Top 15 Tips from the Adequan/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference

© Annan Hepner: Lilo Fore and Hans-Christian Matthiesen
Lilo Fore and Hans-Christian Matthiesen

Loxahatchee, Fla. – January 17, 2017 – The Adequan/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference took place at High Meadow Farm in Loxahatchee, Florida, Jan. 16-17 with Lilo Fore and Hans-Christian Matthiesen. The pair worked with riders and horses at various levels on the training scale during the two day conference. Here are fifteen of the clinician’s best tips to apply to training:

1. Never think think of a downward transition as a backward transition. You need to think of it more like sitting down with the front legs coming up and the hind legs becoming more active.

2. Collection is not slowing down — it is activating what you already have, especially with the hind legs. However, more activity does not always come from a faster tempo.

3. You need to establish a high quality gait before the movement. For example, the canter half-pass is only as good as the canter’s balance

4. Don’t ask your horse to focus on any movement too long. You need to give them time to understand it.

5. Ride your horse on straight lines to teach self-carriage. It’s harder to learn things on the straight lines, but it allows the horse to develop carrying capacity in their haunches.

6. When you begin training the passage, you need to think of the passage in a more technical way and ride closer to a collected trot, but with a little more cadence.

7. Work on asking for smaller strides in any controlled lateral exercise to teach your horse to articulate through the joints.

© Annan Hepner: Alexandra du Celliee Muller and Rumba

Alexandra du Celliee Muller and Rumba

8. Let your seat do the job of collecting while your leg keeps the energy going. Think of a metronome to keep the rhythm of the collection the same while maintaining the activity. Do not push your horse out with your seat too much — the seat is a regulator and adjuster, the leg is the engine and gas pedal.

9. Think of your reins being your steering guide and let your seat regulate the rhythm. Keep you hands equally in front of you as if they are on the same “shelf.”

10. It is your job as the rider to find the tools that help your horse be successful. You need to pick your battles gently and establish a relationship to maintain a happy “marriage” with your horse.

11. The rider has to be aware of the horse’s alignment and the connection. A supple horse is a straight horse and a straight horse is a supple horse. It is better to add a little here and a little there, rather than adding too much and always having to take away.

12. Engage the horse’s stomach muscles with a lower leg aid. Don’t be afraid to ride the expression of the gait.

13. When allowing the horse to stretch, ride through your core and you should be able to feel like you can release. The horse’s frame should not change because you will keep it with your seat. The horse has to learn that it’s okay to release the connection momentarily. This will improve the collection because they will learn to stay with your seat.

14. It’s very important to keep your training fun. Don’t make the movements more difficult than they already are and simplify wherever you can. It’s all about making it as easy as possible, while keeping your horse happy and healthy.

15. You can’t move a horse’s body if their mind isn’t working with you.

© Emma Miller: Karen Pavcic and Beaujolais

Karen Pavicic and Beaujolais

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