Lesson 3 began with some groundwork. Equitation science teaches that we should use clear, singular, aids so as not to confuse the horse. Groundwork serves to reinforce the aids used when ridden so the exercises we used were ones which help to reinforce the stopping aids.
We began with simple move back and move forward. Lisa Ashton demonstrates this exercise in her you tube video.
The concept of using a whip or stick as an extension of the arm is not alien to Sidney as I have done various bits of ground based exercises before (dare I say using a stick named after a particular root vegetable!) he has also been used to the ideas of increasing pressure to elicit a response and the removal of the pressure once compliance is made.
Once we had completed the exercises we repeated them mounted. I can really feel how much more sensitive Sid has become to the aids.
Our main focus ridden was to look at how we can influence stride length within a gait. There is a distinct difference between the aid for change gait upwards – pressure applied With the upper calf region, and increase the speed within this gait – a quicker pressure given lower down the leg. The leg aids are of course accompanied with seat and weight aids. A driving seat encourages the horse to step quicker and the movement of the weight with the corresponding hind leg encourages it to move further under.
To slow the pace pressure is applied to the move. Very subtle pressure to slow within the gait and a little more to move down. Again these are accompanied with seat aids. By holding yourself against the movement of the horse you are blocking the movement and therefore asking for slower steps.
We practiced this whilst riding large rectangles along the school with lengthened strides along the long side and shortened strides across the short side. We added in the ninety degree turns preparing for them by slowing the gait and then lengthening in between.
We the moved this on to figures of eight changing stride length without changing rhythm as we worked across the diagonal.
Homework: practice groundwork exercises and stride changes especially in serpentines of different sizes.