Well it’s back to reality here in cold Houston, Texas; quite a shock after sunny southern Florida. I found myself making my annual January pilgrimage to Wellington this past week. This is truly the horse capital of the world in the winter. Riders and horses from the United States, Canada, Europe and beyond descend for the warm weather. My first stop was the USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference in Loxahatchee, Florida. This year featured Olympian Steffen Peters and Scott Hassler as the co-presenters.
I watched 8 rider and horse pairs being coached in a clear and concise manner by two of our top riders and trainers. I took away some key points to share with all of you.
- We need to explain suppleness to the horse. Find the most productive frame for the horse to understand suppleness so the horse can reach for the bit into ‘self-carriage’.
- A happy mouth = a happy horse.
- Find out early on how minimal of an aid you can use to get a result.
- When the horse is straight the inner hind leg is more engaged.
- The horse should not be allowed to use ‘forward’ against the rider.
- Know your horse in regards to your workout. If things are easier in the canter start there and not the trot for example.
- Be sure to work both sides of the horse.
- It has to feel easy.
- A horse that exhibits cadence and is forward on the hind leg is beautiful.
I also attended a symposium at the Jim Brandon Center with Kyra Kyrklund. Look for an update on that later this week.