Leadership and Rider Experience – Michael Wanzenried 5* Clinic

Last day of the clinic! On one hand I’m very sad that today was the last day! On the other hand I am so exhausted and have so much new input in my head I can’t even think straight anymore! Six days of such an intense clinic is a boot camp in itself! A boot camp I would sign up for any day! I am very excited to put all this into practice and have the time to see where it takes us. It will be interesting to see where Dazzle and I get to in time, but also what Sarah and Chris make of this new input and where it takes them! ūüėÄ Just a few notes on the last day here…

Rein Aids – an addition

Today, it finally sank in that there is one additional rein aid that I hadn’t mentioned in the posts before. To activate the mouth. It is much like a handshake. You apply steady pressure upwards and once you feel the squeeze returned, you give. You want just the right amount of activity – not too much and not too little. Too much activity is a complaint. Too little activity means the horse isn’t talking to you – not participating even sometimes. In that case you can activate the mouth and get them thinking a bit as just described.


My favourite light bulb moment of the day was when Mikey said this:

You loose 2/3 of the connection when you go from the ground to the saddle. You loose another 2/3 when you go up a gait.

I was not aware of this at all! Very good food for thought. It makes me understand prior and proper preparation on a whole new level.

Rider Experience

Today I found the purpose for the demi-arr√™t. At one point Mikey asked me if I had a lot of contact at the moment and I said “Yes. More than I would like.” That’s basically it. The¬†demi-arr√™t says to the horse “carry yourself”. That means every time Dazzle leaned on the bit or got too heavy, I would do the¬†demi-arr√™t and remind him to carry himself. Of course I don’t expect him to keep this for long at first, because he has to figure it out and also he may need to develop more muscles to do so as well. I was to do the¬†demi-arr√™t in the walk and halt whilst doing it. In case that didn’t cause him to lift his head, I asked for a back up.

After adding the rhythmic pressure upwards it’s important to drop your hands down to neutral. You can certainly loose contact when you do this – you may even want to bring your hands forward a little to make sure you loose contact. With the¬†demi-arr√™t, you just asked your horse to respect the bit and come off the pressure. Then you need to give him a chance to do that. Remember to drop those hands and release! It is very easy to get fooled into riding with high hands when you first learn this. That is not what it’s about. Your hands should be in the proper position as for any rider – so that there is a straight line from mouth through rein through hand and elbow. Bringing the hands up is only a correction.

Mikey also said to me that I shouldn’t ask Dazzle for a neck extension for a while to come because he’s almost too obsessed with it.¬†Once the contact remains soft in walk and trot, then I can ask him to extend the neck again. If he then says: “What’s that?”, then I can keep practicing¬†demi-arr√™t and extend the neck, until I can call on them anytime I want. That’s the goal, because now you can go off and ride, practicing what it is you want to practice.

There isn’t really more to say about today. We had a great time putting into practice all the theory we were given the last few days and it was great to add a feel to the theory. That way, when we all go home, we can start searching for the feel again and¬†that should keep us on track.

Here is a little video of me and Dazzle over the three days. It is entirely unspectacular! What I do like about it though is that you can see there was a lot of arguing on day one, whereas day 3 looks much more accepting on his part. As well as the trot being more active and looking “easier” for him.

Other posts from the Michael Wanzenried 5* Clinic February 2016 | Ireland

  1. CONNECTION, MYTHS, BALANCE РMichael Wanzenried 5* Clinic
  2. RIDING WITH CONTACT AND REIN AIDS РMichael Wanzenried 5* Clinic
  5. THE PROJECT, FINESSE, RIDER EXPERIENCE РMichael Wanzenried 5* Clinic
  6. LEADERSHIP AND RIDER EXPERIENCE РMichael Wanzenried 5* Clinic (you are here)
  7. LOOKING BACK¬†– Michael¬†Wanzenried 5* Clinic (coming soon…)

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