Friday, May. 24, 2024

Lessons With Lendon

We host a clinic for the Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association every year with Lendon Gray, whom I trained with in college, and who is my biggest riding influence. She’s a fabulous clinician, but I’m always a little intimidated when she comes, not because I’m afraid of her, or afraid of riding in front of her. I’m afraid of looking like an ass in front of her, and not doing the years she poured into me justice.

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We host a clinic for the Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association every year with Lendon Gray, whom I trained with in college, and who is my biggest riding influence. She’s a fabulous clinician, but I’m always a little intimidated when she comes, not because I’m afraid of her, or afraid of riding in front of her. I’m afraid of looking like an ass in front of her, and not doing the years she poured into me justice.

Fortunately, my horses are not the kind of horses that, after going like gangbusters, fall apart with convenient timing. They have BEEN marvelous, and they WERE marvelous. Midge didn’t appreciate going first on a cold Saturday morning, and he let me know by being tight as a tick for the first 20 minutes of work, but he settled in and produced nice things by the end.

Lendon noted that I have the Right Rein of Doom on everything I ride—I try and do it all with my right rein, and the left is a bit of a passenger—so that was a big theme for the weekend, thoroughness from both reins, looseness in both reins equally, etc. Midge never bent right as a kid, and I may have created a bit of a monster in fixing it. Whoops.

But he was a really good boy, and Lendon gave me encouragement that I was heading in the right direction and just needed to keep on truckin’. Yay!

Ella on Saturday came into the busy arena like she owned the place, and she settled right in, all business. And Lendon worked us—pirouettes, half-pass, zig-zags, piaffe-passage. Ella stayed cool and collected the whole time. That’s my girl!

And the work was really good, too. Those dang pirouettes have come a long way, but they’re still inconsistent. Lendon had me ride them slow, something I’ve wanted to do from the beginning but felt like I couldn’t because the hind leg would poop out. And at Symposium a few weeks ago, I was encouraged to giddy-up. So giddy-up I did, and now, after weeks of hustling, she’d gotten too quick. A few slow steps, and we were in business.

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Developing horses to FEI is not just a series of steps, of Do This, then Do That, and Voila! You have to ride the horse that shows up that day, and that horse is constantly in flux—what is necessary one day/week/month may be the exact wrong answer the next time, and for Ella, slow pirouettes weren’t possible until I got quick-and-under.

In two weeks I may need to hustle her up again. That’s the biz! Lendon was really good at reinforcing that the choices I was making were good ones, but she also reminded me that I would have Ella really trained when I could ride the work any way I wanted to—up, down, left, right, slow, quick.

Sunday’s weather was horrid, but Midge seemed unaffected and made more nice work. He’s really getting the right pirouette, and Lendon challenged me to be able to do them with no reins. It’ll take me some work, but I can see that we’re heading in the right direction. The left pirouette is still pretty horrifying, but he made some really good progress, and maybe, if I bug off on the right rein all the time… first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, and I’m admitting it, no questions asked.

Lendon also noted that I do something wonky with my left leg, which means I’ll be tying my left stirrup iron to the girth for a few weeks. It’s called Rides By Oneself Most Of The Time Syndrome, a common affliction. We ended on some passage work where Lendon helped me a little with the in-hand whip. WOW!!! Midge is going to be unbelievable!

Ella seemed a little sore in her stall Sunday morning, but she came out on fire, so I took it and ran—tempis, pirouettes and some major piaffe-passage work. She was an absolute superstar. We chatted about her walk, which is tricky, and how I needed to be careful in the walk-trot transitions because they’ll affect the walk-passage transition, which Lendon thought would be a little tricky for her. “Can I try it,” I asked?

“Sure, but carefully,” Lendon said.

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First one—train wreck. Second one—disaster.

Third one? PERFECT. Love that mare!

She’s got everything in her brain now; it’s a matter of getting the body fit enough and comfortable enough to produce it all. I’m in no hurry, but it’s starting to look very exciting for 2010…

I’m hoping to get Lendon back before next winter’s CDCTA clinic; she’s so fabulous pre-horse show, and she focuses more on me than Scott does, so it makes for a great balance. Here’s hoping!

LaurenSprieser.com
Sprieser Sporthorse

 

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