Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was in Wellington to give a clinic . Jessica and her mare Dalera were on the German Gold Medal team in Tokyo as well as winning another Gold for the Freestyle with a score of 91.732. This puts her into a small elite group of riders who have scored over 90%.
In the clinic she would be working with five horse rider combinations. Each of them had worked with Jessica the day before and the riders had been able to talk to her about what they were having difficulties with and what they would like to work on in the clinic. For this post I will give the name of the horse and rider and then just quote Jessica from notes taken on my tablet.
1.Hannah Beaulieu and the six-year-old Siri. Jessica told us that Siri is a very hot mare. Hannah is riding for Canada.
“It’s not about how far you get its about HOW you get there. How do we make our horses feel good enough when we don’t feel good enough about ourselves. It is important to be allowed to make mistakes. “
“Why do we do this sport? Because we love horses. Enjoy what you are doing with your horses Siri is only 6 and Hannah needs to cool her down now. Take the neck longer . Talk to her. With hot horses it’s easier to take them down than to get lazy horses up. Try to keep her focus on her hind legs. Do this from the beginning in the warm up. You can slow her down by sitting down slower. Let her look at everything. Keep the reins as long as possible. Don’t take her lower just take her longer. I want her to feel confident. The warm up is a check. Does my horse feel comfortable? Warm up should be as short as possible and as long as necessary.
Exercises for flying changes To start at letter P turn without flexion around your inside leg. Leg yield and then to shoulder in. Ask for the change when you think she is ready. Think of haunches in to activate the hind legs. Ignore the mistakes so they can be confident. Praise them whenever you can.
2.Louisa Marcelle-Eadie and the eight-year-old Elan de Chenu
Riding for Great Britain.
Elan is a gelding and not a hot horse. He needs to work on self carriage. Not too much curb Louisa. Curb exerts pressure on poll and this brings the head and neck lower. Use haunches in to bring him back. Give rein don’t carry him. Shoulder in and haunches in. Lots of tempo transitions. Lift him but don’t carry him. If you want him to do uphill changes then sit deep and think it .Praise him a bit more. Give him a reason to do it for you. Try to do some half steps but keep your hands passive . No hands! Don’t pull back. Give rein!
It helps me a lot to talk to my horses. They hear it in your voice that they are doing good. Taking lots of walk breaks gets them ready for shows. If they are sure they will get breaks they know they can give more
3.Emily Donaldson and the 13-year-old Beaujolais . Emily had told Jessica that Beaujolais holds his head too high.
I want to focus on the warm up. Doing shoulder in, leg yield it is easy for us to explain that they need to come more forward with the hind leg. Real control comes from the hind leg. It is only possible for them to learn if we do not hold them. He can swing a bit more so tap him on the back with your whip. I want them to become more extroverted a bit cheeky. Do a leg yield to shoulder in off the center line. Sometimes if you think of being a lorry( truck) driver and give with the inside rein. Use your core to bring him back not your hand. You have to train him to listen more and more to your core and not your hand. Give rein! Give rein! Give rein!. Immediately after the flying change to do a little circle and speak to him. Open your hands. To take him back give rein no matter how long it takes. Emily is very strict with herself. Take it a bit easier. Little half halt and give rein. Try not to pull back with your hand.
Before you start trotting realize that he must start from behind. I want to motivate you to ride him with less control. Give rein! It might take you some weeks to explain he can take the neck lower . Praise him with your voice. Holding with the hands and pushing may be the fast way but it is not honest.
When he gets faster and is running away from the hind use your core. Come back to walk or to trot if he brings his head up and explain it to him. Playful consistency.
4.Kristina Harrison-Antell and the nine-year-old Felix.
Yesterday I pushed Kristina to give up control .We want them to be cheeky so we don’t suppress their personalities. We want them to be proud. Transitions medium to collected canter. Give rein! People don’t like it when the reins are jumping a little bit . But I love it. Use haunches in to bring him back and lift the front. It helps him to understand he needs to keep the jump behind. Talk to him .He will get to know the sound of your voice. He will become more and more proud of himself. Look at the point your are riding toward. It is important to be able to move with his flying change. Sit back and give him space in the front.
Tempo transitions help the horses to become stronger. Push from behind FIRST then half halt. Activate him from behind. Half halt give rein. Half halt give rein. Don’t take him back with the hand, Take him back from behind.
5.Ali Potasky and the nine-year-old INXS
We don’t always live in harmony in life but we have to work toward it. Dressage is to make the horse more beautiful and to keep them healthy. I hack my horses out two times a week . I only school them 2 or 3 three times in a row. After a show with Dalera we hack out until she starts bucking and then we start to work again. It is so cool when they can tell you what they want or what they need.
You can slow him down by sitting in slower. I prefer to see the hind legs carrying from the start. In the canter they can sit more. Stretch yourself make yourself taller. Keep your legs at the girth. Use your core to take him back. Sit! Sit! Sit! Lift him and sit back. When he’s hot take him back with haunches in. Sit back and give him the space to do flying change .
In half pass keep the shoulder to the outside. The more he tries to use your hands as a help the less help you give him. It is so important to have the horses listen to the core aids.
Now we’ll do a pirouette exercise. Also about control of the shoulders. Activate the inside hind leg with your inside leg. Focus is always on the inside hind leg to keep it under. Explain to step more under with inside hind leg. Try the Star shape pirouette: one step to side, one step to front, star shape.
I always want to keep the veil open. Trot! I want you to take him back to piaffe without using your reins good! Super! Talk to him. Do it in posting trot so he can use his back. All the energy he has going forward don’t loose it. Make smaller transitions try to get all the energy in the hind legs. Take your time. Take him back. Give rein! Give rein! Take less curb rein.
Each horse and rider had been in working with Jessica for half an hour. Ali and INXS were the last pair. I thought it was a fabulous clinic and I came away with lots of things to work on with my own horse. What a great opportunity to see a rider of Jessica’s caliber working with these different horses and riders. I was surprised that the stands were not completely filled. Thunderstorms had been forecast and perhaps that kept some people away.
For a real treat here is a video of Jessica’s freestyle! This video was taken at the World Cup but it is the same one she won with at Tokyo.