THINK EQUESTRIAN - Equestrian  & Performance Coaching
The Dressage COnvention 2015 notes
Day One

Tristan Tucker:
Training horse to be relaxed in arenas
Groundwork Horse "yoga", turning the horse to bend & step with hindlegs. Turn front legs so they don't cross in front
Lateral suppleness relaxes the horses
Long rein moving horse on circle, follows the energy of the handler not of the environment
Gives him rest near obstacle not pressie to teach them to approach
Take pressure off when horse relaxes not when tense,  when horse stops move his feet
Target is if he goes to the goal & touches it then it goes away
In front of leg, means horse stays going forwards even when leg pressure is relaxed ie makes horse takes responsibility for own movement. If educated horse then uses much sharper leg but if less educated then move horses hind legs on a circle, sideways.

Michael Klimke
Too much too early in many horses now, start horse at 4. 
Gymnastic warming up, start long & deep, using rising trot, on buckle, don't worry if on front legs, classical inside leg to outside hand, get back & neck stretched + loose don't focus on hind legs too early
More serpent ones & big long bending lines than straight lines
Do as little as possible as a rider even if light in hand or a little slow
Transitions still stretched, trot canter transitions especially
More forwards in canter as stretched as possible
Relaxation is paramount and then focus on hind legs in show frame
Ride trot walk trans. Can't always make it smooth must get a reaction. Ride transitions sitting to rising (more fwds) 2-3 steps, push into corners
Leg yielding think fwds sideways
Leg yielding Centre line to left, when hit track half pass right
Plenty of stretch walk breaks
Tension in one part of arena, large circle, no stirrups, trot walk trans to put on seat, use voice, as soon as ready to walk, trot again, as soon as in trot then walk again
At 6 don't ask for extension
Use legs then take off, ep in big medium then bring back
Canter ride positive but uphill rhythm with body. Many Canter walk trans (with upper body) keep inside leg on
Flying changes, half circle towards A/C, slightly change flexion on half circle then quick leg aid then walk & relax 
The perfect stretch should still have contact, depends on conformation, bridge of hundreds, back , riders hands, horses mouth. If goes too light then keep stretching until even in rein. 
Will never get correct bridge if lacks suppleness over back from stretched start
How much you will do with demanding movement early in training depends on horse, but at home, don't chase the competition grades too early.
Thinks his father wouldn't like certain aspects of how it is going ie videos & photos within training when things go wrong momentarily. His father & he was against freestyle originally, now he sees that as the highlight of the sport.
Talked about being selector of German team ie Totilas in Aachen. Need to prove fitness but he had got 80% in selection trials & passed vet check & was sound in warm up. 
Wants to see Olympic format remain same (loved London) but sees change may be inevitable, If we want to stay in Olympics. Maybe a revised format that we don't know yet would be better.

Carl Hester
Elementary/medium horse
Walk & canter most important. 
Good paces come from relaxation.
Don't ride more forwards if you can't do sitting on the bigger trot
Lacking rhythm in canter, sit lighter with hand forwards, lower neck & ride forwards. Think canter hips through hands. 
Expect horse to have lighter contact in canter than in trot  as its more naturally forwards
Horse stronger on inside rein think leg yield from outside leg rather than get stronger on inside rein to bend/turn
In walk, think of rowing with pushing arms & seat to encourage neck to relax out & to increase length of stride. If you use the legs to increase the walk he will walk more up but not more out. 
Work next on trot halt transitions. Feel which way you are leaning- horse will be longer that side is trailing that hind leg. Small walk steps until it halts square.  Smaller the walk steps the more balanced the walk to achieve square halt. 
If horse stretches easier. At end do several circles in trot & canter in stretch. If horse stiffer one way ride with open rein to encourage lateral as well as longitudinal stretch

Developing the young advanced rider and young horse
6yo horse, likes people but not other horses! But paces & attitude, but that can change with development. 
Warmed up by young rider, needs to be light enough for young small rider but sharp enough for Carl to ride. 
Good natural walk like a racehorse in the paddock. Sometimes trot disappears but confident it will come back. Don't put on the buckle (of the rein) at start if its not safe!
Some horses are strong in mouth naturally but easier to make lighter than horse who won't take contact is empty contact. 
Hand forwards not a long backwards rein as this shortens the neck. Give & retake to check self carriage. 
Developing the suspension in the trot-touch with leg or whip (and cluck)  & pat & create more push and then half halt so doesn't do many steps to keep creating reaction. 
Lateral work, shoulder fore, focus on inside hind coming up to outside shoulder.
Stays rising in lateral work to keep it easy. 
Put medium canters in to refresh. 
Relax again in warm up even if you've had a bad day. Don't put on box with negative feelings & tension. 
The guarantee is in the training not in the price you pay. 
Only 4 days of schooling a week for 15-20 minutes but lots of stretching and fittening work before & after & on other days

Richard Davidson
Medium horse
Horses can appear croup high if they aren't engaging their muscles in the thorax area around rib cage. 
Rider should ensure they aren't behind vertical through tight muscles which stops pelvis moving. Keep supple in hips & legs, relaxed knee. There is a time to bring body back but not if horse isn't swinging. 
Forward going horse, make them wait for you to adjust within pace or between paces. Don't stop horse racing away with rein . 
Focus on swing more than expression. 
Don't overreact if horse shakes head, just wait & it'll settle.
Half pass, set up then relax & go with it. 
Remember to breathe! Don't lock thumb on top of whip. Keep wrists soft.
Trot to canter is the most difficult transition.
Tip body a little more forwards when increasing the canter, swing pelvis more to increase canter rather than leg. 

