Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hokan Thorn Clinic

This weekend I rode Grady in a clinic with Hokan Thorn. He came to Lindsay's barn... It was great!! Hokan is a Swedish rider who went through the German training system. He has ridden 12 horses to Grand Prix and 26 to Prix St. George.

Grady was well behaved, so we were able to really work. One of the main issues Hokan worked on with me was my tendency to hold my right hand too high and stiff. I learned that if I carried my hand a few inches lower and played more with my hand - always thinking of suppling - that Grady was much better and VERY steady in the contact. We also concentrated on keeping Grady's neck a bit longer. With those issues addressed and being improved on, we moved on to working on circles, straight lines, leg-yields, canter transitions, and simple changes... Basically always in shoulder-fore. Almost every movement that we did was done in shoulder-fore, which actually helped alot! I was very happy; it was nice to hear a rider so incredibly accomplished say "good! very good!" He was extremely encouraging.

Grady was TIRED by the end. He slept over at Lindsay's and he was just standing in his stall looking glassy eyed and exhausted. The next day I could tell that he was quite tired during my ride. He was a little grumpy, but over all our work was actually better. We more or less picked up right where we left off and we began working on more shoulder-fore and circles. Then we worked on more leg yields (the leg yield work was very good by the way). Hokan said that one of his favorite exercises is to turn down the center line, say on a right hand turn, and then leg yield right and vice versa. Hokan said that this establishes a steady connection on both reins. Grady was working so well that it really wasn't difficult, and we even leg yielded in shoudler-fore! Then we worked on our canter transitions and simple changes, and then we worked on half-halting in the canter to bring him back and collect him more. That was AWESOME. After a couple trys Grady would come back into a beautiful, floaty canter that sent tingles down my spine. I have never ridden that fabulous of a canter on Grady before... I'm not sure if I've ridden that kind of canter on ANY horse! Then we worked on doing shoulder-in before going across the short diagnol in lengthened trot. The shoulder-in got the inside hind leg activated so that he was ready to push when we turned off the wall to go forward. This greatly improved the quality of his lengthening. Absolutely all the trot was sitting after our warm-ups.

The other riders all had a successful clinic experience too... It was great! I would highly recomend him to anyone, both for riding with or auditing. It was so much fun to watch other riders and absolutely and visibily see changes in the quality of their work!

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