The next day we were riding in the first group (ugh....) with Sandra Donnelly. She's the same clinician I rode with down in Red Deer and I really enjoy her teaching style. She breaks things down to simple concepts and can pin-point where you're going wrong back to one of those things. Since we were riding in the Entry level group (BN/N) we had three things to think about - line, pace, and rhythm with our equitation tossed in as always. We did a really great exercise to warm up which was trot on a circle over 5 poles set at a 1-stride distance. The exercise was set up for the rider to have the pace and rhythm set before entering the exercise, seeing if your horse will carry the pace and rhythm that is set through the exercise, and for the exercise to ride successfully, you must keep your line through the poles. It was self-evident when it was ridden incorrectly, if the line was lacking, pace, or rhythm. We did this at the trot and canter.
Once we were established in that exercise, we practised riding a line and choosing the pace we want coming into the line, through the line, and out. Each rider would do variations of trot in, canter in, trot through, canter through, trot out, canter out, and halt at the end of the line. Most horses found this exercise fairly simple, but the riders did find it difficult to keep the line while doing the transition through the line.
Did not notice until now, my shirt matches our breastplate
For the last half of the lesson we worked on mini courses. The first course was to go through the first exercise (pole exercise that was now set at a height of 18" or so) canter 5 strides to an oxer on the diagonal, roll around to another oxer on the other diagonal, and go through the pole exercise to finish. It was a great learning tool since you MUST have your lines set, along with riding the correct pace and rhythm for each element. The last exercise we rode was an angled serpentine, not like the traditional serpentine in dressage that uses the half-circles, but more twisting back so using two-thirds of a circle for the serpentine loop to a jump.
Compilation of our stadium work, not all of it is here
Thanks AlbertaEventer for the video and photos!
Koda conquered all of it, I was so proud of him! This really showed that I should start asking more of him and pushing us in the height and exercise areas. Even when I didn't really ride the best (had an AWFUL ride to the red oxer on the right lead after the circle exercise), he still went and took care of both of us.