Monday, March 30, 2009

March Henrik Clinic

The past week and a half I spent 4 days clinicing with one of my instructors, Henrik Johansen. I was able to clinic 4 different horses.

I was able to take Claudius in two lessons. Henrik knows Claudius quite well and Claudius has a reputation of not fulfilling his potential. I have been working with Claudius for about 6 months and working very hard to get Claudius to want to work. We have come a long way and it showed immediately when Henrik didn't recognize Claudius as I warmed Claudius up.

The emphasis in the trot work was to bring the shoulders up and get the hindend quicker. We spent a lot of time in the lateral movements working on increasing the impulsion by riding out to near a medium gait halfway through the movement. In addition we spent time in half steps and then going into quarter turns on the haunches.

The canter has been our weakest link and Henrik put a lot of emphasis on making sure the outside was engaged and straight. We spent a lot of work leg yielding off the outside seat and leg and then in a renver (haunches out) on a 20m circle. That was by far one of the most challenging things I've done. All of this work paid off as we were able to start some solid schooling pirouette work.

I have had a goal of showing Claudius at least Prix St Georges this season and after these sessions I feel confident to have Claudius ready for the PSG by June.

I had a very solid session with Nick and Henrik continued the theme I had been working on with Claudius of having a straight horse in the canter. We spent a lot of time in the renvers, especially on the right lead canter. Once I had Nick listening to me I could produce a flying change with no effort and the half passes just sailed across the diagonal.
The one thing Henrik emphasized was to ride Nick more like an FEI horse even though I'll be showing him 3rd and 4th this season.

Sabu is also another horse Henrik knows quite well and this was the first time Henrik saw me on Nick. Once again Henrik was quite happy in how the horse is going. The big thing with Sabu that we worked on was being able to have Sabu transition within each gait without bracing in the base of the neck. In the first lesson we spent a fair amount of time at the walk to get this. By the second lesson I had the walk down within the first couple of minutes.

The big thing we worked on in the second lesson were flying changes. I have "settled" Sabu's changes down to what they used to be, but still needed some help refining. The left to right change has been our achilles (mostly a late change) and Henrik gave me a good exercise to work on it, which I hadn't thought of.

At the very end of the second lesson we had a trot that, for Sabu, was engaged, uphill and expression-it felt great!

Neo is the new guy and I only had 5 rides on him before our two lessons. Neo's two limiters are strength and straigtness. Henrik gave me a couple of different approaches to getting him straighter. Neo is fairly stiff on the left rein and Henrik had me not even focus on that and instead get the left shoulder up and the right hind engaged and then eventually I'll have what I'm looking for.

The second ride went well and Henrik immediately commented what a difference from the first day. We spent about 1/4 of the lesson on canter pirouettes. It was evident strength is what we are working against; but I was able to get some steps from time to time that showed what Neo can do.

We had a good audience for the second ride and everyone was open with the praise for Neo. Henrik saw no reason why I wouldn't have a strong season with Neo at PSG and I1

The big picture items I was reinforced with and it's so hard to skip this, but keep at the basics: the trasnitions, the straigtness, and having the horse respond to me. With all of that, everything is easy! Thanks Henrik!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weather Gods

The past two Sundays I've attempted to take three of my young horses to the EI March Schooling Show and each Sunday we have been met with uncompromising weather. Last Sunday we had snow on Saturday night and today we had snow, wind and rain. We actually made it to Bride Trails today and when we were within a mile of the show grounds, the snow really started to come down and stick to the road. In a situation when you're not pulling a load, the roads weren't bad-but I'm not going to risk the horses' safety and therefore we promptly turned around and schooled at home instead.

I'm guess the weather gods are saying, "We don't want you to show the young horses". All I want is to get them in a show like atmoshpere before the big shows this summer. Hopefully we can pull that off in April!!

Upcoming this week (Wednesday and Thursday) is the Heinrik Johansen clinice at River Run and Simpatico. I will be riding Claudius, Cinzano, Nick and Sabu in the clinic. The following week I'll be taking Neo to another location to take two lessons from Heinrik.

Neo is due to arrive Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, for which Rebecca and I are very excited about.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 6, 2009


Congratulations to Rebecca Chatfield on the purchase of her new horse Neo! Neo is a 16.1h, chestnut, 13 yro Rhineland Warmblood. Rebecca and I have been looking for a horse for about 8 months and I think we have the horse we both want.

I traveled to Denver this past weekend to try out Neo and have him vetted. Neo is a great ride and will be a fun partner to work with. Fortunately, I was able to have my old friend Dr Page, perform the vet check. Neo did pass the vet check and to help him out we are going to change his shoeing a little bit to help him land more heel to toe.

Neo will be shipped out next week and we should have him in the barn hopefully at the end of next week.

I will be showing Neo this year at Prix St Georges and Intermidaire I. Look for us at our first show in June.

I'll be posting pics in a couple of weeks once we are settled.