Thursday, November 27, 2014

Auditing Gems

Yes. That's a Norwegian Fjord stallion. Yes, he's adorable.
I love auditing clinics with "big name" trainers. I'm too poor to shell out to ride with one at this stage in our training (maybe if we were looking at showing FEI, but my trainer has done an excellent job on her own so far!), but I think there's a lot of great knowledge to be picked up from watching other riders. A lot of people struggle with similar problems in slightly different ways, so many times I'll find a solution to an issue I'm having with Pig, a new exercise to work a weak point, or a better way of looking at a training problem. So, when I got notice that Luis Reteguiz-Denizard was coming back to town, I made room on my calendar.

The best part about auditing this clinic is that Lou is my trainer's trainer. That makes his teaching style incredibly accessible to me, as it is so similar to my trainer's. Many times I have audited a clinic with Lou only to have a bit of Nancy's teaching come through a little clearer. Plus, it's always fun to see your trainer get a lesson. Right?

Here are some gems I picked up from this weekend's clinic:
  • Honesty off the leg means the horse reacts to the leg with correct movement in the stifle and hock, not with speed. Make sure when you're applying your leg that the horse is stepping out correctly, on both sides. The horse in question was very one sided, lazy on a right hind. Lou was helping the rider feel what equal action in both hind legs felt like.
  • Short sides are just shorter long sides, and should be ridden just as straight as a long side. (I'm absurdly guilty of forgetting this.)
  • Don't forget the outside hind in the shoulder in. You have to make sure he is sitting and supporting with that leg, or you'll push him into a leg yield. Support the outside, push the inside.
  • Presenting a horse in a double tells your instructor that you are ready to increase the level of feel and responsibility needed to ride in a more advanced way. You, as a rider, have to be more aware of yourself and the horse.
  • "You've gotta want more out of him, because right now I feel like I, as your instructor, want more than you. And that makes me cranky." -- This is a great thing to remember, no matter who you're lessoning with. If you aren't ready to ask your horse for more (acceptance, obedience, bend, impulsion, understanding), why are you in lessons? It's not fair to your horse or your instructor.
  • Don't work your leg out of rhythm with your seat. (Another big problem for me, and probably anyone who rides a lazy horse).
  • Know the difference between an engaging half half, and a disengaging half halt. You want a low neck (more horse in your hand)? Stifles are more disengaged than engaged. You want a higher neck (horse off your hand)? Stifles need to be more engaged. The need for engagement was demonstrated by a Fjord stallion with a tendency to get heavy in front and lazy behind. He needed more engagement to pick up the front of himself. The need for disengagement was demonstrated by my trainer and her Friesian/Dutch gelding, who tends toward overengagement (think constant piaffe instead of walking, or cantering). Disengaging his stifles lowered his head/neck and kept him in a rideable and thinking frame, rather than being so engaged he could barge through half halts.
After the clinic I headed home to ride my group of green ponies and Pig. The clinic inspired me to try working on Pig's canter collection a bit more. Lou warned against keeping a lazy and claustrophobic horse in collection too long, which resonated with me. So we worked on 3-4 strides of super collection followed by 5-10 of a more working canter frame. This exercise really amped Pig up, keeping him solidly in front of my leg. In fact, we had to have a few discussions about what I actually meant by "half halt." Whoops!

Anyone else audit a clinic recently?

17 comments:

  1. Sounds like a productive day! I love that. Type of exercise for working on collected canter- I usually collect him into a really short, pirouette type canter each time we cross centerline on a 20m circle then ride forward. It helps me get the right feeling without Aragon breaking to a trot because I can't maintain that level of collection for long periods of time (yet). Good luck :)

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    1. Yes! Collecting on a circle super helpful! I typically try to work on collection on the circle. It's easier to tell if we're keeping engagement levels.

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  2. That last point would have been wonderful to see. Fiction can be both - not engaged and very overly engaged (the same piaffe-every-stride-rather-than-walk). I would have loved to have seen the explanation for solving those issues :) Sounds like an eventful clinic!

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    1. I think the disengaging half halt involved more halt, without the "go" given from the legs, like you would when engaging. It was really interesting to see!

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  3. I want to audit clinics so bad! Pity all those at my barn are done in Germany so other only can I not participate cos I feel my riding is below par but my grasp of that language is 100% subpar and would be a waste of money if i were to try...sadly also means I can't even help audit nor scribe when competitions as Germany is prevalent lingo there too. #sadtimes

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    1. Oh that's frustrating! I learned German in school purely so that I could translate a dressage book. But even so, I'm a slow follower of the spoken language, and haven't spoken it in years. I'm super rusty! I can't imagine trying to ride or follow a clinic!!

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    2. I'll be honest & say I haven't tried as although I have tried to learn Germany multiple times I get bogged down in the grammar & give up. I'm sure there are francophone clinicians about, but i don't hear about them as the teachers at my yard are more germano-oriented so they invite people they want to ride with/learn from which is completely understandable. I am in the minority on my yard with my craptastic German *blush*

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    3. Haha! Well ... I find French MUCH harder than German. It's a personal thing. :)

      That said, there's a pretty big difference in the "French style" of dressage and the "German style." It's kind of interesting. I always thought the French style seemed more tb friendly.

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  4. Lots of good takeaways from that clinic! I enjoy auditing clinics, too- I feel like it's less stressful and I can focus more on what's being taught.

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  5. I loved auditing! I rode with a BNT (well, two) for the last two years but still audited during that time. Now I'll be auditing quite a bit more. Sounds like this clinician was great!

    A few strides of super collection and then going out is much better for them physically than staying in it for too long. Too long means that they'll get tired and start compensating which may make the collection incorrect. Rico was the king of being able to collect REALLY well but only for a short period of time before he shut down. We lived in that exercise you described until he was ready for pirouettes. Then he had to learn to stay there! But by then he was stronger so there ya go :)

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    1. I think riding with BNT is almost necessary when you're working at the level you and Rico were. If Pig and I ever get up there, I'm sure we will, too. It's tough to justify the expense when our trainer is doing a fabulous job right now.

      I agree completely about not staying in collection for too long. I know how hard it is for me to keep my weight lifting form when I'm tired, and I assume it is much the same for horses! Guinness is absurdly easy to collect at the canter, and sometimes he'll collect too far and get stuck. I have to really watch that, so the couple of strides in and then back out again helps me keep his legs moving and him thinking forward. At the same time, he can be difficult to convince to sit at the trot. I think that's a strength issue. He's always had a weak trot. It's getting better, though.

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  6. what a great clinic - must have been awesome watching your trainer get a lesson too! (also, i LOVE fjords. just saying).

    that point about keeping your legs in rhythm with your seat really stood out to me - mostly bc i am a fairly noisy rider and that idea might help me shush up a bit. anyways, tho - really cool! i want to start auditing more clinics bc there's just SO MUCH to learn from watching and listening... maybe over the winter?

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    1. I have a serious issue with that. I think it's because my horse is so damn lazy. I find myself swinging away with my legs, while my seat is 10x slower. Ugh.

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  7. Those are such great things to have brought to mind! Thank you for posting what you learned! You blog is always a great source of information to me. I'm going to go audit Garrit-Claes Bierenbroopspot this weekend. I wanted to ride in it, but neither horse is really fit enough right now. They say he works horses and riders pretty hard. I think it's better to audit the clinician first anyway.

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    1. I agree with auditing before spending the money yourself. I don't have the money to throw around on trainers that may not be a good fit for me or my horse! Hope you write about the clinic, I'm always interested to hear about new trainers!

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