Monday, 2 February 2009

Dressage Course with Peter Madison Greenwell

Danni has been attending regular clinics with international dressage instructor Peter Madison Greenwell and this weekend Peter again made a flying visit to Cornwall to teach at St Piran's Stud just across the road from us.

Danni has been worked to strengthen and engage his back, over the last couple of years and we have worked on his paces with the aim of producing a loose, swinging, elastic stride, taking his energy through a softly swinging back. By the summer of 08 Peter thought he was ready to come up more in front, raising the shoulders and getting him to "sit" more into his paces to produce an more uphill outline. So with this history in place for you this was Danilon's clinic report.

We had ordered a new El Cabollo de Espania continental saddle for Danni from Peter's new range and it was especially measured to fit him by Master Saddler, Jill Thomas who produced an accurate template. The Template, supported by extensive photographs Danni's back were then e-mailed up to Peter. And then all we had to do was wait.........would it come for our course - well yes it did Peter drove up to Walsall to collect our order and brought it along ready for us to present ourselves on the first morning!

We had booked two sessions with Peter and thank you Val for letting us use your sessions to give Danni an hour and twenty minutes under Peter's watchful gaze each day. Charles and Pete always have a lengthy conference about progress as I work in and once I had moved up into canter Peter judged it time to start work. My personal idiosyncrasy is to ride everywhere with an inward bend Peter again reminded me to keep Danni absolutely straight on the line of the circle and not over flex him to the inside. Whilst Peter liked Danni's relaxed, rhythmic canter, he wanted much more engagement and sit, pointing out that the energy would never truly travel through the horse if he was lateral flexed, leading to the often heard judges remarked "Did not come through from behind" He then worked on our long rein walk to give Danni a break before examining my position under his microscope in leg yield. Oh dear the position of my pelvis ........To the left I had no problem in advancing my inside seat bone but to the right my brain determinedly cancelled out any efforts to change.
As this was to be an extended session the next part of our session was going to include some work in hand. Normally I take a stab at this in our car park at home so the provision of walls was a nice innovation for me. Peter pointed out that I adopted the same slightly advanced position in hand as I did under saddle and stressed the need for positive body language. Peter took the reins for a few minutes to get Danni more forward into the outside rein and there was distant improvement in he shoulder in after that, and strangely I found I had more weight in my heels as I walked, as Danni took me forward around the school.
Peter again rechecked the saddle as we finished and decided that he would move the point strap forward to slide through a specially designed pocked concealed under the knee roll. This innovation, provided especially to allow correct positioning and balance of the saddle for the Pre allows the saddle to be place a fraction further back and incidentally, showed off Danni's front to perfection!

Charles collected the saddle the next morning and it sat beautifully on Danni, for the rider it provides enough support whilst allowing you room to step back a shade in the saddle if you need to. Danni is now approaching more collection in his movements and Peter spent some time kindly riding him for us to work him truly into the outside rein. When Danni was returned to me I viewed him with the same trepidation as expertly finished piece of art handed to you with the invitation to try a few brush stokes. But what a horse I felt, engaged, submissive, powerful and focussed. We worked through a series of lateral flexions to halts concentrating on bringing the transition about from behind so that Danni halted on the deepening of the heels and nothing else at walk and trot. But the time was all to short to experience this newly reborn Danni or as
Charles said when he at last got to sample the horse and the saddle this morning "Some ones taken the weight of off your shoulders sunshine!" Three weeks until the next course!