Saturday I spent the day about an hour away, where USDF gold medalist and “S” judge Tami Batts was giving a dressage clinic at her own Fellowship Farm. I won’t lie, one of my primary reasons for making the trip was to spend the day with an old friend and meet her new Trakehner mare, Rea. Besides investing in my dressage education, the clinic also gave me the opportunity to try out my “fixed” camera- which was wonderful and means that I finally have new [dressage] media!
Unlike the Janet Foy/Chris Hicky clinic I audited a few months prior, Tami spent somewhat less time on theory and put more emphasis on each horse and rider combination’s effectiveness of training. She would also check in with the audience every so often to discuss how we thought the pair would score in an actual test, either for that movement or in the Collective scores, and then work with the pair on how to improve those scores, which was really insightful for those of us watching it happen.
From each session, I gleaned bits of knowledge that I thought could be applied to most horses, or that specifically could help my own horse. Sometimes this involved the rider’s position or approach:
- For the canter to trot downward transition (and I quote): Put your crotch in the saddle and sit up!
- In the half-pass, the inside leg is the smart leg- it keeps the horse bent and keeps the ribcage lifted
Or how to warm up a horse:
- Think of the warmup like lunging, just getting the trot out
- Get the horse moving forward until all the steps have push/engagement/bounce from behind
Sometimes it involved telling when a horse needed correcting or was likely to struggle:
- Ear tilting can indicated a dropped ribcage on that side
- A horse that travels faster in one direction is probably falling-in in that direction
- Confirmationally speaking, a horse with a dip in front of her shoulders can be harder to connect from neck to shoulder
But most of all the feedback centered on how or when to ride certain movements:
- Use haunches-in to help you bend
- Use both leg aids together once quickly to prepare the horse for walk-canter
- When you feel the horse brace you need to relax for a moment
- For the half-pass, if the haunches tend to lead, try riding 3 shoulder-in steps, followed by 2 strides of half-pass
With each session, the horse and rider pair improved remarkably. Tami as a clinician and instructor was very positive with her feedback, but kept her expectations high, which left each rider feeling confident and having accomplished something by the end of their ride. It was a great day spent with a great friend, and a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow dressage addicts as well!