Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Clinic Day One - Introduction to "Legerete"

I would like to pretend I did good on day one of clinic. Remember how I worried about asking the right questions, making a good impression. I wanted to just come in, be polite and professional, get good at stuff and go.

If I were normal I am sure that would have been the case. Alas, I a gifted little comquat and well...do you think falling down is a good impression? Well how about making your horse fall down, and then you falling down, all while just standing on the ground, holding reins?

No worries, Savvy and I bounced right back up and got back to learning, pretending very hard that did not happen.

Fine. Here's video. Get your laughs out and move on to serious absorbtion of some really cool information.

I especially love my friend's reaction. :P
The School of Legerete was founded by Philippe Karl and more information about his philosophy can be found here http://philippe-karl.com/424/School_of_Légèreté_»/English/»_Philosophy.html.
Legerete means lightness, and as you saw above, dear Savvy is a very light horse who is probaby wishing to trade me in for a rider with lighter hands.
Day one for me was a very basic introduction to terminology and the methods of Legerete.
This included:
1. Mise en Main - Education of the Hand, Jaw Yielding
The very first step here was in hand work from the ground. Standing in front of my horse, I was to lightly lift on the bit so the pressure was acting on the corners of the mouth, not the tongue or roof of the mouth. The purpose is to mobilize the mouth (horse opens their mouth, moves the tongue and therefore activates the jaw), raise the head, open the poll and shift the balance of the horse (horse steps into a more square, balanced position). This was called a Demi-Arret.

Muriel Chestnut demonstrating Demi-Arret

2. Flexions - Lateral Neck Flexions and Neck Extension

Following the demi-arret, the second phase was to continue this action until the horse moved into the bit, and I was to follow that movement forward and down. This is the horse 'taking your hand'. Then we started working with the reins from the side and worked more on the taking of the bit and opening the poll. 

Activating the jaw and opening the poll. The outside rein is up over Savvy's poll so Muriel is applying
equal pressure on the bit.

Then taking the bit and stretching down into it. (Head should be straight, though Savvy had a lot to say about it all!)
Next were lateral flexions. We were looking for a clear, straight flexion without bending at the poll. Once this was achieved, we could give the rein and encourage the horse to stretch their neck. Teaching the horse to extend when asked will help stretch the topline of the horse and will be necessary in developing balanced gaits.
Every exercise is first taught on the ground, then mounted at the halt, then walk, trot and canter.
Savvy when we first started walk: behind the verticle.
Once I had run through all of these excercises on the ground, it was time to mount up and try them at the halt and walk. Savvy immediately wanted to curl behand the bit because it was such a cold/rainy/windy day and she was very 'up' and nervous.
This was addressed with a demi-arret, where just like on the ground I would lift the bit on the corners of her mouth, activate the jaw and lift the head.

This not only got her head in better position, but ended up helping her relax from licking and chewing and then finally breathing a bit and listening to me.
Using demi-arret to lift the head and open the poll, Savvy
then maitained a more true connection further into the ride.
That was it for day one! It was a great introduction for me. Even though it doesn't sound like a lot of new information, I really was quite overwhelmed at this point. I had not thought about rein pressure in this way before--corners of the lips versus pulling back and applying tongue pressure. I suddenly felt guilty for 40 years of a riding style that may have been unnecessarily painful for my horses. A door opened in my head and I suddenly realized I could go through it and ride differently. I wasn't expecting any doors. I was a bit uncomfortable with it.
But it wasn't over there. Day two yet to come.



  1. omg that is a smashing way to start out a clinic

    1. What can I say, it's a special talent of mine.

  2. OMG oops!!!!!! That's.... Not the best foot forward Savvy! Ha sounds like a solid recovery tho and what a neat way to start the clinic. Seems like Savvy is so sensitive these methods will really work well for her! Can't wait to read the rest!

    1. It was really cool to learn a new approach to things and wonderful to have a new tool to stop her from curling behind the bit!

  3. Well you're bound to get the 'most improved' award! :D Good for both of you on bouncing back.

    1. Sometimes you just have to brush off the dirt and get back at it. :)