Friday, March 25, 2016

Trying Something New

So, after delving a bit deeper into Heather Moffett's Enlightened Equitation and various French Classical Dressage videos on YouTube, I decided to give schooling this way a try.  A lot of the exercises are the same as in the German system, but with a different progression and emphasis. Heather has a nice set of videos on YouTube of one horse in particular, Monty, and between watching the exercises and explanations with that horse, reading a lot more about the differences between the different schools of equitation, and watching a lot of the EE videos, I felt ready to give it a shot.  Since I ride using the EE aids(classical)the explanations of how to ask for various things made sense, and I figured at this point Jet is so used my changing things up that he would be ok.

My basic plan was to follow HM's videos with Monty as far as the what and how to work the horse.  Making sure I had slight flexion at the poll using light vibration/squeezing of the fingers and following that jaw flexion with leg when Jet "gave", I slowed the tempo waaay down at the walk and trot with my seat only.  Keeping the jaw flexion, I added a lot more lateral work at this much slower tempo, transitions, and rein backs.  And low and behold Jet's shoulders started to come up and his haunches started to bend.  Easily, with no resistance.  His halts started to be under his body and more square.  In all the video I took he was never behind the vertical.  He felt like he was carrying himself, the reins were only to keep the jaw flexion and a little steering and not much else.  Yet whenever I rode him forward to the contact he went right up to it and was willing to (politely!) stretch all the way out.  Wow.

After 4-6 rides I have to say, I think I am in love.  Jet feels so much more balanced, engaged in the hindquarters, and he is HAPPY.  As my daughter said after filming me, "He looks like a spring!"  Many things still to polish and refine.  I need to sit slightly more at vertical and allow my hips to follow better at the trot to still my wobbly ankles.  Slowing the tempo shows lots of little losses of straightness to fix.  Jet needs to gain much strength and cadence, but I can see how this slower tempo work at the walk and trot with tons of transitions, lateral work, and rein backs will lead to a stronger and more balanced horse who can eventually lengthen without rushing or falling out of balance.  Check out this video of some slower tempo trot, with a circle of shoulder-fore, transitions, rein backs, and a short canter.  Balance before movement-who knew?

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