The second day of the clinic started with a Prix St. George horse. But before I pass on the words of wisdom from Charlotte I should just mention how well organized this clinic was. It ran on time, the seating was good with excellent sightlines. The food was good and the buffet tables were set up so people could easily get their lunch served quickly. Full marks to SHProductions!
Once again we saw such very good horses and also good riders who were prepared to put their trust in Charlotte and ride bravely.
PRIX ST. GEORGE HORSE
The rider had told Charlotte that they struggled with the pirouette work. They started with leg yield in canter and the moved on to travers and then the pirouette work.
“Leg yield is much easier to go sideways than half pass. Go on and back as you go sideways.”
“Reins short and hands in front.”
“Ride forward to the change.” “In the travers put your weight into the inside stirrup.”
“Ride travers on a circle. Don’t make it smaller. Nothing should change in the canter.”
“When you make it smaller for the pirouette if he starts nodding then ride out and make it bigger again.”
“Ride the diagonals start to finish. Look up! Hands forward! All the way!”
“GO! Is that it? Oh my God! We’ve got to find a bit of steam. He must respond forward!”
“You mustn’t hold the horse in collection with your hands”
“I want to see the muscles behind the saddle moving.”
For the pirouettes.
“Go slower. Now go faster. Soften your hand don’t pull back.”
“Ride with two legs and two reins.”
“Keep riding on and back to freshen your canter.”
“The pirouette should be 7-8 steps. Edward Gal does it in six so I’m still catching up with him!”
“You’re riding the pirouette not riding the quality of it. Ride the quality of the canter.”
UNDER 25’s GRAND PRIX HORSE
The rider an Under 25( years of age) GP rider said they were struggling with the zig zag.
“I love teaching the zig zag. You’ve got to count. Start with riding along the wall and leg yield 4 strides away, flying change, then 4 strides back. I do it on the wall because I want to see how sideways she makes each leg yield. She has to get back to the wall so when she does it on the centerline each side is equal. “
“First step you have to think ‘shoulders’ otherwise you’ll get quarters leading.
“Start with 2 strides, straighten, change, and 2 strides back to wall.”
The two tempi and one tempi flying changes.
“GO! Push! GO! Push! Push! Push! Then you can get higher mark. Be brave!”
DEVELOPING GRAND PRIX HORSE
This was my own coach Belinda Trussell riding her up and coming horse.
“Belinda’s job is to help him and give him confidence. He’s a very uphill horse, Very good hindleg and he has super changes.”
“Make sure he doesn’t get too tight.”
“Between the movements she is setting him up for the next one.”
“Make the pirouette a bit bigger . Make it easier for him. You can see he is a little bit green. Later on he’s going to get really high marks.”
“For the collected walk to the passage flex to the outside so he will not canter. Think of trotting one stride and then passage.”
“It’s important to be able to ride speed control in the passage.”
“Shorten your reins.”
“She’s let the horse travel in the piaffe. That’s the right idea. The horse is not yet able to make the transition out of piaffe to passage if the piaffe is on the spot.”
“He has so much expression but he doesn’t have the experience yet. It does not matter if you travel forward in the piaffe and loose marks at this point.”
“In the Grand Prix the first thing is the trot extension so you’ve got to be ready to GO and then rebalance and be ready for the half pass. Everything comes up so fast.”
“He’s trying and it gets so big he can’t really maintain it yet. It’s really good.”
GRAND PRIX HORSE
The rider had told Charlotte that pirouettes and one tempis were difficult for them.
“For the pirouettes collect him but don’t make it smaller. I just want pirouette steps. Go forward and turn the front more. He does not find the pirouettes difficult but I can see he takes over. I don’t want you to do it small because that’s what he wants to do. I want you to catch him before he takes over.”
“These older horses have every trick in the book. They know it!”
“Coming out of the pirouette look up and ride out. You overturned because you were looking down.”
“Turn the shoulders more! Look up! Shoulders! Shoulders! YES! Ah….and then she fell into a heap. She thought I wouldn’t see that!”
“Remember that just because you do GP you don’t do GP movements every day. Have a plan and try to do exercises rather than test movements. You’ve got to think about the future rather than school them to death and then have no horse left.”
“When you come down the centerline try for a good entrance and a square halt. Teach them canter to walk not to halt so they come into the halt forward. If you give them a good first impression they will give you some marks. If you start on the centerline and the first halt with a 6 then the judges just go:” oh well.” Judges love giving 6’s”
CHARLOTTE’S DEMONSTRATION RIDE
For the demonstration ride Charlotte rode Evi Strasser’s horse Renaissance Tyme. She has ridden this horse last year in the competition in Central Park and had ridden him twice before this clinic. She was wearing a mic and commented on everything she was doing during the ride.
“I may look like I’m doing nothing but I am actually working”
“I don’t want to rely on my hand. I send a little vibration down the rein and with my bum I push him down and in my leg encourage him to go forward.”
“The whole time I’m riding I keep him loose in my hand. I have to sit down and not grip with my legs.”
“It is not about riding tricks or movements I’m just riding transitions to get control and balance him.”
“In the changes I have to really sit down. He does the “hokey pokey” and does not stay straight so I keep him on the wall so he doesn’t want to swing and hit the wall.”
“I’m trying to ride more forward so I’m making mistakes but I don’t care. That’s how he will be straighter. He has to stay up and forward and push for the change. “
“The tricks are the easy part. How is the straightness? Can I bend him? Connect him? Yes….then I know I have a good horse.”
There are times when he’s throwing his front legs all over the place and it looks impressive but it’s not correct.”
Charlotte also had several amusing anecdotes about her relationship with Carl Hester.
“Changes are a personal thing. Carl can’t do them on my horses and I can’t do them on his horses. He always says he’s the master of the Ones but he gets on Blueberry (Valegro) and he can’t do them. Blueberry says:” That’s not my Mum.”
“We watch each other ride and I shout at him and he shouts at me. We’re like a married couple without the extra bits.”
Some thoughts on riding.
“When it’s not been the greatest day and you say: “I can’t get it! I can’t do it!” It affects your life. And your husband’s life. So, remember, DON’T WORRY, everyone goes through this. Take the good things and try to find the positive in the day. If you have a bad test ask yourself:” why did I allow those mistakes to happen?” It’s all about learning.
Charlotte as an Ambassador for the Brooke
“I went to India and it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever seen. Really terribly sad. I saw horses on three legs, horse with terrible wounds, brick kiln horses carrying loads of 500 bricks who were rocking trying to get the wagon load to move and doing it in high temperatures with no water. The Brooke educates people. It is absolutely fantastic to see how they teach people to look after their animals. It was amazing to see the difference in the places the Brooke had been to. They improve the feeding, vaccinations, water supply. Next year I am going to go to Goa and Ethiopia. I want to support these working horses and donkeys and give them a better life.”
WHAT WERE THE PHRASES I HEARD MOST OFTEN IN THE CLINIC?
Shorten the reins. Hands Forward!
PAT HIM! This is so important. When the horse has done what you want or has tried to do what you want reward him with a pat. Let him know he is appreciated. This is how he will gain confidence and learn to trust you. Then he will work even harder for you.