On Day Two of the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program (EDAP) clinic, I was able to find Atara’s “special trot” in our warm-up. The “special trot” is the trot I call that I can easily sit, stop, walk, and canter from, adjust within, and perform any lateral movement. Because I found it so quickly, we were able to work on more stuff in my lesson.
During the warm-up (before my lesson started), I walked her around and let her look at anything she wanted to. My only say was to not run off and to avoid the other horses; the rest was up to her. Once she settled, I took up a contact and asked her to be a little deep, keeping my hands quiet. This helped her pay more attention to my seat, and I made sure I could stop, slow down or speed up from it alone. I also asked her to yield off each of my legs on a medium-sized circle (about 15 meters, maybe a bit smaller). Once she was loose, licking the bit and bending easily off my legs, we went to trot. I looked for the same thing in the trot as I asked for in the walk, with more straight lines. We did lots of bending exercises: leg yield from the track in and to the track, serpentines, and also some halt/rein-back. As Sue Williams once told me in a clinic, I looked for the feeling that the bit was a piece of gum in the horse’s mouth, creating the feeling that she gently chews the bit. I found that this image really helps find a supple connection. Another image I kept in my head was from Tanya, who says to loosen your wrists as if you were ringing a tea bell.
Once Lendon came out, and I had found out special trot, we asked for the canter a couple of times. We were more successful than the first day but decided to leave it at a good place. She said she felt content that I have some new tools to try out, and that practice will mainly help find a good canter. Instead of further pursuing it, we continued various trot lateral work.
We kept Atara’s trot active and attentive while keeping forwardness and control. We did lots of shoulder-in to volte to half-pass, as well as renvers, travers, and transitions within each (while in shoulder-in, trot to walk back to trot). We also performed my first half-pass zig-zag, which went pretty well. Lendon talked about the importance of setting up the changes of bend to the audience. She also explained how a half-pass is simply a diagonal line in travers, or a shoulder-in on a diagonal line (which was funny, because when I first learned how to do a half-pass, Tanya told me to go on a diagonal line, then asked me to do a haunches-in. “Congratulations, you’ve just done your first half-pass,”, she’d said). Lendon also emphasized not to allow the haunches to lead in the half-pass. She said that it was a very sloppy rider mistake, and can easily be avoided.