Horseaddict: Coming In on a Wing and a Prayer

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 11:06
Training Your Horse
Photo © Astrid Appels

Coming in on a wing and a prayer. During WWII there was a song about a fighter plane, with one motor gone, they radioed ahead to say “We’re coming in on a wing and a prayer. ” How does this relate to dressage? I don’t know about you but I have ridden dressage tests in front of judges and as certain movements came up I knew I was coming in on a wing and a prayer. Most riders have some movement that is their nemesis. It can be the pirouettes, or the tempis or the stretchy circle. We know it is coming and we just try to get through it. But Covid had given me an opportunity to get that broken motor fixed.

Due to Covid the show season is not really happening this summer and next winter I will not be going to Florida where I usually compete. This is the perfect opportunity to work on the things that will strengthen my overall performance. I am fortunate to have my coach Belinda Trussell happy to be helping me with this . So where do we start?

Lightest of aids. Belinda took hold of my leg and demonstrated how small an aid she wanted me to give Biasini to ask him to spring forward. If I did not get this response I had to give him a quick bump with my heels. Then go back to a light aid and repeat it. When he responds let him know he has done the right thing.

Accept only the best transitions. If he goes to dive down or to pop up with his head then tell him that was not the right response and repeat my question to him. The correct response,a nice balanced transition, then I tell him that’s the right answer.

The gaits must be active. The walk must be ready for anything. Could I piaffe? Could I go to extended trot? The trot must be up and light and have good suspension The canter must be active and quick behind and he must carry his own head and neck.

What is my broken motor? Well the canter half pass zig zag is my nemesis. In a lesson last week Belinda told me there could be two things that have to be working to have the zig zag successful. 1) The canter must be balanced and active. 2) Biasini must be reacting well to my leg aids.

We worked on that and did a lot of work over more than one lesson with just getting the canter right. This is a new level of engagement and activity for me with the canter. So I need to have that become the norm and have it memorized in my “feel” .

We are working on it. Despite some very hot weather this week Biasini has been trying hard as have I. We are not there yet but we are getting closer.

by Anne Leueen

Based in Ontario, Canada, Leueen calls herself a "vintage" dressage rider. Initially she rode in the jumper and eventing world, but stopped while at university. She did not ride for thirty years, other than occasional trail riding, when she was living in England  and took up dressage at age 50. Anne is coached by Belinda Trussell and her current equine partner is Biasini, a Hanoverian gelding who is a dressage expert and often wonders why Anne doesn’t just let him make all the decisions about what to do and where to go.

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