Friday, October 7, 2011

Upcoming Conrad Schumacher clinic!

In a couple of weeks I have a 3 day clinic with Conrad Schumacher in Gig Harbor, WA, at the lovely Starr Valley Farms. At this point I haven't decided which horse to ride, it is a toss-up between the 3 FEI horses: Escorial, Victor, and Charismatique. At this point I am leaning towards Charismatique, since he is the one who would really benefit from some outside input. Conrad has seen Escorial and Victor, but he hasn't seen Charismatique. I've always had some stiffness issues with Majek, particularly in the canter, and Conrad is great at working through suppleness problems. Also Mom has always wanted Majek in the clinic, and now I finally feel that we have a solid enough communication to take the extra pressure.
The clinic is not for another week or so, so I have plenty of time to procrastinate on my decision.
Fall is here all of the sudden, I swear it showed up in a day or two. One day it was 90 degrees, the next the high was 45 or 50 and it was raining. Ick! I want summer back.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Successful Regional Championships wraps up show year!!

NO RAIN at Regionals this year!! Summer hung around for the USDF Region 6 Championships, held in late September this year in our backyard (Nampa, ID). Temperatures even topped 90 degrees. Thank goodness, this show is notorious for crappy weather no matter where it is held.
The show itself went very well for all of us. Everyone had a great show and we came home with multiple championships and reserves. Of special note student Paige Haas was Reserve Champion NW Third level Jr/YR and rode both Junior tests for practice, scoring mid-60s! Student Beth Harris won the NW Third level Adult Amateur Championship, and a Reserve and Championship in the Third level Musical Freestyle. Congrats!!
Of my own horses, Charismatique and Victor, battled it out in each class they were entered (the open PSG), and depending on the day, one or the other emerged victorious. The fabulous Victor is finally back on top form after his long lay-up, the first two days he was untouchable with 69+% and 71+% in his two PSG classes. Super expression and flair, combined with precise execution, however, his pirouettes still need work and the engagement needs to be more solid for next year. The bratty younger brother, Charismatique, an 8 year old in his first year at PSG, put in 3 very solid tests, scoring from 65 to 68%. What Victor has in flair and expression when he's on, Majek makes up in consistency and energy. By day 3, Victor was tired and his test showed it, whereas Majek was still just as active and energetic as the first day.
After all was said and done, Victor won the Northwest Open PSG Championship and Majek won the GAIG/USDF Open PSG Championship!
Escorial sat this one out, and is working hard at home to learn the I-2/GP movements. The one-tempis are solid (we can even do them on curved lines and sometimes in a really big canter), but the piaffe/passage still needs work.
Lots to do for next year! Time to rest and then train for the upcoming season.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Look at the trees beyond the fence!"

I was watching a jumper lesson the other day and an amateur was having some fear issues with the fences. On the approach, she would look down at the jump and worry about the fence itself, and subsequently the horse would either run-out or stop. The instructor had her look up at the trees beyond and ride the line, focusing on keeping the horse straight and keeping her leg on. This simple instruction had the effect of getting the rider to keep the horse on the aids and in front of the leg, rather than allowing the horse to suck back or deviate laterally. Rather than focusing on what she wasn't sure she could do (get over the scary fence), it made the rider think about what she could do (keep the horse straight and forward).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No Woodside CDI :(

Due to the recent outbreak of EHV-1, I decided against attending the Woodside CDI*. I first heard of the outbreak Sunday afternoon, and I was supposed to leave for CA on about tight timing! After talking with my vets and doing extensive research online, I decided it would be prudent to stay home and sit this one out.
This show was to be Victor's first CDI, and I was really looking forward to showing both boys (Victor and Escorial) under Hilda and the rest of the CDI judging panel...the standards really are different at the CDI level. But there are always other shows.
At this point it looks like the Central Oregon Classic in Bend, OR, is my next show (where, ironically enough, Hilda is also judging). I have all 3 (!) FEI horses entered. I am debating about attending another CDI but haven't made any final decisions yet.
At least it stopped snowing here!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

