Carl Hester Balances 5-Year-Old Bacary with Eiren Crawford

Saturday, October 21, 2017
Posted by Holly Jacobson

Eiren Crawford and Bacary ©Mary Phelps 2017

Eiren Crawford and Bacary ©Mary Phelps 2017

Bacary, a five-year-old Oldenburg (Bordeaux x Sarkozy x Wolkentanz II) owned by Lisa Thompson Smith and ridden Eiren Crawford, the head trainer at All Points Dressage came in next for Carl’s inspection. “I expect smoother transitions and stronger balance in a five-year-old. “The warmup tells the story of what shape the horse worked in. Some are strong in the hand, some are light but do not mistake behind the bit for lightness, it’s harder to correct.”

He appraised Bacary as naturally uphill with nice paces but still on the forehand.

“Short reins win gold medals,” is often quoted from his protege Charlotte Dujardin but Carl says he wants short reins in front of the saddle to allow the horse forward with the upper body forward, to come back, bring upper body back.

Eiren Crawford and Bacary

Eiren Crawford and Bacary ©Mary Phelps 2017

He asked for small trots to regain balance, loose hands to less heavy on the hand, and the rider’s upper body upright so horse lifts himself up.” He learns the upward transition without hands, he finds the balance needed. Leg yield every now and again, it’s hundreds of transitions. He’s goes faster, slow down.” Again, Carl stressed lots of walk breaks to stretch the neck.

To help balance the canter, he used a small trot, two to three steps of walk to canter, no hand. “Leg to go, hand to stop. When they understand the two separate aids, then half-halt. Stay on the circle until he learns to stay on the rider’s upper body.” Once they are more balanced, move to quarter lines but circles help balance the horse.

Eiren Crawford and Bacary ©Mary Phelps 2017

Eiren Crawford and Bacary ©Mary Phelps 2017

Turning with the outside rein is important for young horses to learn now as part of the balance equation. Carl suggests starting with canter work and anything new that is hard and ending with trot work, which was easy for this horse. The stretchy ride portion is both mentally and physically beneficial, don’t minimize it. If you have mirrors, check that the neck is u-shaped, not v-shaped. He wants to see an open throat with the nose poking out. Keep the door open.