Monday, March 2, 2009

Good Reading

In my last post, I alluded to some great Jane Savoie tips. I listen to her CDs and got a lot of my inspiration there, but she also writes an incredibly informative blog. I love Ms. Savoie because she speaks to the average rider, even though she is an Olympian.

I am a mere mortal, but even playing around with some of her tips have really helped Brego and I. The emphasis being "play" and experimenting. I am always trying to find the key to my particular horse who is quite unlike the "average" dressage-oriented sporthorse. He requires that I think outside of the box, and not push leg into hand (a method enjoyed by my TB). So the main themes that drive my riding with Brego are 1) Balance and 2) Flexibility.

If Brego is not balanced, weight off his forehand, we cannot be successful. He is too big and clumsy. For a year, I have focused on balance and his hind end and it really helps. He will never be "catty" with huge suspension, but he does push well from behind and is much more coordinated.

Brego has a thick throatlatch and can get heavily muscled through the neck. So keeping him supple and flexible through his body is key. I spend time "in hand" and under saddle, asking for him to unlock his neck. I even overbend him to the side, allowing him to pop his shoulder if necessary, sometimes just to make the point. Not every movement we make is perfect or beautiful, but it all should be following the themes. I can cram his head in a perfect frame or never let his hind legs cross or never pop his shoulders, but he will not learn to loosen his neck. A lot of time, from the ground, our rides looks pretty weird. But he *feels* great!

This is just what works for me. After doing all the exercises, I spend the last week before a show putting him back together in a consistent way, to ride the test in a flowing manner. I don't ride the test to train, I train to ride the test. Well, actually, I train to have the most rideable horse I can. But the point is that riding countless 20 m circles does not improve Brego. I have to go beyond to strengthen him and then we can put together a nice 20 m circle. Nothing revolutionary here, just my thoughts on the matter.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here's the good information from Ms. Savoie:
Clearing up Confusion About Canter Aids
How to Help Your Stiff Horse Bend
Strengthening Your Horse's Weaker Hind Leg


6 comments:

Bev said...

Daun, thanks so much for sharing what you're learning. I'll be checking it all out.

Laura said...

Thanks for explaining that - I think it is important to realize that not every horse fits a certain formula. Good on 'ya for working out what works for Brego to get what you need/want out of him while making sure he develops properly...

Jane Savoie is apparently doing a clinic up my way this summer - I was waffling on whether to audit or not - guess I should check it out...

Glad that Brego has dropped some lbs and is getting ready for spring.

Mama2Arden said...

Jane has a nice web forum also... paid subscription but the info is handy and the video critques a really nice opportunity...you've probably seen it on her blog Dressage Mentors. I enjoy it quite a bit so Brego wouldn't be the only percheron (though Chi is supposed to have a touch of TB in there)...and lots of drafty draft crosses....

Andrea said...

Thanks for those links! Jane came to our college last year and I got to chat with her in person (but did not get to ride with her... big bummer). Her clinic was REALLY interesting!! I love her books too, especially the one That Winning Feeling. That really, really made a difference in my riding, seeing as SO much of it is mental, especially for Gogo.

Wrangler said...

Gah, I wish my boss understood that. But he's a stuck-in-his-ways Cowboy... and he's the boss.
I'll have to check out those links.

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Thanks for pointing me to Savoie...looks like a great blog!

Glad you guys are progressing...