ID Festival Re-cap

Last weekend was our area's first big dressage show of the year (one of the few). Victor make his successful come-back after a year long layup to score 64+% in the PSG on Saturday and 65.7% in the Developing Horse class on Sunday. The PSG was much better balanced and organized than the Developing Horse test (which was a bit more messy and had several mistakes), but the judges saw him a little differently.
The big surprise to everyone (not necessarily me) was that Majek beat Victor in both classes! Majek (at 8 years old, and only did Third level last year) won the (fairly large) PSG class with 66.7% on Saturday and scored another 66+% on Sunday in the Developing Horse test. He learned alot about the PSG level in California this year, although we didn't show very well down there I was able to work through his issues and figure out how to best prepare and put together a solid PSG ride. So although Victor has more flamboyance, elasticity, and scope, Majek was able to beat him on consistency, balance and better use of the hind legs.
The young horse Bolero is also becoming a solid show horse, this weekend I warmed up without lunging and he was quite settled and focused. We had some spooking (particularly on Friday and in my first test), but the preparation work I did at home really paid off. He scored 65, 66 and 68+ in his three outings at Training level. This week he learned how to do canter-walk transitions, they were amazingly easy when I got that HUGE canter balanced.
The clients also had a good show, it had its ups and downs (per usual). Some really good rides that exceeded expectations, and some difficult rides that make you want to take up knitting. :) The show was LONG, however, and really exhausting. Nothing like riding at 8:30pm and then getting up at 4:30am the following morning for your 7am ride. Ick!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Victor returns to the show ring in a week!

  • Victor has been back in action since November of last year, if you've been following his saga he has been laid up from a quarter crack for over a year. It was a really difficult decision to make, he was going fantastic (when he was sound)...even broke 70% as a 7 year old in the PSG. But in the end I had to let him rest and heal, overall his long-term soundness was more important than getting another show in.

  • So his first show back is our Idaho Festival Dressage show May 7-8, he will be showing PSG and the Developing Horse tests (since he's 9 now, he's still eligible). He's ironically enough competing against Majek, who has just jumped forward in his abilities since the CA shows. Both are competing in the same tests, will be interesting to see who comes out on top...obnoxious (Majek) versus showman (Victor)?? Flashy but out of practice (Victor) versus flashy but green (Majek)?? Monkey will be sitting this one out, resting up for later shows. I also have a bunch of great clients going to this show, so I will be busy!!

  • I have also signed up for the Woodside CDI* in mid May. Call me a glutton for punishment, I decided I really wanted to do another LONG drive to CA this year (13 hours via mapquest). I will be taking Monkey again (do the PSG/I-1 one more time in the CDI) as well as Victor (PSG in CDI, to get out, and Developing Horse) and Bolero (get that young horse out and about some more!). I used to live about 10 minutes from the Horse Park at Woodside (on Stanford campus), so I guess I can reminisce on my college years (or not). ;)

  • I hope to keep the blog updated while I'm in CA.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Back home after Rancho Murieta CDI

  • I had some trouble during my time at the Rancho Murieta CDI last week getting network access, so I was unable to update my blog during that time. The weather was a little less exciting at Rancho Murieta for a few days; I'm NEVER happy to go to California and have it be freezing cold. I went from 100+ degrees at Burbank the week earlier to 32 at night one night in Rancho Murieta. Brrr!! I was walking around in my down coat complaining to anyone who would listen.

  • Escorial was again super at this show, I had a bit of a slow start in the PSG with only 63.8. He decided to show off his one-time changes, which have become really easy for him. So he did them in the 4s and even the right pirouette (I mean, really, how do you do that???). Expensive mistakes that really dropped my score. One judge, however, loved him and had him at 66% even with those mistakes, including an 8 on gaits and several 8s in the trot tour. The I-1 was much better, very clean and precise ride to score 65.8 and end up 6th in that huge I-1 class (28? or so horses). The classes were competitive, with many good combinations, but no real standouts (no one scored into the 70s in the CDI all weekend).

