I missed all but a few minutes of the first ride. But this bit of talking to everyone was where I came in. I believe that the horse was grinding a bit (either the bit or his teeth). My notes are getting a bit shorter as many of the concepts were the same and I was writing less.
You need to be able to identify if the horse is tense or resistant. If the horse is tense, you need to use diplomacy in dealing with it, but if the horse is resistant, you need discipline.
Often horses get more tense with collection.
Scott Hassler jumped in and offered that riders should not give up too soon if there is resistance in new work, example, grinding the teeth, because new work is hard and there is a learning curve that the horse needs to go through, and it will become easier. He did suggest that you might try a gumbit, so it doesn’t become a habit. Some horses seem to like the sound and it can become a habit.
The next rider was on a small tour horse, a stallion (showing PSG and schooling Intermediare for those who have not yet asked that question).
This horse needed more flexion. Bend less, and maintain longer. Bending in the body by yielding to the leg. During the walk break, they worked on half pass in walk.
The horse’s work ethic needs to be as good as yours.
The next rider up stopped and asked “What do you mean by better connection?” steadiness or lightness? This was answered with some it depends type answers and that each rider is a bit different in what they feel. And, both are important.
The horse carrying with the hind leg feels a bit different to the rider than pushing with the hind leg.
As soon as you pick up a connection with the horse’s mouth, you need to have a plan for your ride. Going on a trail ride on a loose rein is fine, but when you establish a connection, you need to have a plan for the ride.
Next horse, was a 9 yr old gelding.
This rider came in and they did some walk pirouette, working on the same cadence and even steps.
She felt that this horse was not strong enough to do much passage, the horse was better in piaffe, and Steffen explained that passage takes more strength than piaffe and for some things, where the horse is weak, you need to do a little bit more to develop the fitness. She had a good ride with lots of pirouette work, flying changes and doing more passage.
The next rider was on a lovely Hanoverian. Her horse was a bit tense at first. Her horse was against the hand some. In halt, he would brace before the first step of a rein back. She gave a correction at one point, and Steffen said it was a good correction, but that her expectations are not high enough for her horse. She needed to test the response to the leg, remember to ride movements for the purpose, not for the judge, but for the elasticity. So for a shoulder fore, it is to engage the hind leg, maintain the angle and maintain the neck position.
Make the horse do the work. Make you point, but don’t nag. The calf is for collection. Don’t always kick with the spur for a correction, hold the calf/leg a big longer to give the horse a chance to respond to the aid. Kicking is more for bucking for Steffen.
Engaged hind legs does not mean that the horse stays through. When the initial reaction is to be behind the leg you cannot wait, 1-2 strides to make the correction, not 6-7. Use more finesse, less strength.
The last rider was on a nice horse, but he got a good exercise for riding to the pirouette, making a really shallow diagonal, from K to G and then doing the half pirouette. It worked really well.
My final summary, which has some repetition:
1. I need even more fitness. These riders were all fit and had really good timing.
2. I need to develop more self confidence that my training decision are good.
3. Test the horse in a movement and if it is not so good, go back to circle and yielding.
4. It is ok to show emotion in public, Steffen choked up when talking about Ravel.
5. Clarity was discussed between training and what the judge sees. The test is not where you train.
6. give a walk break every 6-7 minutes
7. stay picky
8. excellence always
9. Need to be at a point where I don’t need to think about and process the feel of a movement before I ride in a lesson of this caliber.
10. make the training decisions
11. always be fair
12. top inside of calf is the forward/collecting aid.
13. Make good, quick decisions.