Posts from the ‘horse riding’ Category

2012 Summer Digest: International Society for Equitation Science

The Proceedings of the 2012 Conference of the International Society for Equitation Science

are available here:

http://www.equitationscience.com/documents/Conferences/ISESConferenceProceedings2012.pdf

 

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Just for Fun: Stephen Colbert’s Televised Dressage Lesson

Humor reins….err…reigns

 

About once every four years, historically, this curator wishes he had a television. For the 2012 Olympiad, the internet filtered for me, leaving mornings free for horses here, realtime.

This morning, this is the funny thing that fell through the screen:

(To go straight to it, click the top line)

Olympic Dress Rehearsal

It’s  hot and dry, here, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri. Too hot to even think about getting dressed to test, much less to ask our horses for such exuberant exhibition. Trail rides and frequent showers suffice to keep our minds, bodies and souls intact.

But in rain sodden Gloustershire, in the west of England, the Brits decided to give their least experienced Olympic aspirant a dress rehearsal. Charlotte Dujardin and Vallegro’s  at Hartpury College, July 7 2012, scored a well deserved 90.65.  Evidencing excellence in every element of the Training Scale, plus near synchronization to the musical medley, compels inclusion of their test  in this collection.

http://youtu.be/jRuRQatxyik

WorldClass Warm-ups include Long&Low, EVERYDAY

Free Translation Widget

In recent months of sizzling summer-extreme heat and drought, here near the Confluence- I’ve watched innumerable videos of 2011 Aachen, The European Dressage Championships, and several other European Dressage shows, and have been inspired by such good riders, more as a matter of  ‘who knows, rather than who’s news.’

While the US Young and Developing Dressage Horse Championships and US National Grand Prix and Intermediare Championships were in process the last few weeks, at Wayne and Gladstone, I resorted frequently to usefnetwork.com live stream and a variety of news sources to glean new insight into progress by US competitors toward the ideals of Dressage.  For the tests themselves, internet videos provide excellent vantage points, typically better than being there.  And when I see one test performance clipped, I seek, and often find,  more videos of the same performance, recorded from other vantage points.

What I miss by not actually being there, is that I don’t see the warm-ups preceding the tests, as one can, if situated  cleverly at contest venues.

So over time I have surfed avidly for film clips of warm-ups by riders I admire, and who moments thereafter received high marks from FEI Judges. I have found few, alas, very few.  My current favorites of warm up clips, is Steffen Peters (US) and Ravel at 2009 Aachen, where they won the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special, and Grand Prix FreeStyle. warming-up  for the Grand Prix Special which is, you may know is THE TEST of shortest duration, requiring the highest degree of collection for sustained  for the longest duration of any of the FEI TESTS.

(A new GPS test, written by the FEI, at the behest of the IOC, and much to the chagrin of the International Dressage Riders Club, for the purpose of entertaining network television viewers of London 2012, will be used from October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2012. I just read the new test. Containing all the same movements as the ‘normal’ GPS test, it is even shorter- more compact, and requires more muscular stamina. I think it an unnecessarily difficult means of testing against the ideal. Causing me to wonder, for our horses’ sakes, how to get television production under control. )

A view of Steffen Peters preparing Ravel for their 2009 Aachen Grand Prix Special triumph: ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

************************************************************************************

And here’s what I see…from zero to 1:26 Steffen is loosening and promoting Ravel’s engagement  by posting vigorously, emphatically rising as vertically as possible, canting forward only by the inclination of his head and the visor or his cap. When he touches the saddle, he barely pats it. But he does pat it, to which the horse reacts by opening his thoracic spines upward.  Steffen opens the inside of Ravel by counter flexing and eliciting one stride of counter shoulder fore before riding each corner as a quarter volte. In this posture, for this horse’s degree of development, a quarter volte is three or four strides, rather than two, as in collection. Again counter flexing a stride before beginning a circle, he then ‘drives on,’ forward and down, asking for increased engagement into even contact, including, for the purpose of this exercise, the contact of the rider’s passively tense calf with horse’s latissimus dorsi, through saddle.

