Well that’s a wrap on another awesome clinic with Dani Keogh. Walking away I couldn’t help but feel that this is what dressage is all about! I may be an average rider and while I love Nonie to pieces she is not the most talented horse in the world but over the past two and a bit years we have come forward in leaps and bounds. Where we were working on Nonie staying straight and carrying herself in the canter we are now working on getting gears in the canter, halfpass and flying changes.
Yesterday we focused on the trot, we played with the gears in moving between working, medium and collected trot. The aim of this is to help improve the strength and carrying power in the Nonie’s hind quarters. Today we worked on the same exercise in the canter. What was really exciting about this exercise is that Nonie is now responding far better to aids from my position. Throughout the clinic, a few more changes to my position made this even more effective. Dani got me to think about broadening my collar bones and keeping the last 10% of my seat in the saddle. This helped to really engage my core and keep my strong through my upper body. As a relatively tall rider this can be quite challenging.
In the trot and canter work in general we are focusing on making sure Nonie stays connected and up through the wither which has helped the lateral work hugely. When she is engaged and over the back she is able to bend more easily through her body. Yesterday’s lesson was first time I’ve really felt I could just put myself and Nonie into position and ride the halfpass! WIN!
These were also our first lessons riding in the double bridle. I’d already had a few rides in the double, but overall we are both still fairly new to it. So it was a relief to feel that Nonie was quite happy in it. At this stage in our training we won’t be using the double bridle everyday for two reasons. Firstly, as we will still be competing at elementary level we will need to do this in a snaffle. Secondly, Nonie has a tendency to lean a little on the bit and I don’t want to fall into any bad habits with this.