  • The I-1 freestyle went very well again, I was less nervous this time around, so I felt like I rode much better. I had some mistakes in the 3s, but otherwise a very clean ride to score 67.5 and place 3rd. Two judges had me at 68, one at 69, but the two side judges were less impressed which dropped my score down.

  • Charismatique was really solid this show, and starting to get over his relative inexperience at the PSG level. In both open PSG classes he scored 63% with a couple little mistakes. He was absolutely fantastic in the Developing Horse class in terms of his self-carriage and power, but had several big mistakes (missed a change between the pirouettes and I couldn't get it, so had to walk and regroup, cantered down centerline after the first halt, several mistakes in the 3s, then like an idiot I went off course). But still very happy with 61.5 from the CDI judges and 1st in the class (only 3 in it). The trot work was almost straight 7s from the CDI panel.

  • Bolero's first test was another spooky mess, then I got an error for doing a transition too early. So another disappointing 61. I finally got pissed about only getting 61s on this talented horse, so warmed up with much more determination for the next test. He was much more settled and on the aids that time around, and even when he did look, came right back. So he finally lived up to his ability, scoring 70.8 and winning the open Training level test 3.

  • The trip home was long (as usual) but very uneventful. Mom again drove home with me (thanks Mom!!). So I'm back home in Boise. Now a (very) short break before I start gearing up for the next show, a High Performance qualifier the first weekend in May here in the Boise area. I have several students going to this show, and Victor will be making his return to the show arena at PSG/Developing Horse level. Charismatique will also be attending (showing the same level), Escorial gets a much deserved break before he starts working on the I-2 again.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I-1 Freestyle Debut at Festival of the Horse!!

Today I rode my first EVER freestyle at the CDI Burbank; I've never ridden one at any level at any show before. :) It was ambitious, and given another chance, not something I would do again! I was pretty nervous today, more so than normal, and unfortunately that affected my ride. I had a couple of pretty significant mistakes in my test, Monkey got stuck in the first canter pirouette and walked for a stride or two (which garnered me 4s from the judges--a very, very expensive mistake on a co-efficient movement), and then I had a counting error in the 3s (which gave me 5s all around from the judges). I was pretty disappointed, although I really should not have been, given my inexperience with riding freestyles. It was just a little too much pressure for me today. I finished with a good score of 67.1, which was great given the mistakes. I wanted higher, but to quote a great philosopher, you don't always get what you want. :) I finished 6th, but 3rd through 6th was very tightly contested, with all 4 scores between 67.1 and 67.8. The bungled pirouette was indeed very expensive from the perspective of placings! I had to follow Steffen on his WunderKind Weltino's Magic in the draw, which didn't help matters any. He won the class (again), I don't remember the score but I'm sure it was high. On the plus side, I made the mistakes early on in my test, but was able to put things together again and ride a very clean ride afterwards. In the past a few mistakes like that in the beginning would have sent me spiraling downwards, but I was able to focus on the future and keep riding like everything was working well. So that was great! I'd also like to give a big shout-out to another Northwest trainer Jessica Wisdom, who placed 3rd in the I-1 freestyle with her Welsh stallion Cardi. GOOD JOB JESS!!! Onto the Rancho Murieta CDI!! I leave tomorrow morning for Sacramento, hopefully it will go as well as Burbank.

