On January 15 I was lucky enough to be able to ride in a dressage clinic with Janet Foy. Janet is a 5*, Olympic level judge, and she will be judging the dressage at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics! This Five Star judge gave me five very good points that I could take away with me.
- STAY SHARP IN THE WARM UP!
I started my warm up and having seen another rider in the clinic I knew that bend on the circle was important so I paid attention to that. Then I changed rein across the diagonal and did a flying change. “Leueen! Come up here!” Janet required my presence at the end of the arena where she was sitting. “You are too good a rider and he is too good a horse to be sloppy in your warm up!” She then told me how poorly I had prepared Biasini for the flying change and how I could improve that. “I had better get my act together! Pronto!” I told myself. We repeated the flying change and got an A on it.
2. RIDING A STRAIGHT HORSE
As I was riding the long sides of the arena Janet asked me to ride Biasini in shoulder-fore. I rode him in shoulder-fore and when we took a break Janet explained the benefit of doing this. Bringing the horse into shoulder-fore brings his inside hind leg in behind the shoulder. I know that Biasini has a tendency to travel haunches-in especially going to the left. This is the fix for that problem. This is how I can make him straight.
3, LOOP IN THE CURB REIN.
Janet had me come up to her and she loosened off the curb rein until it had a big loop in it. “Just ride him on the snaffle,” she said. Biasini has a tendency to pull lower and he uses the curb as leverage. When I rode him just on the snaffle is was easier to keep him up and lighter.
4. RIDING IN A WHALEBONE CORSET
Janet pointed out to me that I collapse my right side between my shoulder and my hip. She told me that if I was wearing one of the whalebone corsets, from the old days, that the whale bones would be sticking into me due to my collapse. That was an image that stuck with me. I found that my right side collapse was pretty chronic and I will have to work on that whenever I am sitting anywhere to create a new muscle memory. But when I do get that right side up Biasini goes better.
5. DIRECTIONAL HEADLIGHTS.
When driving a car at night the headlights illuminate the direction of travel. If you make a turn they shine on the new road.How does this apply to riding you ask? When you turn onto a 30 degree angle for a half pass or make a turn to cross the diagonal you need to turn the top of your body in the direction you are going. Women have a physical advantage in how to think about this. Our boobs are the headlights. Once Janet had given me this image I found it easier turn my upper body in the right direction and be clearer to Biasini about where we were going.
6. BONUS TIP
After my ride I watched my coach from home, Belinda Trussell, ride in her clinic session. Janet told all of us how important the downward transitions were. She said she had watched top riders in international competitions display a breathtakingly wonderful extended trot but not have a clear enough downward transition. So the mark goes from a 9 to a 7.5. When I was doing an extended trot she told me to come back, before reaching the rail, to a very collected trot and ‘think’ passage or piaffe. Then once I am on the rail move the trot forward again. I found it worked very well. I also watched Belinda execute this and I could see how clear this made the transition. I am thinking ahead to the extended canter in my test and I know this will be more difficult to execute as Biasini usually thinks we are off for a gallop but now this will help me to get him back sooner and be ready for what comes next.
Here is a photo of Belinda riding Bella Venezia in the clinic.
And here is my Florida coach Lou Denizard warming up Galahad in the clinic.
Finally here is my long suffering husband who took several of the photos in this post sitting next to Belinda Trussell. Also thanks to Carmen (Queca) Franco who took some wonderful photos for me to share here with you.