Paul Fielder: Long Lining:
Very informative demo with 2 different horses and two different styles of long lining. Paul was a strong proponent of long lining as he felt it encouraged horses to move forward, in a straight fashion, and aided in developing a good mouth. What he also liked about Long lining was that not only could you feel the horse (as with riding) but you could also SEE what is going on with the horse in real time.
Methods of setting up the long lines:
1)Surcingle and the lines from mouth to withers and to the hand.
2) Reins from mouth to surcingle and outside rein around the hind legs/rump.
He found long lining was very helpful in improving contact acceptance and rehabilitating horses. Keep the back healthy because there is less weight on the horse during work.
Helps to improve balance and turns.
Was okay with moderate outside flexion to keep the hoses shoulder straight on turns and circles.
Uta Graf presented her style of riding and training to the forum. She talked us through a video of her set up at home. All the horses are turned out as much as possible in large groups. In one particular field there are 25 horses. She stressed that this particular group was made up of geldings and the horses are a consistent group - Not introducing new horses all the time. She has no indoor arena and shies away from clipping the horses when she can. If the horses are not competitions they are unclipped and blanket free.
Uta brought 3 horses with her. She chose them based on their abilities. Normal horse with normal talent, talented horse that is a bit tricky, and a super talented horse going really well.
She made a comment about riding without fear. That the way her system of managing the horses created a happy relaxed horse who the riders needs not be afraid to ride.
It was clear from all three horses that her system of management promoted relaxed riding and relaxed confident horses.
Uta trained with many walk breaks. She would ask the horse for just a few steps of more challenging work, get the reaction, and then allow the horse to relax into easier (ie long and low ) work and then repeat.
A couple of times in the presentation she talked about taking on a difficult or challenging horse because she liked the owner. That she tries to ride only horses she can have for the long term. I think that was very important for her and I applaud her for sticking to her philosophy. She knows what she want and does it.
George Morris was invited to demonstrate and discuss his philosophy of riding. He rode a 4 year old warmblood on the flat and over fences. He shared with us his start in riding and how after an interesting stint in theatre turned to horses full time.
He stressed the importance of good horsemanship and basic dressage riding. He felt saddened by the fact that hunter/jumper riders in North America call their dressage work "flatting" or "hacking" or “riding in the flat” in almost a derogatory and dismissive way. That he thinks only 10% of riders bother to do dressage and are to quick to slap on draw reins.
He rides at least 3 horses every day and makes a point of riding 8-10 strange horses every week. He felt that it was important for him to ride during clinics that he is teaching because he can set an example for the students, so they could see how it was done, and that they can do it as well.
As some of you might know, George is a stickler for good horsemanship. He offered a good analogy: He compared bad horsemanship to staying in a bad hotel.
He also was conflicted about competitions. He felt that competitions ride a fine line. They SHOULD be a barometer for training but all too often they result in shortcuts. He compared competitions to Icebergs. Competitions have become the Iceberg. The whole iceberg, which is incorrect. Competitions should be the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg, that is under water is the training you do at home outside the show arena.
Spoke about the various seats and encouraged a light seat often to spare the horses back. He likes to start off riding on the right rein as we naturally want to start on the left.
George started by schooling the young horse for quite some time under saddle without jumping. He allowed the horse to put his head wherever he wanted. He certainly didn't force the horse into a frame. “Calm, forward, straight” was his mantra. He took his time suppleing and loosening the horse. Huge fan of leg yielding off the wall.
He started the horse over poles placed on the centre line- two poles normal trotting distance and the third pole two steps away ( so if the horse was trotting over the pole he would trot two strides over the poles, one normal step (no pole) then another pole. Slowly but surely he gradually increased the difficulty of the exercise-making the pole a single small verticle, removing placing poles and then increasing the height. He really made use of the entire ring while jumping and did tons of changes of tracks after the jump, coming over the jump on angles, and doing surprise turns.
Great quote from Dane Rawlins during the panel discussion with George:
“ Jumping is dressage with lots of balls”.