Monday, 24 August 2009

Danni's dressage clinic with PMG

Stepping into shoulder in around the circle under Peter's gaze

Danni again attended a clinic with Peter Madison Greenwell, his regular trainer, over this weekend in Cornwall, the weather was fitful but we had so much fun even though we both had to work very hard.

The first day

The first day could be drawn a line under! For some unknown reason it did not go as well as we had hoped. Danni did not engage from behind or lift his back and of course without those two things we did not have lift off!! and so Peter had a private chat with Danni and I watched feeling rather foolish from a garden bench beside the school. We always hope for Peter to ride him on each clinic and Danni was soon motivated back to his usual self. Peter felt his (that's Danni's) covering duties had effected his muscular timing and usage.

The second day

I hacked down to the village determined to raise my energy levels and started the warm up with shoulder in around the circle which has proved a good routine for Dani lately. Peter continued with the start of the lesson correcting and cajoling for so much greater accuracy, control and focus. As Danni stiffened through the poll in left shoulder in peter pointed out that I had let my left shoulder creep forward and outside hand "against the neck, against the neck against the neck." Finally we progressed in that exercise to changing the rein on to the adjacent twenty metre circle still in shoulder in and then back again effectively changing shoulder in direction ,each time at x. By this time Danni was truly between hand and leg, soft and relaxed yet elevated and responsive and we were ready to move on. The canter exercises concentrated on keeping Danni moving forward with a big rhythmic stride with frequent simple changes across the centre line, counter canter and bounding lengthening. I found that I really had to focus on Danni's balance to extend the canter and then ride an admittedly "soft" corner in counter canter before lengthening again. Peter was only warming up by this time as the rain started to slat down and i had to discipline myself to frequently relax the inside rein to reward Danni and keep the contact soft, as the reins turned to ice in my fingers. A Three loop serpentine firstly with counter canter and then with a simple change on the centre line "Don't indicate the new leg simply by flexing him, use your seat and legs" A shallow loop either side of the centre line and finally, turning my shoulders to make tighter and tighter loops to change legs and we finished by striking to canter on either leg whilst going large around the school. Again sit centrally use my legs don't really on the reflexions. And lastly a relaxed lobing canter around the school that by now felt so good and I realised how much I had been enjoying myself. I looked about from my little world of the horse and realised that the only spectators left were my husband and friend sitting huddled under their hats, gently dripping and Peter of course!

The third day

Back to shoulder in around the circle but continuing this time in trot and canter..........well i didn't do too well at canter even with Peter gamely sprinting across the arena towards me claiming to be a bull that Danni the bullfighting horse had to dodge. We were very soon comprehensively "dead" but still managed a few steps. The idea of to apply more pressure and thus to invite a greater effort from Danni therefore engaging and lifting his back for greater athletic strength. Peter also had a few words to say about the variations of leg and touch of spur to keep the aids light and the horse forward as well as nano managing my position that always was ready to slip astray.

A lot of the session was spent in canter, using the previous days exercises and also using leg yielding from the quarter line to the track for instance and then half passing back across. The extra moment of suspension of the canter helped the half pass as the leg yield helped the lateral bend.

We have so much to work on before the next course - to break each exercise down into small sections and secure them before presenting them back to Peter again in six weeks. And I must say although seriously pooped ( that is the polite term) i enjoyed the course immensely, Peters encouragement and enthusiasm combined with Danni's rhythmic powerful movements that sometimes he almost seemed to float around the school as if by magic. Thanks Danni and Peter.