Once again the two days of dressage training was provided at the F and I course by Pammy Hutton FBHS. The biggest theme for the first day that I believe Pammy was trying to get across was that training was a team effort. Very kindly Pammy had asked if Ian Woodhead, who was at the course with his wife Heidi (who was riding in the jumping sessions with Eric Smiley), would possibly give his opinion and training in some of her sessions.
In my first session Ian, asked by Pammy, came in to the session about half way through. My big Dutch warm blood was working nicely but was being quite strong in the hand and tanking at times. What Ian had me do was gallop down the long sides of the arena as fast I could and then just before the wall I was to pull him up, not by continually pulling until he stopped but by giving him short sharp pulls on the rein to try to make him stop instantaneously. We spent the next 10 to 15 minutes doing this exercise on both reins. The end result was a horse that was in much more self carriage, much lighter and softer in the hand and a much more expressive trot that was coming more from behind.
Throughout the rest of the day when Ian wasn’t watching and helping his wife Heidi he would be watching the dressage with Pammy and they where talking about various ideas with the spectators as well as the riders during the sessions.
In one session with Margie Craib who was riding the same horse that she brought on the course with Pammy one year ago and had been working on her simple changes and getting the horse more through round and forward, was this year working on her flying changes with the little horse. The horse was finding it difficult to put the single change in at the right time to the aids, at this point Ian was asked by Pammy to say what he would do in this situation and Ian’s reply, to many people’s disbelief, was that he would start to work on the sequence changes with the horse. Putting in the four times and the three times even if the horses didn’t get it right each time Margie was to just keep asking for the next change in the sequence. After dong this Margie then was asked to ask for a single flying change and both horse and rider performed a perfect single change.
Danny Anholt also had a session with Pammy on his big Donnerhall chestnut; in this session it was all about getting to the point a little bit quicker in order to get the horse in a shorter frame and more connected. Once again Pammy asked Ian if he would like to help Danny on the piaffe steps after Ian had come out with the statement, 8 out of 10 Donnerhall horses have a fifth gait, and that fifth gait was piaffe. Ian had Danny tap the horse with the stick over and over again; no matter what the horse did he was to keep tapping it until the horse learned to piaffe. It was very interesting how knowing about specific traits in blood lines can give you an insight into a way in which to train your horse.
While we where watching one of the other sessions and Ian was in the school assisting, Pammy said this is how teaching should be and how Talland is, numerous instructors bouncing ideas off each other and finding the best way forward. A real TEAM EFFORT.
On the second day there was great improvement shown in all horses on the clinic. Once again a very big thank you to Pammy for her time over the two days, as well as an extra thank you for persuading Ian Woodhead to give some precious advice.
report by Becky Monk