The Professional Perspective.

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?

Belinda and Feng de Lys
  1. 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.

Without relaxation Bella’s trot half pass would not be this impressive!

I am looking forward to my own lessons to put some of these ideas into practice.

21 Comments Add yours

  1. David says:

    For my daughters, it is about riding in a rhythm. When in a rhythm, horse movement becomes more relaxed. Trish, their coach, said when it is all brought together, everything becomes “second nature”. You have fluidity of movement. The last thing you want to do in competition is to think your riding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dprastka says:

    Such beautiful horses and photos!! That half pass photo is amazing, what a mover and it’s so wonderful to be able to watch such great riders, see how they do things and to learn from others! Thank you for sharing this wonderful post!! 🐴❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      You are most welcome Diana. I am very fortunate to be able to watch and learn from these riders. I’m happy you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We watched it all the time. Moving to the states we never started again. Too many channels to choose from.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      They rarely show dressage on tv. It requires looking for the FEI tv channel online. Sometimes NBC broadcasts some of the equestrian events, including dressage, from the Olympics but no other competitions.

      Like

      1. David says:

        If you have the RIDE channel on your satellite or cable package, you’ll see it all -dressage, eventing, and showjumping – World Cup, Nations Cup, etc. Over the past three weeks, on weekday mornings, they’ve been showing dressage with Isabel Werth, Carl Hester, and Charlotte Dujardin in competition. After a morning of dressage, it has been either eventing or Nations Cup (showjumping) for 2-3 hours. It’s from 2019 into early this year, before the pandemic lockdown, so you’ll hear plenty of reference to the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, which were cancelled.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. anne leueen says:

          Thanks for this info David!

          Like

          1. David says:

            The one replay I liked a whole lot was Isabel winning one competition going away. She had some insane score like 90.7, her artistic was a 97. In second place was Carl Hester at 87.9, edging out Charlotte Dujardin at 87.6. The commentators were saying it was a match-up for the ages, and if they keep riding like that the WC Finals in Las Vegas was going to be a tremendous competition. It was like a couple weeks later the FEI cancelled the Finals.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. anne leueen says:

            that would have been an amazing match up. Isabel and Carl are friends and have great respect for each other. I would have seen Charlotte in the mix too if it had not been canceled.

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  4. Auntysocial says:

    What a really interesting read – and I’m not even a dressage gal.

    I love finding a person like that who just has a knack for following up whatever they tell you to do with just a bit of why it’s necessary and not merely tell you and / or wait to be asked. For example the first point re: “up in the withers”

    From my perspective and even when I’m working with / training dogs I understand and relate to the need for keeping them relaxed even when working hard. You already pointed out the knock on effect and how it makes all the difference when the muscles are aaahhh…

    The mindset and psychology of it is so important too and I find when a horse or dog is feeling really tense and not enjoying whatever they’re doing or is picked up and checked too often / not given praise or motivation nobody has any fun and it becomes a horrible unpleasant experience all round.

    I personally think when both horse and rider / dog and handler are equally enjoying what they do together, the ability to look absolutely seamless and on every level is almost a dead cert.

    That’s why Charlotte Dujardin looks like I do when I’m waiting for the kettle to boil it’s hard to believe the sheer level of work and intensity going on behind the scenes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      What a great comment. Thank you for the parallels to working with the dogs. I think that in the dressage riding the rider has to be making tiny corrections all the time. Perhaps just a light wiggle of the ring finger or a press for a second with the inside of the ankle. But these corrections cannot be punishment just reminders of where we are going and how we have to get there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Auntysocial says:

        Yeah that’s the trick and real skill. Developing the ability to switch on to your horse where you’re both finely tuned to each other almost in a dot-dot-dot connection at every move from start to finish if that makes sense. I’m a musician so that’s my brain’s default for nearly everything.

        I imagine it like a constant pulse or time beat you keep for each other so really need to work hard and learn how to hear but not be distracted by off-beats. The off-beats are important and need to be there but worked with so they go well together.

        Re: small almost invisible to the eye signals, cues and corrections works similarly with the dogs particularly when they’re working and need to be all eyes and ears focused on me yet have all eyes and ears on the job in hand, the ability to switch between independently thinking, instantly and instinctively reacting and responding but listening and following instruction and command without allowing one thing to go unnoticed or unchecked.

        Like dressage I guess to the untrained eye it looks the easiest thing to take a border collie out into a field and send them off moving sheep for you. The hours and hours of training, trial and error, weighing each other up to find a way where you’re able to communicate and develop a relationship so you’re literally working as one.

        The relationship with any animal like that is special but in such a skilful discipline like dressage most people will never be fortunate or privileged to fully understand or appreciate the depth I don’t think. I never had patience nor discipline for it and never liked or could get into showjumping but what I lacked there I made up for in spades on open cross country chases.

        No such thing as steady away or safer alternative we floored it straight from the box and were back home and having a brew lightning quick.

        Steamed all the way, went over jumps with a loud “Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!” but it did tend to get the best out of horses other folk reckoned would refuse or run out at the first for sure. Me “Hold my beer a minute… ”

        Dressage is such a skilful discipline that takes personal strength of character, patience and limitless understanding it’s never “just horse riding”

        The cogs underneath are going hell for leather though but when people don’t spot it you know you’re doing it right – bit like the “Derby Racer” at Pleasure Beach.

        My brother in law was a ride safety engineer for years and once took me for a sneaky look underneath the ride in motion.

        I have never seen so many moving parts, heard so much deafening machinery, heard the wheels rolling, platform clattering, pipe organ belting and each horse moved up, down, forward and backward in a four point movement. They’re set to move in alternate synch patterns so two horses were up and forward, two were down and back oh my days it was incredible.

        Absolutely mind-blowing to see that ride from underneath when on the surface it’s a timeless family favourite and everyone just gets on and loves.

        Dressage to me is what it was like underneath the Derby racer. Too much for me to process, immense respect for its engineering but more likely to hop on like the dudes in rain ponchos 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Auntysocial says:

        Daughter sent me a link to this ages ago with “Literally you and Gemma just ruining everyone’s nice peaceful time like bandits storming the joint”

        Not far from being true. Wouldn’t be deliberate but the sudden “Sorry!! Sorry do apologise we just got a bit… went the wrong way. Sorry. Ooh there’s another three horses – whose horses are these? No bother I’ll shift them… sorry everyone carry on as you were”

        I’d leave a note stuck “Again – my apologies”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. anne leueen says:

          Oh my! That is amazing. Three other riders have been unseated and the horses just come barreling through. The first thing I thought as the young girl came flying off was ” oh dear and she’s wearing her white breeches!”.

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  5. Dina says:

    That was a very interesting read, Anne and your words are simply wonderfully illustrated! The daughter of a neighbour won her first dressage a short time ago and we are thrilled on her behalf. This is not an easy ride in the park, but I get your point, it should look like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      I’m glad you found it interesting Dina. Thank you for commenting.

      Like

  6. I used to watch dressage in England, and never realized how much training both horse and rider have.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      The ultimate goal is to make it look like the horse and rider are just going for a ride in the park. But the rider is giving the horse a motivation or correction or adjustment every second at the top levels of dressage. England has some very good dressage riders.Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin are in the top riders of the world.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Beautiful photographs Anne and it is so lovely to watch others in their riding lessons and learn something new. Wishing you and Biasini a wonderful weekend and thank you again for the coffee! 🤗💖🐎 xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Happy weekend to you in the Highlands! One day we may share an actual cuppa!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Anne, that would be wonderful! 🧡 xxx

        Liked by 1 person

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