Jane Savoie Seminar. Part I.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, October 18, 2012 09:03 PM
Last weekend I have attended a seminar featuring Jane Savoie, popular clinician, writer and speaker. I had to drive to Calgary Friday night and spent the weekend inside in indoor arena. The weather was gorgeous - sunshine and warmth. Only horse crazy people can spend last beautiful days of fall like that - sitting in blankets on a hard bench in cold indoor arena :) But it was worth it. Mind you the seminar was at a stunning Kestrel Ridge Farm nested in a beautiful valley of Springbank area West of Calgary. Jane packed so much in her seminar including lectures and two days of demo riders of different levels where she was able to demonstrate her teaching and training concepts in practice.
The Saturday lecture started with a reminder that a rider can be either a solution or a problem for her horse and Jane shared with us a few of her most common tips on helping the rider:
  • Do not try to fix extremities like hands, head or legs. Start with the seat, hips in particular.
  • Collapsed rider has hips that are not centered over the saddle. The collapsed hip is closer to the centre and opposite hip is sliding off the horse. From Jane's experience most riders collapse through the left side and need to move their hips over to the left to position right hip more in the center of the saddle
  • The other idea to help with position of the hips and weight distribution is idea of initiating a dismount. Pretend you are about to dismount on the collapsed side, step into the stirrup and move over.
  • Pelvis is like a bucket full of water. When pelvis is in neutral the water is safe in it. When rider arches her back water is spilled in front. When rider rounds her back water is spilled behind.
  • Imagine a rider inside a vertical cylinder. None of rider's body parts should touch the cylinder's walls.
Next topic was about forwardness and reactivity to the aids. These concepts need to be explained to horses. A horse must understand that it is his job to keep going with a certain amount of energy until told otherwise. If a horse slows down on it's own the rider must correct her horse with the whip. For example, chasing him into the next gait. After that the rider needs to test and see if her horse got the message. Never leave the horse with correction as a last action. Correction is not an aid. Test and see how the horse responds.
Same with the reactivity to the aids. Use your aids lightly, light squeeze or touch, one click, etc. If you are not getting a desired response correct with the whip. Then test the response again by using light aids. Jane said the whip is better for correction then spurs because spurs have other role to play for more refined communication.
Going through the training pyramid Jane stressed out that work done in tension is a waste of time and no movement will benefit a horse if the horse is not relaxed, regular, supple and attentive. One of her favorite suppling exercises is called "+7/+1". This exercise helps a tense horse to relax, a spooky/inattentive horse to focus, stiff horse to become more supple and etc.
  • Keeping consistent contact on the reins turn your inside wrist fingernails upward like you turning a key in a lock and move the wrist closer to the withers without crossing them. Indirect rein
  • This turns horse's head inside. You are aiming for about 7 inches to the side, hence the name of the exercise. Return to just 1 inch.
  • Repeat this action smoothly but quickly 3 times. Do not get caught up in holding if your horse feels stiff, just keep asking for 3 times: +7 +1 +7 +1 +7 +1
  • Inside leg supports the direction you are going. You do not want your horse to change the size of the circle or drift away from the track.
  • Outside rein supportive and quiet. Outside leg is supportive and quiet unless your horse decides to swing his haunches out.
  • After 3 suppling actions ride quietly for 6-7 strides, keeping steady contact, not asking for anything. Repeat the +7/+1 3 times again.
  • After a few times the horse starts to stretch down in between and starts to feel softer and easier to supple. This is the goal.
  • If your horse is stiff on outside rein and/or falls into outside shoulder you can do this exercise -7/-1 until you feel softer more elastic contact.
Watching this exercise executed by riders was very interesting. It is not that simple to keep a consistent contact, it is very easy to start ringing and softening too much, or holding for too long, turning horse's head too much or too little, bending rather in the middle of the neck then just at the poll area. When done well the exercise produced desired results, horses relaxed, softened, stretched into contact and became more focused and regular.
There was so much to digest in this seminar I am going to write a few blogs about it. Sharing with you what I learned, hopefully being as close to Jane's ideas as possible. If you want you can check her website www.janesavoie.com
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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