Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 3, 2019 – The first day of the 2019 Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic kicked off in Wellington on Thursday, Jan. 3, with a roster full of eager youth students and world-class clinicians. Led by dressage icons Robert Dover, Debbie McDonald, Adrienne Lyle, Jan Ebeling and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz, the clinic is spread over four days of lessons and educational lectures for the 18 riders.
Check out German-American FEI competitor Jan Ebeling’s top ten take-aways from his first day of lessons at the horsemastership clinic:
1. Ride as many transitions within the gaits during the warm-up as you need.
Ebeling explained as he taught USEF Children Dressage National Champion Miki Yang that riding many transitions in the beginning of your ride helps to begin a conversation with your horse.
“The better you get at riding forward and slowing down, the more control you have over your horse,” Ebeling said. “The transitions help make the horse a little more engaged in the hind. You get a lot of bang for your buck when your timing is right in your transitions within the gaits. The transitions are schooling her to listen to your driving and restricting aids. You’re teaching her to listen better to your half halts.”
2. Taking enough time to warm-up is vital.
Giving the horse enough time to relax and start swinging through its back will go a long way in any training session. Avoid making turns that are too tight in the warm-up, and play around with the tempo.
3. The half halt is nothing but a driving and restricting aid, and ends in a release.
You want to balance the right amount of push and restricting aids, then back off. Be really good at giving half halts! Plus it also has a positive impact on the frame of the horse.
4. When you take walk breaks, the horse still needs to march forward.
Ebeling explained in all three of his lessons the importance of training a horse to have a quality walk no matter if they are in a test or have just finished a training session at home. Since the free walk is worth twice the amount of points in a test, he said that it is best for the horse to default to a big, ground covering walk. Even if they are on the buckle, they need to go forward.
5. Don’t rush to your correction if you make a mistake, but get there quickly.
Be quick and clever about how you fix things. If a mistake is made, Ebeling recommended that each rider take a few moments to recollect and reorganize themselves before asking for the movement again. Doing so will help make the command more clear to the horse and avoid them getting too tense or becoming frustrated about what the rider is asking.
6. When you collect, you add power.
Ebeling explained that when asking for collection, you should not lose power or tempo in the gait, but instead channel it more in an upward fashion and even add power. At times, the rider’s first instinct when asked to collect is to slow down, but decreasing impulsion would actually be detrimental to the quality of the gait.
7. Before a pirouette, think that you’re going to ride a medium canter without riding one.
“The quicker you can keep the rhythm, the easier it is for the horse,” he explained in a pirouette exercise. Riders often slow down too much preparing for the pirouette and he recommended riders think of riding a medium canter with their seat in order to maintain the proper amount of energy.
8. You need to have forward momentum and energy in everything you do.
Ebeling stressed the importance of always keeping forward movement in every exercise, especially lateral movements. However, you need to rebalance before you increase the tempo again.
9. Lateral work like shoulder-in and leg yield are essential in getting the horse engaged.
“Stiffness or heaviness in the front end is always a result of him not working behind,” Ebeling explained.
As an exercise with Yang to improve engagement and tempo, Ebeling asked her to slow her tempo out of a corner, make a small 10 meter circle while increasing the tempo, then keep that tempo while performing a shoulder-in down the long side.
10. Lifting your chin can affect your entire body position.
By tilting your chin up and keeping your eyes forward instead of down, Ebeling explained that you can better stretch your upper body, engage your abdominal muscles and utilize more driving power in your seat.