Last night JLE introduced me to a new training tool that was developed by a local dressage trainer: The Equicube.
The Equicube is a four pound rubber cube with handles that you hold along with your reins. One of the things it’s supposed to help with is making the rider use more core and more legs to get what you need, instead of cheating with the reins. And trust me, I had no idea I was cheating quite that badly…
When JLE first handed me the Equicube I had a hard time getting a hold of it and the reins. It’s a bit like ridinig with a crop across the withers in both hands (only it’s weighted and you can’t slip your hands further apart). You need to keep your thumbs flat on the top like you would with a rein instead of crunched around the handle (this tenses your wrist and arm). This wasn’t an issue for me as I’ve got pretty good hand position, even if they’re not always the softest. What was hard for me was geting the rein position right. It is extremely hard to shift rein length when holding the Equicube so if you tend to let your reins slip like I do, you’re going to have problems at first.
The first ten minutes I was riding with this felt like a disaster. Dandy had his neck so far up in the air and was so blocked in the back that I had to keep pushing the thought that he was going to go up from my mind. I couldn’t use my reins to make him soften at all. All I could do was keep a steady resistance in them and apply my leg. At first, JLE kept telling me to not be so hesitant (she noticed the ewe neck and the resistance as well), put on more leg and make him go forward, don’t be timid. I had to then admit that it wasn’t that I was timid, but that I just didn’t have any more leg to give!
I couldn’t believe how much I had been cheating with my hands and how weak my legs actually were. The Equicube was now forcing me to use my core to get a true forward back to front feeling and when we finally got it I felt the sky open up and trumpets sounded… okay, maybe there was no fanfare but you get the idea. The trot work we got once Dandy was listening to my legs was by far the best trot work I’ve ever gotten.
While I didn’t feel confident holding the cube and working on my crappy canter transitions, I did try to carry over the same feelings. Keeping my hands steady and above the withers, keeping them together, and using more legs. And when my lesson was over, I could feel the burn in my legs and in my abbs.
This is definitely a very interesting training tool and I’m looking forward to using it again. Hopefully I continue to see good results and I can sucessfully transfer over the skills I learn to not riding with the Equicube.