After the first full week of training I felt that our work started to solidify. Not to say there weren’t rides that were more challenging than others, but getting familiar with a system and how a trainer wants to work through issues takes time. In the second week of training I felt like I could anticipate better the corrections Hubertus was looking for, and as a consequence of that, get better results.
The second week was a logical next step from where we left off on Friday. Hubertus overall likes my warm up technique but reminds me to keep flexion to the left and a steady outside rein. He wants to be certain that I really work to get Wrigley loose on the left side in the trot warm up when there’s no pressure. If the horse isn’t made to be soft from the beginning it only gets worse as you add more power and pressure for the collected work.
I will make a side note here about watching the warm up of Hubertus and his horses. If you were to walk into the arena when any of his FEI horses were starting their trot warm up you would not think they were top FEI competitors. They trot very normally, long and low without much lift or cadence or much impulsion. He is loosening them for sure, and they are listening to the leg and hand, but nothing is forced at the start. He insists that they all lower the neck and reach for connection in walk, trot and canter. He will take the time to get them loose, then break for walk, then he goes to trot with most of the horses. Here again, the first few rounds sitting are more uphill for sure, but it’s not the “10” trot right away. He will take a few rounds each direction to be sure he has the horse on his seat, swinging, and good in hand. He then he starts with shoulder in, and only once satisfied with the swing and feel of that will he start the half passes. It’s a very methodical progression with every horse, every day. He is building power and expression through relaxation and then later, a positive response to the aids.
We’re staying with the basic trot and canter loosening warm up, then a walk break, then canter work routine we did in week one. I have an easier time with Wrigley starting with the canter work. It helps me get him forward and through and on my seat. We start after warm up again with half passes in canter. From a nice big, jumping, forward collected canter I collect in the corner, ride shoulder fore, then begin half pass. Don’t let the canter half passes be too shallow and long,, keep the angle steep enough or he doesn’t stay collected enough in the canter. In half pass to the left, use the right outside rein to keep him aligned and the quarters from trailing. Keep him square under me, keep half halting to keep him with me and keep the jump in the canter with right leg. If he isn’t soft on the left rein, circle and make him loose, then begin half pass.
We started working some of the lessons outdoors this week and kept the same warm up routine. Take as much time as needed to get him loose. With a brisk, windy day, it might take more time to get him where he needs to be in the warm up. Remember in the canter warm up to keep the canter open and like a big working canter. Don’t let him come up too much and don’t close him too much at the start. After the canter half passes we focused on trot work on this day. I should focus on making small adjustments in the trot. Ride the trot a little forward and back and be careful that he doesn’t come up too much in front. Keep the swing in the trot and keep his strides covering ground. I find it a delicate balance to keep him feeling up enough where he’s good in the contact, without Hubertus commenting that he’s getting too up in front. Today we do the first extensions on the long side. Hubertus wants me to keep him rounder and keep inside flexion. When Wrigley gets strong at the end of the extension, half halt, flex him and make him go through in the corner. Don’t stop him, try and get him to take the half halt in the corner, then ride forward a bit on short side, then repeat extension.
Today in our first ride in the outdoor my flying changes were the best yet. The work we did earlier in the week has helped. I was more focused on the balance and straightness coming into the changes, especially on the approach to the one tempiis. Today the two tempiis were really straight and through and covered the entire diagonal. Hubertus said they were a solid 8. In the one’s I focused on the bringing him back like we had done earlier, and getting him really straight out of the corner, then starting the ones. No mistakes today and nice straight one tempiis. Hubertus said a solid 7 and for a 7.5-8 he needs to be cover more ground.
For the passage work Hubertus wants me to start from a good collected trot. I take the time to get him swinging and through and good in hand on the circle, then ask for the passage. It’s important that Wrigley stays good in hand and swinging when asked for the passage. He has very good talent for it, but I need him to stay consistently through and in front of me. Hubertus doesn’t want me to use the whip when I feel Wrigley is behind the leg, rather give him a firm kick with both legs, then sit quiet. The whip can make him uneven or jumping up too much with the hind legs. I’m working very hard to keep hands low and not help him too much in front. He has to stay under me and round enough in front but not short in the neck.
Once the passage is feeling good in hand a regular we practice the turn off the long side to prepare for the piaffe. He wants me to think of the turn like a quarter volte, not a square corner. It’s important that he stays forward thinking and doesn’t lose the rhythm. As I approach the piaffe I need to think forward and turn the shoulder slightly so he doesn’t get stuck with the left hind leg.
Saturday is the last day of the week for lessons. We worked on the same program as Friday only added pirouettes and didn’t school the flying w today. Wrigley’s right pirouette continues to be very good and he keeps good jump and uphill balance and allows me to control the turning stride by stride. To the left, I need to keep the left rein working on the inside to keep him soft and the right rein connection on the outside to keep him deep. Then the trick is to keep the canter jumping and not allowing him to shorten and over collect. We school the pirouette keep is a bit larger and really focusing on the quality of the canter strides behind.
Today the passage felt really good. He was lighter and more in front of me and stayed really regular. Remember to not work too hard in the passage. Make a correction with the leg to influence him then allow him to carry while I sit quietly with legs down. In extensions, Hubertus doesn’t want me to add too much cadence at the start of the extension. In all the trot work he wants me to think about keeping Wrigley more over the ground and softer. Keep working to get the strides longer and not so much up and down, and focus on making everything more fluent.