If you’ve never sat in on a lesson between two upper-level riders, I bet you’d think it’s really beautiful work, full of piaffing and passaging and half-passing and the upper echelons of dressage.
You’d be mistaken. I spend a remarkable amount of time in my lessons trotting a 20-meter circle and hoping that whichever horse I am on will put his or her head up, down or in, respectively.
What also happens in my lessons, 99 percent of the time, is being reminded of things I already know and have forgotten, or am not doing enough, or am doing too much. A little bigger, a little smaller, a little higher, a little lower, give, not that much!, etc.
But there’s that 1 percent of the time where I hear something NEW, or if not new, at least revolutionary. And it’s almost inevitably something really, really simple, which makes me feel really, really stupid. Today, it was a brilliant little nugget on the transition from extended trot to passage.
Michael: Pretend like you’re going to bring him back for one step of walk.
Midge: (executes it perfectly)
Here are a few other DUH one-liners that changed my life:
– A stroke of brilliance from Max Gahwyler during my young rider days: In the canter pirouettes, look where you’re going.
– From Lendon Gray: When you school trot extensions (or mediums, or lengthenings) on the diagonal, bring your horse back at X for a couple of steps every time. When you show, he’ll half-halt himself, and you can just push your leg on and find a whole new gear.
– Not sure who this is from, but if your horse tends to fall to the inside in the half-pass, sit to the outside.
From Chronicle of the Horse February 20, 2013