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CRThoughtsKC

In recognition of the 30th Anniversary of CENTERED RIDING’s publication, dressage trainer and judge Kathy Connelly shared these thoughts about author Sally Swift and what she contributed to the horse world:

“Sally Swift was an icon in every way. As a person, she was very kind, joyful, and encouraging to all. It never mattered to Sally what level a rider was—she was equally passionate with every individual. Her work helped and sponsored legions of riders.

“I remember the years Sally was developing Centered Riding. She had such a gift for conceptualizing her ideas, and this enabled her to produce a system that was very clear and perceptible to all. How fortunate we all are to have this vision of partnership with our horses, which will be carried on for the betterment of our horses’ welfare and ensures a chance for more successful relationships with them.

“I cherished very much our friendship…and miss Sally, greatly.”

Be sure to check out the wonderful cover feature CENTERED RIDING: HOW SALLY SWIFT CHANGED THE WORLD in the December issue of EQUUS Magazine, available now wherever quality equestrian magazines are sold!

CR30Article

Share your own CENTERED RIDING memories and “aha” moments online and tag them #CenteredRiding30! And remember, all CENTERED RIDING books and DVDs are 30% off, the entire month of November.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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CRThoughtsFB JF

Janet Foy is an FEI/USEF dressage judge, popular clinician, and author of the bestselling DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE and new book DRESSAGE Q&A WITH JANET FOY. She shared this CENTERED RIDING “aha” moment in honor of our 30th Anniversary:

CenteredRidingTree“I still use Sally Swift’s visual of how a rider should sit—like a tall pine tree in the forest. From the waist up, sitting tall and seeking the sun, and from the waist down, stretching deeply to find the water below the surface.”

Share your own CENTERED RIDING  memories and “aha” moments online and tag them #CenteredRiding30! And remember, all CENTERED RIDING books and DVDs are 30% off, the entire month of November.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Dressage judges see a lot of "faking it" when it comes to extended trot. Illustration by Karen Rohlf from COLLECTIVE REMARKS.

Dressage judges see a lot of “faking it” when it comes to extended trot. Illustration by Karen Rohlf from COLLECTIVE REMARKS.

 

In COLLECTIVE REMARKS, the new book from former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons, readers are treated to all manner of perspectives, in and around the dressage world. As an FEI 5* judge, Gribbons has officiated at numerous CDIs worldwide and selection trials in the United States, as well as prestigious European shows (Stuttgart, Rotterdam, Aachen), two FEI World Cup Finals, and the 2009 European Championships.

Here Gribbons laments the variety of extended trots to which judges are commonly treated—and they are all “faking it” in one way or another.

 

From COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons:

Seeing What’s Not There
To begin with, there are no distinct transitions. Sometimes the beginning and end of the extension is so subtle that it is impossible to discern, even when the judge is awake and focusing. In reality, absolutely nothing happens, and you feel like you are a part of the tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” pretending to see what isn’t there. That is the bottom of the heap.

The next variety is when the horse hurries through the corner, and instead of coming onto the diagonal in balance and with his haunches “loaded” for takeoff, he is running in front-wheel drive. Arriving out of the corner in that fashion makes the transition “mission impossible.” The honest horse makes a desperate effort to salvage the movement, and by the time he reaches X he is hopelessly lost in forward balance, often irregular, and struggling to reach the end of the diagonal. The less ambitious equine crawls behind the leg and does less and less to go forward, until the movement fades to a working trot before he reaches halfway.

Then we have the “mad run,” in which the horse develops a flat-footed scramble with a hollow back and the hindquarters trailing hopelessly. He reminds you of a bicycle flying by.

The really fascinating extension is the one when the horse’s frame gets shorter for each stride, his back lower, his front legs higher, and his neck tighter. That is almost as hard to accomplish all at once as it is to get an actual extension.

Naturally none of the workouts described just now have much to do with the directives for the movement. So, how would an extension for a “10” look?

 

The Ideal

Let’s start with the transitions: They should be prompt and smooth without the slightest resistance. The horse should proceed accurately from point to point and in a straight line. There will be a clear difference between the extended trot and the medium trot when there is one called for in the test.

Going on to the different aspects of the Training Scale, for a “10”:

  • The rhythm of the trot has to be absolutely regular in a clear two beats from beginning to end with a distinctive moment of suspension.
  • No stiffness or tension can be present for a perfect score for suppleness. The back must swing under the rider, and the completely unconstrained steps must show superb elasticity.
  • The contact has to be light and steady, with the nose more in front of the vertical than at a medium trot. In spite of the ultimate lengthening of the frame, the poll must remain the highest point.
  • To accomplish all this, the requirements of the impulsion are strict: The hind legs are expected to propel the horse forward with very energetic and active steps, while the hind feet touch the ground as much as possible in front of the footprints for the front feet. Front and hind feet reach equally forward, and the front feet touch the ground on the spot toward which they are pointing.
  • Naturally the horse’s straightness is unquestionable, while the very engaged hind legs give the impression of a horse in complete balance, exhibiting freedom of the shoulder and lightness of the forehand found via collection.
  • Under these circumstances the submissiveness is total, and there is no resistance whatsoever evident.

