So aloof what makes Charlotte Dujardin so good? Sure, she’s sitting on nice horses, but how did she become such a ascendant amateur in the dressage world? As her Nov. 24 Masterclass captivated at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers proved, there’s no magic, aloof discipline, and lots of it.
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As the affair with the admirable horse Hero came to a close, Dujardin already afresh fatigued the accent of blame the horse added forward, alike aback stretching.
As the addition began her amplitude the animation slowed, and Dujardin said:
“Go forward. Use your legs! Aloof because you’re addition doesn’t beggarly you’re activity aback to 2 afar per hour!”
Compared to the adolescent horses, Hero is added avant-garde in his adeptness to stretch—he was able to appear out to the catch yet still be pushing—so Dujardin capital the addition to accept purpose in the stretch. “When you go too slow, it’s not absolutely pushing,” she said. “You accept to ahead added about benumbed from the aback end to the avant-garde end.”
As the abutting addition accomplished abating up, Dujardin acclimated her to drive home a point about fancy-moving youngsters. She asked the addition to do aloof a approved amble about the arena. “If you were to attending at this horse, acutely this is what you see aback you are out aback [warming up]. You see a nice trot. Easy, swinging. Is it appropriate or spectacular? No. OK now aces up the reins.”
As the addition best up the reins the amble became added alive and had added suspension. “And you can see she’s already accomplished the horse to accept abeyance in the trot, so now she aloof sits and puts a bit of lift in, and the horse accomplish up in the frame,” Dujardin continued. “She can now actualize what we alarm suspension. So she’s appropriation the horse up rather than benumbed the horse forward; she can accomplish baby half-halts for added announcement in the trot. As he gets earlier and stronger that becomes college and bigger. So what she’s got to do now is actualize regularity so the abeyance stays the same.”
After a acceptable amble countdown Dujardin had the addition assignment on travers. “Travers is a absolutely acceptable exercise to get the horse supple,” she said. “Put the horse’s hip in from the larboard leg, angle the horse about the appropriate leg and amplitude on the outside.”
The addition had to ride a travers to shoulder-fore and half-pass in alertness for the abutting exercise, introducing aerial changes. Dujardin usually starts introducing changes at 5 or 6 years old, but she emphasized that it’s important to accept a affection calm amble first. She had the addition assignment on a figure-eight on the abbreviate side, which is how she introduces all horses to aerial change.
“A lot of bodies try it on a abbreviate askew or beyond the school; it encourages the horse to run avant-garde and abroad from the aid and abroad from the rider,” she said. “They acceleration up, and the horse is no best on the afterwards legs, so the horse launches forward, does the change and is backward behind. IF you do this on this [short] figure-eight and ahead about flicking from one ancillary to another, calculation the accent and ask, it appealing abundant happens.
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“If they accomplish a aberration it doesn’t matter,” she continued. “Worst affair you can do is acquaint the horse off. If it makes a mistake, echo the exercise. Sometimes a horse is apathetic on the leg aid. I’d use the whip and leg at the aforementioned time. As I ask for the aid, I use the whip to flick it over. The stride you ask is the stride you accept to authority the horse back. So you bounce, bounce, bounce, ask, and you appealing abundant get the change.”
Once a horse knows a aerial change, Dujardin alone works them on the wall, never on the askew unless it’s aloof afore a competition. “When you advise a aerial change, there will consistently be at the alpha one ancillary that is weaker,” she said. “The horse will actualize a exhausted or a jump on that side. So the ancillary that it all-overs to is the ancillary you put on the wall, to stop the horse from accepted from one ancillary to another.”
After a bit of a airing breach Dujardin had them amble in travers bottomward the bank while advancement an acclivous balance, apperception on flexion and bending. She asked for a bit added collection, angle and angle afterwards absolution him slow. As for the rider, her instructions were: appropriate accept goes back, appropriate hip acceptance him to go avant-garde bottomward the line, so you’re sitting into the appropriate nightcap and weight into the inside. With the larboard leg advance the hip in added and angle him about appropriate leg more.
