Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In the arena #3 - timing is everything!

a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience

My trainer has talked about the timing of my aides so many times... about how it's the release of the aide that lets your horse know they've done what you're asking. Wait too long to release the aide and not only is it not effective, it's annoying. Instead of tuning you're deadening. Refine your aiding and your horse will respond to lighter and subtler aides.

I think I finally made the connection this week. While Val and I were doing groundwork one day, we got to the point that he would respond to the tiniest jiggle of the lead line. It almost felt like all I had to do was think and he'd move... like the lead line could have been made of thread. Similar experience under saddle with a turn on the forehand. Magical...

Since things were going so well I thought I'd work on bridling Val "freestyle" in the middle of the arena. This has been a struggle for us when we trailered to the beach. Not this time. He was a perfect gentleman keeping his head low, not walking off, and accepting the bit immediately. That brings up another component of giving aides. Don't be stingy with the praise...what a good boy!

Speaking of bits... I'm happy to say that both of the new bits fit perfectly. I tried the french link the other day and by the end of our session Val seemed really comfortable and was making lots of foam. Mission accomplished :)

Monday, January 25, 2010


25 January 2010
Reprinted from Horse and Country

Matine in action with Andreas Helgstrand

The sensational dressage mare Blue Hors Matine has been put down due to a broken leg, according to a statement on the Blue Hors Stud website.

It stated: "Today started like any other for Blue Hors Matine when she was turned out to enjoy some freedom with her field buddy gelding Blue Hors Cavan. Unfortunately, it was the last day of life for Matine.

A passer-by noticed that something was seriously wrong with the white mare in the pen and immediately alerted staff. There was no doubt that Matine's right front leg was broken at the knee and the vet found immediately that there was absolutely nothing to do to save her life, says director Esben Møller.

13-year-old Blue Hors Matine by Blue Hors Silver Moon x Matador, bred by Inger B. Katballe, was just about to foal and hopefully make a career in breeding. The mare's sporting career has not been long, but it was very successful. With rider Andreas Helgstrand the mare had an illustrious career and achieved in record time to become one of the world's most celebrated dressage horses.

At the World Cup WEG 2006 the pair won the championship first Grand Prix at the huge stadium in Aachen. In the Grand Prix Special they won the bronze in the Grand Prix Kur they won the silver medal. Their Kur quickly became the most watched dressage video on the internet and the portal YouTube has been viewed nearly ten million times!

It is with great sadness that Blue Hors today have had to say goodbye to their wonderful mare, and she was undoubtedly a novelty that will touch people and horses dressage enthusiasts the world over."

Watch Andreas and Matine's freestyle performance from WEG 2006 at the link below. RIP Matine.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In the Arena #2

Well it's January already. Time to take stock and map out our plans for the New Year.

Val and I ended 2009 with a very challenging trail ride through the woods (our second) that included several unanticipated dismounts and was punctuated by frequent hunters gunfire. The fact that one of our companions cantered off without us (we were fertilizing) really didn't help at all. When we finally made it home we did end the day by calmly circling around our ring. My pride suffered more damage than my body so overall I'm feeling pretty lucky.

The first issue I want to address is bits. I did get Val's bit size (5 3/4) when I purchased him but only recently found out what type of bit he was in with his previous owner... a d ring slow twist snaffle. I had started him off with a loose ring french link snaffle and tried 5 1/2 and 6 inch sizes, the 5 3/4 being hard to find. The sizes weren't really right and the loose ring seemed to pinch him. Overall he just hasn't been comfortable. A couple of new bits are on the way... I'm going with eggbutt snaffles, one slow twist and one french link. Can't wait to try them out. Will report later :)

We will also be getting on a more regular training schedule. The weather, shoeing issues, and the crush of the holidays have limited our practice sessions as well as our ability to get to my trainer for lessons. October was out last trip to Virginia. While we have made some progress regarding trailering and handling on the ground, we need more hours in the saddle. I want to attend a clinic with Erik Herbermann sometime this year... there's a lot of work to do!

Lastly, I resolve to focus on enjoying my horse. There needs to be a balance between work and play and I think our partnership will benefit from more fun :)
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