Frisco and I participated in our fifth clinic with Alfredo Hernandez this weekend. This time, Brenda and Cookie also attended, their first. It was as usual a wonderful clinic. We covered a lot of territory with Frisco, working on travers, renvers, shoulder in, leg yield, reaction time, and transtions. The biggest key to all of this is Frisco's reaction time to my aids. Alfredo wanted a much more prompt reaction to any and every aid I used. He had me carry the whip flat in both hands in order to require me to keep my hands lower, and to be more effective in the use of my leg and seat, versus relying too much on neck flexion to get things done. We worked extremely hard on Saturday with all of these things, and on Sunday I can honestly say that we had the most lovely shoulder ins yet. Alfredo had me really concentrating-I need to get a reaction to my aids, and, I must prepare Frisco much more carefully. A very simple exercise of 20 meter figure eights in trot, focusing on the preparation and change of bend, was the set up for the shoulder ins. It could not have been more seamless.
Alfredo was very happy to see Frisco's continued muscular development, and he could clearly see that we had been working hard. He wants to see me do many more transitions, in and out of the gaits and within the gaits. As well, he wants to see many transitions from one lateral movement to straightness to another lateral movement, not staying in any one movement for too long. He stressed the importance of keeping the quality of the gaits when I work on the lateral work-riding straight and forward any time I lose rhythm or tempo. He also stressed the importance that the horse reach into the contact and maintain the connection in all the work but especially in the trot stretch.
Cookie's introduction to the work was an exciting undertaking. I expect to see greatly improved acceptance of the connection in her as we continue these clinics. I am overjoyed that Brenda is putting her time, money and energy into furthering her education versus showing right now. Cookie is very talented, but it is a big leap to dressage from other disciplines for a rider. After a very successful first year at Training level, this time Brenda is taking to really deepen her understanding of this very intricate discipline will be time well spent. Alfredo loved Cookie, and spent a little time working her in piaffe. She will be a piaffing machine. Alfredo said she has very clear talent for piaffe, passage, and flying changes. What else do you need in a Grand Prix horse?! How exciting for Brenda!
Here are some pictures of Frisco and I, courtesy of Scott Hallenberg. Thanks Susan for sharing your husband's photography skills with us!