Lessons from Carl


Lenny, Tantalize and I visited Carl Hester’s yard for a lesson yesterday. The journey was awful, taking two hours longer than usual, but we made it there in one piece and were raring to go.

Firstly, Carl and I worked on getting Lenny’s neck much lower and rounder in the canter so that he was not so strong and pulling on the rein.  Carl wanted me to slow and compress the canter so it was small with a loose contact and Lenny’s neck staying very round on the outside rein.  Once we’ve cracked this at home, I can then speed the canter up to help with the changes.

Next, we focused on walk pirouettes – to help Lenny with these, Carl had us doing a lot of half-pass in walk. We then did a half pirouette back into the half-pass, keeping Lenny’s neck round and working in a loose canter to keep his hind legs working. We then moved on to three-quarter pirouettes to keep him going and getting him turning more quickly from the outside rein.

The other main focus of the lesson was getting Lenny working into the corners. To do this, I had to almost leg yield him through each corner from my inside leg. This involved me having an open inside hand to help bend him while using my inside leg to push into the outside rein.

It was Tantalize first visit to Carls.  We started off our session with a lot of canter work with a light seat. The aim of the exercise was to think forward in order to encourage her back to relax and her neck to go down and soften.  Next, we started moving across from the centre line to the track – Tantalize kept her shoulders very much in front and her quarters trailing, so my goal will be to get her softer through the body by making her understand to yield around the inside leg.

Sadly the roads had not improved and we had a nightmare seven hour journey to get home – poor Tantalize and Lenny were cooked!  Both were exceptionally well-behaved despite the discomfort of the heat, they were dripping with sweat when we eventually got home so it was time for some well-deserved showers and relaxing in the field.