Saturday, April 11, 2015

Grant Schneidman's clinic: "Don't flip him the bird"

Former USET Three-Day Event team member and USDF Gold and Silver medalist Grant Schneidman came to Finland once again to teach us a few things about horsemanship and riding. Just like the last times Schneidman was at Peuramaa it seems that we all left the two day clinic with a few bigger revelations and a great and positive feeling. 

The first day Thor was fantastic to ride from the beginning and the whole lesson was just pure enjoyment. We did a lot of basic stuff and many transitions and Grant concentrated on the rhythm and feel the whole lesson. I joked to Jilla and Salla that were joining the next lesson with lovely Finn horse Torsten and took all these amazing pictures that my biggest problem is what coloured bandages to choose for the first day's lesson and it actually seemed that that was the day's biggest challenge. Thor was just very balanced and nice and it all felt very easy. 

We did a lot of work on just making the ride even more balanced and relaxed and Grant pointed out that I am a strong woman and I should try to do less. He also told me not to talk whilst riding because I really need to concentrate on Thor or we are way off in the wrong direction. I think that we are very similar with Thor. We are a bit spaghetti like in the bodies and our minds are very fast so we both need to really focus on being present and ride in the moment.

When I bought Thor one of the biggest things to work on were transitions and halts and relaxation in general. Thor was too fast and sensitive and his reactions were always to go forward and fast. And like Johanna said many times Thor is really not that sensitive when he becomes more secure and used to his surroundings. 

At the moment Thor is mostly moving at a pretty nice pace and we get to do some good transitions. What easily happens with a horse like this though is that first you go too fast and then you go too slow and Grant told me to pay a lot of attention to my aids. I hardly noticed that I started walk by kicking a bit all the time and he told me to be careful and use the aids once and then lay off. Since I have been trying to calm down Thor so much we are almost getting a reverse effect and I sometimes forget to ride him forward. 

"Walk should be marching (going somewhere), the trot swinging and elastic (no bang bang bang) and the canter jumpy and springing (so u could jump a big jump)."

The second day Thor also felt very good from the beginning but I needed to work harder on my own seat and Grant asked me to take off my stirrups. What I truly appreciate is that Grant actually took the time to explain things and he stopped us a few times so that I could really let it all sink in.

At the beginning he asked me to turn my legs all the way from the hips forward. As you can see from the pictures of the first day my legs and toes turn a bit outward and it puts my whole body in the wrong position. He told me to imagine how it feels when you start skiing downhill and put my legs more in a position like that.

Even if I am not very happy with our current Albion Dressage saddle I did get a much better seat with some help and as you can see in the videos I really start to sit much deeper and become a lot more relaxed in the hips. Unfortunately I do not have the last ten minutes on tape when I had a huge revelation and I actually forgot that I was riding without stirrups. So good did my horses trot at the time feel.

In the beginning though I did try to tell him that I would love to canter without the stirrups since it was very hard work. Grant did not take it very seriously and asked me if I blead or did I bite my tongue off? If not, then what was I complaining about??

He also told me to keep my right leg a bit forward since I was almost kicking Thor's sheet which comes to show that we do have a bit off a size difference with my darling horse. 

In the trot and canter Grant also asked me to open up the legs completely and put them back on in order to relax the legs and also become a bit more open on the right side of my body.

One of my big revelations from this clinic was the last few minutes of the second day. Grant stopped us because he got tired of telling me not to let go of my reins all the time. He told me that I had to stop flipping Thor the bird because what I was doing was actually not kind but rather unfair and since Thor needs very clear guidelines I was just making it all wishy washy.

So Grant took my hands and showed me where I should be stable and how I should hold on when Thor is unstable and oh my that feeling of the last minutes when we just got it. It just all fell into place and the feeling was pure bliss. Wow! These moments are just amazing. So worth it all. 

I love this picture so much. Thor is very balanced and his well-built muscles really show. 

This time the clinic was so good it actually took me a while to digest it all and I hardly wanted to ride for the next few days just to keep up that amazing feeling that we achieved together with Thor. 

Grant said that he thinks that I have become a better rider and that both Thor and me are less crooked. He gave us a lot of positive encouragement and has a fantastic humour spiked with the kind of disciplinary teaching we thrive in. I noticed that I really concentrated so well and was very happy with my own riding. 

What amazes me with Grant is his amount of energy and the extensive experience he possesses. He sees us all as individual horse and riders and no lesson looks the same. He is really a true professional and just being able to ride and learn from such a master is such a privilege. Really looking forward to the next time already. 

This blog post is written in English because Grant does not know Finnish yet and he is sent the blog posts that are written about him. 

I also want to thank Jilla, Salla and Torsten for the funniest company and all pictures and the first day video are photocretided to Salla Seppänen. The second day videos I owe a huge thanks to Kati from our stables. Thank you for your help. No better way to learn than to look and analyze the riding after the lesson. 

The riding pants in the pictures are Kerrits Flex Tight II Fullseat that you can buy from Classic Equeen. Absolutely love them. So comfortable to ride in and they sit like a sock on a dock (whatever that means). 

No comments:

Post a Comment