It is doubtful that many of us has experienced this state of bliss for an entire diagonal, but these are the directives if you strive for “excellent.” Naturally there is a range of talent and ability that plays into the score, and there are horses that are superb at collection but have no true ability to become “airborne,” never mind how they struggle. The springs for the suspension just were never installed.

Interesting to observe is that all the way to the top placings in the Olympics, there are horses that lack the ability to use their back in the extended work and who possess almost no elasticity in their gaits or ability to stretch over the topline. What they do have is a tremendous knack for articulation of their joints. They can twist and turn and bend their knees and hocks like performers in Riverdance, and in the “Three Ps” (piaffe, passage, and pirouette) this is a real asset.

Since we have shortened the Grand Prix the extended trot counts for very little. What should be one of our “crown jewels” has been put somewhat on the backburner. Anyone who trained with Colonel Bengt Ljungquist will agree that he would watch this development with a jaundiced eye. I will never forget the endless sessions he had me do on the 20-meter circle, practicing transitions in and out of trot lengthenings. Bengt would insist on the horse becoming “like a rubber band,” and he was relentless about all the features I mentioned above that can lead to a “10.”

 

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Find more dressage insight in COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

 

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Ever wonder what it’s like to be a top rider, trainer, judge, or clinician? Trafalgar Square Books (www.horseandriderbooks.com) is tracking down its top authors and asking them to pull back the curtains and let us take a quick peek into their lives. In our second installment in our “24 Hours in the Life of…” series, we caught up with FEI/USEF dressage judge Janet Foy (author of the bestselling DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE). In case you’re wondering what Janet will be doing tomorrow, here’s a glimpse at her typical Tuesday when not on the road officiating at a competition or teaching a clinic.

 

24JanetFoy

 

A TYPICAL TUESDAY

5:00 a.m. Still sleeping!

6:30 a.m. Britta, my dog, wakes me up for breakfast! First, I start the coffee pot and watch Britta go out the doggie door, then I head out to the front driveway for two papers: USA Today and the local Gazette Telegraph. I immediately feed Britta and give her insulin. The day has begun!

7:00 a.m.  I finish my first cup of coffee and have skimmed the newspapers. Off to the computer to check e-mails and wish every one of my FB friends a Happy Birthday!

7:30 a.m. Head to the shower, being careful not to wake up my husband, who is retired and has the luxury of sleeping late everyday.

8:00 a.m. Out to the garden to water all the veggies and flowers in pots, front and back.

8:30 a.m.  By this time I’m usually on my way to Denver, to teach lessons at Julie Forman’s house. Have a great group of gals who come from all over Denver, and two sisters, Natalie and Nicole, who come from Tomora Training Center in Greeley, Colorado.

 

Janet with two of her students.

Janet with two of her students.

 

1:30 p.m.  I finish teaching and pack up my lunch, dog, headsets (etc) and head to the car.

2:00 p.m.  I call in for the USEF High Performance Working Group Conference Call. Luckily, I am not the Chair of this group , so can drive home (45 minutes) while talking on the call.

3:00 p.m.  Arrive home, and my conference call is over. I drop Britta off at the house and run off to finish the errands I did not get done Monday: Go to the cleaners, grocery store, bank, and today also to the Apple store because my computer is broken. Turns out the hard drive needs replacing, so I buy a system to back things up, run home to do a back up on what hopefully still remains on the computer, then take another trip to Apple to drop the computer off for them to fix.

4:00 p.m.  Whew, think I will sit down. No, wait, I need to buy four plane tickets for next month’s trips (meetings, shows, and clinics). Rats, no computer. No problem, I have the iPad! Start to buy four plane tickets. Wow, prices are going up: Nothing under $750.00 and a few over $1,000. Gads. My husband doesn’t open my credit card statement anymore…too stressful!

4:30 p.m.  I put away all the clean laundry that I did on Monday.

5:00 p.m.  My husband just walked in from the golf course, and he wonders what is for dinner. Good thing I took something out of the freezer. Did I mention I love to cook? So, we have stuffed acorn squash. I cook the squash first, then clean out the insides and mix with: white raisins, almonds, dried cherries, maple syrup, butter, white wine, and leeks. Also use a lot of fresh herbs from the garden. Re-stuff the squash and voila, dinner!

