Newton`s Cradle

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This cartoon made me laugh the other day – as a science geek when I was young I loved playing with our Newton`s Cradle. It did give me an idea for an analogy to use with some clients though.

In a Newton`s cradle the energy is generated by lifting one ball, and letting it swing back down, sending waves of energy through the row of suspended balls until the energy projects the ball at the opposite end out.

Now compare this to a horse. We generate the energy in the hindquarters, and we want it to flow through the body so that it comes out in a forwards motion. Now, if you have a slack rein contact, or don`t half halt or use the seat, you are creating a gap between Newton`s balls. (I can`t actually think of another way to say that…) which means the energy you generate in the hindquarters is lost, or at least diluted.

As you know, riding is a balancing act, of keeping the horse between your leg and hand, or between your right and left. So as a rider if you can imagine the horse as a Newton`s cradle, and ride with a smooth flow of energy from the hindquarters forwards then the horse will move more easily, fluidly, and straight.

Likewise, if you can imagine the energy flowing from your leg, their hindquarters, to your seat and then to the hands, in a knock-on effect, then transitions will become more balanced. I also find it useful to think of this flow of energy when performing lateral work. When, in leg yield, you ask the horse to move over from the inside leg you should allow the outside shoulder over as the inside hind leg steps under, in a smooth flow. If you let the shoulder over before the hind leg then momentum is lost and the horse loses balance and falls onto the forehand. If you block the shoulder when the inside hind leg steps under then you don`t move sideways and the horse becomes confused.

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Next time you ride, have a think about your aids and the way you apply them to see if you are encouraging the flow of energy and movement akin to Newton`s cradle, or if you are blocking, or creating voids for, the energy. Let me know if it helps!

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