Sunday, 22 May 2016

Clinic Day Two - Reset Button

I woke up day two feeling much less overwhelmed. Perhaps I just needed some time to absorb the information from the previous morning. The clinician, Muriel Chestnut, seemed different too. She seemed to get that Savvy was super sensitive and that she was receptive to a whisper, so adjusted her instruction to take this into consideration.

We started with a simple review of what she taught the day before. It all went so much better with a soft ask and then we moved on to Demi-arret, neck flexion and stretching at the walk from the ground.

I found this exercise quite helpful because I could watch the way the bit was working in her mouth as I applied the reins and see the application to the corner of the lips rather than the tongue as well as the reaction of the mobilisation of the jaw and movement of the tongue. When we stopped and relaxed the reins, Savvy let out a huge sigh and licked and chewed. Goal #1: Relaxation achieved.

I then got on and repeated these exercises at a walk. It was much easier today to keep Savvy's poll open and to get her to reach into the bit. After having an entire day of learning in my head, I also found it easier to anticipate what I needed to do with my hands as necessary and I felt a lot less awkward.

My number one issue with Savvy going into this clinic was possibly her lack of consistancy on the bit. I definitely felt like I had a few more tools to address this after day two.

I was encouraged to think of my hands as holding a child's hand in a crowd. The connection cannot be so soft as to possibly lose the child, nor too hard as to hurt them. The horse can find comfort in this type of consistant hold and feel confident to take the bit without fear of pain.


As for my leg aids at this point, I was to simply ask for the gait and then leave her alone. The goal was to ride with less power, more harmony. If she slowed, I was to use the crop instead of nagging with more leg. Not only does this help her to be more obedient to the leg, but it quiets the conversation and encourages softer communication. This was a good reminder to me; I often get sucked into nagging Savvy at the trot when she is being lazy, even though I know its going to just make her dull to my leg.

All in all, day two was fantastic! I was starting to see how I could possibly incorporate some ideas into what I was already doing and was looking forward to day three!


  1. Replies
    1. I really enjoyed many aspects of this approach! I think I might splurge on Philippe Karl's book "The Art of Riding" after this.

  2. What a cool feeling!! And especially neat that the clinician was able to tailor the lesson so specifically to Savvy's sensitivity. Also - I kinda love that first photograph looking down on you guys in the arena