Snippets from the clinic this weekend
Our riding clinic this weekend went well, overall.
We spent the first day establishing some baseline exercises and responses with the clinician. As mentioned, some of the highlights were some steps of collected walk. And marching around a water-covered arena like a champ. Small victories.
The second day we really went to work, with a little more lateral work and changes within the gaits.
We played a little with shoulder in and haunches in at the walk. Or, more correctly, with moving his shoulders and haunches independently. We weren’t connected or consistent enough to really call it a shoulder in/haunches in. We also did some leg yields along the wall and “half pass”—more like a leg yield with flexion in the direction we were going, but he did start thinking a little bit more about where his body was.
We also some collected walk, trot, walk transitions, working towards shortening the number of trot steps between transitions. The ultimate goal with this exercise, as other riders were able to accomplish over the weekend, was just one step of trot—which in turn led to better hind end engagement and some very nice half step trot work for some of the more advanced riders. With Fin, who hasn’t had to do quick/repeated transitions at all, I was happy just to see them become progressively more relaxed as he started to figure out how to step into the trot without it being A Big Deal, and then back down to a relaxed walk.
We also did a little bit of lengthening at the trot, although my balance fell apart a little bit just as he was starting to really lengthen.
We did a tiny bit of canter, but honestly it was just a mess. We’ve been cantering in the other arena, which allows for bigger circles, and we hadn’t been able to ride much—or canter at all—for the week leading up to the clinic. And our transitions aren’t sharp on the best of days. Everything together just made for a mess at the canter, and after a couple attempts we abandoned that idea because it wasn’t going to be productive.
The third day was a little rough because Fin was pretty much over the whole clinic thing by that point and I was having some difficulties as well. The clinician stepped the intensity down quite a bit, and we had some really good moments in there, so it was still helpful—but I probably should have just signed up for two days.
Overall, he was really, really good. We asked him to do more than he has done, and some of the exercises were entirely new for him. Transitions between exercises also came much more rapidly than he’s used to doing. He tried really hard to understand and deliver whatever was being asked, even when he didn’t entirely understand it.
The video below is from the second day of the clinic and has a few snippets of some of the walk/trot work. We’ve come a long way in the past few months, and I really am very happy with him.
We’re spending this week just hacking out in the pasture for a little bit of a change of pace and to relax a little bit after the hard work (mental and physical) of the clinic. Then it’s back to work—if we can get our canter transitions sharper and the canter a little more balanced in the dressage arena, we might shoot for a schooling show in April or May.
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