Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Today Donneur was fortunate enough to have one of the top riders in the Dressage world ride him. Hubertus followed the same format that we use in the lessons, starting with long and low and progressing to the collected movements. The long and low trot was quite pleasant, with Hubertus commenting about how nice Donneur was in the contact. The first canter was a little exciting, with Donneur giving one of his signature moves of exploding and ducking to the left. Hubertus' comment: "Now I see why you wear the small spurs". But, it was over just as quickly and they continued on, alternating between trot and canter, each time the trot became more collected and more animated. Only forward riding, pushing Donneur through until the trot became more fluid, then he started with half passes. Each half pass on the long diagonal was bigger and looser with more bending than the last. By now, the horses' legs are up around his ears(or so it seemed) . Hubertus' comment, " I am 100 percent sure there is more trot in there when he relaxes more". How big do you think it can get???????? Canter half pass went well and the next discussion centered around the pirouettes, especially the right one. Donneur wants to slow down as he turns and resists flexing in the jaw and staying soft on the inside rein. After several attempts there was some improvement and then they took a walk break. Hubertus' comment,"One minute he is so light he is on two fingers, the next minute when you would like to ask for a little more, he is incredibly strong!" I just smiled and nodded in agreement. After the pirouettes, they did a few lines of 3 tempi changes and then called it a day. He will ride him again tomorrow. When I took Donneur back to the barn, the look on his face was "Who was that man and what just happened? " But the great thing is that in spite of the fact that Hubertus pushed him for more, it was in a way that the horse understood and was quick to reward him when he got it right. Donneur is making quite a good impression on these Germans. He has a good work ethic and he has the talent to become a very good FEI level horse. Hubertus said that his basic gaits are an 8 and he just needs to be developed. That's when you are reminded how far it is from Prix St. George to Grand Prix! But what an excellent project! Where else can you have this much fun?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hello from Germany! I have created this blog so that I can share some of my training experiences while at Hubertus' stable with all of you. The horses made the trip well and have settled in nicely and after only a week's worth of lessons, have showed tremendous improvement. The work is quite demanding, but the result is a horse that is loose and swinging in his back through all of his movements. Working on the acceptance of the outside rein and staying loose on the inside rein is stressed above all else. The horses have to start out their session with a low stretching neck and be able to maintain that at trot and canter before moving on to collection. Once the collection has started, shoulder in and half pass are the keys to engagement. The half pass must have good bending and the horse must be able to half halt on the outside rein within the half pass. This must happen at trot and canter. The gait must maintain the absolute same tempo within the lateral movement as in the collected trot or canter. When this is accomplished, we move on to canter pirouettes, then on to tempi changes and finally finish with piaffe, when the horse is the most through and relaxed. Quite a straight forward system, but the key is in not compromising on the correctness and throughness of the horse. Key point to remember in the lateral work, you can have flexion (in the jaw) without bending in the neck but you can not have bending without flexion. It is a big challenge to keep the horse on the outside rein during the half pass, but you can't maintain collection without it.