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Working on straightness and suppleness

Welcome to my first blog! Instead of just posting photographs and information on the horses at Yonder Farm it would be more interesting to back this up with a small blog to accompany each photograph or small video clip giving tips and insight on each session. I hope you enjoy them. Today the focus with Chloe AKA Bohigus W was straightness in the 2 tempi changes and clutch control, throughness, suppleness and stretching.

Chloe is an advanced horse competing at PSG, she works two or three days in the double, has two days off a week and works two or three days in a snaffle. This program would be spread over seven, eight or nine days to allow for time off and recovery between sessions. Her working days would vary between hacking, time in the field, loose lunging, long lining and pole work. In today's session I warmed up in the snaffle as I feel the snaffle is likened to giving the horse an MOT; You can really feel everything with stretching and clutch control. When I say clutch control I mean quickening and slowing ground speed without losing engagement. This is achieved by making many small transitions within the pace and from one pace to another the horse must be connected from the riders seat and leg forward to the hand. This must not be ridden abruptly, but smoothly in a balanced calm fashion. The horse will need time to realise you want to speed up and slow down. It will take at least five or six strides of preparation to achieve either of these when moving forwards and the coming back. When you first start to teach clutch control your horse must be steady to the connection and you must be able to ride with an independent seat and hand. Use smooth transition to create forwards and back, quicken your rise and body movements to accelerate and slow down your body movements to decrease speed. This will create a smooth flowing transitions. The horse should feel like elastic, must be straight and once connected you should start in walk and practice making small steps in walk and then quietly moving on then coming back to almost stopping. Then take this through all the paces until you develop the ability of clutch control.

For the tempi changes today I am using the wall to help me keep a straight line, this is work in progress as she likes to get big and push off the hind leg. I would stay close to the wall, sit still and use my body to swing through the changes to close the canter. A good idea is to stop in the corner after the changes turn left into the corner re-establish a canter on the wall and continue changes up the long side stop. In the next corner turn into the wall canter again and make your changes, this will help keep the canter closed and stop the horse trying to run through the corners which is a bonus. Don't over train the changes, get a few good lines and then go and work on something else. Practice movements but don't kill them. Create exercises that help you develop the movements not over train the movements.

I hope you have found this interesting and have enjoyed reading my first blog. These are just tips and a small insight on how the horses are produced and trained under my guidance.

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