Counter Bend, Leg Yield and Transitions

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This plan is a progressive flat work plan. Start by walking large around the whole school and on the long sides ride a counter bend and then make a smooth transition back to true bend maintaining a even rein contact. Do not be in a hurry when you change for one positioning to the other and really ensure that you are maintaining a correct position and aiding to the left and right. Make sure you are controlling the hind quarters and ensuring the horse does not over bend in the neck but a maintains a uniform and equal bend in front of and behind the saddle. Repeat in walk on both reins.

You can then progress this to riding a leg yield along the wall on the long side in walk, a smooth change of bend then a transition to trot. You want to progressively develop your feel through the change of bend and the transition to feel that key moment when the horse is even in the contact and beautifully straight to make the transition. You can then add a 15m circle in at A and C in trot. Ensure that you downward transitions to walk and well prepared and balanced towards the hind leg legs.

You can then when you feel ready (not necessarily in one session) progress to riding the leg yield along the walk in trot and then change the bend and ride a transition to canter and a 15m circle at A and C. You will have to make sure you maintain an even rhythm in the trot and again straighten the horse between you legs before you canter.

The last addition is to add in circles at E and B also so you make them more frequently. Between each circle you ride the leg yield then straighten the horse into an upward transition, circle, downward transition and leg yield again. You can make in harder again making direct transitions walk-canter, canter-walk.

If you have any problems with this exercice please email me at , I would love to see some video too!

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Progressive Pole Work 1

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This exercise/layout is not meant to necessarily be achieve all in one session, especially for those horses new to poles, young horses or those rehabilitating. I have used the diagram to show the progressive way the exercise can be introduced, you can add another level each week for example, but follow your horses lead and only move on when you have established rhythm , balance and harmony over and in-between the poles at each level.

The first part in 4 poles on the center line with 4.5 ft between each of them (green pen). This distance can vary from ponies to horses, come over in trot and assess whether you think they maybe too close or too far apart and you can always adjust them. If your horse continues to knock the poles, or not keep an even rhythm this can be a sign you need to adjust the distance between them.

Once your horse is keeping a even rhythm over the 4 poles you can choose to introduce further poles on the straight line maybe 6 then 8 then 10 or more! The more poles the longer time your horse spends using their core muscle for stability and posture so the greater benefit. Please remember to introduce them gradually as just like us starting a new gym class they will have aches and pains.

You can then progress to adding in the triangle at each end of the line (purple pen). I would suggest walking through this first as some horses can be a little spooky with the triangle, thinking its a trap. Once confident in walk test your ability to stay straight by then doing it in trot. Then you can progress to walking and or trotting over the tip of the triangle on a circle line (exercise 3). The closer to the tip you are the shorter the stride, the wider out you go the bigger the stride needed. You can add poles either side of the triangle (shown in orange and pink pen) to have more poles on the circle line.

All the building of this plan is now complete and you can move onto, when you are ready, the more complex lines, the shallow loop and change of bend (exercises 5 & 6).

The most important thing is to progress gradually and ensure you have the correct striding for your horse. If you think the poles are placed correctly but you are still knocking them you may just need more energy/impulsion.

If you have any problems with this exercise please email me with a video would be great too!

Video Analysis – Seeing is Believing

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So during these very strange and unknowing times I have been brought back to my very neglected web site and blog. I am constantly nagged by my dear husband for not moving with the times, but basically I love being outside with my clients and their horses not sat at a desk (also a slight techno phob).

But you will all know I do regularly video you all and send them to you to view. This tool is so invaluable and I always appreciate myself when one of my long suffering friends comes to a clinic or competition and is able to video for me. All high level sports people from a variety of disciplines use video analysis and it is so very helpful to all of us for many reasons.

The first and the most important is that it never ever looks as bad as it feels. This realisation is brilliant at giving us all confidence that actually we can do it, and we are not making an absolute plonker of ourselves!

The next is that we can relate what we are feeling when riding to what we are seeing. This is best done either instantly within a training session or straight after whilst fresh in the riders mind. This can work in two ways, either when it feels nice/good we realise actually things need disturbing (my dear trainer Andrews favourite word) or actually when we feel its not as good its actually a positive disturbance to produce a better way of going. If we don’t disturb things our riding and the horses way of going stagnates and we do not improve in our riding skills and the horse does not develop a better way of going.

The last is that we learn to self evaluate (urrhhh I even hate saying it) and reflect which is so incredibly important when training ourselves and our horses. The ability to look at the good and the bad points is so important. A little secret I will share is as I drive away from a lesson with my lovely clients I always think, How did it go? Did I communicate effectively? Was the exercise appropriate for the horse and rider? Did it achieve what I intended? and then I start to plan what I could do better next time.

Many of you I teach do this already, probably without realising! When I come to teach you, you may say to me , well I practised and this was good but I could not quite get this quite right, bingo! You did it right there. The ability to evaluate accurately when riding, I believe is more important than other sports as we deal with a whole living animal, and the need for us to control our emotions is essential to think logically and calmly.

So I challenge you firstly either with or without video, evaluate your performance after each time you ride. You can do it by yourself with a partner or friend or write it down? Secondly view my video of my first British Dressage test with my young cob and pick a good point and some thing we need to improve and then next time I will share my analysis of the video and we can compare.

Take care, stay safe, Lots of Love Christine and Wallace the Supercobalob x

Christine Gay and Wallace 18th March 2020