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My Training with Nick Wagman

Well this is my first blog about my training sessions.   This is the first time that I am in full training with my horses.  I have my young horse De Libris (he is 9 years old but was out of training for 3 years and barely under saddle when I bought him) and my consignment horse Levi.  The training has been just wonderful and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to train with such fantastic trainers.  I would like to start this blog by thanking everyone that has made this happen for me.   Thank you to the Dressage Foundation through the Renne Isler Fund, thank you to the AHTF, thank you to the two individual donors that believed in me, and thank you to my Grandmother for making this dream come true!

Well here we go regarding training.  Warm up –  I begin tracking left on the long side of the court at the walk.  De Libris (DL) wants to be heavy on the left bit so I usually have my hand up so he can’t hang on that side of the bit and try to establish contact on the right.  Nick says, “focus on the side that he does not want contact.”  I work with the inside rein to outside leg.  The outside leg asks for haunches in.  DL is blocked on the left side –meaning he does not want to come through with his right hind– crossing the left.  I want to make sure his shoulders on on the track, he is not pulling on the inside rein, he has contact on the right rein, and he is crossing with his outside hind through.  Nick does not want me to have him too bent so he can’t come through.  I get a couple of good steps then I straighten.  Then I do the same thing to the right with establishing contact on the right rein, by placing it close to his neck and hunches in.  This direction I must be very concerned of not having his neck bent to much to the inside.  Remember he wants to evade the bit on the right.  Therefore, I must always pay attention that he is taking right contact ( the bit on the right).

Then I track left again and we start the trot.  One of the things that was an eye opener was the horse needs to be in a higher frame but round.  He must not dive to0 low and he must not be above the bit.  The horse must be soft through the neck.  The process starts again.  Same as in the walk.  Left hand , so he can’t hang on the left bit, the long side in haunches in, in the corner scooping with the left wrist, activating with the right leg.  Making sure we are utilizing our corners.  Then we throw in a 20 meter circle between E and B.  Haunches in on the circle all the while trying to establish contact on the right rein.  Then back on the school.  Then we go to canter and same thing in the canter.  Haunches in, shoulders on the rail, scoop with left wrist in corner, activate outside leg, throw in a 20 meter circle and wait for the horse to come through his neck- so he is soft.  Once we have it to the left we go on the diagonal switch rein and transition to trot and start the process on the right side.

Now remember DL does not want to take contact on the right so I really work going to the right to have him take that contact.  I place the rein on the side of his neck.  Not pulling–just there.  I also try to straighten on the left.  This direction he does not want to take contact to he would rather bend his neck than be straight.  It is so important that he is straight in the shoulders on the rail and really pushing diagonally with the outside hind to the contact on the right.  Then again we throw in a 20 meter circle and then back on the rail.  Scoop with the right wrist in the corners and then activate with the right leg.  Once we get him soft then we get a walk break.

Now the work phase.  I pick him up going to the left and we start in canter.   DL and I are working 4th toward the PSG.  He needs to carry more behind and get free in his shoulder.  We begin the same way however now on the long sides I am really asking him to activate off the outside leg, while collecting him on the inside rein. I can not allow him to run away from my leg.  Scoop with the left wrist in the corner, activate off the outside right leg.  Then we go to the 20 meter circle and I really try to keep his shoulders on the circle line while he is coming through with his haunches to the inside.  Some of these half halts are huge but it is the only way to get him to understand that he must wait for me.  Then we go over the diagonal but he must hold his shoulders on the diagonal line–Straight.   Then the flying change when he is straight.  Scoop with my right wrist in the corner and activate with my left leg.  Haunches in on the long side but straight in the shoulders.  20 meter circle and start to collect again.  Once again, he must take contact on the right rein.  He must come from the hind end through to the bit.  I wait for a step or two then I go out and straighten.  Then we try again.  Once he feels good on the diagonal, straight in the shoulders to the flying change.

Then we will start be going down center line straight left rein outside (right leg) tracking left.  Let me tell you the horse is so sensitive at that point that if you even think of anything he will get off the straight line.  Track  left.  Haunches in on the long side scoop left wrist in the corner, center line, and short canter half pass.  The horse shoulders must be on the diagonal line and the haunches must be working through from behind.  Now new inside rein, scoop with the right hand, activate with the left leg and down center line to the half pass right.  DL is weak, so we must be active and continue to make him active behind.  I tap with the whip in the rhythm and work with my outside leg in the rhythm.    Once that feels good we got to the trot.

We transition trot long side activate outside leg, inside rein and straighten.  We look to see how sensitive is he off the aid.  He must feel like a rocket about to explode!  Sensitive.  Then we go to our diagonals for Medium trots.  I must not throw away the contact or he gets uneven.  He must push into the bit.  I can’t tell you how powerful he is starting to feel.  His shoulder is becoming more free and he is really pushing from behind.  At the end of the diagonal, I go to haunches in to collect and activate with the outside leg.

Then we are done for the day.  It is a short burst of work but it is good work.  I stretch him but not too low and use the haunches in to control the half halts and the shoulders.  Then he get a long walk break, a turn out break, a shower, some carrots or sugars, and he is done for the day.  Within 8 rides my horse is becoming and FEI horse.  I am so excited and will keep you all updated with DL and Levi’s training.

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