Canadian Olympian Megan Lane was at Oakcrest Farm on Wednesday to work with fellow Olympian Belinda Trussell and two of the horses Belinda has in training: Feng de Lys and Bella Venezia. I was able to watch. And to learn a few things. So what were they?
- We all have the same issues to deal with. Megan asked Belinda to bring Feng “up in the withers”. Hmmm….I have heard Belinda asking me to do that on numerous occasions when I am riding Biasini. But listening to Megan I got a new appreciation of why we do that. “Bring up the withers to free up his front legs.” Of course Belinda was able to do it quickly and sure enough it made a big difference in how Feng moved. He was much freer in his front legs which could now spring out in front of him, and his hind legs could come through behind.
Megan also asked Belinda to balance Feng in the corners rather than collect him. This also had a positive effect.
2. We all have to ride those corners! Recently Belinda has been insisting that I ride into the corners, right into those corners, as is appropriate at the level I am riding. No skimming past the corner in a sort of elongated 20 meter circle! I observed that Belinda rode right into the corners with both with Feng and Bella, without any change of pace or rhythm. Here she is riding Bella, right into the corner, before riding her in half pass diagonally across the arena.
3. Relaxing the horse is important. When Belinda was riding Bella, Megan told her it was important to keep her as relaxed as possible. When Bella is relaxed she is able to use her muscles to the best advantage to work through the movements. I have to admit that as obvious as this may be, it is something I had not thought about before. Relaxation allows full use of the muscles. As Bella is a stunning mover she is clearly using those muscles to the best advantage.
I am looking forward to my own lessons to put some of these ideas into practice.