Jane Savoie Seminar. Part III.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, November 8, 2012 09:43 AM
If you haven't read the first two parts I strongly recommend it. Please click here for Part I and click here for Part II.
Moving up the training pyramid Jane made a very interesting point about Impulsion - when you add power to your horse's movement the power increases everything that you had at the moment. If your horse felt very good, round, connected and supple he will feel better - more connected, more through. However, if your horse was stiff, crooked, above the bit you will get more of that if you add power to your stride.
Straightness - To develop a straighter horse riders need to work their horses in first position. This is how Jane explained the first position - if we look at the horse from the front horse's shoulders are narrower then the front feet stance and haunches are wider then the hind feet stance. To keep the horse moving in first position the rider needs to keep outside legs aligned. In this situation inside front foot will be a half hoof distance more inside of the ring then inside hind foot. This was a new way for me of looking at positioning the horse. I heard a different explanation before. Here it is - because horse's shoulders are narrower than haunches riders need to align the inside shoulder with inside hip. This way the horse will go in a very slight shoulder-fore position which makes inside front foot step a bit to the inside of inside hind foot. Both explanations arrive to the same conclusion - not to allow the horse to push haunches to the inside and escape engaging effect of inside hind when it steps under the horse's body.
When Jane started working with riders of Second/Third level on the first position clearly it was a challenge for them. Horses were very quick on pushing their haunches to the inside, especially, in transitions either upward or downward. Keeping first position was harder then shoulder-fore position riders always wanted to do more. Another common mistake was bending horse's neck too much to the inside on concave side of the horse. From the saddle the rider thought she had her horse in first position when in reality it was just head and neck, however, shoulders, haunches and feet were not aligned. To fix this problem Jane asked riders to ride their horses in -1 position. This straightens the neck and "tucks in" the falling out outside shoulder. Riders worked on transitions in first position on the wall, quarter line and center line.
Counter canter is considered a straightening exercise for the horse and rightly so. However, many riders exadurate the bend in order to keep their horses cantering on outside lead. This diminishes the value of the exercise. Jane worked with riders on keeping their horses straight and even slightly flexed to the inside which is very good mental and physical exercise for the horse. This way horses listen to rider's seat and leg aids and do not assume they need to do a flying change because the rider changed the flexion. Plus it supples the horse and stretches their outside shoulder creating bigger more expressive stride.
It was interesting to see that second level horse performed the counter canter exercise very well even with flexion changes. However, the third level horse started to change its lead every time the rider touched the reins to change flexion. This happened because third level horse has been schooling flying changes and second level horse hasn't started working on flying changes yet. It is very common to change flexion to ask for a flying change. However, this may create problems down the road and even prevent the horse from learning sequential changes.
The last component of the pyramid is Collection. There are three signs that help us recognize collection in a horse's movement. They ALL must be present:
  1. Shortening of the frame
  2. Relative hight of the withers to the croup
  3. Loading of the hindquarters
Exercises that help develop collection are:
  • Decreasing circle size
  • Frequent transitions with skipping the gait (walk-canter-walk, trot-halt-trot), doing transitions every 5-7 strides
  • Lateral work - shoulder-in, travers, renvers, half-pass
  • Half-halt - decreasing size of the strides 50% without loosing regularity and tempo - ultra collected canter, half-steps.
There is still so much information I haven't told you. I am going to do another blog on collection where I will lay down the actual exercises Jane did with the riders. It was a lot of very interesting work and I do not want to squeeze it all in one huge blog.
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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