This is the story of my quest to train my three Dales Ponies for classical dressage, primarily by using Alexandra Kurland's clicker training methods, with a touch of others such as Philippe Karl and Anja Beran thrown in. I turned to clicker training because I had come up against some issues that I didn't know how to fix and because I wanted to inspire them to become enthusiatic partners. Bella and Jack are all my own work and have never been ridden by anyone else.
Monday, 12 January 2009
Philippe Karl Style Flexions.
I wanted to try some bigger lateral flexions, Philippe Karl style. Alexandra Kurland teaches the horse very small, gradual lateral flexions, a stage at a time, which is a lovely, gentle way to teach and develop them, but Philippe Karl says "wizout bend where iz ze gymnastizizing?" I wanted to see if my horses were ready for more gymnastic lateral flexions.
I tried with Bella first. I only had her in a headcollar so asked her mostly to flex towards me. I thought she might struggle with the fairly drastic flexions that PK uses in 'Classical vs Classique' as she has never been as supple laterally as Jack. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for her and it suddenly occurred to me to try giving her something to think of bending around.
I held my in hand whip up vertically alongside her inside shoulder and asked her for a lateral flexion. This had the added advantage of making it absolutely clear to her that I wanted her to stay really well up off her shoulder. She understood straight away and gave me a flexion that wouldn't have looked out of place on PK's DVDs. She then did some really lovely shoulder in on both reins.
She was quite on her toes throughout this, as she has had a week off and not been able to do more than walk carefully around a rock solid field for days, so I let her have a run around on the lunge. She walked and trotted on both reins sensibly and swingingly (for clicks and treats), even though Tom and my neighbours horses were turning themselves inside out in the field, and didn't let rip until asked to canter, which was accompanied by much leaping, bucking and farting. The emotional control she has learnt from 'Riding with the Clicker' is, I think, extraordinary for a six year old, especially as it's not something I've really concentrated on with her, as I have with Jack.
I did the same things with Jack and he also found the big flexions to be no problem. He hadn't been in the school for a week and it was really windy so I had prepared myself for him to be really spooky and was ready to go back to 300 Peck Pigeon if necessary. He was an absolute star! Not even a hint of a spook, even when it started raining as well. Even on the lunge he stayed relaxed and though he was glad to kick his heels up too, when asked to canter, there was no tension or anxiety there at all. He has come so, so far! He's my hero!!!!
I found that Grace isn't really ready for big flexions yet. They call for quite an advanced outline and Grace is not uphill enough yet and still needs to do more of the AK baby flexions, but holding the whip upright by her inside shoulder helped to really keep her up and off it, especially on her stiff side. I don't let her run around on the lunge as she only practises bad movement, and she's already spent too many years doing that. She doesn't yet have the self carriage to carry herself well, left to her own devices, and still needs reminding all the time.
I was thinking today about how demanding in hand work is for the horse. I am now, at very close quarters, controlling everything about them, from the speed and direction that their feet move in to the position, height and angle of the front of their faces. The fact that they can cope with this and stay relaxed, happy, enthusiastic and keen to do more of the same, as all three of them do, is just wonderful. My gratitude to them, for allowing me to, knows no bounds.
Please may I never, ever start to take all of this for granted and lose the wonder of it all.
- Motivation of Dressage Horses - Richard Hinrichs
- Taking Stock.
- Snowy Days.
- Photo Albums 2008.
- Snowy Days Photos.
- Frosty Photos.
- Philippe Karl Style Flexions.
- Giving the Horse a Voice.
- Aspirations and Expectations.
- First Time Evers.
- I found these clips on You tube yesterday and they...
- Russell's Story.
- Saddle Fitting.
- Photos of my Pones Backs.
- My Little Helper.
- ▼ January (15)