Contact with the rider’s hands, held wide apart as the rider’s hips, well below the horse’s withers, and therefore sensed by the horse from the rider’s hips, rather than from the rider’s elbows as when the riders hands but a hand’s width apart and just above the horse’s withers, is through the snaffle rein to the corner of the horse’s mouth and through the curb rein only by the weight of the curb rein and bit felt by the horse at its poll. The “drive on” is effected by the rider’s posting momentum including the projection of his center forward and the flexion of the rider’s calf each time rider rises with the horse’s inside leg. The rider’s hand senses to coming of throughness from behind and gives to permit forward energy flow, effecting repeated ‘half-forwards’  The horse’s posture is horizontal, weight distributed evenly fore and aft. Tail swinging indicates lack of spinal tension. Neck long, open and low, to poll below withers, flopping ears! Facial profile inside the vertical and moving toward the vertical as the exercise proceeds. Corner of horses mouth between point of horse’s shoulder and horse’s elbow.

Steffen executes the exercise as I find it is written in classical literature. This is how it is done. The first 86 seconds of this tape is the answer not only to “what is long and low?” but the current probe “How long and low is TOO long and low?” This tape exemplifies the limits.

In the very next seconds, and onward, Steffen administers exercises he has programmed to ready for the soon to be performed test. And there is vastly more to be learned, not the least of which is the relationship between half-pass and passage, by and for  those who have moved closer to this level of  development. About the rest of the tape I may write later, if only for the crystallization of my own thoughts. I chose to not edit, to not curtail, the tape because I did not want to remove any available context.

But back to long and low, everyday long and low:

What we don’t see in this clip is what preceded the administration of the exercise. Reasonable surmise is that he enjoyed a 10 minute walk ‘trail ride,’ mounted, from stable to the group warm up ring, where among other contestants, he continued to loosen with longitudinal and lateral exercises at trot and canter, awaiting his ten minutes of exclusive use of the private warm-up court penultimate to entrance to the test arena. And may have entered the private court at collected canter, just before the video starts. Such sequential build-up to performance is rarely, if ever afforded at lesser than International Championships venues.  Nonetheless, the first 1:26 of this clip is relevant to the work of all of our horses, at every stage of their progressions. Large circles, with the best possible contact,  long and low, emphasizing maintenance of rhythm and tempo and promoting engagement, is, early on, the lesson itself, for a horse in field school. It is valuable therapy for a horse coming out of rehabilitation. And it is essential preparation for a day’s lesson, or for test performance.

For advancing medium level horses, and further developing advanced horses, this exercise is included not only in warm-up, but also warm-down. As such horses tend to become too strong, it is best to leave the day on a soft, light note, making it easier to resume the next ride with softness and lightness.

Oh, almost forgot! I couldn’t find a clip of Ravel’s 2009 Aachen GPS, but here’s one of his triumph in the Freestyle, preceded, I imagine by a similar, if not identical warm-up.

2011 Autumn Digest: Kyra Kyrklund, Global Dressage Forum

12/3/11 I’ve never met Kyra Kyrklund. I’ve seen her ride only once…real time… in Stockholm Stadium, during her Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special tests at the 1990 World Equestrian Games. And I’ve read, and will read again, her book. I unabashedly admire her, and am forever grateful for having enlightened and stimulated me to pursue this craft. (My gushing reminiscence in post-script, following, will explain.)

So when I read of her presentation at the 2011 Global Dressage, I hung on her every word, as reported by Eurodressage’s Astrid Appel.

http://www.eurodressage.com/equestrian/2011/11/04/kyra-kyrklund-collecting-body-and-step

I’ve read, since, that Kyra spent her sixtieth birthday, not sunning herself on a beach, but questing onward, attending the Morning Training of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

As would I, if I could take the schoolmasters with me.

