Jill has owned Thomas for several years and they first came to one of my clinics with an interest in doing some in-hand work. Having done some Parelli work together Jill wanted to expand her knowledge and develop new techniques of working horses from the ground.
We built on the knowledge they shared with the basic in-hand technique using the cavesson, working on circles and developing side steps and shoulder-in. With the understanding they already had we progressed quickly to shoulder-in on a circle to supple Thomas through his haunches and build his strength.
We changed to using the bridle and introduced more exercises to further develop Thomas’s suppleness and strength. Through this work Thomas developed a lovely light shoulder-in.
From there we introduced some more demanding exercises such as rein back to trot transitions and shoulder-in to renvers transitions, that were designed to continue to build Thomas’s strength and maintain his suppleness. As this improved we were able to ask for more impulsion in his trot, and carefully developed transitions through rein back to halt to walk, rein back to trot transitions and lengthening and collecting in trot to create a more athletic pace whilst keeping his confidence in the requests.
As Thomas’s collection and impulsion improved we worked through smaller trot circles, and trot to halt to trot transitions with attention to detail so he understood the requests and had time to process them. These exercises developed clarity and subtly and encouraged Thomas to engage his haunches as preparation for more advanced movements.
Through this work, Thomas lowers his haunches and engages his haunches well, maintaining his self-carriage. Jill is able to release and regain the contact in trot in "descente de mains" and we can now ask for a small piaffe step.
The focus was to create a strong supple horse whilst maintaining clarity and subtly with the aids. We continue to develop greater collection in his trot towards more piaffe steps and use the lateral work to develop better self-carriage and cadence in the school walk.
There have been times, particularly in the early days where Thomas found the work difficult and it required a lot of patience from Jill to bring Thomas through those phases without creating problems. Through consistent, careful work Thomas is now a strong, confident horse and we are continuing to develop his more advanced work.
Diane Followell Classical Dressage Trainer
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