Thursday, July 3, 2014

Young trainer, young horses

Last  weekend, we had our first schooling show of the season. Maddy was not present -- not because she does not support our shows, but becasue I sent her down to Hassler Dressage to audit the USEF Young Horse Training Session. Below are some clips from her notes.

June 28-29, 2014

After two days of watching some amazing young horses, I had pages of notes but I was able to narrow down the information to about a page. Although the clinic was focused on the young horse , the information can be applied to any horse to help a more through, supple and obedient horse.

-     Your aids are a conversation with the horse- sometimes you whisper and sometimes you have to yell, but you should never just sit there.  You are the horse’s inspiration.

-     Be clear and be precise. You are the horses only coach.

-      Always ask questions- does the horse need more suppleness? More engagement?

-      Don’t just visit exercises . Make sure the horse understands what you are asking. Especially once a horse has gotten a concept. For example, the horse must first learn the concept of shoulder in and then you need to define it and make it crisp. Details are very important but don’t punish the horse when not satisfied, just ask again.

-     Horses don’t just have three gaits, they have six. Know the horse in each gait. Does the horse need more bend in trot left vs. right? Does he/she need more straightness in canter right vs. left? ETC. Need to understand the horse beneath you.

-     Tempo work should be ridden through the whole body.  And there should  be forward thoughts but not fast. The hindlegs need to help move through a supple back but  don’t forget about the shoulders and topline. The topline should stay supple so the power can come through. Horses use their neck for what the back should be doing.

-     Bringing the horse back in tempo work should be creating energy not stopping it. If the horse has good forward energy use lines to harness it ( like corners) . Subtle tempo changes help the suppleness.

-     EVERY transition should be CRISP. Be  like a spark plug. The horse should always be thinking “What does my rider want from me next?”  the first steps is when the dance begins. Don’t just let the horse slide through the movements. Ask them to step, and each foot fall is a step.

-    Halts are transitions for balance.

My choice to send Maddy to Hasslers instead of being at our schooling show was clearly the right one. I'm pretty happy with the results of Maddy's weekend. Her training horses have looked great this week.