Well, friends, the first mini clinic of the season began with the most amazing weather. I was proud to host a great group of people interested in furthering their horsemanship and developing feel and timing with their horses.
To start with, we discussed setting up the horse with clarity in right and left turns on the ground. Emphasis was placed on correct body positioning to allow the horse to move freely, and setting him up to be light and free in the shoulders and neck.
The following photos were taken by Jessica Leidall and Pamela Bell.
Lisa and Gus working on a float, circling to the left. Their challenge is to get Gus’ body a little rounder without blocking his forward movement.
Some people found a few simple position changes were all they needed to help their horses understand the connection between opening their leading hand and sending their horse in that direction.
Amy contemplates sending Rose to the right. She is standing to her left and opening her right leading hand so as not to block Rose’s shoulders on that right turn.
Denise and Dakota are working on keeping Dakota moving with all 4 feet equally. He tends to get stuck spinning little tight circles, so Denise is working at keeping his feet going so he can experience lightness in his shoulders without being pulled on. He made some nice changes throughout the day.
Next we moved on to some mounted exercises with a little more clarity on working on a float under our belts. With left and right turns more solid, we spent some time working on halting straight, leaving straight, and turning left and right without dropping a shoulder, all while on a float. Riders worked on setting the horse up to succeed by maintaining alignment in their bodies and getting in time with the inside front foot to direct it through the turn.
Amy works on timing up with Rose’s right front foot for a turn to the right. Rose looks pretty straight and happy to be going where Amy directs her.
Riding straight on a float. These horses are following the feel of their rider’s bodies – riding straight where these girls are looking. It’s so important to have these little key pieces down before moving ahead to faster gaits and more advanced manoeuvers.
Amy and I talk about hip flexors. Opening through the hip for a turn allows the horse to find and fill that space, making for a turn without resistance and with the optimum balance. For us as riders to achieve lightness and balance in our horses, we need to be constantly developing self awareness, strength, and flexibilty for correct alignment.
Everyone spreads out to work on their straight lines and turns.
Afterwards, we gathered in the barn for snacks and lemonade. These beautiful flowers were brought straight from Jessica’s garden. The carved wooden pig is full of cookies – I just couldn’t resist. I tried to fill it with fruit once, but it didn’t seem right 😉
We had a great time and made some great changes within the group. Wonderful people and very willing horses. Thanks to all who came, and I look forward to building on what was learned in the first session.
Til next time,