Tuesday, 22 March 2016

An Autumn Dressage course

Danni's back story.

The years have gone passed, the recession had hit and  I'm in my sixties now so all in all, I had resigned myself to my own particular Dressage ambition slot in life. That is bumbling along within my own limitations and teaching Danni as i found a way in our goals towards Passage and Piaffe with the additional interest for my thought process, that we don't have a school but I could train in hand in our carp park. Not that I'd ever trained in hand before but hi ho I had never had a spanish stallion either! And then one day things changed and Jenny Rolfe offer us some help with our efforts and its seemed possible to move on again.
Danni had been busy over the previous summer escorting the young horse out around the roads and has learnt to expertly move them back to the side of the road out of the traffic and lead them passed the more threatening paper bags or exploding sparrows. Some Days he patiently hops over a log and then back again to collect his young charge until they gather the courage to follow him, some days he has cantered side by side along tracks with the skylarks singing overhead and some days we've just got very wet! But Dressage was a dream in another country or so I thought until one September day

Danni's Autumn Dressage Course

Danilon with Jenny Rolfe
We'd hired as small indoor school a short hack away from us on the other side of the village and Danni arrived in his usual laid back way very nearly ready to start work!
jenny asked me to tune him more to "me" by using my breath outwards when asking him to walk forwards and breathing in to halt. Each of these exercises produces a subtle change to the rider's core which jenny described as "child on a swing" when we we able to visit her in Devon a few years ago. You may have read Danni's case study in Jenny's book "Breath life into your riding" On that visit I took the first steps towards forming a closer and unique bond with my freckled friend Danni and now we were moving onwards.
Jenny was insistent that I "had no legs" and Danni should glide forwards in his own balance moving from my intention and to changes in my breathing in a loose and relaxed way. Gradually danni's neck became longer and he lifted himself up into a beautiful swan like arch and he was ready to work more towards collection.
One of the first exercises jenny used was Giravolta which followed on nicely from the in hand exercises I had previously practised. The Giravolta t is an exercise i would recommend exploring to observe the horse balance and fully absorb the real meaning of the horse stepping into the rein in collection.

yes i have collapsed my waist initially but I Find by focussing on my breath I
do remain much straighter

We continued in a steady rhythm, never rushing towards collection
letting the lateral work sofen Danni

"Light, light, light"

On the second Day Danni offered much more activity and started to understand what was wanted from him with Jenny always telling me "Light, light light" so that the contact remained the weight of the reins throughout the morning. The final photo I must say is my favorite and shows Danni after an exercise in Giravolta, again always keeping the steps slow and measure before inclining laterally to the track and asking for a bouncy Piaffe like trot .
My next blog will be from our recent spring clinic working more to bring Danni's spanish stallion soul out into his work and always ...............

"Trust the lightness" Jenny Rolfe

Dani on the final day of the course "Trust the lightness"

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Danni looking forward

Danilon in hand

As we haven't go a school most of my time with Danni is spent hacking and these days he escorts the young horses out and about the countryside shielding them from the traffic and leading them passed the scariest man holes, occasionally using his spanish "bull fighting " skills to push the youngsters back to the side of the road
Danni with his son Archie stopping to gossip!
I have just maintain his dressage and suppleness with a "top up" session of in hand each week in our car park. slowing working towards more collection  using the lateral exercises
Over the years we've worked towards piaffe and he is a last starting to show signs of lowering his hind quarters. I thought that this would be the extent of our endeavours but a magical opportunity arrived for us to work with Jenny Rolfe of Naturally Classical and transfer our work from in hand to under saddle

and so my next blog post will be about our first ridden work in an indoor school for a many a year under the gentle guidance of Jenny Rolfe. The next stage will stretch me as I try to transfer the collection I have previously achieved under saddle and take us into territory we have never visited before - how lucky we are to have a guide to encourage us along the way with the mantra "light, light, light"

Danni working in Giravolta