Jane Savoie Seminar. Part IV.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 06:45 PM
This is a practical part of work on collection. To read the summary of lecture on collection please click here for Part III. I strongly recommend reading it before continuing.
When riders started to work on collection with canter-walk-canter transitions Jane gave them the following recommendations:
  • Collect canter with outside rein and seat during the first beat of canter stride when outside hind leg lands
  • Before walk transition collect canter to walk speed in miles per hour.
  • Ask for transition to walk by making your seat still in the next half-halt
  • Canter 10 m circle - walk transition upon reaching the wall - counter shoulder fore - counter canter
The biggest hurdle for riders in these transitions was to create canter that miles per hour walk speed. I think this is the true value of this exercise. Walk to canter is much easier to teach than canter to walk exactly because horses need to develop this type of canter and it takes time and practice.
Lateral work
For lateral work Jane made a very interesting point. She wanted less angle in lateral exercises to preserve the bend. She wanted horse's haunches parallel to the wall in shoulder-in and horse's shoulders parallel to the wall in travers. The exercise she asked for was a few strides of shoulder-in, a few strides straight, and so on. Riders repeated this exercise in all lateral work including half-pass. It wasn't an easy exercise. All of a sudden horses were losing their balance when straightened up by swinging their shoulders or haunches out of line to catch themselves. It took riders a few repetitions to smoothly make changes without any disturbance in balance or regularity. More exercises - changing from shoulder-in to travers and back every few strides or from renvers to counter shoulder-in and back.
Ultra collection
For the last rider who was showing Prix St George and schooling Grand Prix movements Jane was stressing the fact that riders should not settle for ordinary execution of the movements. Riders should always strive to improve and make the horse move better which will make movement look better as a consequence. Working on collection Jane wanted the rider to half-halt the horse to ultra collected steps during all the movements they were riding be it a half-pass, diagonal in canter, corner. For example, if the horse can canter a corner in three strides try cantering the corner in 6 or even 7 strides asking for very collected canter. The horse was asked to keep the activity in these very collected steps and sit behind.
They worked on half-steps and the horse didn't really want to sit behind but simply slow down and drag his feet. Jane suggested that the rider stops her work on passage for a while until activity and sitting behind is confirmed in half-steps and can be requested from the horse at any moment. Passage tends to stretch horse's body longitudinally and allow them not to really engage. This is why passage is much easier to teach than piaffe, especially, to warmbloods who have natural tendencies for suspension and lofty trot.
Canter pirouette work
Jane gave the rider two exercises to prepare her horse for pirouettes. 1. - Traverse on 10 m circle. Shoulders must stay on the circle line. Ask the horse for a few traverse steps and then back to single track. If shoulders deviate outside during straightening the horse was escaping bend and engagement. Horses always perform this exercise better on one lead then another. It is easy for a rider to fall into a trap of working harder on the difficult side. It is important to "explain" to the horse that it is his job and not the rider's.
2. - Ultra collected canter on straight line or a big circle. Ask the horse for 3 very, very collected canter strides and then ride forward. The horse should not change the tempo and keep actively jumping under himself during those very collected strides. The horse should be very light to leg aids. The rider must come out forward if she just only suspect her horse losing activity behind. The ultra collected canter should have so little advancing forward, it should feel almost on a spot.
Flying changes
If for canter pirouette canter must be more collected than a normal collection for flying changes collected canter must be more forward. The horse's neck should be straight in flying changes. New outside rein is steady for the change. Do not flex the horse to the new inside. For a horse that flattens in flying changes rider should ask for a pirouette canter after each change. This exercise was very helpful for the last demonstration rider. Her big warmblood gelding had a tendency to flatten and go down on his shoulders after each change. After a few repetitions he started to anticipate the extra collection and stay up and balanced after changes.
Finishing the second day of riding Jane was stressing out that riders should ask a lot from their horses, never settle for mediocre execution but at the same time do not drill and drill. Horses need days away from dressage work - jumping, hack, trail ride, etc. During arena work regular breaks on a long rein or easy trot with stretching. If something is not working change the exercise, work on something else, come back to the problem next day. Jane's coach Robert Dover likes to say: "Make your horse feel like a champion."
Happy riding...
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