Jane Savoie Seminar. Part II.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Saturday, October 27, 2012 01:30 PM
If you haven't read the first part I strongly recommend it. Please click here for the Part I.
In the training pyramid we have contact/connection that comes after suppleness. This subject is very important to Jane. She said that would be the theme of her last lecture if she had to give one right now. She is very passionate about teaching connection to riders. Riders need to understand how to keep good contact with their horses regardless if horses are on the bit or not. And these qualities are firm, consistent, elastic.
  • Firm and Consistent - in Jane's eyes good contact must not be like ringing a bell. Jerky contact hits horses in their teeth. It is unpleasant and unpredictable at least and shocking and painful at worst. Even if the rider is asking for a horse to give she is not pulling and releasing completely, she takes and gives within steady connection. Rider must be able to take reins in one hand and then back in two hands without braking or changing the contact.
  • Elastic - elasticity of contact comes from elbows which move with the horse's head in walk and canter. Elasticity comes from wrists being straight and soft. Straight line from elbow to the bit serves that purpose, allows for connection between hands and the seat.
Jane claimed that she can teach anyone how to put a horse on a bit. Here is the summary of her explanations. There are three ingredients that are required:
  1. Driving aids - both legs steadily closing on horse's sides
  2. Bending aids - inside rein is asking for flexion/positioning, suppling rein
  3. Outside rein of opposition - outside reins is very steady, hand is in a fist and receives the horse's energy that comes from behind
During the riding session Jane said that these aids are laid down one on top of another like layers of paint. Driving aids come first and then rider's outside hand is closed in a fist and inside hand's fingers are doing "twinkle, twinkle, twinkle" (Jane's words). Jane would raise her hands up in a air and actually show riders and us a fist and twinkling of inside hand.
These connecting aids as Jane called them last for about 3 seconds and then rider just keeps what she got and then repeat the aids if necessary. Usually the horse's way of going should improve and the horse should feel more connected, more on the aids. This connecting aids overlap any change of any kind be it a transition, turn, new movement, etc. These connecting aids start 2-3 strides before the change, they are there during the change and 2-3 strides after the change. The horse is asked to stay connected AND perform the transition or movement at the same time. Roberd Dover, Jane's long time coach said: You do not ride from movement to movement, you ride from half-halt to half-halt.
More on connection:
  • Vary the 3 aids to get proper results. Rides found out they were giving too much on outside rein or not getting their horses in front of the leg, etc
  • Check results with stretching long and low. Properly connected horse will take stretch down chewing the reins out o rider's hands
  • Check results with giving your inside hand forward for 3 strides. The horse should not change its head position, flexion or way of going Jane was asking riders to do this exercise in walk and trot. It can be done in all three gaits
  • Collect only as much as you can without losing proper connection
  • One of the common phrases Jane repeated is "The neck is only as long as reins are". Shortening the reins in order to better control the horse makes horses retract their necks backwards pushing into the bit or coming behind it
For horses who showed stiffness and were hard to connect Jane recommended a suppling exercise: - +1/-1 The exercise can be done at any gait including halt. It is not an easy exercise because it is difficult to ask only for +/-1 it is much easier to ask for +5 or +7. And the rider must be careful not to overbend her horse, otherwise, the suppling is happening not at the poll but in the middle of the neck. The bottom line is if your horse is hard to connect because of stiffness you must go back in training pyramid to suppleness and work on this quality before you are ready to put your horse on the bit.
Happy riding...
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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