I went out of town in mid-October to spend time with my husband and daughter for her 22nd birthday. On the way to Ft Collins, we dropped Monarch off with my trainer, Deborah Hindi. She said she would work the canter. When I returned the following week, I would spend the night at her house and ride Monarch for 2 days before bringing him home. We focused mostly on collected canter in the 10M circle. Deb straightened my asymmetries, we worked on the half halt to improve engagement, so he wouldn’t break to the trot. A few days later, Deb came to Montrose for an intensive clinic focusing on biomechanics, problem-solving, and continued training for all the Montrose riders. The format was a riders’ retreat with lots of discussion, lecture, and q&a.
For Monarch and me, the clinic was a huge breakthrough. Two days later, I am still walking on air:
Monarch and I finally figured out how to step through the rein to create more engagement in the 1/2 halt. On Saturday we worked and worked, but it wouldn’t come through. I told Deb, “sometimes he just needs to think about it.” On Sunday, we started right where we left off on Saturday. It wasn’t long before he could take the 1/2 halt at collected walk, so we moved into turn on the haunch. Riding with the analogy of “walking on ice,” I used the 1/2 halt to keep him connected & engaged, and I used the corridor to keep him balanced by diagnosing when the rein got uneven and using my leg on the side of the heavy rein to push him back into the light rein to reestablish an even connection & balance. When that went well, I took Monarch into collected trot on the 10M circle. This is where everything fell apart on Saturday. Now with clarity about what I was asking, he began to step through the rein into an engaged, collected trot. We worked on fine tuning my timing, so the corrections became smaller and smaller, as I caught him sooner and sooner. As that improved, we finished with medium to collected trot transitions on the big circle. Again we worked on Monarch accepting the 1/2 halt and stepping through the rein into engagement, and on me being able to refine my timing so the 1/2 halts became invisible. The trot work was amazing because he truly gave me his back. There was absolutely no bounce in the medium and it was easy to sit- this is the first time ever that I could sit a HUGE trot comfortably without using a ton of muscle to hold myself into the saddle. Now I understand how riders can sit those big movements. The key is establishing engagement and trust. I’ve learned that the work we do with our horses pays dividends beyond my wildest dreams. …..While we worked on “turn on the haunches,” I had the most amazing experience- When it became correct, the clarity and the feel was beyond astounding. I felt Monarch sending me intense, powerful feelings of clarity and understanding from his spine into mine. Through the connection, he was saying- “Here is the feel, here is the feel, here is the feel….” in this very rhythmic, correct way. I was so overwhelmed, I began to cry because he gave me such an intense feeling of generosity and connection. I had to quickly pull it together to continue with the lesson. It’s true what Alois Podhajski said, “ our horses, our teachers.” I am lucky to train with Deb, as she has become my interpreter to what my horse has to teach me.