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Forward, Elastic and Straight: Notes from the Christine Traurig clinic, June 2017

I'm back from a fantastic 2 day clinic with acting USEF Young Horse Coach Christine Traurig at the beautiful Devonwood Equestrian Center in Sherwood, Oregon. Educated in the classical German system and a stickler for the Training Scale, Christine has a wonderful gift for explaining the details of connection and straightness to her riders. This weekend was a study in pushing power and it's relationship to elastic connection in both Prom Date (aka Paolo, whom I rode) and Izabella (aka Izzy, whom my young horse rider Michele Bondy rode).

Paolo, being older, stronger and more educated than Izzy, worked extensively on improving his suppleness and elasticity through his back and neck. We did quite a bit of lateral work, particularly leg yield and shoulder-in, in an effort to get him to relax and swing through his back behind the saddle. Christine reminded me not to bend him too much in the neck to the right (which I tend to do when I feel his stiffness to the right, but that needs to come more from his hind leg swinging forward to the containing left rein). Later Christine combined canter transitions with slight shoulder-in on the circle to help the canter jump more forward and become more elastic over the back. Izzy also worked on relaxation and improved swing and self-carriage in the trot. On the second day Christine and Michele focused on improving her canter departs as a way to build her strength behind and develop her engagement. It was a very productive weekend from a training perspective, and also a fun weekend with my fellow professionals from the local dressage community!

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