Headed Home

And we’re off! Kate and I are driving home, following the horses, who are being shipped by Cody Irion of Eclipse Equine Transport. (Love this guy, he arrived at 5:59am this morning for a 6am pick up!!) We had such a great last few days. It’s really sad to say goodbye to all the lovely friends we made down in Wellington. Both barns were so welcoming with such accommodating owners, boarders and workers. We really couldn’t have had a better experience.

Our last days were chock full! After my lesson with Charlotte Bredahl Thursday morning, Kate and I headed over to Global to watch the Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic. This is the kind of amazing think that’s going on in Wellington on any given day. Three arenas going at the same time with lessons from Robert Dover, Adrienne Lyle, and Debbie McDonald for some very lucky young riders. We got to watch Debbie teach Callie Jones (individual YR gold medalist last year) and Anna Weniger (winner of the YR Freestyle Gold medal last year). We also got to see Robert helping Kerrigan Gluch and run into some old friends. What amazing opportunities these young riders have!! You can see live streaming of this event here. Charlotte Bredahl will be judging them practicing some test rides tomorrow!

Kate and I learning all we can

Friday I had my last lesson on Flow with Jen. I didn’t want to work her very hard before our long trip home. So we warmed up and then checked on the changes. They felt super and confident! I rode 4 on the quarterline and was able to keep them pretty straight. I just have to make sure I don’t allow her to bend to the L as she changes left – same exact feeling I need to keep in the walk to canter on the L. I’m so excited about her changes.

Flow on Jan 3

I then hurried over to Centerline Farm to hop on D’Arcy and get her ready to be seen by a friend who might know of a potential buyer for her. She was such a star, and I could not be happier with her. I then got to have a lesson with JJ Tate on Frieda. I would have loved to squeeze it in a little sooner, but I have to take what I can get! JJ is a friend from way back, and I’ve always admired her riding and teaching. She was SO helpful with Frieda. She has a strong biomechanical bent to her teaching that I find really fascinating. She wanted to help me really get into Frieda’s lower back and pelvis and “wake it up” and loosen everything up. Frieda is such a nice horse and so hard working and obedient. But she can be a bit “wooden” in her way of going, and JJ had some really interesting exercises to get her looser. We started out with lots of trot canter trot transitions to get her swinging a bit better. She specifically wanted me to bring her back to a “school trot” or very small trot and then into canter, so she really had to sit in the transition. Then medium and collected transitions in canter to get that lower back moving. Once the warm up was done, we went back to canter with more exercises. On the quarterline – haunches in for a few strides, then leg yield to the wall, then haunches in on the wall, and then shoulder fore through the corners and short side. We repeated this a few times to try to bend her more through the whole body and open up the hips and shoulders. Then on the circle, slight counter bend and leg yield in to a smaller circle, back out to a bigger circle and medium canter. In Frieda’s case, she really wanted her poll up in the medium canter, because otherwise she gets croup high. Then we did some steep leg yields across the whole arena in canter, quite sideways and not with much speed, so she really opened up through the hips and jumped over. This probably made the most difference in her. We did all these exercises on both sides with a break in between.

Frieda with JJ

Then after another break we went to the trot. JJ wanted me to keep the trot small and slower on a circle and play around with haunches in to shoulder fore or better yet, haunches in to renvers. She wanted me to really bend her in the haunches in and then try to use my seat to “jump in” to her pelvis and a little whip on top of the croup to help her tuck under and find another level of sitting and power. The feeling was really good and very different. She had me giving often with inside and/or outside rein to show her she could just “let go” with her neck. Then we tried to use some medium trot on a circle to show her how to open up her strides with that more tucked under pelvis. I think Frieda was shocked at how much she could move her body! She is just so polite about everything, but JJ described her as having a low level of tension in everything she does, and I think that’s right. She has to surrender a bit more in her body, not in a submissive way, but in a letting go way. That’s what the term losgelassenheit is all about in dressage, and why it’s so hard to translate. It means “the letting go-ness of the muscles” but with power. Go Frieda, go!! 🐴 🌟

I then went right into two last lessons with Jen on Blush and Lily. They were both great – both did many great changes! And I’m so excited to play around with the work in hand ideas for passage with Lily.

Last night we had a fun dinner out with many folks from Havensafe. Sarah Diggin is a trainer there year round. Missy Fladland, from Iowa, is spending the winter there training with Katherine Bateson. Missy’s husband, natural horsemanship trainer Kip Fladland, was visiting and joined us as well. Nita Andrews, a year round boarder and owner of the cutest pony ever, Cashew, was there as well, along with Lehua Custer from CA and, of course, Jen! Such a fun group and a great way to go out.

Trail riding at Havensafe

I’ll have one more blog to thank all the people that made this trip possible, but right now I have to help Kate navigate and stay awake by jamming out to 80’s music 😎🎢🎸

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