Then Dujardin had the addition amphitheater her on the centerline, befitting it at 20 meters, afresh rode travers on the amphitheater afterwards authoritative it smaller, sitting on your bum to the inside. “Think about angle him up and over the appropriate leg.” She afresh beatific her out to “go large” to the centerline with half-pass to the right, afresh put her into the antecedent abbreviate figure-eight exercise with the changes. Afterwards auspiciously active the changes she asked the addition to appear off the bank and try a change on the division line.
“The alertness charge be correct—the ambush is the accessible part,” said Dujardin, forth with the abiding benumbed mantra: “Less hand, added leg!”
Dujardin said aback you’ve got a accomplished horse you’ve got to attending afterwards him a little bit and do less—working on activity and bluntness and not consistently benumbed the movements. She phrased it as, “Riding him like you can consistently go into the bisected -pass rather than absolutely benumbed the half-pass.”
The abutting addition was on an 8-year-old accomplishing Prix St. Georges, and Dujardin declared how she usually starts her assignment affair afterwards abating up. “I alpha with my canter, as I feel the amble assignment is abundant easier afterwards the canter,” she said. “You’ve fabricated the horse added adaptable in the canter, and it absolutely helps accomplishing the amble first. Some horses who are on the hot ancillary I ability do a amble first, but a majority I alpha with the amble work.”
Once afresh they began in travers, and Dujardin explained that half-pass is about travers on a askew line, so if you can ride a acceptable travers bottomward the band you’ll be able to do a acceptable half-pass. “I consistently brainstorm that askew band as I appear into a half-pass as the wall, with the bank actuality on my outside, and I’m benumbed forth the bank on my askew line.”
All of this was accoutrement for teaching the amble pirouette. Dujardin said riders should abstain benumbed the movements the aforementioned as you would in a analysis as horses apprentice to ahead what you are activity to do. Dujardin said, “You’re activity to do half-pass from the bend to X, bottomward the centerline shoulder-fore, a bisected 10-meter travers beeline aback into half-pass.”
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I was adequate to see the addition attending at Dujardin with the aforementioned “OHMYGODWHATDIDSHESAY” attending I felt. “That’s OK; I’ll airing you through it,” she said.
Dujardin encouraged this addition to accomplish it breeze and said the rider’s job is to accumulate her amateur hardly in avant-garde to accredit the avant-garde legs to about-face about the afterwards legs and go beeline into half-pass.
“What you see a lot of riders do aback they appear into a pirouette, they appear in abode leading, and afresh they advance so abundant with the alfresco leg that the circle ends up spinning annular because the horse gets stuck, so the amateur don’t appear in front,” she said.
After commutual the exercise auspiciously several times, Dujardin had the addition walk, but not afore she insisted on affection transitions alike aback giving the horse a break.
“It’s about accepting conduct all the way up the levels,” she said. “Not absolution it achromatize out because you alpha introducing added $.25 and pieces. The conduct has to be there the WHOLE time.”
Dujardin insists on able work. No magic, no tricks, aloof able work, every distinct time, every distinct transition.
Dujardin said aback one gets to Admirable Prix, the accessory in a lot of the amble assignment is times two—the pirouette, the zigzags and the changes— so acceptable amble is actual important. She fatigued not accomplishing the analysis movements all the time and instead accomplishing contest to accumulate the horse adaptable and affective in avant-garde of the leg. You accumulate the horse beginning by alive on the abounding trots one needs—the alive trot, the calm and the connected trot—because abounding riders get ashore alive in one trot.
The final horse to appear in was Rocazino, who was alive appear Admirable Prix. As the addition broiled up Dujardin went on to call what a assignment affair for their horses looks like on a circadian basis.
“They do four canicule a anniversary in 45-minute sessions. Carl [Hester] and I both accept a addition that will balmy the horses up,” she said. “They all go for a connected 10-15 minute airing first, afresh 10 to 15 account stretching. We try to accumulate the avant-garde horses activity to a baptize treadmill alert a week, as it’s a abundant way to accumulate fettle afterwards the burden on the joints and the body. Afore traveling to competitions they alpha advancement the treadmill assignment about a ages out.”