The advanced rider skills (RD riding his own horse, owned 10 weeks)
Enjoying riding your horse is more important than pure talent. 
Pressure release is the key to good communication. Smallest possible pressures to get response but immediate release when reacts in the right way. Put leg on to ask sideways, horse misunderstood & pulled feds into rein, rider holds contact firm, horse realises can't go forwards so goes sideways so goal achieved with minimal change of aids
Rider goes into neutral position & pressure to confirm horse is doing right thing
Horse in front of leg if stays in speed you set him into, could be small/slow pace, not about the speed.
Where ears are indicate where horse's focus is. Will see things differently from right & left side. 
Understand where neck bones are ie not high in neck so more base of neck moves forwards the more the back stretches
Do competition moves in places where don't do it in test to ensure on aids 
Click as prelude to leg pressure

Clare Lomas
Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right.

Day one evening

Stephen Clarke
Judges have different roles, judge at C is there to police accuracy & straightness but judge at E/B is looking more at way of going & length of neck/frame.
Then judged AM85. Judge's job isn't to find the % but to mark fairly & let the test find the percentage. Then asked rider to ride again with more risks within the paces & be more accurate and go from the marker and show 2 clear transitions. Make use of invisible shoulder fore in half passes thinking nose/shoulder/neck should lead always. 
Better cadence should be produced from good training not forced.

Michael Klimke's  comments re judging at Dressage Convention today to Stephen Clarke

Judges should be paid & professional then can be 
Organisers should not select judges they pick their friends Stretch lowest & highest scores
Yellow cards to judges
Why do we need 7 judges, they need to get together afterwards and agree way forwards
Judges need to decide on what they want against the training scales
Judges say right thing about harmony then they mark up the flashy tense horses 

Stephens reply
System was better before people started & was just sticking plaster   
Judges need to become more consistent & professional, more horse rider people who thrash out agreement after the judging has taken place 
Judges do not mark up spectacular movement but do mark up true impulsion with harmony

Tristan Tucker 
Breaking young horses( in light relief) 
New system of introducing the horse to the human environment. 
The ridden part is the 'exam' so handler needs to set horse up. 
Teaches the what, when, why of the aids, the reaction to the pressure so can ride with leg from the start. Make sound first before aid to follow leg & hand. Open rein means sideways not forwards.
Teach horse to carry own body before being having to carry rider. When put under pressure needs to encourage bending. Doesn't worry about mouthing unless becomes nasty biting then 'bites back'. Body language & noise. Keeping pressure on until approaches & touches.  Doesn't want to desensitize wants to keep sensitivity but to encourage horse to control himself. Uses different noises for forwards, backwards & move away. 
Be aware of whether horse is sensitive to sound or vision & start Him dealing with issues around less stressful stimuli. Put saddle on without lots of people holding. Puts girth on tight and then loosen when horse relaxes after taking relaxed pattern positions. Then bridle on with Same patterns. Then same patterns with picking leg up then again with hopping up & downn. Then half gets on, bend if moves away. Thenvput body all over. Then sit up in safety (bent,) position. Then make sure can control feet placement before riding on.

Laura Tomlinson
Starts warm up in canter after walk as more natural gait 
Rides renders on 3/4 line to improve control of all 4 corners of horse. 
Then trot work then again working canter collection & on. 
Rides on inner track a lot so horse doesn't use wall.
Make it easy for horse & don't make them very tired. Plenty of breaks. Work on equalizing flexibility. 
Don't rush warm up target is to develop paces etc for moment they go into ring
Half pass:  sit in direction of movement, inc turning shoulders and weight into direction of travel. 
Bring her back & touch with leg/whip to develop higher steps towards passage 
Change paces regularly & which rein to vary which muscles are working.

Day Two

Background to horses being tense in arena. Horses get behind leg if scared, not about tiredness or laziness. Horses often get scared by large screens etc.

