A Kick In The Pants, Two Ways

First of all, if you have not already logged on to www.usefnetwork.com and at least watched part of the George Morris Horsemastership clinic videos, please do so now. Thank you.

Secondly, if you don't know who George Morris is, please come back later when you have made yourself familiar with the High King of Jumping. I met him once. I melted into a puddle of giggly fangirl. But that's not relevant to this blog post.

In any case, I've started watching the videos of this year's Horsemastership sessions in Wellington, and holy cow is it a psychological kick in the pants when it comes to my riding. GHM is so exacting in his training methods and has extremely high expectations when it comes to the riders he teaches. If they can't give him absolute perfection, he expects them to die trying.

One of the first sessions I watched was actually not George himself teaching, but the legendary showjumper Anne Kursinski giving a talk and demonstration on correct flatwork for the jumping horse, and how dressage helps develop the horse into an athlete. She was, in short, amazing. Just watching her mold and shape the sensitive chestnut mare she was riding was an education in itself. I also watched the first part of GHM's first flatwork session with the riders, and I came away with one nugget of knowledge that both Anne and George emphasized: HANDS UP.

 Both trainers adhere to the French school of thought when it comes to dressage, and clearly it's worked for them since they have the Olympic medals and countless other wins to prove it. One of the mainstays of this method is to keep the hands elevated when asking the horse to come round, so that the horse can curve its head and neck softly around the bit, instead of bracing the hands at a lower height. I kept that in mind during my next dressage school on Dino, and what do you know, he responded beautifully. It helps to listen to the masters. Whenever he got above the bit, a little lift of the hand, a little leg, and he rounded softly over the bit again. Lovely!

Kick In The Pants Part Two came yesterday when the fabulous Rachel came to visit and helped Dino and I do some jumping. She has been with me every step of the way through last summer's crashes and my resulting loss of confidence over fences, and has been the best cheerleader I could ask for! Rachel set a great course for us which included a giant crossrail, a swedish oxer, and some interesting bending lines and rollbacks. Having her there to tell me what to do, even if she didn't give a whole lot of input while I was jumping around, really helped me not psych myself out. The swedish oxer was especially freaky-looking to me, and having Rachel there to assure me that we could do it and would be fine helped my mental game SO MUCH. While we were on course I didn't experience a single moment of anxiety, even when we had some less-than-perfect distances (and took a flyer over the swedish oxer!). I just rode forward and worked it out, and Dino was a total star. The whole ride was so positive, confidence-building, and encouraging! I can't wait for all these good things to start snowballing.


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