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The addition said the amble askew was a assignment in progress, so Dujardin started her with a amble leg yield. “It isn’t article you anytime see in a test, but it’s a absolutely acceptable exercise to get the horse to go alongside and get the angles abundant steeper [as alertness for the zigzag],” she said. “The askew ability attending easy, but I can acquaint you it is not. The angles are very, actual steep. By application the leg crop it absolutely helps the horse move abroad from the leg.”
Once they began the zigzag, Dujardin reminded her, “You’ve got to ahead of anniversary stride bouncing and not activity connected and flat, because the best and adulate you accomplish it the harder it is to go aback over. Anniversary stride you accomplish is bounce, bounce, animation and change.”
Once the addition auspiciously performed this movement there was a admirable acclamation from all of us, who had been benumbed forth by proxy. It was a fun movement to ride on such a nice horse from my folding chair!
“When you’re alive on the Admirable Prix movements you cannot do these movements every day,” Dujardin stressed. “One, you don’t academy the aforementioned contest as you do in a test, and two, you don’t do pirouette, piaffe and access all in the aforementioned day. You accept to appear out and accept a plan afore your session. It’s like activity to the gym and accomplishing article absolutely difficult and alive you accept to go aback and do the aforementioned exact thing—you don’t appetite to go. It’s the aforementioned affair with horses; you’ve got to accumulate the assignment accessible and beginning rather than conduct them and aggravating to accumulate accomplishing it to the point area they get ailing of accomplishing it.”
When they began circle assignment Dujardin asked this addition to do travers to shoulder-fore, application the larboard leg to accumulate her horse up off the central leg. The central leg is the one that drives the horse avant-garde and around. What a lot of bodies do is put their leg aback and drive from the alfresco leg, which pushes the horse so far in that the horse takes over and spins round. “You’ve got to ahead about bringing the horse up and about with your central leg not your alfresco leg. That’s why the exercise from the antecedent horse is so valuable,” she said.
The addition did the aforementioned exercise as the above-mentioned affair to advice with the pirouette, and Dujardin acicular out the issue. “You did your circle so baby with abode in that he’s stuck. You’ve got to ahead of affective the amateur about and out,” she said. “You accept to start, baby alpha and big finish. You’ve got to accumulate that central afterwards beneath the horse’s belly (think accession for shoulder-fore). You’ve got to ahead of the alfresco rein not aloof affairs to the larboard because if you cull larboard he will abatement left. Ahead shoulder-fore to accumulate the horse upright, afresh axis the horse’s amateur with two reins.
“The circle takes a lot of preparation, a lot of control, and a lot of benumbed off of your central leg. Easy!” she joked.
Dujardin went on to call how physically ambitious assignment like this is on a horse. Looking at apathetic motion video or photos shows the fetlocks about on the arena due to the ache placed on the horse. This is why you can’t academy this blazon of assignment every day—it is all about attention the horses and accepting them to last.
“This is the acumen we retired Valegro aback we did,” she said. “He was 16 aback he retired. He did his aboriginal Admirable Prix at 9 and had no injuries throughout his career and accomplished at the top of his game. He’s at home; he’s still ridden. The girls get to ride him and apprentice piaffe and passage, so for me that’s absolutely what it’s all about. That takes horsemanship.
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“I bethink Isabell Werth adage to me at [the Rio Olympics], ‘Why are you backward him?’ And I said, What abroad accept I got to prove? He’s captivated all three apple annal and won aggregate there is to win!’ ” Dujardin continued. “I apperceive why it was; it was because she was advancing out with Bella Rose, and she so badly capital to exhausted me, of which, I would never let her exhausted me. I’m as abundant as a fighter as she is, and she is a fighter!”
I’ll end it actuality with my impressions all-embracing of this clinic. (Remember I’m a neophyte!) I begin it badly educational and absolutely demystifying, actually. There is no abracadabra to Dujardin’s brilliance, alone absolutely adamantine assignment through absolute practice. While annihilation she said was at all surprising, it’s so alarming to apprehend and see training methods accomplish appropriate in avant-garde of your eyes afterwards gadgets, shortcuts or alike tricks.
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