Lesson with Sharon
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 08:44 AM
On Wednesday June 30th I took two lessons with Sharon Merkel-Beattie, an Equine Canada Level 3 certified dressage coach and Grand Prix rider. The first lesson was on a 5-year-old Trakehner stallion I have started last summer. And the second one was on a 7-year-old Trakehner Appendix gelding, usually ridden by my student who is away right now and I am working with the horse. He is showing Training/First level. The following are comments that was common throughout both lessons:
  • Ride forward - Oh, boy, that was WAY more forward than I was asking from either of horses
  • Keep the base of the neck straight - even if it means riding with counterflexion. Put the shoulders in front of the haunches. After accomplishing that ask for inside flexion without losing the straightness of the base of the neck
  • Turn with your seat, minimum hands. 3-loop serpentines with no stirring from hands
  • Use the bucking strap to know position and level of quietness of your hands, to give stability to outside rein
  • Change the horse with your seat, do not let the horse change your seat

First lesson, young horse:

      Sit light but deep, do not load the pubic bone more just because you are riding a young horse
    • Do not shape the neck with hands, keep contact and ride toward it
    • Hands low without pulling, long reins
    • Keep the neck long and out by keeping reins long, do not seek contact, let the horse find it by presenting the bit to it and riding toward it
    • Outside rein connected regardless of flexion
    • Ride large and forward, make it fun for the horse
    • Ask for more in trot to develop pushing power
    • Exercises were simple - circles, ovals, going large, diagonals. The emphasis was on straightness, forwardness and contact, beginning of connection from back to front

Second lesson, First level horse:

  • To get the horse through his back gallop forward for warm-up
  • Plug in, more core control - it was great to hear that from Sharon. I was so pleased that she is aware of such things, a few years ago she didn't use these comments during teaching. Good thing I knew what I had to do to get it.
  • Feel the horse coming up under your seat - when he finally came through after a few minutes of galloping around it was incredible feeling. His withers came right up under me, it felt like we were flying. I think I know how surfer feels when he catches a wave.
  • Power from behind is like electricity charge. If you have it you can connect the horse like turning on lights. No electricity, no light. If electricity there but connection is not constant light goes on and off.
Exercises: Trot:
  • Leg-yield head to the wall on inner track - gives a horse more room to move and rider has to ride straighter
  • Leg-yield from the quarterline to opposite side of the arena - change of direction and of flexion creates an extra challenge for both horse and rider
  • Shoulder-fore in the long side - to engage inside hind, to straighten, to enhance pushing power from behind
  • Canter on inner track in shoulder-fore - same as in trot, inner track makes it more challenging
  • Diagonals - keep the canter the same quality as on a wall, do not allow the horse to drop on the forehand, transition to trot before the wall, wall is helping to make transition more balanced
  • Medium canter on the long side, shortening through the short side - this is to encourage coming through the back and more jump, shortening by using seat aid mostly - sitting deeper, straighter and not following the canter stride in it's entire length
  • Big ovals - turning with the seat, straight part on the long side in shoulder-fore, keeping base of the neck straight
Happy riding...
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