Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lift, Lighten, and GIVE

In our lesson this week, we re-visited the all important give. Each time the rider does a half halt, or raises the horse's neck Jeff Moore style, or makes corrective or purposeful flexions and counter-flexions, one most follow up with a GIVE.

Let me define what Give means by first defining what it is NOT: 1) a give is NOT an offer to stretch (aka the stretchy down circle) where you keep an "elastic contact" with the rein. 2) A give is also NOT a mauling hang on the rein, with your hands "relaxed" but still pounds of weight on the rein.

Let me now define what a Give IS: at this point in Delphi's training, 1) a give IS at least 3 or 4 heartbeats long. This allows her to find self carriage; if she falls apart, drops to the forehand, raises her snout, or any other mistake-- OH WELL. She must still be given the chance to FIND SELF CARRIAGE which is why we have the GIVE in the first place! 2) A give IS a complete loop in the rein. This can be the outside, inside, or even both reins at the same time during certain movements to allow Delphi to lower her neck (think relax- the neck is still arched in a perfect world). Before the give, a half halt or lift should be accompanied by leg aids. One can always activate the inside hind or even reinforce the leg aid with the whip if needed.

We also schooled turns on the haunches at walk. Start the maneuver with a nicely marching walk, then begin by cuing for haunches in as though you were starting half pass in walk. When I feel Delphi's hindquarter stepping over and crossing, I then turn my body and look where I want her to go to allow her to turn around a small but marching walk circle with her outside hind leg crossing over and coming around the inside marching hind leg to describe the small circle. DO NOT dwell (that's a nice word for HANG) on the outside nor inside rein. If the outside rein is too firm (mauled upon) it will stop the outside hind from stepping around. If the inside rein is too firm you risk bending the neck too much to the inside (at best) or the horse just stepping out or the shoulder falling out. Rather than the reins, use your body to cue the turn around the haunch, which Delphi does quite nicely when you start from the established haunches in/half pass cue.

Moral of the story: it is the longer moments of harmony with the horse and lightness of the aids, especially lightness in the forehand, that I must now continually seek and reinforce as Delphi continues to improve in self carriage.