Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Dani's march PMG clinic

Photos from day one

As I write the gale is gathering and the rain is lashing down (so definitely a good day to man the office!)but we have just had the most perfect weekend down here in Cornwall. Warm spring like days and blue skies that allowed us to ride int the 20metres by 60 outdoor school for all three days of the March clinic with Peter Madison Greenwell.
Dani is a laid back horse and always follows the same routine in the morning: breakfast of staypower muisly followed by his haynet, glance up as the brood mares depart for the fields and then back to bed for a glorious snooze, flat out with any dropped hay used as a pillow! But on Saturday he spotted Charles going into the tack room to clean his tack so "new something was up" and got out of bed uncharacteristically early to supervise and watch points. Charles always likes to be ready in lots of time so by the time I had manged to twine Dani's two foot of mane into a fairly neat plait, he still had half an hour to wait, wearing his squeaky clean white numnah and brushing boots. Peter had advise that I should start to ride with gloves or I would back off the contact and Charles had found a beautiful fine deerskin pair on the Internet in err very bright yellow (I tried mucking out in them but they have remained relentlessly yellow so are now officialy know as my Micky Mouses!)
As I hacked down to the village I relalised that our tenant farmer had decided this was the day to flail the hedges at the bottom of Ednovean Farm before careering off through the village to atten to the odd garden hedge and the resulting din, echoed around the entire valley but Peter still managed to make himself heard despite the mechanical competition. At one point Lizzie and April bombed across our front field to join in the fun before Lizzie heavily pregnant with Danni first foal stretched out in the sunshine for a morning nap plump pregnant belly pressed high in the air.
Day One
The first day is always a "set up day" and i have had a lot of problems with rider straightness - my excuse is that i always led one horse and led another if not two, so tend to swing my right shoulder forwards whilst letting my right seatbone slip back.........Anyway enough of that!
Dani was very enthusiastic to be back on a Peter course and frolicked occasionally, like a spring lamb as he settled down to work - mostly in canter for about thirty five minutes, working very forwards through his canter trot transitions, and concentrating on straightness to the line of the circle using the outside rein to move the shoulders around in front of the quarters and "Let go of the curb rein" poor Peter intoned at regular intervals...............Actually I'm pretty sure my curb rein is self tightening because I can't for the life of me think why it keeps coming under tension. Anyway we had a great session that left me with just enough energy to collapse in a chair to watch the evening lecture demo at St Pirans. Packed full of information as always it covered a black board session on schooling shapes ( for which I was berated the next day when trotting an inaccurate 10metre circle) rider position, body balance, use of the inside leg to outside rein, effect of loosing the outside rein, pelvis position in canter demonstrated with two young stallions and finishing with work in hand to approach Piaffe with B before Peter mounted to follow through with mounted Piaffe.
Day two
I shall add the next two days reports " 'dreckly" but alas rain or no rain it's time for morning exercise.

For the second day we had booked two consecutive sessions with Peter and find that this really helps with an in depth consultation. Peter rode Danilon first using a number of neck flexions and lateral exercises to free Danni throughout his outline, make him more forward from the leg and engaged from behind. The lateral work was expressive and easy for Peter with his range of techniques and he could easily reposition and correct within the movements. We were particularly struck by some majestic sweeping steps of half pass with Danni really stretching through each pair of diagonal perfectly parallel. The Canter work went particularly well, the collected easy canter being one of Peter's mainstays and again he went on to half pass and even approached a few steps of canter pirouette. Upon dismounting Peter said Danni needed to be worked more forward in his lateral movements but he was pleased with Danni's outlook. I walked Danni around on a long rein for a few minutes before work recommence to build on the feel of following an advanced rider............So no pressure then!
Danni again felt super - very light and free with greater straightness and elevation through his outline - magical in fact. My nerves vanished with the new easier Danni and to my surprise we worked in trot from shoulder in to traver to half pass before moving up to a wonderful slow rhythmical canter that would have done justice to any show hack. Danni was able to lob up the centre line to finish and halt from canter without fuss. I "muffed" one turn completely and froze but Peter remained calm and encouraging and Danni came out from behind the bit and forgave me I can only say that I was thrilled with him err Danni! Peter then spoke us at length about Danni's diet and it was decided to withdraw the rather sugary mix and try a Stay power muesli to give him a harder physic to add to his undoubted stamina.
The third day

For the third day Peter wanted us to work in with un petit trot - very soft and rhythmic, working with a relaxed, shortened stride and using lateral flexions to the inside to encourage the horse to lower the neck. As Danni offered this lowering of the neck, then I was to apply my inside leg to encourage the inside hind leg through. Rider correction was to think of embracing the horse with a very relaxed lower leg and think of lifting the back into the hand. And so Danni became engaged but very relaxed and we then moved on to shoulder in around the school setting up for each one with a ten metre circle before shoulder in on the centre line ( which is making more of an appearance in our lives these days!) The exercise was repeated in an unpressurised way in traver and the shoulder in to half pass, supported by Danni's new balance and unfailing rhythm. - I forgot to mention that the previous day we had spent a little time leg yielding to and from the fence in trot which sent me into a frenzy of diagonal changes but encouraged Danni to be more responsive to me.
And on to canter ............ Danni still had the canter from yesterday - it felt rather like sitting on a cloud. We worked again turning frequently up the centre line with Peter intoning "Straight - Straight - I want you straight" as I peered disconcertedly at the A marker for guidance - it only occurred to me afterwards that he might have meant Danni's bottom! Sorry Peter We then returned to the circle and finished with canter halt canter transitions which Danni might have managed a bit more easily without me but I was eventually persuaded to keep my bottom still and let Danni do the strike off on his own tentatively but earnestly obedient. Thank you Peter for a super three days...........but May seems a long long time away. and thank you Paul and Rachel for putting on the clinic