• Clare Long

Dressage "Clarity" Style

(From the archives: Clarity Dressage original YouTube Channel: Posted 2/24/2015)


Unedited with sound


Schooling session

Featuring Clare and "Weltprinz"

13 year old, 16.2hh, bay

Branded and Imported Hessen (German Warmblood) gelding


(Wording from video):

This is Welty.

You saw him as the model for the Blanketing video, and also the Free Schooling video. Rochelle is behind the camera, Rochelle is one of my favorite students,

first time video taping, thank you Rochelle.

Welty is a 14 year old, 16.2hh, bay, branded Hessen gelding. For those of you that do not know, Hessen is a version of German Warmblood. He was imported from Germany when he was 3, by another one of my clients,

Carol, who owns him now. We are doing a lot of re/training. He has had a lot of very questionable training in Michigan,

definitely some mental abuse stuff, so we've been re/training. I am going to school him a little bit walk, trot, canter. I am riding him to show and teach Rochelle my technique, so when Rochelle climbs up on him, she will do what I do, and everything will go marvelously. We just Free Schooled, and yesterday we had a major rainstorm (February in Northern California), so today he was very sassy and full of himself. He ran pretty hard so you are going to see that he is pretty sweaty. So, Rochelle: you figured all of this out really nicely last week, you really got the technique: bending your elbow and engaging him in your core. This week I would like to add trot, if you are feeling comfortable.

This horse tends to be really wiggly, so the trick is to keep him

'locked in' between your rein and leg. He is learning how to go into 'self carriage.' He tends to want to brace his neck up and hollow his back,

and then he goes into 'piaffe mode.' He did get kind of spooky and goofy there for a little bit,

we had to work through that. He does really well if you just engage him, connect him leg to seat to hand, and really lock him into your aids, then he will stay nicely in the aids.

He demands a relatively strong connection in the hand, he is not super light in the hand, he is not pulling, but you definitely feel him pushing to your hand, and that is a place where we are perfectly comfortable to stay right now.

We are going to let him stay in that place. It is OK with me if he goes to that 'heavier, pushing against the bridle' place, because from there

he lightens up and goes into 'self carriage' out of that.

You can see he wants to get a bit heavy there.

That was the issue we were having.

Every time we asked for the trot, he would piaffe, and he wouldn't go forward. He would just get more and more locked up in the piaffe, but there you saw I was able to 'shake him out,' and put him up into the trot.

You will see he will be a little heavy, I'll have to 'play him off.' He likes to lean his shoulder a little to the inside, bend him a little bit, and move him off that inside rein and leg, put him on my outside aids. Right there, he really wants to fall to the inside, move him out from my inside rein and leg, there we go, he feels good there. I used to have to take my hands much wider apart than I do now, Rochelle has seen that changing over the last month, I used to have to widen my hands a

lot to get him where I wanted him. Now, I can do it mostly with my hands here, together. See he gets heavy and he leans, there we go, I'm just closing my leg and lifting

with my hands a little bit when he leans like that, good boy.


So, the issues were: when you rode the transition from the walk to the trot, he wouldn't trot, he would piaffe, and then he would get stuck in the piaffe,

which was really a problem. The other issue was, on the short side, in the corners, he wanted to jump into the canter, and that became detrimental, and a bad habit,

always wanting to jump into the canter, again and again. Those are the things we have been working on. Obviously, he gets heavy, so we are teaching him how to

carry himself and be lighter in the bridle. He has plenty of 'pump and go,' there is a mega engine on him, so we are not worried about the forward, because it is there. Keeping him from bracing his neck up, keeping him straight,

those are the big things with him. But he is coming along well, and is obviously a very nice horse, as you can see.


He is scared of whips, so we opted to wear spurs rather than carry a whip. So, for now, that walk-trot transition is there, but still, kind of the idea of not only him getting a bit heavy, but also wanting to load his inside shoulder, and wanting to lean a little to the inside, to fall a bit to the inside.

You see, I have to lift that inside rein, and put his shoulders over to my outside, and then, at the same time, inside leg moving him to the outside aids. He's being really good now, and starting to go a bit more into self carriage. There he's quitting on me, half halt there, because he's leaning on me,

half halt when he leans down, lifting, then he'll put himself

into a really pretty place in self carriage. There he kind of levitates a little bit, kind of like riding a Maserati, you have to be brave, but Rochelle is very brave so we are not worried about that with her. Good boy, and you see he has this wonderful free walk. There is this whole levitation thing that happens sometimes, where you feel like you are riding a jet plane, and leaving the ground, that's what he feels like. He is very much a sports car, a high performance creature. I'm going to add a little bit of canter, and then we will be done for today,

and I'll put Rochelle up on him. He's a really really nice horse to sit on, he holds my seat really well, I tend to have a tight hip, and he lets me sit into him really well, he gives you a beautiful place to sit,

so you feel like you are 'in' him. Good boy. It requires a lot of 'core'. I don't really care that he braced a little bit,

(in the canter transition left lead),

that's OK with me.

In the canter, you really have to have him on your outside aids,

you have to keep him jumping from your inside leg or he will quit. So you can see, I am actually utilizing my inside spur there, to keep him jumping or he'll quit on me, but the frame is getting way better, he's getting way stronger,

way better at locking into those aids than he used to. A few months ago he didn't even know how to go 'on the bit.' He's so 'go-ey,' so 'through,' such a nice horse! If I was showing, of course, that canter transition would not have been good enough,

but, I was happy with it anyway. It was obedient, he heard me, he jumped to the canter, yes, he braced into it, but it wasn't awful, it wasn't horrible, and it wasn't worth me re/doing it.

I feel like right now we are just working on his confidence, on getting him trained, basic training, so I don't want to drill him, or upset him. He's doing really well.

I'll go back into the sitting trot again, see,

he gets a little bit worried, but he shook out of it nicely. I am going to need to really half halt here, because he was ploughing through me, I had to really give him a strong half halt there, now he's hearing me. That was much better.

Half halt, he is so strong! There we go, now he's really finding his place, he's really finding his canter now, Oh good boy! It's night and day of what we had a month ago, that was awesome. Then, you can let him stretch in the trot if you want, a lot of people like doing this.


***Helpful Hint***

It is a great way to know if your horse is actually through and over their back, when you give up the bridle, will they stretch down. If you give the horse the reins and they don't stretch down, it means that you are doing something very wrong, it's a great way to check

and see if you are doing it right.

For the downward, just think walk, you don't have to touch their faces. If you are using your seat properly, and using your aids properly, you shouldn't have to touch their faces for the downward. And into the whoa, like that.

Fun ride, really nice horse, super fun to ride, we'll see you next time!