Well it was a tiring but very inspiring week last week!
Alaska & I shared a lessons with 2 other horse & rider combinations which means we all get the benefit of learning from each other.
It felt great to hear Francois’ favourite phrases again….’move on’, ‘every day for breakfast’ – meaning repeat the exercise as often as possible to get better and improve the horse, ‘look where you are going’ – invaluable advice of course, but something we all needed to be reminded to do once in a while.â”¬Ã¡ In the depths of concentration on a new exercise it is easy to become unaware of your surroundings!
Francois teaches the use of the direct & indirect rein to ‘move the shoulder’ – this is another phrase I hear ringing in my head as I practise on my own, coupled with ‘move the haunches’.â”¬Ã¡ The work is a mix of suppling work, moving shoulders & haunches, interspersed with ‘activity, activity’ where we are encouraged to ‘move on’ and ‘move on more’.â”¬Ã¡ Using this combination of lateral movements and lengthening & shortening the frame as we move on, the horse becomes more supple and balanced, and most importantly, more obedient.
Francois is very keen that the horse is obedient to the aids, and that we must work on these to become as light as possible.â”¬Ã¡ The ultimate aim is to control the horse merely from one’s centre.â”¬Ã¡ This could be described as the ultimate in Centered Riding.â”¬Ã¡ He and Sally Swift were very good friends, and although Francois doesn’t use the terms & imagery that are common in Centered Riding, it is clear from his teaching that there is a very strong link between his classical methods and Centered Riding.
My biggest learning from the week was to be always aware of where my weight is, especially when moving shoulders & haunches, for example in shoulder-in.â”¬Ã¡ By getting your weight in the wrong place at the wrong time the horse is put off balance.â”¬Ã¡ This can be very frightening for a young, green horse which may bolt in fear.â”¬Ã¡ On a more experienced horse the effect of having your weight in the wrong place may only mean a dropped mark or two in a dressage test as it becomes a little more restriced in its movement.â”¬Ã¡ But make no mistake…it does have an effect.
Why not experiment yourself with where your weight is and notice the effect on your horse’s way of going.â”¬Ã¡ Of course, be safety conscious, best not to try it hacking on the road, or with your ‘just-backed’ youngster!
Let me know your findings so we can learn form each other!
Happy Horse Riding!