Stephen, FEI Judge General and Miguel, an International trainer/ rider from Portugal, presented a very interesting workshop at the TTT this weekend. With a selection of students who were riding a variety of horses, including a Connemara, a Lusitano and a Holstein, the main theme was that the basics must be sound, then, the training to Grand Prix is possible.
Stephen started with the fact that Regularity was the first essential and without it you can go no further. Miguel made his first point, that the rider needs to sit in correct balance with a strong core, to ride the horse forward into his natural speed and rhythm. He used numbers to explain that. The number 3 would be a stable one to start with, and through training, you can move to 4 5 or even 6.
Both trainers emphasised that the horse must travel forward for itself, reacting to the rider’s aids, so that it worked with little help from the rider, helping itself, and that it gave the rider the chance to make choices of what they wanted to ask and achieve.
Miguel wanted the horses to react and travel forward , allowing the rider to play with the balance. If the horse was unwilling, then it had to be ridden out of his comfort zone, and be quicker and shorter, or slower and longer.
Straightness was also important, that the horse was kept straight through the rein.He must stay in alignment with the shoulders staying upright, thus the horse carries himself and can react immediately, for example, producing a transition the instant it is asked for.
The 4 points not to forget were:
Do not help the horse too much
Always keep a contact
Always sit your weight back and upright
Always have a reaction from the horse.
Ride shoulder-in along the track for 20metres, forward onto a circle and canter transition, and canter a circle. Trot and repeat several times using all of the school until the horse is sitting steadily up on the outside rein, staying connected to your rein but holding himself up and leaving you sitting back and upright.