March 31, 2012

Riding the slinky

Last week I traveled to Riveredge for two lessons with Scott Hassler. It was terrific to be able to return to Hassler Dressage so early in the year. With Scott's busy schedule he was only able to fit me in for two days but the lessons were jam packed full of insight and information.

Both lessons addressed adjustability, or as I like to think of it, the slinky effect. Audi loves to go big and long, he's good at it. And it's far more comfortable and easy for him than compressing his body. When we go to the compression work he loses the activity through his back and tends to shut down behind, thus raising his head. This was the nut that Scott helped me to crack. How do I keep activity during compression work? The answer isn't simple but basically the approach we decided on was to 1. make sure you have his neck (that's the "whoa") 2. test his response off the leg (the "go") with leg yields and little questions but don't linger in them, make them quick and concise. Then you get to 3. Can you compress him with many little half-halts WHILE keep him supple through the top-line (primarily his loin area). When he shuts down behind you see it in front ie: he throws his neck up. Scott reinforced that yes, you want neck control, but you're not going to only focus on the neck placement, right now his neck goes up because he shut downs in his back so focus on keeping him supple through the back. If he shuts down go back to some #2 questions. Both days tackled this issue and gave me great clarity about how to navigate my way through this weakness. We did work on flying changes on day one, unfortunately I don't have a video of it but it was great. Scott gave me a wonderful exercise to use for improving the harder change which is left lead to right lead. He said that Audi needed to be sharper off my left leg so here is what we did. Ride trot tracking right and going down the long side do a transition to walk, immediately leg yield three steps off left leg to right then promptly do a walk to counter-canter transition, keep my left hand down and right hand close to the neck and ask for the change. After doing this exercise a few times, and I must add that we did this at the end of an intense lesson when Audi was the most tired, I felt Audi get even better of the left leg and we had a balanced and clean change. Huzzah!

Here is some footage from the lesson on day two:


  1. Audi has really come a long way and is such an elegant and beautiful mover. Enjoy your journey and thanks for sharing your lessons with us.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. It's wonderful to hear that you enjoy the blog.