Wrapping things up at the Festival of the Horse

  • Escorial was a super-star again Saturday down here at the Festival of the Horse, placing 6th (I got a ribbon!!) out of 30 (?) horses in the CDI Intermediare 1. I was able to bump my score up a few notches to finish 67.8 percent behind Steffen Peters (on his 2 horses), Jan Ebeling (on his 2 horses), and Guenter Seidel. Canadian judge Cara Witham had me at over 69%, in front of one of Jan's horses and just .3 behind his other horse. I was thrilled with my ride and placing! Even more fun was that the order of go went Guenter, Jan (on Sandrina), Steffen (on Pallas), then me. So I got to warm up with the three of them before my test. I told everyone they just warmed the judges up for me. :) I don't find it that intimidating to warm up with them, they are actually very good about watching out for other riders in the arena. But I must say, you definitely sit up a little straighter and make your horse trot a much bigger and slower.

  • The top 4 horses in the Intermediare scored over 70%, Steffen was a slacker and won the class with only a 77% on Weltino's Magic. I mean, seriously! He needs to try a little harder.

  • My two young horses weren't quite as solid yesterday, the Equidome (the large indoor) was very intimidating for Bolero. I think it is partially all the people walking around up above him and the loudspeaker. He spooked through his entire test and spun around at one point at some imaginary monster, I think I scored a 61. It was a bummer, but everyone on young horses seems to have trouble in there. Outside he was totally fine. Today was much better, he was still tense and spooky and threw in an unscripted flying lead change at one point, but felt more ridable and settled.

  • Charismatique had more trouble in the PSG, a few mistakes to finish 58%. I rode the Developing Test this morning, and in some ways he was much better. Unfortunately I blew both pirouettes and he was pretty fussy at times in the canter work to finish on a disappointing 56% in that class. Oh well, just have more work to do.

  • They also had a High Performance Rider meeting with Anne Gribbons and Eva Soloman (of the USEF) Saturday afternoon that I attended, all the heavy-hitters were there but otherwise the attendance was surprisingly low. Most of the issues they discussed were out of the realm of most High Performance Riders (they discussed the location of the Pan-Am Games, hotels in London, qualifying for Aachen, among other things), but they also talked about looking to increase the depth of the combinations and improving the communication network between the USEF coaches and new talent. Obviously, if new talent don't attend meetings like this, they never find out about possible opportunities to move forward in the sport. Anne also bemoaned the "atrocious" Juniors around the country (evidently the Young Riders are pretty good, but the quality of the Juniors is not). Evidently one FEI Junior rode one section of her canter work entirely on the wrong lead this weekend, much to the dismay of the CDI judging panel. Yikes!!

  • More later, I ride my first ever freestyle on Escorial this afternoon at 1:45pm, right after Steffen on Weltino's Magic. Hopefully he'll get the judges good and warmed up for me. :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Successful first day at the Festival of the Horse!

  • The FEI jog started this morning at 6:45am (bright and early!) and the CDI FEI PSG started at 8:30am or so. Monkey drew 7th to go, which meant I had to be up at some god-awful time in the AM to braid him and make sure he looked presentable enough for the FEI panel (not to mention myself). Monk's ride time for the PSG was 9:24am. Majek also had his first PSG ride at 8:27am, so I had two horses to get prepared! It was kind of an insane morning, but in some ways better to get everything over as it got quite warm again (probably almost 90 degrees again today).

  • Majek's first ever PSG went absolutely super. No mistakes, pretty up and active, could always be a little bit longer/looser in the neck and more uphill but overall I was very happy. Scored 63+% but didn't place in a very large and competitive open PSG class. But very, very happy with how well it went for his first PSG.

  • After Majek was Monkey, who warmed up super and also had a great PSG. I had one little silly mistake in the 3's, but otherwise a very solid test to score 64.8 and place 7th out of 27 horses in the CDI. The class was super competitive, with first place going to Steffen Peters with his new phenomenon Weltino's Magic (scoring 75+%), second going to Guenter Seidel with around 72%, and the next 4 placings being taken by Steffen's second horse, Jan Ebeling (on two different horses) and Mette Rosencranz.

  • I was a little disappointed with my score, mostly because I scored almost 67% from the European judge, 66.5 from the Canadian judge, and only 61 from the U.S. judge. But in general I was very happy to score and place as well as I did!

