You know you are off to a good start in a clinic when the clinician, who happens to be a 4* judge,watches your warm up your horse and says.: “What a gorgeous horse!” However that does NOT mean she will not have lots of corrections and useful critiques to give me on how I can help my “very accomplished” horse do better.
Yesterday my Florida coach Lou Denizard had arranged a clinic at his base, Silver Drache Farm, in Palm City FL with Sarah Geikie. Sarah is a 4* judge and an excellent clinician. And I’m not just saying that because she liked my horse! So what did I learn?
The warm up.
She immediately spotted that Biasini’s favorite modus operandi is to go on the forehand, pull down and get me forward and out of the tack. Sarah suggested I stop using a long and low warm up in the trot and instead go for a good working trot frame and balance. One very useful exercise was quick walk-trot transitions: trot, two steps walk, back to trot. And those transitions must be seamless: no diving down, no loss of momentum, and quick off my leg aids. All of this must be done with him accepting contact, and in a good working trot balance.
We established a good working trot and then collected trot to do 1/4 turns as pirouettes to go diagonally across the arena. This was an interesting exercise as I found Biasini, if he was properly balanced, was much more even in both directions (both reins) than I had expected.
At the end of our session Sarah asked for very collected trot almost to half steps. When I asked Biasini for this I could feel he was quite ready to offer passage. Again it was having him in the right balance that made this possible.
Sarah reminded me to use my corners but not loose the forward momentum in those corners. Then ask for medium canter down the longside of the arena. Biasini loves this and he offered a nice bounding uphill canter.
We moved on to the pirouettes. Sarah had me do walk pirouettes first. I know from Lou that this can reveal what I will have in the canter. Sarah told me to use more outside rein and move his shoulders around for the pirouette. And she made it clear she wanted me to MOVE THOSE SHOULDERS! When we did the pirouettes in canter I was amazed at how successful this was. He did not get stuck but moved in a sprightly fashion with clear strides and with my outside leg giving little tick, tick, tick aids the pirouettes went very well.
Sarah’s final words to me were to “Never, ever….ever allow him to be long and low in the warm up. He is accomplished enough to not need that. ” She may say something different to another horse and rider combination but she is right about Biasini. If I do not set the standard in the warm up I am letting myself in for a big struggle in whatever work we are going to do.
How lucky am I to have already had two clinics this season, with two FEI level judges ,and benefited from their wisdom .
I would like to thank my husband David, who took the photos. He does not do “action shots” but I appreciate his coming and taking these photos so I have some to share with you.