Thursday, September 19, 2013

Can You Say Engagement?

Bacara and I rode in a Lientje Schueler dressage clinic over Labor Day weekend. This was a great follow-up to the Carole Grant clinic. From Carole I had some practical solutions to solving training issues. From Lientje, I learned much about gait improvement. We worked on half steps and engagement more than I have ever worked on them before. I have played with half steps myself but never had a ground person help me with them before. Bacara responded really well to the help and increased her engagement quite a bit. The over all message was that Bacara needed to accept more engagement and not block in her neck when asked for more. After doing the half steps - more engagement in the regular work seemed quite a bit easier. I widened my reins and pushed for more throughness in her lower neck. It seems like if there is a problem with the engagement and collection in my mare it is at the base of her neck. This work helped her engagement and balance so much that I felt like I had much more time for all of the movements. I had better placement of the steps and a slower but more engaged horse. I have always known that the half steps would help the horse's overall work - but this was very loud and very effective. I have not done any work in the past with a ground person because I really have no one here at the farm that is educated enough to do that for me. Lientje is by far one of the best clinicians for quality of gait improvement. I hope she knows how much us Wisconsinites appreciate her input!