  • I rounded out the day riding the young horse Bolero, who did a pretty good albeit entertaining Training level test. By his ride time (after 2pm), it was already hot again, and he was pretty quiet in the outdoor warm-up (I didn't lunge him before I rode, thank goodness). But he perked up in the indoor arena, which is set down in a hole and has bleachers all around it. The people walking around impressed him and he was pretty spooky through his entire test. I had a heck of a time getting him into the corners or on the long side because he was looking at everything. :) He was good, he did his job, and for his first test with his relative inexperience it went pretty well. He scored 66% (he is capable of SO much more), with an 8 on gaits and several 8s in the test.

  • I watched some of the rides (in between caring for the horses), and there were some good ones. I unfortunately didn't get to see Steffen's 75% ride, I would have loved to see that one. The GP was good, although the real heavy-hitters weren't in it (no Ravel). Guenter rode U2 (the horse that bucked him off last year) and had a nice test with some fantastic moments, punctuated by some big spooks. I believe Jan Ebeling won the GP with Ralfalca, he had a very nice ride.

  • The weather is supposed to cool down this weekend, which would be a nice change. I love warmer weather, but this was too much too soon! I can't believe I'm complaining about being too hot!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


All the other competitors started arriving today on the show grounds; it is always amazing to me how busy this place can get, particularly after how quiet it was yesterday! The horses have settled in very well, Monkey finally stopped screaming and spinning and decided maybe he would eat something. I rode today as well, all the horses were on good behavior considering everything (particularly Monkey was surprisingly focused and workmanlike). The weather was fantastic, mid 80s and sunny all day; I have to say I am less interested in how the show goes and more interested in being in the sunny warm weather for a few days! I took Mom to the airport this evening, she's headed back to PDX. My other stall cleaner :) flies in tomorrow around noon. Ran into several other Northwesterners who have made the trek down to this show, I think everyone is a little more chipper when they aren't being rained on incessantly. ;) Mom and I met some very 'shiny, happy people' at Starbucks this morning, I swear, you can't get that degree of happiness without some sort of chemical means. More later!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


All the horses finally settled in this afternoon; they were all pretty restless last night and this morning. Monkey in particular was hugely traumatized when he was relegated to the CDI barn, two barns away from his good buddies, which is very typical for him. He screams, he spins, and it goes on for hours. You'd think he'd never been to a horse show before! After a half day or so, he finally started to calm down. Majek and Bolero, on the other hand, were pretty happy next to each other in the National show barns. The weather has been surprisingly warm, today it hit 80. It was just beautiful, and nice to be out of the rain (and wind, and hail, and snow...). The forecast is calling for 90 on Thursday!

Arrived in Southern CA!!

We finally arrived in Burbank last night at about 11pm. Mom and I left Idaho at about 7am, so it was a loooong drive. Unfortunately, some rain and snow had gone through Southern Oregon and Northern Nevada the night before, so there was quite a bit of packed snow and ice on the highway in places. We passed a Suburban that had taken a corner too fast and flipped over, and a van pulling a small trailer that went off the road and tipped the trailer onto its side. Needless to say we kept it pretty slow, the truck and trailer felt really solid on the road but I'm not one to take chances in conditions like that! The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, surprisingly the horses rode very quietly in the trailer (Majek normally paws and kicks much of the time, and Monkey tries to out-paw him). Maybe they like the new trailer??! The scenery in Western Nevada/Central-Eastern California was stunning, the mountains there have just tons of snow on them right now. Traveling down US-359 into Bishop it just beautiful, it follows the Sierra Nevada south through a valley. Mom was disappointed she didn't bring her fancy camera so she could take some pictures. My truck hauled the new trailer like a champion, and I have to admit I LOVE my exhaust brake, which I have nicknamed "Baby Jake" (that's what happens when you drive for 15 hours, your brain just gets really wierd). It helps slow the engine down significantly so adds a bunch of braking power without putting as much strain on the transmission and disc brakes. Unfortunately it doesn't sound anywhere near as masculine as an actual Jake Brake (like the semi trucks have), it makes a high pitched squeaking noise like it has yet to undergo puberty. Hence the nickname. The final stretch into Burbank is always the worst, I tried to warn Mom but you really have to experience it. After driving for 15 hours on mostly lightly traveled highways, you hit CA-14 which eventually puts you onto I-5. And you spend 20 harrowing miles on I-5 before you can (thankfully) exit to Alameda which takes you to LAEC. It is insane. Luckily this year I was totally prepared and got into California driving mode instantly, so no problems weaving in and out of traffic and driving like a mad woman trying to keep up with all the other idiot drivers. It helps that I-5 is horribly bumpy, so it feels like a really bad roller-coaster ride. Upon arrival at Burbank and successful unloading of the horses, Mom promptly drug around in the truck looking for beer. I'm sure she was wishing I had some vodka shots or something a little stronger. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