6:00 p.m.  Sit down to eat dinner: A glass of wine and relaxing!

6:30 p.m.  Rule in Foy house: She who cooks does not do dishes. So, my honey cleans up the kitchen. I feed Britta her dinner and give her another insulin shot. Time for a 30-minute Britta walk. (On non-Denver-teaching days she gets two, one in the morning and one at night.)

 

Janet's dog Britta likes her walks!

Janet’s dog Britta likes her walks!

 

7:30 p.m.  By now I am pooped. I check e-mail one more time and turn off the computer or iPad. In the winter I like to watch some recorded TV, but summer is all reruns, so I usually retire to the Jacuzzi tub with a good book.

9:30 p.m.  Good night!

 

You can read the first post in this series, “24 Hours in the Life of Horseman Clinton Anderson,” by CLICKING HERE.

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Janet Foy’s fabulous book DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW.

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Question: My horse lacks “crossing” in his legs (lateral reach) in the leg-yield—what do I do?

USEF/FEI dressage judge Janet Foy has a new book coming...and you could be a part of it!

USEF/FEI dressage judge Janet Foy has a new book coming…and you could be a part of it!

“The difference between a ‘7’ and a ’10’ in leg-yield in a dressage test is that while both horses go from Point A to Point B correctly, the horse that receives the higher score takes fewer strides to get there,” says USEF S and FEI 4* judge Janet Foy. “Later in training you can use the leg-yield to increase the lateral reach in the half-pass.”

We learn in Janet’s hugely popular book DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE that the difference between a high score and a modest score from the judge is really the amount of lateral reach the horse can show. From Point A to Point B, your horse may be able to do it in ten steps, but another can do it in eight steps. Some horses, by nature, have quite a lot of lateral reach—but most horses are not perfect, and need a bit of work here.

So how can I improve my horse’s lateral reach?

“You may have to feel that you are actually pushing the horse sideways out of balance in order to increase his lateral reach,” says Janet. “The horse must really open up the angles of his shoulders. Don’t ride a leg-yield at home as you would at a show. Your job in training is to raise your standards and develop more lateral reach and suppleness than you would need in competition. If your horse can easily do a leg-yield at home with energy and ease, then when it comes to show time and the requirement is easier, he will be a star!

“Try counting the number of strides it takes you to get from Point A to Point B,” she says. “Do this in both directions. One direction will take more strides because the horse will be less supple this way. First, work on this more difficult direction until it matches the other side. Then, when both sides are equal, start working again on improving overall lateral reach. you should be able to take out a stride or two each direction.”

And, fewer strides in the leg-yield means better scores in your next test!

Do you have a dressage question to ask Judge Janet?

TSB invites YOU to ask her your most burning dressage question—it can be about riding, training, competing, judging…whatever! It can be something you’ve asked a million times but still “just don’t get,” or something you’ve always been afraid to ask. It can relate to Training Level or Grand Prix or anything in between.

 

Click the image above to ask Judge Janet Foy your dressage question!

Click the image above to ask Judge Janet Foy your dressage question!

 

Not only will Janet Foy offer you solutions to your riding and training problems and answers to your riding and training questions, YOUR question could be featured in her NEXT BOOK!

Plus, everyone who submits a question is automatically entered to win a personalized copy of Janet’s forthcoming book when it’s published!

So you and your horse could win in more ways than one!

CLICK HERE to submit your question now!

Click image to order!

Click image to order!

DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, the bestselling book by Janet Foy that Dressage Today magazine called “an inoculation against training despair,” is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

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Kristen McDonald speaks with Anne Gribbons, who she has groomed for since

Kristen McDonald speaks with FEI dressage judge and former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons.

Kristen McDonald, groom for former Technical Advisor of the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons, grew up a member of the US Pony Club, competing in amateur eventing, dressage, and hunter shows. She began at Anne’s training facility, Knoll Dressage outside of Orlando, Florida, as a working student before working her way up to becoming Anne’s personal groom. In DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, the exciting new book from renowned animal behaviorist Linda Tellington-Jones, Kristen shares her thoughts on the role of the groom in the dressage horse’s life:

“There is an old Irish tale that depicts the island of Inishnills, where unicorns run free. Only those who believe in the magic power of the unicorns could ever be lucky enough to witness their purity and beauty, and perhaps earn their companionship. The man who acknowledges the unicorn as sacred and treats him with love and respect will have an ever-faithful friend and partner of unparalleled magnificence.

“A good partnership works both ways. Like the unicorn who devotes himself to the man who believes in his magic, the horse will willingly carry his rider safely if, in return, the rider does everything within his means to make the experience as comfortable and safe as possible.