Gone surfing, I found this video of Kyra and then PSG accomplished Master 850, giving the impression of dancing around sparklers on a birthday beach. Happy Birthday to me!

Now, to reminisce:

I had ridden and studied dressage for already 30 years, seen US National Dressage tests, and World Championship dressage tests of Three Day Events here in the States and in England, and even ridden a confirmed GP horse as part of my ’87 Kentucky job. I was still not convinced of elite Dressage’s contribution to the preservation, much less enhancement, of the essential nature and nobility of The Horse. I was, and am, afterall, a Littauerite, ever aware of Littauer’s admonishment to beware of “charlatans” coming from abroad. But I had also read much of Podhajsky – who was utterly revered by my family and riding mentors – including his analysis of Olympic Dressage judging. And enlightened, spiritually elevated, enthused, by two mid 80’s performances of the Spanish Riding School in the St. Louis Arena.

So there I was in Stockholm for the first ever World Equestrian Games. To absorb all I could learn from the best of the best of all disciplines of the time. For Dressage, I was seated just to the right of, but many meters behind C.  I trained my binoculars on each Dressage contestant’s ride, and made copious notes in the margins of the WEG program between tests.

And learned a lot.

I remember coming away from the GP rides thinking “that black horse and Finnish rider could have captained a winning team.” (had Finland fielded a team)  And during the GP Special rides for individual medals, being impatient for Matador II and Kyra Kyrklund’s entry, elated by their performance, and disappointed that it was ever over. Resorting to coffee, I was satisfied and confident that the Jury’s scoring should have preferred the qualities of Matador’s motion, his exuberant expression, including evident delight in his own accomplishment, over the impressions of automation imposed by other riders’ determined accuracy of their horses’ tests.

Since my own awareness of youtube, I’ve been searching for a video of Matador at the 1990 WEG.  I haven’t found one.

Close as I can get is this record of Kyra Kyrklund and Matador breaking the barrier at the 1991 World Cup Final Kur:

So now

Romp in the Rain

11/20/11  Rode in the rain today. Did not intend to ride in the rain today, but did. It had drizzled much of the early morning, but had stopped by ride time, and the footing looked splendid. And it was not raining while I groomed and tacked, but it was drizzling as we headed out the door, so I pulled on a parka, and strode to the outdoor court, wiped off the saddle and mounted.

His Majesty obviously liked the conditions. He walked out energetically, inspected the margins, found my hand soon, and rhythmically inscribed three walk leg yield (LY) zigzags (ZZ), first forward at about 55 degrees, then steeper at about 40 degrees, and lastly, at about 60 degrees in medium. This horse has a wonderful walk, which has only gotten better by the inclusion of LY in his loosening exercises.

In walk we also played with shoulder-in(SI)>half-pass(HP)>SI>HP>SI. He is less adept at this exercise, so we only HP ZZ when SI>HP>SI>HP>SI is near perfect. Which it was not today.

So not to belabor that exercise in drizzle, we went on to trot the perimeter in an energetic long and low working posture. And then inscribed spiral in, transitioning to uphill collection and spiral out from uphill collected to uphill medium – one full in and out complement of spirals on each leg.  After straightening, still in uphill medium,  we collected and came to halt(H). But the H was not square, so H>T about a dozen collected strides to H. Which was square. Then from a few strides of forward working trot, went large and long and low to transition into canter, with one barely uphill flying change each direction before inscribing canter spirals that progressed from long and low inward to uphill collection, then pirouette canter into a big, but buoyant 3/4 pirouette>straight out of which we transitioned from that degree of collection into uphill medium, flew a change, returned to long and low and repeated the exercise on the other leg.

When I brought him to walk and fed him the reins, he took them all the way to the ground and lengthened his stride across a long diagonal, then to uphill medium before I let him walk free while I inspected the footprints of the prior exercises.

