Training the bending of the hind legs

Last week I’ve been in training at Marion van de Klundert’s place and I’ve participated in the clinic by Bent Branderup. In this blog I will give a short summary about my findings. Make sure to also watch the video at the end!

I came to Marion with two goals: I wanted to get better in the one-handed riding and I was searching for help with training the bending of the hind legs of Vingino. He is pretty good in bringing his weight back, but he doesn’t quite understand that he is also able to “sit”. So the bending in his knees and hocks could be better.

During the first lesson we started with the transition from backwards to forward. This could be forward in walk, trot or canter. It is the intention to ask his inside hind leg forward, just before the horse wanted to step backwards with it. In other words: when the inside hind leg of the horse is the most forward under the stomach, you ask it to step forward instead of backwards. Now the horse has to lift up the leg and place it even more forward, resulting in more bending of the hind leg. For clear footage, watch the video at the end.

As we got further into the week, we started to think more forward on the place instead of backwards. Resulting in exercises like school-walk, school-trot and eventually piaffe. Vingino and I aren’t quite there yet, but just to get the feeling I was allowed to ride Marion’s horse which is able to do the piaffe. This was truly an amazing feeling! And incredibly informative! I found out that the piaffe feels much “slower” than I imagined. Now I know that in my training with Vingino I need to think even smaller and more collected to get to a piaffe.

Regarding the one-handed riding I’ve also improved a lot. I already knew how to hold four reins in one hand, the lessons where more about how to give aids with that hand. By rotating your wrist (looking at your watch or looking at your wrist) you can alternate between a left stelling and a right stelling. You steer your horse by steering his shoulders by moving your hand a little to the inside or the outside. Officially you should ride with the reins always in your left hand. For now I always ride with the reins in my outside hand. This helps me to automatically turn my outside shoulder a bit more, moreover this way I can practice to quickly alternate the reins between hands.

Apart from a lot of training, we also made sure we had some fun together. For example, Vingino and I went swimming together for the first time! He thought it to be a little bit scary, but with some encouragement of his friends he dared to go quite deep into the water.

During the weekend there was the clinic by Bent Branderup. Each year Vingino and I participate in his clinics. Again it was a lot of fun and very instructive. In the handwork Bent challenged me to walk backwards next to Vingino and hold the reins in one hand. I was not allowed to look at Vingino’s head, only at his hind legs. I had to trust that my hand was able to feel if his head was in the right position.

In the riding we continued with transitions between school-walk and school-trot, thereby alternating the weight between his inside and outside hind leg. In the end we were even able to do a little collection in canter! Whereas one year ago we had trouble getting a canter without him dropping his back! (see: Canter training with Vingino)

I’ve had a really amazing week. Do you have trouble with something? Are you stuck in an exercise? Go on a training week/weekend! It can really give you the puzzle piece you needed.

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