Ayden Uhlir Shares Robert Dover Workshop Lesson
Thursday, January 23, 2014
First, he says to always begin everything with a vision of what you are trying to achieve. See in you ‘mind’s eye’ what you want. Don’t just envision going forward in extended trot. See the grandest, biggest version of extended trot you can in your mind. Imagine Vallegro or Totillas.
Then when you have that picture, we breathe in and sit up. This is the first natural aid because as we breathe in and sit up we apply our seat. We turn a passive seat into an active one. If this is enough to move forward, great. Robert spoke of using the lightest amount of aid for the greatest possible result.
The seat can be active, passive or bracing. This means we can use if for three purposes. The first one is non-use. A passive seat means we aren’t using the aid, like before we breathe in sit up and ask for the forward. An active seat means we use and activate the use of the seat. A bracing seat means we work against the forward motion. This is done obviously to quit going forward. The legs are used for direction in forward.
A final natural aid is called the aid of opposition. This is the outside rein. It is used as a set of aids by itself to counter the first two sets of aids. Its job is to restrain how fast and how much the driving and bending aids do.
All three sets of aids are used in the space of a single breath. This is the perfect half halt. By its definition the half halt is the calling of the horse to a perfect state of balance and attention. As that moment all things you can see in your mind’s eye are possible. The inhalation is attention and vision. The exhalation of half halt is the reward for doing what we asked. We relax the outside fist and open the imaginary door.
After discussing the aids we talked a bit about non-natural aids: like the whip. This seemed a prevalent theme at the clinic this year. Perhaps this was due to all of the press attached to care and treatment of horses. There was even disagreement among the speakers about the use of the whip. Robert was adamant and reiterated multiple times that we use the lightest aid possible. He spoke the first day at length about the best interest of the horse and following our gut feelings about this issue.
Finally, he closed that first lecture with the thought that if you can control balance you can control the four major elements of dressage: rhythm, tempo, frame and the length of stride. Several times during the week he pointed out that rhythm and tempo are not the same thing. Rhythm is the number of footfalls in each gate; for example, a four beat walk or a three beat canter. Tempo is how fast the horse goes over every meter forward. If you own the half halt, if you are in balance you own all these things.
Then came my favorite quote of the week. Robert asked us all “Who is in charge of your movie? Is it the horse, your parents, your trainer or you?” We each need to see and control in our mind’s eye our own movies.
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