Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2024

Scott Hassler, Traffic Cop

Scott Hassler came down yesterday for his monthly-or-so clinics at my place, and all of my horses put their best hooves forward. I swear they all know when Scott is coming, because they all get just a little worse for about a week, so I'm all frazzled when Scott arrives and asks me how things are going, and then they make me look like a moron because they behave brilliantly in his presence. I think he could sit in the corner of the ring and doze off, and I'd have great rides anyway!

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Scott Hassler came down yesterday for his monthly-or-so clinics at my place, and all of my horses put their best hooves forward. I swear they all know when Scott is coming, because they all get just a little worse for about a week, so I’m all frazzled when Scott arrives and asks me how things are going, and then they make me look like a moron because they behave brilliantly in his presence. I think he could sit in the corner of the ring and doze off, and I’d have great rides anyway!

Midge has plateaued a bit, which is fine—at 7, he’s entitled. The changes are really lovely, easy and straightforward; the collection is plugging right along; and the medium and extended gaits are developing well, increasing in strength and balance. His issue, being about four inches long by nature and unbelievably powerful, is the suppleness—I can either put him in a nice shape, with his back up and his hind legs under, or I can make him squishy in the back. Both simultaneously? Not so much.

Scott was non-plussed. “He’s made so much progress since last I saw him,” (in early July) Scott told me. “He’s still really ahead of the curve for his age.” We worked on the balance in the half-passes both at trot and canter, using leg-yields in and out to keep him from leaning in, and played a little with some transitions back and forth in the collection to keep him supple even when he sits down. Bottom line: he’s a neat guy who needs more mileage and time to have perfect organization of his many parts. Keep it up!

Cleo’s holding onto the last bit of hope that I’ll put her back on vacation, so she’s perhaps not the most willing creature at the moment. As my resident Alpha Mare, there’s often a little conversation about my wishes versus hers: “Who, me? My hind legs? Surely you jest.” WHOMP. “Oh no you didn’t!” WHOMP. “(sigh.) Oh. Yes you did.” After which we make very nice piaffe/passage/pirouettes/one-tempis, but the “discussion” still has to take place.

Scott helped me a little from the ground in the piaffe to keep her not only under, but quick, which carried over really well to all the other work. Our test at our little schooling show this Sunday may not be international caliber, but she feels really good in her body. Yesterday’s unseasonably cool temperatures made her very VERY playful, which is fun when it’s not a little scary!  And while she’s always got to ask the questions, I’m guessing she’ll be a lot more of a team player with one more week’s work.

The real star of the day was Ella. She’s always been a superstar, but she’s also always been a bit of a funny shape. She’s never built muscle easily, and for the last six months she’s been schooling (and showing!) the Prix St. Georges work all while looking like a gangly 6-year-old. She’s very cardiovascularly fit, but her muscles poop out after only a few minutes of tough collected work, and her recovery time has been fairly long.

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Right after Gladstone I started an experiment with two supplements, first Mass Amino (some amino acids with some various whey proteins), then Tri-Amino (just amino acids), both from my friends at Uckele Equine Nutrition. The Mass Amino gave her new muscles very quickly, which improved her “look,” but the Tri-Amino has been unbelievable in improving her muscle stamina.

Normally, Ella works Tuesday, Wednesday, maybe Thursday, and then she gets sore and tired in her back and needs a light day mid-week. Last week, she worked all week with no fatigue, and when Scott had us really getting after pirouettes, piaffe/passage and one- and two-tempis for 45 solid minutes, she finished tired, but not fatigued. Wow!

As a result of our new-found developmental fitness, we were able to really get into the pirouettes in particular, something that’s been our nemesis all year. I’ve been on her case about sitting MORE, but Scott made me realize it’s sitting LONGER, not engagement and activity, but rather carrying power. She needs to wait for me in mid-air, and that’s going to take (surprise!) both time and even more muscle strength. But he encouraged me in the exercises I was using to develop that strength, plus giving me a few more, and reassured me that we were really working in the right way.

Scott is a great teacher and clinician, but the biggest reason I love working with him is that he understands the path horses have to walk from young to FEI, and he’s good for my confidence when I’m fearing we’re not walking the right walk. The hardest thing about working by myself so much of the time is feeling like I’ve made a bad choice. Scott is my traffic cop (warning! bad car metaphor ahead): keeping me going down the right road, and knowing when to yield, when to hit the cruise control, and when to throttle on. Yesterday’s verdict? We’re on our way!

LaurenSprieser.com
Sprieser Sporthorse

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