Passage and piaffe; the slow-motion, dance like, trot and the trot in place. What do these two have to do with a pillow seat? And what the heck is a pillow seat anyway? Well, today I got to find out about all three of those things.
I usually only ride my own horse but today I was lucky. I had the opportunity to ride my friend Maxine Tabas’ horse Desiderata, known as Dede to her friends. I say it was an opportunity and that is exactly what it was. An opportunity to feel the movement of a different horse, to find out how to communicate with that horse and to try out things that my own horse has not yet been trained to do.
Dede has a very different trot and canter from Biasini. The movement has a very different feel to it and fortunately my coach Lou Denizard was there to help me with adjusting to that. I found out very quickly with this mare that I needed very light aids or she would show me the “grumpy” mare. I learned that with a single flying change and immediately scaled back my aids to the minimum.
The Pillow Seat.
I have heard Lou tell my friend Nancy Kleiner, riding her big horse Khan, to ride with a pillow seat. Today he told me to ride with a pillow seat on Dede. The pillow seat is a physical feeling and a mental feeling as well. I interpret it that I am sitting on a soft pillow and also my derriere is pillow like rather than being sharp or bony. This softness is just what is needed for this mare who does not like a sharp bony seat being pushed into her back.
This is the slow-motion trot of the Grand Prix. Lou told me to come up the long side and ask for the passage. I have not previously ridden a horse that knows the passage but I do know the aids as Biasini is just learning this movement. As I came across the short side I thought: “passage” and without even being aware of it, I half halted with my core, and as we came around the corner Dede went into passage. What a fabulous feeling this is! We did the long side of the arena a few times in one direction and then in the other.
This is the trot in place. Lou advised me to allow Dede to move forward about an inch each step. “Don’t nail her to the cross.” he said, meaning do not force her to piaffe on the spot, and then feel trapped. Again, as soon as I applied the aid she responded with piaffe.
Then we did passage to piaffe and back to passage transitions. How cool is that? For me this was just amazing. There I was, doing movements from the Grand Prix! We finished the lesson on that note and I gave Dede some well-deserved pats on her neck. What a good girl!
I look forward to working on the training of these movements with Biasini and I hope my knew knowledge, that Dede gave to me, will be able to help us to execute the movements. Thank you Maxine for the opportunity to ride Dede.