What a good day we had at Welland (Worcestershire)! The audience were really super, very open to learning and all at a similar level, just starting out with Straightness Training. We had a 30 minute theory session followed by 4 lessons, with Jo Lewington, Sam Pettigrew and Kerry Staudt. Jo took some beautiful pictures, so check out the gallery below. Huge thanks to Jo and Sam for hosting so wonderfully.
Kerry brought her super young mare Ebby for their first lesson and they both picked up the standstill exercises and LFS circle very well. It will be really great to follow their progress as they work through the programme. Well done Kerry and Ebby!
Jo and Sherman had a breakthrough finding that after introducing some steps of half pass which Sherman found a little challenging, he offered an awesome shoulder in with superb self carriage. Interesting how after moving to the next level the previous exercise seems so much easier! It is so wonderful to see Sherman's transformation from from a very stiff and rather resistant cob with a tendency to bolt, moving in a supple, soft self-carriage. Sadly I din't manage to get a picture of it.
Sam had her 2nd training session with Lolita, Jo's rescue mare. Lolita is in her late 20s and has a pelvis injury. In the past she has jumped but she was also trained to a fairly high level in dressage. Last time I saw her Sam had done a great joby by gently starting with the forward down exercises and some LFS circles with Lolita, which she took to very easily. In this lesson we explored the LFS on a straight line and shoulder in. Lolita surprised us by showing very proudly that she can already do shoulder in and she knows how to carry herself. So we carefully introduced haunches in - which she also took to very easily! With an elderly horse that seems very fragile we need to take care not to ask too much too soon, and keep training sessions short. But we must also not treat them like glass, or feel sorry for them. When they go into the field with the other horses they are not given any special treatment. So we need to remember how it feels in our own body when we go to the gym or start with a new exercises, and particularly how it would feel if we are over 60! Listen to the horse. And as always finding the right balance is key.
Jo had a lesson with Hugo. It was the first time I had seen them since the clinic with Marijke last year, when Hugo was extremely nippy and difficult to work with. Jo has done a fantastic job to bring him back into balance mentally, and showed us some lovely groundwork. It was interesting to see how his left hind leg would step beside the point of mass, avoiding taking weight, particularly in the haunches in to the left. And this similarly affected his half pass. Again the picture does not do it justice.
Wendy Poore, Licensed Straightness Training Instructor with Marijke de Jong