not compromise the quality of the movement to build suppleness and strength at home.

So, if you're tracking right on a 20 meter circle and things are going pretty well, don't just sit there and bask in your 20m circle glory. Ask for a little more right bend, or ask for a counter-bend to the left, or ask for a haunches in.  If you're riding a shoulder-in on three tracks, why not ask for four tracks?

If your horse can stay on a circle while curled around your inside leg or flexed to the outside when he's relaxed at home, then doing it properly when you're both nervous at a show will be no problem. If you can do the shoulder-in on four tracks at home, the same shoulder-in on three will be a piece of cake at the show.  Embrace your inner Uri and bend the hell out of that spoon. Everyone will think you're psychic.


  1. loved the comment about the 'purple breeches and a cat tee shirt'. :)

  2. My comment disappeared! Nice analogy - but I do NOT wear tight purple breeches!

    1. I only said "rollkur" once!

      Oh, no.... That was twice!

  3. Haven't thought about Uri Geller in a while lol. Nice analogy.

    Actually - that yoga pose is excellent for the health of your insides. All the twists are. :D

  4. haha interesting (and humorous!) way of thinking about it

  5. Good points, well expressed. And it kind of goes along with the theory that you ride at home at a higher level than you actually compete.

    Really good analogy with Uri. Now if we all could learn to be real horse psychics, we'd have it made.

  6. I've always wondered about the bending spoon!! Thank you for sharing that with us. :D I love the analogy too!


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