This court is 50m x 50m, which accommodates a 20m spiral in each quadrant. Although the in and out of the trot spirals made it difficult to discern which was which, the overall impression to my eye from astride was a smooth increase of bend followed by smooth decrease of bend both directions. The canter tracks were easier to read, and I was not surprised that the overtrack of inner hind was greater to the left than to the right in medium, but pleased to see that the tracks of pirouette canter volte and the near pirouettes themselves were pretty even on both legs. If it were not by now really raining, or I were willing to let the saddle get that wet before remounting, I would have dismounted and inspected all of the tracks more closely. What I could see remaining astride was a handsome piece of lace we had just tatted.

Which we proceeded to obliterate by resuming trot, and playing the accordion, as Charles de Kunffy dubbed longitudinal and lateral bending exercises. First a shakule of working > collected > medium>collected> near piaffe> collected>near piaffe>medium…executing corners only in collection.

Then we fished-tailed a long straight line of haunches-in(HI)>haunches-out(HO>HI>HO Which ignited an increasedly impulsed uphill medium.  Thrilling how that works, when a horse reaches this stage of development. Although I think I might have made such extravagant medium into passage today, I did not want to introduce anything new, but instead resorted to working trot long and low to soften.  I am thrilled that this horse is strong enough to do so much medium trot exercise. But I have to keep him adjustable if his eventual extensions and passage are to be unconstrained, elastic, and exuberant.

Continuing to accordion laterally and promote rideability of the SI>HP>SI, by way of trot volte (TV) > SI> TV>SI>HP>SI> straight to change legs to repeat in the opposite direction. Then long and low working large circle each direction. Then to free walk the perimeter through north wind propelled RAIN,  fling open the gate and ride to the stable port, where I dismounted.

Once inside, I loosened the girth and released the flash, and walked Carl Hester’s “20 minutes on hard” (See Digest Autumn 2011) all the while untacking, unwinding polos, and changing each of us into dry clothes. When I asked HM whether he enjoyed his romp in the rain while bent to remove his left bell, he responded by gripping the crown of my soaked bucket hat between his lips and tossing it into the grooming stall (as he has seen me toss his bell boots times before.) Giggling and exclaiming “Comic” I was caught in a hug as I crossed under his neck to the right boot. And while there, and massaging those tendons he tousled my hair with his lips.

SO I guess he had enough fun to make all the extra laundry and tack cleaning worthwhile.

WorldClass Warm-ups include Long&Low, EVERYDAY

Free Translation Widget

 

In recent months of sizzling summer-extreme heat and drought, here near the Confluence- I’ve watched innumerable videos of 2011 Aachen, The European Dressage Championships, and several other European Dressage shows, and have been inspired by such good riders, more as a matter of  ‘who knows, rather than who’s news.’

While the US Young and Developing Dressage Horse Championships and US National Grand Prix and Intermediare Championships were in process the last few weeks, at Wayne and Gladstone, I resorted frequently to usefnetwork.com live stream and a variety of news sources to glean new insight into progress by US competitors toward the ideals of Dressage.  For the tests themselves, internet videos provide excellent vantage points, typically better than being there.  And when I see one test performance clipped, I seek, and often find,  more videos of the same performance, recorded from other vantage points.

What I miss by not actually being there, is that I don’t see the warm-ups preceding the tests, as one can, if situated  cleverly at contest venues.

So over time I have surfed avidly for film clips of warm-ups by riders I admire, and who moments thereafter received high marks from FEI Judges. I have found few, alas, very few.  My current favorites of warm up clips, is Steffen Peters (US) and Ravel at 2009 Aachen, where they won the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special, and Grand Prix FreeStyle. warming-up  for the Grand Prix Special which is, you may know is THE TEST of shortest duration, requiring the highest degree of collection for sustained  for the longest duration of any of the FEI TESTS.

