Friday, April 27, 2012

Jane Savoie: Part 2

The second discussion was meant as a supplementation of Part 1, to answer a lot of queries Savoie had been unable to address in Part 1.

The +1/-1 poll suppling exercise (+#/-# referring to the degree of bend in the horse's poll and neck) is a 'valium' exercise that helps relax the horse (loosen/supple the body + the mind/body connection = relaxes the mind). The horse should lengthen and stretch down.

With a 'block'/stiffness - check your position first and foremost, then check your aids, that they are consistent and correct.
- With an increase in speed a block/stiffness may return therefore re-supple at that speed
- With increased collection a block/stiffness may return
1 - check suppleness in the poll
2 - do collection exercises (ie, shoulder-in) or transitions skipping a gait (ie, walk-canter-walk)
3 - re-check suppleness in the poll

Check out schlesse - 9 tips of saddle fit

When you take up contact, open your elbows like a hinge, lower your hands over the horse's withers - have elastic elbows.

How many times might you have to apply connecting aids?
- layer your connecting aids like coats of paint to maintain connection (maintenance)
- apply very light aids ie, maybe every 5 strides
- anticipate when the horse might leave the connection and remind - maintenance - as opposed to letting him make the mistake and correcting. Instead, layer connecting aids one on top of the other.

Horses with high head carriage (etc):
If he can eat grass, he can go long & low
1 - precede connecting aids with suppling (ie, +7 or +1 exercises)
2 - maintain elastic elbows - don't lock your elbows while giving the connecting aids

A rider's banging legs are usually a symptom of tight hips not absorbing the motion of the horse - the motion of the horse comes out via banging legs, a bobbing head/hands, bobbing ankles, etc. Instead, have a ready leg - always have contact with the horse's barrel, legs draped like a wet towel but never squeezing constantly.

Do not generally do much work on contact with a young horse - especially at the walk, the easiest gait to ruin.

Teaching a horse to be on the bit - exercise #1:
Gives the horse and rider the idea of roundness based on a breakdown of the components of the connecting aids (1 - driving aids, 2 - bending aids, 3 - rein of opposition). This exercise is not for the baby horse not yet on contact.
1 - walk on a 20m circle (eventually this may be progressed to trot/canter and by decreasing circle size ie, to 12m)
2 - pick a point on the circle where you lightly close both legs and think about accelerating onto a smaller circle inside that circle
3 - at the tangent point where you leave the 20m circle, press with both legs and turn onto a 6m circle
4 - blend back onto the 20m circle
How the exercise works -
The acceleration is the driving aid (add hind leg), by virtue of the small circle you get the bending aid (inside rein), and by virtue of the circle being small you get the rein of opposition (outside rein defines circle size).
Therefore close both legs as you turn onto the 6m circle, close your outer hand in a fist, and squeeze and release with the inside rein... soften as you blend back onto the 20m circle. These all constitute your connecting aids!
Teaching a horse to be on the bit - exercise #2:
For the horse confused by legs v. hand.
1 - Ask for lengthening +++ with legs
2 - Ask for lengthening and add outside hand - use the lengthening to push the horse through the closed hand - keep lengthening +++
the key - watch the outside of the horse's neck for even a 1/2'' of lengthening of the neck or even
a 1/2'' lowering of the neck. That is our signal your horse has stepped through your closed
outside hand = release and reward (keep your inside hand flexing the horse).
1 - exercise #1 - little circle with big circle
2 - exercise #2 - lengthening, lengthening through the outside hand
3 - finished product - connecting aids

As it pertains to a horse in L&L - there is 'good dirt-sucking'... and there is 'bad dirt sucking':
Bad - long low neck with hinds trailing out the back door
Good - the hinds are driving under the horse and the horse is L&L upfront
The horse has no option but to fall on the forehand if you have not closed your legs and ridden the hind legs underneath when going from L&L to a short frame.

Savoie's trigger words:
1 - Referring to the back end -
Surge from behind (you should almost get whiplash) - rear-wheel-drive. Every set of connecting aids has the feeling of 'medium' gait.
2 - Pertaining to the front end -
When the hind leg is driven forward it meets my closed outside hand (closed in a fist)
Send the hind legs forward and when the horse arrives at my hand I close it in a fist

The rider's hands can be light on the rein but their fingers must be (softly) closed else (1) you'll lose rein and (2) your wrist will be stiff.
- your reins will always get longer after lengthening/extension/2nd gear because the horse's neck lengthens with more forward
- curl your fingers softly around the rein

If the rider's heel is jammed down too low (ie, it should be only slightly lower than the toe to engage the calf), the ankle will be too stiff and cannot act as a shock absorber.

For the horse who is spooky:
1 - supple the horse (ie, +1/+7 suppling exercises, where the habit of relaxation has already been established)
2 - do the +1/+7 exercises far from the spooky object, then not quite parallel to the spooky object bend the horse's neck to +10 so the horse cannot see the spooky object (neck bent to inside). Once adjacent to the spooky object, soften the inside rein (prevents claustrophobia). Do this gradually.
3 - Gradually get closer to the object and increase gait


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