Last weekend I was on a clinic at Celina Harich´s place with Bröta and it was super good. Since then I have been unwell but now the light and energies have returned and today I was riding in a t-shirt for the first time of the year! Both horses did excellent today, when practising on the things learnt on the weekend clinic. Here is as promised longer report on the material from the weekend clinic.
I have started working Bröta in canter at home. This is a big issue for us and although the canter has improved and is getting calmer and rounder, we are losing our softness. This also severely affects the walk and trot. Hence, the focus of the clinic was on how to proceed with canter but retain our softness.
First and major issue was to regain our softness. We were basically fighting each other and I lost my line so we were falling in and out, Bröta lost her balance and was just going against all aids. I started simple, finding a circle and tried to be as strict as possible with keeping the line. From the line I was using my inside aids, legs and reins, and increasing the circle in shoulder in, asking if Bröta could release the inside shoulder. I collected and asked for school-walk, to help her find her balance inbetween the aids. Then I was sliding over to quarter in and decreasing the circle. The lack of softness was very visible in the quarter in and the inside hindleg was not doing its job properly. At home I have tried to correct this by asking for more energy in the inside hindleg by using my lower inside leg. However, Celina informed me the problem was a lack of chest rotation and my inside lower leg was actually making things worse, preventing the inner hindleg from coming forward. Instead I should slide over on the inside upper leg more when going to quarter in and ask for chest rotation with my upper leg. That worked so much better and we got more softness!
When starting to trot, I first collected to school walk. School walk is very collected walk and it is getting more diagonal and two beated, compared to the free walk with is four beat. From this collection it is quite easy to change the swing in the back, from walk to trot. From collected walk to collected trot there is not a big difference, it is just the swing, and then there are not as many parameters to consider in the transition. This can make it easier for clean, nice transitions. It is just the same but in reverse order when changing from trot to walk, change the swing in the back to the walk-swing.
After canter it is important to go back to a relaxed phase before doing anything else again. I was really struggling with this as Bröta gets so stressed after canter. But I need to use her energy for collection, either in school walk or towards piaffe in the trot. And seriously, make sure to regain the softness after each canter! This is an important lesson for me!
In the second lesson we continued working of softness and movability around my seat. We were working both on circle and straight lines with shoulder in and quarter in. I moved her one step shoulder in, then I asked for the shoulder to come in even more, take it out one step, sliding over to quarter in (making sure to use the inside upper leg and my own seat swing), asking for more quarter in and less quarter in. All the time we focussed on being able to move around my seat. I worked on feeling the trot and the canter in the walk in shoulder in and quarter in. I can feel the trot quite well in walk but feeling the canter is far more difficult for me. I need more practice on this one.
The last lesson we focussed very much on collection. I started in the schooled halt and I was working on shoulder in and quarter in. Then we added the renvers and the pirouette in the shooled halt . Never tried that before but it worked out very well with guidance from Celina. From the schooled halt I asked for a collected shoulder in or quarter in in walk. The moment Bröta got off balance I stopped, asked for the schooled halt again and placing her in between the aids and then asked for more collected walk. I was working on the chest rotation by using my inside upper leg and the swing in my seat. After having stopped the moment we were out of balance, then I could change into doing three quarters of a halt or half halts to regain balance and placing Bröta between the aids. I was using the swing and extra collection for transitions walk-trot-walk and then focussed on swinging the inner hindleg.
Even if we didn’t do too much canter, I got some tips for future work. I need to ask for it from a collected quarter in, preferably from walk, and start the canter from my outside shoulder. Afterwards I need to go down to walk again and get softness and relaxation. I need to use her energy for collection, to make those hindlegs work!