Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fad Attack

 I appreciate all the feedback about Levi :) He's been great so far!

Thanks to a Facebook post by Virtual Eventing Coach, highlighting how Jimmy Wo disproves of the 'cruising position' fad that eventers seem to be very taken with, my post will focus on that.

I for one can't stand it (haha, pun) and was relieved that a respected professional rider & coach dislikes it as well.

For those non eventers, or not familiar with the cruise position...

...This is it. All joints locked, heels up,  butt and crotch far ahead of the pommel and hands braced on the neck.

Does anyone else see the glaring flaws in this? Am I crazy? ARE YOU SERIOUS EVENTERS? Why. Why. Why?

All my life I was taught the 2 point was the most effective position for the gallops between fences....

....Butt off the saddle but not ahead,  knees and ankles bent, body slightly crouched and forward, hands either on neck or floating.

Effective. Safe.

People argue that the cruise position gets the rider off the horses back and allows them to conserve energy galloping.

I disagree. Does the 2 point not do the same thing? I don't see my ass in the saddle at all.

If anything the rider, precariously tottering, barely in the saddle will go AGAINST the horses natural gallop motion.

From experience, I can atest that this cruise position is crap. During the Brian Sabo USEA riders certification clinic, my instructor (not Brian), forced me to cruise and it was the most frustrating uncomfortable thing I've ever done in my life. I have a strong core & legs but there is NO WAY that I could stay with a horse balancing over them like that. Yankee was horribly confused, thrown off and couldn't make distances at all with me sitting above him, then coming down to jump. Perhaps I was doing it wrong, but she just kept telling me "GET MORE AHEAD, more more more" And I was like, DAFUQ. Have we regressed?

Secondly, with your hands pressed into the neck, ALL your weight resting on them, how do you have control of the reins? In 2 point I don't need my hands to balance and I'm free to lengthen and shorten as I please, QUICKLY and not disturb my position. To change rein length or control the horse, you MUST take your hands away from the neck, thus removing your stability.

Thirdly, the riders weight is greatly shifted when they come down to jump a jump. Wouldn't you think this would throw the horse off MORE than simply staying in 2 point and just releasing your hands over a jump?

Lastly, the cruise position makes it very easy for a rider to fall if a horse suddenly shifts, spooks, etc. With ALL your joints completely locked, there is no room for wiggling. Literally.

I just can't see a point in it.

I tried it and it just didn't work for us. I don't see how the mechanics of it truly 'save' the horse energy and how it could possibly be more effective. Perhaps it really works well for others. What are you opinions? Have you tried it? Do you like it? Hate it?


  1. This is how I was taught to gallop on the track. More than anything, it made galloping 5-10 horses a day doable. It's way less exhausting for the rider. That said, I would absolutely fall flat on my face if I tried to keep that posistion while on a xcountry course with any sort of terrain. It has its place--and it's not for eventers!

    1. Totally off topic, but I'm envious that you got to gallop TBs. Every young girl's dream... what was that series I used to read... With Ashleigh, and I was always confused as to the spelling of her name...

      Just Googled. Apparently the series was just called "Thoroughbred". Loved them! And totally forgot about them until just now...

    2. I have every single one. Love. Jealous.

  2. Very interesting, glad to see that more disciplines then my own have bad fad positions too.

  3. I'm no eventer. Not even close. But I do ride, and I don't see how it would allow the horse to conserve energy... you weigh what you weigh. You aren't going to suddenly weigh less if you contort yourself on your horse's neck. Sure, you can be "lighter" on your horse, as in, not burden him so much, but this would be achieved by being out of your saddle in a nice 2 point, going with his motion so he doesn't have to struggle against you. I fail to see how leaning on/bracing against his neck will do him any favours.

    But again... not an eventer, so who knows.

  4. I've 'cruised' when I'm tired on a hunter pace. After 2+ hours of riding (either at a gallop or a walk) I was super, super tired and sort of fell into this position naturally. It was easier for me stay off my mare's back. She wasn't bothered by it. I didn't try to jump out of this position- that seems counter intuitive?

  5. I'll use the cruising position for the last set of 3 x 10 gallops on flat ground. By the third set, my ankles are generally killing me. In Texas, we had no hills, so we had to do a TON of galloping in our flat field to be ready for a CCI** in CO. I wouldn't do it on a spooky horse, and I don't do it on the XC course. On the other hand, I use very little rein to get the pony back during gallops, and what I do use I press against his neck so he braces against himself if he is going to be like that. He usually stops after a tug or two.

    For the record, I also learned this position from a former jockey, although have seen it used in coaching by people such as Clayton Fredericks, Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, and even the O'Connors. Obviously they can't all be doing something wrong.

    It comes down to having another tool in your toolbox. I can use this position on my steady upper level, educated horse, but if I had a spooky or strong, green horse? No way.

  6. I always used the 'classic; 2 point on my first horse (Dually), but when I started going prelim with Ringo he got wayyyy too strong for me and ran off with me a few times. I couldn't put him in a stronger bit because he was too sensitive and would get more wound up and short in the neck. Gina Miles taught me the cruising position, and while I fully admit that it WAS incredibly awkward at first, I ultimately found it to be a lot more effective for him, mainly because I could (as Alighieri said) stop him by bridging the reins VERY STRONGLY instead of pulling against him. I prefer the 'classic' position, but if the horse goes better in the cruising position? Then yeah, I'm going to use it.

  7. I think its just a way to help the people who aren't fit enough, or they aren't confident enough. It's just like jumpers laying on the horses back, with heels up, and not in balance.

  8. Not a fan either. I prefer the Mark Todd position!

  9. having never used it, my only thought (which seems to be consistent with what comments I hear) is that eventers are borrowing it from the track.

    I'd probably echo the sentiments that it's a tool to put in our box and use when appropriate - like if our horse responds well to it, or we're about to die of exhaustion on a hunt. Makes sense. But I can't imagine it being a panacea for all riders and all horses on every course. Though I've never heard anyone proclaim that it was....

  10. Interesting discussion. I'm not an eventer, but have been wondering what this position was about when I saw pictures / videos of it. It seems counter-intuitive - that it would be harder for the rider and horse to stay in balance together with the centre of gravity higher.

  11. It's how you gallop horses on the track. I guess this is what I'd call what I did during gallop sets up and down the hills in OH on Jake. After he learned to rate himself. Why I used it, my right ankle sucks and would ALWAYS collapse halfway through cross, (one time on jump 4 of my last PC Rally!) this rendering my right light as useful as a limp noodle. The only way to keep it from doing that was galloping like I was working horses on the track.
    It's useful for some things, and I'm glad I know how to do it because I did this on a Hunt too when we were in the last chase!

  12. I also agree with using this on the track, it allows me to push my body past what I might be able to other wise, it also allows for better control of the horse as they pull against themselves instead of you. That said, I don't think there is one size fits all position for xc. To have a fluid and flowing course your position must also be fluid, cruising here, prepping there etc. Riding many horses a day, at the track, schooling, and at shows my knees would explode if I did all two point, but what it really boils down to is finding what works for you and the horse you are currently riding.