Session 1 – 6 riders (Taylor Ann Adams, Victoria Birdsall, Chase Boggio, Lillie Keenan, Karen Polle, and Ali Wolff)
Started on the rail, with walk-trot transitions, being sure riders were weighting their heels. He had them alternate btw posting and 2 point, focusing on not changing their horses’ pace. Then had them halt periodically to get the horses listening and reminded the riders to NOT drop their hands when halting.
GM moved onto lateral work, riders were tracking to the left; he had them execute a shoulder in. Riders were to secure the haunch on the rail first and being sure not to lose it to the outside as well as not to over bend the horse to the inside. The neck and body should be bent uniformly, only about 15-30 degrees off the rail.
All exercises were repeated equally both directions of the ring.
Moving on to the canter, GM wanted the riders to instigate the canter transition with their inside leg, canter for 7-8 strides, then walk, it isn’t the duration of the transition but the frequency of them, it creates discipline in the horse. On the downward transition, you want to set up your horse with your seat and back, not just your hand.
Changing direction, they held the counter canter, then repeated the walk-canter transition exercise this direction. Focusing on keeping the horses straight during the canter depart, being sure to overuse the inside rein and bend them inside, keeping horse on the outside rein.
Similar to the exercise at the trot early in the session, GM had the riders alternate btw 2 pt and 3pt contact at the canter, 10-15 strides in 2pt, and then 5-6 strides in 3pt, being sure not to drop their hand (horses’ head/neck) or let them get fast. Lengthening the canter in each seat, in 2pt, “just think it”.
GM got on Ali’s horse, a beautiful 8yr old grey mare, which was quite heavy on the forehand. He started schooling her, working in the counter canter on a figure of eight and flying changes, keeping the tempo slow, he commented that this was difficult and uncomfortable for the mare, but that she needed to be taught. Through this work, you could see her lowering her croup and her forehand lightening and coming up.
GM demonstrated 2pt and 3pt contact in the canter and using both hands to turn, working a figure of eight, and compressing the circle.
Afterwards, had her in a working trot with a longer rein, allowing her to stretch, NOT bore on the bit, if she did this, he would take his rein up and back (the half –halt). He wants a horse active in their hind legs, thinking forward.
GMisms for the DAY
“Relaxation through submission”
“She is a woman…submission is more difficult with women.”
“Every horse is interesting to work.”
“Jumping is the easy part….anyone can jump”
“Every horse has resistances, they are different….must accept leg, seat, half seat, hands, voice, etc”
He ended the lesson at the walk, with different and frequent turns, using both hands, turning the horse’s shoulder, he stressed this was NOT a bending lesson. Wanting to preserve the impulsion of the walk, “1, 2, 3, 4…1, 2, 3, 4”, lively and active behind.
Session 2 – 6 riders (Haley Barnhill, Molly Braswell, Kate Haley, Anne Hallene, Brittany Hurst, and Kelsey Thatcher)
Had riders start by checking their tack.
- Being sure it tight but not too tight
- Reminding the check it often
- Length – Flat and Jumping
- Always put back to flat stirrup length after jumping
Foot position in Stirrup
- Toe touch outside branch
- Outside branch leading
Had riders adjust their position in the saddle, being sure to have seat to the front of the saddle and legs back of the girth.
Review and Repeat
- Look up at a point
- Lean forward slightly out of the saddle
- Weight heel
- Drop back in the front of the saddle
- Keeping leg back of girth
Then he had them go through each gait, focusing on their position, at the halt, walk (5 degrees off vertical), sitting trot (similar to the walk), posting trot (do NOT post too high), canter (fixed seat – same as sitting trot), and galloping (jumping position).
Similar to group 1, he had them work walk-trot transitions; this softens them to half halts, and then had them ride a serpentine the width of the ring, both directions, keeping the same pattern and horse straight. He was quick to remind the riders to NOT see-saw on the horse’s mouth to get their head down, saying “left, right, left, right….is cheap equitation”.
Tracking right, he had them put their horses in haunches in (left leg back), then putting them straight, then with right leg back, putting them in haunches out, and alternating back and forth, always putting them straight first. This is the beginning of leg yielding.
At the canter, he had the riders alternate btw the canter and counter canter through a simple change at the walk, keeping the horse straight. Holding the counter canter, riders changed direction with a half turn in reverse, then half turn, tracking to the right, put the horses in shoulder in, then straight and riders in galloping position, then collect (fix the seat) to shoulder in, continuing to alternate.
A change of rein across the diagonal, he had them do a flying change, keeping horse straight, with outside leg/rein and reminded them to not sit down for the change nor over bend to the inside, and as usual, repeat both directions.
GM got on Molly’s bay horse, to demonstrate putting the horse on bit.
- This is done back to front, NOT front to back
- Must keep horse in front of your leg
- Prompt and frequent transitions
- “Push the head down, NOT pull [it]”
GM made a point of how he likes to cool his own horse down, as it “creates a partnership”. He keep the horse in a proper free walk, with a nice swing in her back and keeping the “amplitude of stride”.
As if the day couldn’t get any better, Anne Kursinski rode Amis de Kanaan, a 9yr old chestnut mare, whom she has had for approximately 3 months. She was explaining how important flatwork was in developing the horse.
Some of the take away notes of the afternoon,
- Short reins, long arms
- Elastic arms
- Increase/decrease aids
- “Repeat it, don’t have a fit”
- “Get inside the horse, NOT on top of the horse”
- “Ask for a lot, be happy with a little, reward A LOT”
Sorry these don’t go along with the corresponding pics, etc. I hope they are enjoyable and helpful!