All packed!!

  • I pretty much packed everything I own into my truck and horse trailer and am (more or less) ready to hit the road in the AM! Every year I seem to pack more and more stuff to take with me, especially now with the bigger trailer I have no reason to hold back. Why take only one shirt when you can take 5? Why only 5 t-shirts when you can add 5 tank tops? Why only 1 saddle pad when you can take one each horse for every day of the week? Why shop in CA (obviously they don't have stores) when you can buy every food item you'll ever need up here and tote it down with you?

  • I'm not feeling super confident pre-trip, Monkey now has a bunch of small bumps on his back under the saddle pad, which started about a week ago after the last injury-fiasco (I won't get started on that one). As if I needed more stress, he also had a swollen right hind leg yesterday. So I called my vet on his cell phone (it felt like Groundhog's Day, after last weekend's injury-fiasco and the same frantic vet-phone-call), and blurted out, "he's trying to drive me insane!!" Thankfully he was sound and the bumps don't look to be a big problem. So I diligently wrapped the right hind to keep the swelling down for overnight.

  • So this morning, I notice he scraped up his left hind. I swear, he hears "Burbank" and starts banging himself against the wall trying to create some sort of injury.

  • Majek and Bolero are luckily in one piece, however, both were spooky goof-balls all weekend. I think they are picking up on my higher-than-normal stress levels and finding monsters in every corner. Look!! A hose! Look!! A piece of paper! Look!! A cat!! Look! The chair in the corner that's been there for the past several years!! Naturally this isn't helping my stress levels any.

  • On the plus side Mom has been keeping on eye on the weather for our trip down. After all, it is hugely important to check the weather forecast every 15 minutes, just in case it has drastically changed and huge amounts of snow are going to be dumping in Winnemucca. But just because it didn't change 15 minutes ago doesn't mean we shouldn't check it again in 15 minutes! Why wait until the afternoon before you leave? That's silly, we should stress about it for days beforehand! Mind you, this is the same person who asked me TWO WEEKS ago if I had checked the driving conditions for my trip yet.

  • So we're planning on leaving tomorrow AM, probably between 6 and 7am. That should put us in Burbank at LAEC between 10 and 11pm. Then the REAL fun begins (or that's what I'm telling myself)...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting ready to leave for CA!!

