Eighth Day in Florida


Today Lendon gave me an amazing opportunity to work with George Williams, president of the USDF Jr/Yr. George had not seen my horse in 2 years, when I first got him, and I wanted to get George’s input on my warmup and also some new exercises that emphasize suppleness of the horse.15780906_1288978881122258_4881848375885026860_n

In our lesson George started off with watching how I warm up my horse. We always start off with lateral work in the walk to warm up his body and back. Starting with some leg yields both directions to test the responsiveness off of my leg and to bend him around my leg. Next we go to the shoulder in to test that he isn’t pushing through his outside shoulder but instead stepping the inside hind leg under and through to the outside rein and bending in his body around my inside leg. Then we go to the renver and the half pass to test that he still keeps the suppleness and softness. Moving to a stretchy trot we worked on maintaining a tempo that encourages the horse to step under with the hind legs and work over his back. As soon as this is achieved, you can “test how the horse is on the outside.” This means that the horse is not using the outside shoulder against you, but instead supple through both reins and the hind legs are following the front legs. “The purpose of the suppleness of the inside is to make them responsive to your outside aids,” as George always says. Changing the direction in the trot we worked the responsiveness to the half halt and making sure the outside shoulder never wanted to push out but instead stayed in line as the hind legs tracked up to push the shoulders up. “You are always trying to find a balance between the outside aids and the inside aids.”

What I always love about George is that he works the suppleness first and foremost before any movements. For my horse this is extremely beneficial as he holds some tension through his body. Some exercises that George capitalized on during our lesson was on a twenty meter circle in the canter coming to a trot transition and immediately asking for counter flexion and changing the rein through the circle. The point of this is to get the outside shoulder not pushing out but instead under the control of the outside aids. Once control of the outside is maintained we go all the way around the arena with small voltes at every letter on the long sides. The little smaller circles help the horse to balance and collect more on the seat rather than off of the hands.

Again coming back to the shoulders, another great exercise was to come to a trot on the short side from the canter and in the next corner asking for a leg yield off of the outside leg. You always want to test the suppleness on the outside. “You want to be creative in the way that you surround the horse with your aids.” We then came to the trot and worked the half pass from the centerline to a shoulder in once we got to the wall. George also tested the half pass to a halt using only the outsideĀ rein. He also tested the rein back using only one rein from the halt. This is not a test of reactiveness, but instead a test of mobility. “You always have to understand that the half halt is able to be used at all times.”


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