“As riders, we must listen to the horse and learn his language, just as the horse strives to learn ours. I believe that learning to hear what the horse is telling you starts long before you are ready to get on his back.

“As a professional groom the very best advice I can give is to know your horse and his body. Not only does this ensure you catch small physical problems (strains or injuries) before they become bigger, more painful, and more expensive to deal with, but it also helps you discover the methods of handling the horse that keep him happy and sound.

“For example, the stallion I ride loves a metal curry rubbed gently but firmly all over his back. How do I know he loves it? When I begin to use the curry in slow, circular motions, he sighs, drops his head, and sticks out his nose, indicating I found ‘The Spot.’

“Another horse in my care is incredibly sensitive to any grooming. I must move really slowly, using only the softest brushes in my kit as I try to find the places he enjoys being touched before I move on to the areas that cause him anxiety—his back and underbelly. This horse is an excellent example of one who directs me to potential health problems by using body language—he now receives chiropractic treatment for his lower back, which is sometimes sore, and is on a special diet and medication for a mild tendency to develop stomach ulcers. As I am his only groom, I am very in tune to when his ailments may be flaring up: his behavior changes in his stall, on the cross-ties, and under saddle.

“When I ride, I like to use lots of praise to reward good work. I want the horse to know he has performed well so he is happy to do it again in the future. Once mounted, I always begin by giving the horse a sugar cube before he steps off. This helps teach your horse to stand still while you mount (he’s waiting for the sugar cube!), but I also have a friend who calls the practice ‘putting a quarter in’—I’m setting my horse up for an enjoyable ride by beginning with a positive moment.

“Working for Anne Gribbons has been the experience of a lifetime. She is one of my best friends, as well as my boss and trainer, because she knows that I love her horses as much as she does and will stop at nothing to care for and protect them. I feel we owe it to our horses to treat them fairly and provide for them. We expect them to grant us a ride on their back, pull a heavy load, or breed with another horse of our choosing. More often than not, they are willing and compliant to do our bidding. Only when we have attempted to learn the language of the horse can we even begin to repay him for his service and obedience.”

You can read more about grooming for optimal dressage performance in DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, which is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

Lindagraphic

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bookreviewJF

Be sure to check out the new book review on HorseGirlTV.com, where blogger Vanessa Wright explains what she finds so valuable about DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, the new book by USEF S and FEI 4* Dressage Judge Janet Foy.

“Fortunately for all frustrated riders—and tired horses—the extraordinary and effervescent Janet Foy has come to the rescue,” writes Vanessa. “Assuring riders that, yes, horses do make mistakes and, yes, they do have their own quirks, problems, and foibles, she goes on to explain how we can guide them—and ourselves—to happy and harmonious success from our very first lessons through our best Grand Prix.”

You can read the entire review on HorseGirlTV.com by CLICKING HERE.

Plus, check out this “Personal Story” from DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, where Janet explains a little about two of her own “imperfect” horses—a “hot” and fiery mother-daughter pair—and how she learned to work with them:

USEF S and FEI 4* Dressage Judge Janet Foy and her book. Photo from Dressage-News.com.

USEF S and FEI 4* Dressage Judge Janet Foy and her book. Photo from Dressage-News.com.

High Society (“Hi-C”) was a Holsteiner mare who came by her “spice for life” via her mom. Her dam was Abracadabra, a Swedish mare who had a lot of Arabian (Urbino) blood in her. Abra was fifth in the country at Training and First Level for the USDF Horse of the Year awards. she was only 15.3 hands, a chestnut, and usually “on fire.” Hi-C’s dad was a stallion I owned named Constitution. Condo was a 17.2 bay Holsteiner. He was my favorite stallion of all the ones I owned and trained. He had a great attitude and loved to show. I told him he would “get more girls” if he won his class. He usually obliged.

Having had my patience tested by Abra, I was ready for Hi-C. I relied on quiet slow work, trying to relax her as best I could. With Abra, a battle had also been the spooking. At least Hi-C did not inherit this trait. I found with both mares that they had an incredible work ethic and worked very hard to try and please me. Too hard in fact. Half the time they did not wait for my aid. Lots of movements were “not my idea.” Experience taught me that if they were punished for all of their great ideas, they would get more tense. So patience, repetition, and reward finally got through to them.

I caution anyone with this type of “hot” horse to be careful. Punishment doesn’t work. If you don’t have patience yet, you will after you get this one trained. Try to think of each of the horse’s mistakes as a training opportunity. Often, when a horse is learning, there is tension. The horse may be trying to understand the desires of the rider. However, he often gets confused. If the rider freely deals out punishment at this time, especially with a high-spirited horse, the horse’ mental tension will increase and he’ll be unable to progress.

DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE is available from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

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