dancing horses

dancing horses

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Jacqueline Brooks Clinic Recap: Day 2 Balancing Point

 I don't care that she broke to trot. I care that she lost her balance ~ Jacqueline Brooks
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Standard disclaimer that all errors are mine and should not reflect Jacquie's training
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Overnight the temperature dropped from 'unseasonably warm' to 'cold and blustery'.  I was glad that I had thought to throw a winter coat into the truck before I left. At 6:30 a.m. it was cold! I fed the horses I was resonsible for (there was a new one looking at me plaintively but I explained that I didn't have instructions and could not help. Talk about guilt!) and headed back to the house for a warm cup of coffee.

Once it was light out I turned out Carmen and hooked up the trailer. I liked being able to turn her out. I think that it's better for a horse to be able to move themselves when possible. Carmen is not that good at being in a new turnout amd I am hoping that she gets used to it.
such a lovely setting
She was calmer this time but still happy to come back inside. I watched a few rides and took more notes. Jacquie had spent a lot of time in the clinic talking about balance. She talked a lot about building the bridge which holds the rider. The two sides are the front end and the back end. If you push too much and/or too quickly the back end can push the horse onto the forehand and they lose their balance. My understanding is that she believes that the front end needs to be warmed up and loose before you ask for too much behind. She also made the observation that horses get upset at a lack of balance and can be reactive. It sounded very similar to something that Sue leffler (CR coach) said to me as well.  Jacquie said that a horse and rider are like pairs figureskaters. The horse is the man on the bottom holding the woman over his head. If she is moving all around he cannot stay balanced underneath of her and there is no security. I liked that image. 


I braided Carmen again. I hadn't planned on putting on her ear bonnet but I made such a mess of the forelock that I figured it would cover it up. From the side she looked like she had a small horn growing out of her forehead. 

I didn't bother about taking her to the outdoor to warm up first. Jacquie said that she preferred we didn't anyway. I simply came in and mounted up. I felt so much more relaxed then the day before which allowed me to be more focussed. 

Carmen pretty much felt the same as the day before and  gave a spook as I walked off but honestly I was just her typical spin away and it was no big deal. Jacquie pointed out the value of the neck strap for a spooky/bolty horse. She explained that I could use the strap for control and not have to hold so much with the reins. This allowed me to push her forward into contact withtou worry about where she would go.

In my ride the night before I had realized how much easier it was to keep her straight. When Carmen gets tense and ready to run away she always drops the inside shoulder. I can use rein to flex her (or actually bring her head right around) but then she drops her outside shoulder and twist her neck and by then I've lost whatever the heck it was I was trying to work on. With the neck strap, when she dropped her shoulder to the right I would pick it up on the left and give a small tug. This got her to pick herself up at the shoulder/wither  and rebalance. This kept us straight and on track. Essentially the rope helped me to steer her shoulders and keep her underneath of me.

The other way we used the neck strap was to lift it up gently when she dropped her neck/chest and wanted to plow down. I could feel her lifting her shoulders, my leg brought the hind leg under and she lifted herself into self-carriage. It was so cool. I have no idea if the videos captured how it felt but it felt awesome.


Carmen and I relaxed much more quickly into work on Day 2 and we could focus on some more things- like straightness, shoulder fore, and canter. With the canter work, Jacquie really wanted the trot to slow up and the horse reach under and then ask. It felt quite exaggerated and I'm sure the idea is with time for that to become and invisible half-halt. Doing it that way really helped Carmen to step into her right lead canter (her 'bad' way) with little difficulty (at around the 1:50 mark):


 I just loved how quiet and calm our canter was. It took a lot of repititions but me to understand about the slowing up first. Jacquie kept saying 'tell her 'whoa'and  I kept saying 'easy'. I think she was getting a little frustrated as to why I would not say 'whoa' like she was telling me. What I wanted to say but it wasn't the time was I have spent a lot of time, money and effort on teaching this horse that 'whoa' has only one meaning : all four legs come to a complete and total stop no matter what gait. It's our 'safe' word. For Carmen 'easy' means 'slow up and come back to me'. That seemed like a lot to try to explain and Jacquie let it go so it was okay. I knew that adding in 'whoa' would only result in confusion. Lots of people who ride english use 'whoa' to mean everything from stop to slow up a bit. I get it and I have no issue with it. But for me I like having 'whoa' mean just one thing and I'm not going to change it at this point.