I'm in the process of packing for my drive to Southern California...normally I would say "sunny" So Cal, but since it hasn't been, I'm a bit more reserved in my enthusiasm. I have two big shows lined up, the Festival of the Horse CDI in Burbank April 1-3, then onto Northern California for the Golden State Dressage Festival CDI in Rancho Murieta April 7-10. Both shows promise to be super-competitive and intense, if not sunny.
This trip will also be the maiden voyage for the new (bigger) horse trailer, irony of ironies I now have a 5 horse and am selling the 3 horse, but I'm only taking 3 horses to these two shows. Go figure. At least it'll look bigger and fancier! Plus I have more storage room for all my stuff, so I can now bring everything I own.
Escorial (aka Monkey) will be showing in the (intimidating) CDI short-tour classes, which are extra-competitive this year as a result of the Pan-Am games at the end of the year. Should be great fun! I finally got my freestyle nailed down, which will be helpful, considering I've never ridden one in competition before. Oh well, I guess it'll be one big experiment.
Charismatique will be showing in the Open show in PSG and the Developing Horse tests and young horse Bolero (at his first ever show, do I make great decisions or what??) will be showing Training level. All in all it should be an awesome couple of weeks.
Now all I need is that famous California SUN!! (Can you tell I'm getting sick of winter??)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

For sale: 2006 Sundowner 3H gooseneck, 7'6" tall

Beautiful 2006 Sundowner 727 3 horse gooseneck trailer for sale. Extra tall (7'6"), extra large dressing room. Walk-thru door from dressing room to horse area, drop down windows on head, escape door. Stainless steel nose wrap. Collapsable rear tack with saddle rack (which can also be put in dressing room). Tires in good shape, brand new spare. Ball bearings have been repacked yearly. $15k. Only selling because I bought a bigger one!! Email for more information and pictures!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jan Brink clinic notes

Last weekend I audited a clinic with one of the world's top dressage riders and trainers: Jan Brink from Sweden. The clinic was held at KGF Equestrian Center in Kirkland, Washington, and hosted by Steinberg-Bryant Dressage. One of Jan's big themes throughout the weekend was adjustability in the horses. Interestingly, he thought that 35 years ago the emphasis in dressage was on big, ground covering gaits, but he feels that now it is much more important to be able to vary the gaits smoothly and quickly. He further discussed what he called the three "control points":
1) The Track--the rider needs to be able to control the relative alignment of the horse's front legs and hind legs
2) The Rhythm--the rider needs to be able to speed up or slow down the horse's rhythm while maintaining the same stride length
3) The Strides--the rider needs to be able to ride longer strides or shorter strides while maintaining the same rhythm
Jan feels that riders should not wait too long to start varying the strides with young horses, even three and four year old horses. With the very young horse, riding longer and shorter strides has nothing to with collection but it is in the direction of collection. In fact, with the young horse it is helpful to think to ride longer strides, but then back to the normal stride as the young horse is not strong enough to really do shorter strides. He also had the riders ride a 20m circle in the canter with longer strides, then riding a smaller circle (15 or 12m) when riding coming back to the normal stride length which encourages the horse to come back.
Adjusting control point #2 is a little more confusing (at least for me!). Jan used the analogy of a basketball player dribbling a basketball. The ball can be dribbled quicker or slower without making it move more forward. This ability to change the rhythm but keep the stride length the same is very helpful when teaching flying changes, as the horses need to "bounce" more off the ground in a quicker beat to get the change. He had several of the riders just ride on a 20 meter circle, find a baseline rhythm in the canter for instance, and then practice just changing the rhythm to quicker or slower steps.
To really test control point #1, Jan had the riders ride often on the centerline. With the young horses it is enough just to try to ride straight down the centerline! On the older horses the riders could ride shoulder-in or travers on the center line to really test their ability to control the shoulders and haunches.
As the work became more advanced Jan would have the riders combining the three control points and emphasizing different elements, depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the horse and rider. For instance, in training the pirouettes, Jan would have the riders ride travers in the canter on a 15 meter circle. Within that movement, the riders were to quicken the horse's rhythm. When the riders had a good feeling, they could then change to riding a 12m circle, or 10m circle or down to a 6m circle, but always the rider needs to stay disciplined about the circle line. It was a good "bodybuilding" exercise and an excellent exercise to train the horse to balance and wait during the pirouette canter.
Jan was great at explaining both the more general issues, and then applying these general points to the individual horse/rider combination to help improve specific aspects of their performance. All in all, a very good clinic!