(A new GPS test, written by the FEI, at the behest of the IOC, and much to the chagrin of the International Dressage Riders Club, for the purpose of entertaining network television viewers of London 2012, will be used from October 1, 2011 through December 31, 2012. I just read the new test. Containing all the same movements as the ‘normal’ GPS test, it is even shorter- more compact, and requires more muscular stamina. I think it an unnecessarily difficult means of testing against the ideal. Causing me to wonder, for our horses’ sakes, how to get television production under control. )

A view of Steffen Peters preparing Ravel for their 2009 Aachen Grand Prix Special triumph: ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

************************************************************************************

And here’s what I see…from zero to 1:26 Steffen is loosening and promoting Ravel’s engagement  by posting vigorously, emphatically rising as vertically as possible, canting forward only by the inclination of his head and the visor or his cap. When he touches the saddle, he barely pats it. But he does pat it, to which the horse reacts by opening his thoracic spines upward.  Steffen opens the inside of Ravel by counter flexing and eliciting one stride of counter shoulder fore before riding each corner as a quarter volte. In this posture, for this horse’s degree of development, a quarter volte is three or four strides, rather than two, as in collection. Again counter flexing a stride before beginning a circle, he then ‘drives on,’ forward and down, asking for increased engagement into even contact, including, for the purpose of this exercise, the contact of the rider’s passively tense calf with horse’s latissimus dorsi, through saddle.

Contact with the rider’s hands, held wide apart as the rider’s hips, well below the horse’s withers, and therefore sensed by the horse from the rider’s hips, rather than from the rider’s elbows as when the riders hands but a hand’s width apart and just above the horse’s withers, is through the snaffle rein to the corner of the horse’s mouth and through the curb rein only by the weight of the curb rein and bit felt by the horse at its poll. The “drive on” is effected by the rider’s posting momentum including the projection of his center forward and the flexion of the rider’s calf each time rider rises with the horse’s inside leg. The rider’s hand senses to coming of throughness from behind and gives to permit forward energy flow, effecting repeated ‘half-forwards’  The horse’s posture is horizontal, weight distributed evenly fore and aft. Tail swinging indicates lack of spinal tension. Neck long, open and low, to poll below withers, flopping ears! Facial profile inside the vertical and moving toward the vertical as the exercise proceeds. Corner of horses mouth between point of horse’s shoulder and horse’s elbow.

Steffen executes the exercise as I find it is written in classical literature. This is how it is done. The first 86 seconds of this tape is the answer not only to “what is long and low?” but the current probe “How long and low is TOO long and low?” This tape exemplifies the limits.

In the very next seconds, and onward, Steffen administers exercises he has programmed to ready for the soon to be performed test. And there is vastly more to be learned, not the least of which is the relationship between half-pass and passage, by and for  those who have moved closer to this level of  development. About the rest of the tape I may write later, if only for the crystallization of my own thoughts. I chose to not edit, to not curtail, the tape because I did not want to remove any available context.

But back to long and low, everyday long and low:

What we don’t see in this clip is what preceded the administration of the exercise. Reasonable surmise is that he enjoyed a 10 minute walk ‘trail ride,’ mounted, from stable to the group warm up ring, where among other contestants, he continued to loosen with longitudinal and lateral exercises at trot and canter, awaiting his ten minutes of exclusive use of the private warm-up court penultimate to entrance to the test arena. And may have entered the private court at collected canter, just before the video starts. Such sequential build-up to performance is rarely, if ever afforded at lesser than International Championships venues.  Nonetheless, the first 1:26 of this clip is relevant to the work of all of our horses, at every stage of their progressions. Large circles, with the best possible contact,  long and low, emphasizing maintenance of rhythm and tempo and promoting engagement, is, early on, the lesson itself, for a horse in field school. It is valuable therapy for a horse coming out of rehabilitation. And it is essential preparation for a day’s lesson, or for test performance.

For advancing medium level horses, and further developing advanced horses, this exercise is included not only in warm-up, but also warm-down. As such horses tend to become too strong, it is best to leave the day on a soft, light note, making it easier to resume the next ride with softness and lightness.

Oh, almost forgot! I couldn’t find a clip of Ravel’s 2009 Aachen GPS, but here’s one of his triumph in the Freestyle, preceded, I imagine by a similar, if not identical warm-up.

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