Friday, May 28, 2010

A Clinic and A Lesson

Delphi got "A's" on her report card this week. Her stablemate Bailey and she took a clinic lesson with Lurena Belle Stanley (a Christmas present-- thanks Ceil!) last Saturday, and Delphi's regular lesson with Karen Brown was today. Lurena had me focus on my aids: when giving a half-halt make it "quick or sharp" so that it creates a fast response ("almost as though you're shaking the rein at the horse"), rather than mauling on the reins for a long period of time. On transitions and gaits Lurena reminded me to make the walk as good, energetic, and light as it can be for a second to third level horse (ABANDON the training level walk, she insisted) then just ask for the up trans to canter without over-preparing the horse. Do this several times in a row and soon the horse will be cantering off nicely from a very good walk into a very good canter. Lurena suggested I save my leg aid for medium gaits rather than waste it in the walk-- to smarten the walk use whip (preferably on the inside gaskin as Karen showed me today).
Delphi's counter canters are strong, balanced and lovely. Remember to keep the horse fairly straight in counter canter; there is only slight flexion in the jaw toward the counter-bend in canter, otherwise the horse goes along almost as though on the "true" lead. To further straighten the counter canter ask for half pass out on the circle. Then, when she is very balanced and straight, we changed the bend deliberately to the inside of the circle, changed the leg and seat aids to ask for a flying change to "true" canter, and backed up the seat aids with the whip- Karen suggested using the whip on the shoulder for the change. We actually got a couple good attempts at the changes and Delphi stayed relaxed and obedient throughout.