Clinic with Gina Smith
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Sunday, March 2, 2008 10:52 PM
Windhaven Farm hosted a clinic featuring Gina Smith, an Olympic rider and a very knowledgeable instructor. I have already covered one such clinic in my blog in November. I made a very interesting observation by watching Gina this time. She comes with a collection of exercises that she uses almost with every rider. In November, for example, it was counter shoulder-in, or leg-yield head toward the wall for greener horses. This time it was riding off the wall for control and straightness.
  • The rider had hard time controlling her horse and the horse was banging the walls here and there. Gina asked her to ride very precise lines off the wall. In walk it was squares and rectangles, in trot and canter they were riding quarterlines, turning from one quarterline to another before they reach the wall. Occasional circle about 18 m in diameter to relax the horse but still make rider work. Gina was asking for precision, preparation for the turn, collecting the horse before turn. Rider had to look ahead and watch where she is going to stay on the line and prevent her horse from drifting toward the wall.
  • Another interesting exercise involving quarterlines was executed by a different rider in canter. First they just rode the quarterlines straight making 15 m turns at the end to reach the wall. Next, they leg-yield from quarterline to the wall and then from quarterline to the center line with subsequent transition to trot to ride 10 m turn in the new direction. The horse was 5 years old and this exercise was new for her and her rider. Gina was patient and supportive, explaining that this exercise is to challenge the horse, show her the new way of moving and subsequencial development of better balance and collection. This exercise showed horse's weak side very clearly. Rider struggled to control alignment of his pelvis and timing his aids with the horse's motion. Intersperse this work with 20 m circles to relax the horse and let him stretch. However, keep canter forward.
  • The third one I describe here is progression of leg-yields in trot. It starts from riding just quarterlines to make sure rider can control her horse. Then they rode a few leg-yields from quarterline to the wall. Next step was leg-yields from the wall to the quarterline, following by a zigzag on the long side - from the wall to the quarterline, a few steps straight and to the wall again. Gina was stressing correct riding through the corners, straightness, balance and impulsion in the leg-yields.
  • The last exercise I will describe here was for the horse that is learning flying changes. The horse was having trouble changing from left to right, constantly being late behind. Gina wanted to straighten the horse out by shortening the right side and letting the left side stretch during left canter. The idea is that horse is too long on the right side, collapsing his right shoulder and losing ability to jump through with the right hind in the change, hence late behind. Riding left canter on the left rein with the thought of renvers in mind. This brings horse's shoulders off the wall and shortens the right side. Riding left canter on the right rein, counter-canter, and asking the horse to have slight flexion inside, keeping his shoulders very straight. This will strengthen the horse's right side and right hind, improve his balance and ability to execute correct flying change.
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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