Wednesday this week there were two Olympic dressage riders in the arena. My coach Belinda Trussell and Megan Lane. Megan was there to be the “eyes on the ground” to help Belinda. I was lucky enough to be able to watch Belinda ride two horses. The first was the 6 year old Diamanten Dave.
The Warm Up
Megan asked Belinda to do lots of transitions between the gaits and within the gaits. She suggested Belinda try some slight shoulder fore with Dave to help the transitions, and a shallow leg yield for the transitions in trot. Megan said that keeping the fluidity in the downward transitions was important.
Once Dave was warmed up Megan remarked: “He does wake up doesn’t he!” Belinda agreed and said that when he’s ‘with’ her he is light in the contact. They worked on using travers ( haunches in ) for the transitions to going more forward as well as the downward transitions.
“Anytime you feel him diving down add a little bit more travers,”Megan suggested.
Belinda was very happy with how Dave was working. Megan agreed and told Belinda what she could see. “The more you push him the better he gets.When he’s on the bit he’s focused and he’s going to do whatever you ask.”
Both Megan and Belinda agreed that he needed to have more physical strength before introducing him to the double bridle.
Feng de Lys was the second horse Belinda rode. Feng is 8 years old.
The Warm Up
Feng’s warm up was a bit different than Dave’s.
“I would start already to get him to think about his back legs. Do that until he gets a bit looser. Until you get some steps of just relaxed moving through his back. ” Megan suggested.
For the trot Megan wanted Feng to be ” a little bit more boring. Let him go quieter. It’s all about him being loose in his back and trotting how he wants to trot is not conducive to warming up. Maybe start his warm up with just walking him for five minutes.”
Once they started into the work of the session Megan suggested: “The trot will establish what you want for the canter.” And: “Think about the extended trot while in the collected trot.”
When working on the collected canter Belinda said she felt Feng was getting “pingy”and needed to be more forward. Megan suggested Belinda ride him with a lighter seat. That was a moment when I realized the level of riding I was witnessing. That level of refinement to be able to just fractionally ride with a lighter seat!
It was a real treat for me to see these sessions. Here were two Olympic dressage riders helping each other. Next week Belinda will go to Megan’s barn and help her with her horses. Olympians help each other! And do you know what else Olympians do? They pick up the manure from the footing. The footing is sand and fiber and it is important to have the best possible footing for high performance athletes like these horses so they avoid injuries. Manure can ruin the consistency of the footing.