|He's so photogenic...|
In fact, I picked up so many ideas I'm going to break this clinic into a few posts. (Plus, I've been a little buried in work and visitors. So, take this as a way of easing back into writing.)
|Ready for action?|
As I was explaining my PTSD-esque issues with contact and how they stem from this horse's particular issues with it, Birchall investigated my bridle. He suggested I add a flash to my bridle, and crank in my noseband. I explained that I used to ride this horse in a drop (for years), but have switched to a regular noseband because I now feel that I need the feedback from my fussy horse. Birchall gave me a heavily skeptical eyeball (Which, well, yeah. I probably would give myself one, too.), but we proceeded without cranking down my horse's face.
The whip removal was probably the biggest change for me. I've been using my dressage whip much less for forward encouragement in the last few years, and more as a long "pointer finger" to encourage my horse to activate his hind end. However, it turns out that I might have become a little too reliant on my whip to solve issues that my weight, seat, and legs could solve.
|As witnessed by the loud thumping it takes for me to "encourage" my horse into a trot...|
I will say, removing my whip made me think a lot more about which leg I needed to apply, and which leg/seatbone was active. Removing it has also had the interesting side effect of making my horse much hotter to my leg (after an initial warm up period in which I pray for relief).
|Here my legs are considering falling off. At least the horse is forward?|
Once we were through the theory and tack discussion, we moved into the active warm up. Birchall explained he wanted me to encourage Pig to warm up very low and round. This follows a lot of the other advice I've been given recently. I agreed, especially as I've seen a lot of good results using this type of warm up. Birchall suggested I think of this warm up as encouraging my old man to reach down and touch his toes, stretching out his lower back.
|Because. Face it. We all needed that visual.|
As the warm up progressed, we ended up with a nicely stretching horse with a fairly loose and swinging back. I was happy! With 30 minutes in, it was time to move onto the fun stuff!
**Note: At the end of my ride, Birchall commented, "It's really obvious you know this horse really well. I think he's fine in that noseband just the way you have it. I wouldn't change a thing, other than your stirrups and riding without your whip more often." Glad to hear it, dude. I wasn't planning on tightening my noseband anyway!