Some more rigt lead canter:
At the 10 second mark she lifts up into a lovely relaxed canter. I think it was the best trot-canter transition I have ever done with her.  Amd we were straight down the long side- no haunches in!  I loved everything about the ride: how she was listening and we were able to work together.

We finished up practicing walk/canter transitions. I was making the mistake of asking her to canter and throwing the reins away. I was to let her take the reins forward and keep the contact. Once I did that we were able to get some lovely transitions. Of course my phone died before then so you will just have to believe me.

This clinic was a fabulous experience for me. I would do it again in a heartbeat (I would have to save up first). I learned a ton and came away with some new tools and a deeper undestanding of what I need to do. I allowed myself to be pushed and it really paid off. Carmen and I, like every other horse/rider in the clinic finished our lessons having worked hard but we were not exchausted or sour. Carmen was quite pleased with herself and you can see in her demeanour that she was happy.

It was lovely to get away and spend some time in a bubble out of the larger world. I didn't hear any news and it was wonderful. Instead it was a weekend where I spent some time with some lovely horse women and my lovely girl. We had fun and learned a ton. 

32 comments:

  1. I think I might steal the neckstrap idea for my bareback rides with Henry. It sounds like you got a lot of good tools for your toolbox at the clinic. And I agree with you on "whoa", it only has one meaning in my family too :)

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  2. That canter transition in the last video 😍 looks like it was a super useful clinic with good takeaways. The pairs figure skater imagery is excellent!

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    1. I loved that transition. And yes, it was very useful.

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  3. Ahhhh! you guys look AMAZING, Teresa!! Well done!! Carmen's canter is so beautiful and some of those transitions were just lovely.

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  4. Great videos. You two look wonderful. Lovely canter. I say "easy" for slow down and "whoa" for stop and I'm not changing it. It's all about what they understand and not worth changing once they "get it."

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    1. Thanks And yes, there needs to be a difference between whoa nd easy.

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  5. I think the best part (besides that lovely canter!!!) is how much you were able to transform with each other in the course of the clinic. Such an invaluable experience!

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    1. Aww, that is so nice of you to say.

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  6. I use Whoa and Easy the same way you do. It feels weird to do it any other way. Your canter is lovely!

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    1. I figured that you would too! She really has a lovely canter.

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  7. what a great experience in all! it sometimes feels like such a gamble to go out to a big multi day clinic like that, but so awesome that it paid off!

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  8. Such a good write up!
    A major take away for me is the idea of a neck strap, which I've never tried one, but now will find.

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  9. holy crap there are people who think whoa/ho means "slow down"?

    !!!

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    1. Yes, it's really common here. With Steele the first time I let someone else ride him I told her 'don't say whoa unless you mean it, becasue he will stop'. She did when he was trotting and he slammed on the brakes and she slid up his neck.

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  10. Day 2 E - did the trainer say "Brr"? to ask you to slow her down (beginning of vid). I thought for sure I heard it, the way Germans say slow down.

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    1. Yes she did. I am sure that she has trained in Europe so that is probably where she learned it.

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  11. It must be wonderful to be able to take Carmen to a clinic like that.

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    1. It was - it was expensive but I believe it was worth it!

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  12. I definitely use both whoa and easy but not interchangeable. Easy means slow down for us and whoa means break gait.

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    1. Consistency is the key, whatever you use.

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  13. I'm the same with whoa, but I hear people use it all the time to mean slow down. I'm always correcting the kids and people around me. gorgeous canter!

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  14. I love being in that bubble too, although many times I find I am feeling guilty or worrying about getting back to the kids and responsibilities and have to remind myself to chill and enjoy the bubble while it lasts. Sounds like a very useful clinic. You and Carmen look fantastic in the videos!

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    1. It's hard with kids to stay in the bubble. It gets easier once they leave the nest. :D

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  15. Teresa..that canter transition. WOW. Beautiful! The neck strap idea has really piqued my interest, I may play around with that and see! What a great clinic overall for you two - thank you for sharing with us.

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    1. I know- I love it. I have just made myself a neck strap and will be trying it out.

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