Friday, 11 January 2008

Planning tomorrow's rally

Some of you might laugh but I do like to organise and prepare the trainings well before I even enter the arena. This is especially when I have the same clients coming back and when we train together regularly.
I have been teaching on rallies for Chislehurst Riding Club since November last year and the people involved are great. We started meeting once in a few weeks but they got really eager and interested and so it is now changed to once a week sessions. I drill them into correct position a lot and 70% of the time we work on basics. The level of their riding vary from one lady, who I have been teaching for over a year and who is heading towards dressage Novice, through those that need a lot of polishing but are fairly competent to riders who have some learning to do on a very basic level.

The tomorrow's session will have a "understanding rider's influence on horse's balance, paces, rhythm and impulsion; coordination of hand and leg; balance game" theme and so the elements will involve:

Warm Up phase:
  • usual walk warm-up when we work on position, correct any crookedness and ride accurate lines and arena figures and chat shortly on what's ahead;
  • we will then move to some 5 minutes work in work and then trot in a jockey length of stirrups to make the riders thinking with their seats/seat bones.
  • working on fluid transition between forward seat (half-seat) and dressage seat which will work on changing from a tall and narrow to a broad and low support base, and will work on constant adjustments of muscular effort without getting tense. This is one my favourite exercises for training the body awareness but they haven't done it yet and I suspect some cries for help :)
Working In
  • New: How to Lengthen and Shorten the strides correctly
  • Continued from previous week: How to put your horse on the aids (so he can then be 'put on the bit') - there is so many strange concepts that are taught to riders in this country that I honestly think a good fairly tale book could be written if all those were to be gathered together. After this month and a half I think the riders are getting the idea that the 'round' neck does not mean the horse is 'on the bit'. There is still lots to learn though so we will stay with the basic mechanics of achieving a preliminary/training outline for as long as necessary.
  • Continued.: Interplay in between hand and leg in practise; riding correct half-halts and halts; developing feel for the movement
  • Continued: How do we use the reins (now, this sounds ridiculously easy but don't be mislaid. Although most people know what that the inside rein is mostly just for creating bend they would still use it to turn! So we go back to this every time).
Lunge sessions
  • 5 minutes with each rider working on suppleness of the rider's body and independence of the reins; working on abdominal and psoas muscles. I try to explain over and over that developing the correct, powerful seat has priority over working on the horse (since it is the rider who makes the horse).
End element:
  • "What if I take your horse's bridle off" game ;) I don't expect them to agree so we will settle for knotted reins which we did in the past. This is actually one of my favourite exercises for teaching the rider that the reins are not for steering but for connection, regulation and finishing touch of the body aids and that it is not impossible to ride the dressage test pattern without a bridle! The interesting is that, and this has happened to me many times, that a rider would look at me horrified and would not want to even try. Some do try but the horse takes them absolutely everywhere and they say it is impossible. They ask me to demonstrate it is possible and once they have seen me doing this with their horse they hop on and ...do it as well! Of course there are horses which are not suitable for this sort of exercises so if you do think of doing this yourself, consult with your instructor first (and always have someone present with you in a SAFELY FENCED arena!).
Ok, off I go to print reading materials for the riders (yes, I do give homework as well!).
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