Tristan Tucker
Again working on putting horse into relaxed 'yoga' position in ridden situation for noise/flags etc. If rider gets tense + pulls on rein then makes horse react & run. Rider needs to show horse way to relaxed position, face noise/flag with bend and move hind legs over. Prize giving is like an exam , horse needs to know the answer
The pattern is move hind legs and bend neck (only stopping clapping when horse relaxes & steps forwards towards to noise, not when horse is running away.  this was something I remember Kyra Kyrklund saying 30 years ago!). Sometimes watch show jumpers in the backline of the prize-giving who turn the horses on small circles/figures of eight to keep horse relaxed.  If horse is well trained then sometimes they will revert so need to re-issue instructions to achieving the relaxation
If horse is tense in going round the arena before bell, take out speed & take off pressure, lead rather than push, move foot that has stuck then bend and open outside rein. Need to create pattern of relaxation before so can revert to that. Tristan- there is no magic button, it's about training & prepartion. Don't turn head away and push body towards. Let horse look and step towards scared object through lateral bending, one rein one leg, relax as soon as horse steps sideways with leg. 
Never given up on a horse but sometimes the rider/ horse combination isn't going to work.

Michael Klimke
Again working horse in natural rhythm, not too much leg, as long & low as possible always inside to outside rein. Riding strong rhythm in canter. Plenty of breaks.  tension in back is main issue to work to reduce. Siting/rising trot & transitions.
Work in trot then close seat & quicken legs to ask more cadence until better reaction. If horse ges too light in contact then take shorter in deep frame and when takes contact then lengthen rein
Trot exercise onto ccentrelibe & immediately sideways in leg yield to open outside shoulder (staying on same rein)
Usually trot to half steps rather than from halt or walk as easier to keep rhythm but with Inuit walk was better
Working pirouettes small & large circles, take away fear of turning then medium on larger circle. Think shoulder in not quarters in to turn shoulders. 
Behind the vertical not always a problem as long as stretching into the contact. Can't have no contact as no effective bridge from goblets to mouth. If no bridge then back muscles not working. 
Half pass is about cadence & crossing. Rhythm is the most important element inane sideways work hence uses leg yield then half pass.

Richard Davidson
Advanced rider
Assess your horse every day, they change. 
Position only valuable in terms of effect, suppleness & balance & influence and choices of using aids.. 
Stretching has too be long & round not short & deep to stretch muscles.
trot canter transitions, uses slight voice aid, then outside leg back then ask with inside leg to get lift of torso & flexibility with rib cage
Canter leg yield on circle to promote flexibility
Look at torso not just head & neck
Spurs not just for sensitivity & forwardness, it stimulates contraction of muscles in small area. So don't use spur of you need relaxed soft transition. 
Contact, rounded wrist & vibrating fingers not using elbows or shoulders or even hands
Leg yield small leg yield & close to girth not back. 
Collection is horse bringing body back over hind legs
Half halts can be from different exercises, Rebalancing with body rather than rein

Carl Hester
Advanced horse & rider
Where are the important marks in the GP? :In the canter. 
To get uphill then use shoulder in on circle. Half halts only for one stride thinking canter with hind legs, not pushing but hand asking for walk with half halts. When ride forwards out of half halt keep shoulder fore and take sitting with you, don't let him run off hind legs. Must be relaxed in hind legs so avoid injuries, don't push hard. Keep leg light & don't keep pushing if horse not in front of leg. Half halt up & fwds not down  and on snaffle not on curb
Corners are where work is done, look for inside eye, no more bend, keep neck open & come out in shoulder fore. 
Motivate horse off outside leg before change if changes are croup high. Give aid as foreleg comes down
Teach changes on long side to keep forwards & straight. 
Get horse through on snaffle not on curb which is refinement
Quality not quantity. 
Downwards trans from canter ask as inside leg is lifting. Must be uphill & consistent, wil never be better in the ring than in training.
Muscles behind saddle must be up & long. 
Muddle of horse must be in middle of legs and not be bulging out.
Passage steps, shoulder in touch inside hind leg don't slow down, ride up to passage. 
Leg aids vary, Carl uses both legs together at girth & then take both legs back & use together for piaffe. Some use leg further back others use alternate legs. 
Stallions, prefer not to keep them entire unless they are to be used for breeding as its not fair. 

Fiona Bigwood & Anders Dahl
Confirmation & desire/character are the majors. 
Most injuries are from overdoing it too early in warm up
Likes horse to be lighter in contact esp to inside rein
Uses Piaffe steps for half halts, release hands doesn't mean go forwards, seat releases forwards
Uses lots of shoulder in & Travers & piaffe in corners 
Use Travers on short side then get straightness through corner & to ensure holder in coming out
Doesn't count zip zag in training, focuses on quality of canter & changes
Rewards horse after good movement by 20m circle on long rein. 
Does 1 tempi changes at end of session , can train in 2 weeks!! By rewarding as last movement before hacking out to cool down, treat them like children enthusiastic to get through work & leave work early. 
Adjustabbolity in tempo & expression
Piaffe/passage- rides passage then brings it to a step of piaffe on the spot. Adjust tempo to maintain forwards thought. Need to teach transitions between piaffe & passage not just the 2 movements. Sit lighter in piaffe & deeper in passage. Not always on spot, make it more travelling in piaffe & pushing in passage
Fiona talks to horse all the time esp in orange/passage to help as horse was v hot so preferred not to use leg in orange/passage. 
Don't use whip in negative way just to encourage horse to step under more & use in inside hand to encourage hind leg to step under more
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