Thursday, October 1, 2015

Clinic Video

Watching dressage is a lot like watching grass grow or paint dry.  It is not the most exciting equestrian sport for sure.  But for you hard-core dressage enthusiasts (like me), here is a link to my evaluation ride -- our first ride -- at the clinic.  It is circles and circles and circles.  Lucy doesn't look as tense in the video as she felt -- except for the canter work at the end.  She really throws her head around and worries in those transitions.  The spook-scoot-buck happens just past the 24 minute mark.

Sandy teaches transitions from your seat.  The idea was for me to ask when one of her front legs was on the ground by squeezing with my calf.  Additionally, Sandy teaches us to never brace; she does not want the supple movement of the horse's back to be compromised.  In the transition, the leg which hangs softly against the side of your horse squeezes with the upper calf and stills -- a pause in the following movement of the lower leg.  Eventually, this momentary stillness becomes the primary aid.  Thinking about the canter aid, we slide our outside leg back -- kind of a windshield wiper movement.  But, we also slide that leg back for leg yield, half pass and other upper level movements.  The stilling of your leg says "transition", your upper calf says "now", and your hand receives the energy with a light ring-finger half halt before and after the transition.

My biggest take-away from this clinic (and there were many) was the expectation of prompt clear transitions between gates.  I had been asking for my downward transition from trot to walk by sitting, slowing my seat, sitting a bit heavier and we gently dropped into walk.  Nope.  Not any more.  We need to transition from an active trot to an active walk and it has to be Bam!  Part of what we worked on in the video was teaching Lucy that when I sit the trot it doesn't mean slow down.  I have her conditioned to think we are going to gradually make the transition.  The same is true for the walk to trot, upward, transition.  A gradual build to a forward trot isn't acceptable anymore.  She's not a young, green horse (all I've ever owned before Lucy).  She can go from zero to sixty in a stride; I need to expect that (and be comfortable with the surge of power).  As Sandy said, Lucy is an "ambitious" horse -- she likes to go; forward is not a challenge (relaxation and patience are).

By Sunday morning, Lucy and I were in sync.  She felt amazing -- controlled power, like driving a Ferrari (well, I've never driven one, but one can imagine).

I love, love, love this horse.  And, the workshop was awesome.  Even with the heat and the stinky cat-pee smelling fly bait dousing, it was awesome.


  1. You two look great! What a team.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I have a much better idea who Lucy is. I love that she keeps her poll at the highest point of her neck almost all the time, just occasionally coming ahead of the vertical, which is much preferable to ducking behind the bit. I don't know how hot out it was, but I was getting tired just watching (and you'd mentioned you had only ridden her once in the last 3 weeks!). I like how you said she's such a good girl after she gave you a charley horse. That's love.

  3. nicely ridden. I think you rode that spook very well too. I love she settled right back into work.


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