I got to ride two super nice horses. Four Seasons is a 10 year old Fuerst Piccolo x Mon Cheri gelding, owned by some lucky person from Switzerland. He does all of the GP and is very sensitive in a wonderful way. He has a tricky neck, because it is not set up very well, and he sticks his tongue out occasionally when the contact is not good. Olli is working hard at improving this, but it is a problem. He said he rode an I2 with him recently and was around 73-74% until the canter work, when the tongue came out, everything went to 5, and then he finished on less than 68%. While I would be thrilled with a 68%, they think of it as pretty much a disaster.
Then I rode Salcido - an 8 year old Sir Donnerhall x Fidermark gelding owned by Paul Schockemoehle. He does almost all the GP and is AMAZING!! Olli helped me at the end from the ground for piaffe and passage, and I could just go home right now after feeling that. But I won't. Here are my notes from the day:
Quicker use of my leg in canter as the forehand is coming up. A quick double kick, sometimes with the inside, sometimes with the outside leg, depending on which hind leg I need to activate. Not in the same rhythm as the canter! Olli wanted me to activate the canter much more without letting him speed up in MPH.
Olli is very focused on getting a quick, active, hard working hind leg and bringing the back up then pushing the horse into the contact. A lot of contact, based on how I can barely hold Daniel after riding in the morning! But it doesn't feel bad in the ride, feels super!
Keep knees closed against saddle in canter, so the knee doesn't rock open and shut.
Keep hands higher and together. Until they are too high, then put them down. ;)
Put the neck down before passage because he will tend to come up anyway. Keep the forward thinking in piaffe. Even think of trot, but not on the spot.
Really straighten the neck before changes. No bending!
Next day -
Four Seasons - in double. Warm up easy, stretching. Better feel for activity in canter without speed today. Single change each way easy and straight. Next set - walk-canter then transitions w/i canter to quicken hind leg and quicken response to half half. Olli wanted neck up, not deep, really sit into him. Use haunches in on 10 m circle to collect but don't let him fall in on a smaller circle than 10m. Then when that is good, ride pirouette. Super feeling. Incredible ability to sit. Really wanted him to stay flexed to inside in pirouette. also in corners, clear bending. On long sides - no bend!!!! Absolutely none!!
He has a problem with the tongue coming out the right. He is very stiff left and hollow right, often much too light in right rein. He also has a fairly low set on neck and a thicker throat latch, which makes it hard to keep him up and out at the base of the neck. He also has such extravagant front end movement, that sometimes he pulls himself apart and pulls his back down by flinging the front legs too much. He can really sit but keeping his back up right under the saddle is hard. Olli did lots of piaffe and passage once he got on, and he played with loosening the noseband and lowering the bits. He said he always thinks he has found the "thing" that will help with the tongue - different bit, looser/tighter noseband, but then it only helps for a short while.
Today on Salcido, Olli told me to walk him outside first and then bring him into the arena and walk him. He had many lessons this morning, both from in the barn and trailering in. It is always very busy in this small arena. I'm glad I know the rules of the arena well!
Well, I don't think they really "hack" here. I took both boys out back down a nice grass pathway next to a wheat field. I asked if it was ok to go this way, and one of the bereiters said, "yeah," with a shrug of the shoulders. But I guess that really meant, "if you want to risk your life, sure." I don't think either horse has ever been out there, even though it's right behind the barn. Four Seasons was pretty good because it was after his hour long difficult workout. But Salcido was crazy! Piaffing and levading and generally being wild. So we came back to the barn in a steep piaffing shoulder in.
Once in the arena, Salcido did not relax much. Olli kept saying, ride him longer in the neck! Not so hectic in the walk! Make him take the contact! Well, we tried, but we were just a behind-the-bit ball of nerves. So we went ahead with some trot and canter. Still behind the bit but better and better gradually. In the second set we did some collection in the canter and rode in and out of the pirouettes until I felt like I had control over how small or big we made the pirouettes. Both he and Four Seasons are very well trained for pirouettes, which has always been a weakness of mine, so it's really fun and educational to feel such great pirouettes! We then did some changes. Olli wanted him 100% straight, no bending and no jumping left or right in the tempis. I tried my best, and we got some good 2s. Still not as straight and active as Olli wanted but better.
Last set I did some trot work. This horse has an incredible trot, but not the easiest to sit. He is a bit long in the back and quite wide. But, wow, what a trot! He keeps the swing very well in the shoulder in but not so great in the half pass, especially to the left. Olli wanted me to really give him the rhythm with my seat and then gradually bend him more.
Olli rides every horse in the same old style Passier saddle. I don't think there's a saddle I like less than the old Passiers, so sometimes I struggle with keeping my seat where I want it. But that's what everyone here rides in, so that will be my last time complaining about it. (Out loud, at least.) They also don't seem very concerned about saddle fit. But the horses are incredibly fit and sound, so it doesn't seem to bother them!
At the very end of my ride I did some passage. Salcido is very talented for passage. Yesterday the passage we did was so amazing, but Olli was working with me from the ground with a whip. The horse is very sensitive to that, so Olli wasn't doing much, but I missed him today! He wanted me to think of riding extended trot into the contact and then half hating with my back to bring him to passage but use a quick leg to make him quicker behind. I got some good steps, but I was working a lot harder than Salcido. I only brought small spurs with me, and they don't ride their horses with a whip, unless it's for something specific. Four Seasons is terrified of a whip, but after my session with Salcido today, I asked Olli if he was ok with a whip, and he said, "yeah, sure." So I think tomorrow I will use one. I know I need to be more effective with my leg without the whip, but based on how incredibly sore I am in every muscle of my body, I think I will use one tomorrow.
The assistant trainer here is riding a 5 year old stallion, Sir Olli, in the world young horse championships at Verden next weekend. He is just amazing, as is an 8 year old, Royal Ascot. There are so many truly international quality horses here, it's really amazing to watch them, let alone sit on them!
I hang out with Daniel in the afternoons while Jonathan works. We have been exploring the local towns - Lengerich and Tecklenberg. And today we went back to the farm and pet all the horses and brought them some apples. Olli's wife, Jutta was working in their barn with their two children, a little boy of 9 and a girl of 7. The boy, Max, was driving the fork lift all over the farm, moving giant bales of straw, etc. He then drove the John Deere tractor with the drag on it. Daniel was in awe. He is so amazed by tractors, but I think seeing a 9 year old boy drive one was just too much for him to handle. He has a new idol now.