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Jennie Loriston-Clarke Lecture Demonstration

Posted on 24th May 2012 in Equine Management, Events

On the evening of 14th May a crowd of over 50 people were lucky enough to visit Hadlow College to see a lecture demonstration by Jennie Loriston-Clarke MBE.

Jennie Loriston-Clarke is one of Britain's leading riders and trainers and she has represented Great Britain in four Olympic games.  She retired from international competitions at the end of 1995 and is now concentrating on judging and helping other riders as well as bringing on some of her home-bred young horses.
Surprisingly, for the first part of the evening Jennie - although being a Dressage trainer - focused on work over poles and jumps.  Her view is that it is always good to use poles since it makes the horse bend their backs and flex their hocks.  For even for the most advanced dressage horses she insisted that they should never ‘just do dressage’, she went onto say ‘it makes them too precious!’  By doing this you give them something else to think about.

The first few horses were youngsters, one being only four years old.  The riders were asked to sit still and calm whilst they walked large around the sand school with Jennie giving advice on keeping the contact but letting the horse relax in its new environment; she said the horse should be able to come to a strange place and have a good time.  As Jeannie put it – ‘a tense rider can make a horse neurotic!’ 

Then, two five year olds - one a Dutchbred and the other a thoroughbred - demonstrated some flatwork over poles.  As these were inexperienced horses they shied away at first from the poles and navigated them like spring deer with legs splaying all over the place!  The riders were instructed to keep coming over the poles and to remain relaxed in the saddle so that the course could 'work it out’.  Sure enough the horses improved.  Then with the same relaxed attitude the riders both took their horses over a few small jumps.

For the third mini-demonstration Jennie had brought along a six year-old who had qualified at prelim level and was now at working novice level.  Initially the horse had some difficulty settling in a strange place, in front of a crowd.  Instead of trying to fight a horse in a straight line, Jennie advised the rider to turn it and give with the reins.  To demonstrate this she instructed the rider to keep turning the horse in small circles, making it concentrate and giving it something to think about.  After a couple of laps the horse settled.

Next up was a nine year old part bred Arab, currently at livery with Jennie where it is worked by her during the week and competing at advance, medium dressage level with her owner at weekends.  This horse was a bit spooky so to resolve this Jennie asked the rider to demonstrate ‘shoulder in’ a lateral movement.  This, she explained, can be very useful submission tool but it equally can be used as an engaging tool and a relaxing tool since it also helps to supple the horse.  They went onto demonstrate some lovely extended and collected trot and canter and some flying changes in canter.

The last horse was a 14 year old horse working at Grand Prix level.  This level of dressage test demands the most skill and concentration from both horse and rider, who in this case was his owner Jane.  However the horse had come with quite a story, originally bred by Jennie, but sold at 4yrs old, he had had some problems with his previous owners, he had ended up overstressed, completely confused and miserable and had been sold to Jane as a nervous wreck!  Jane had owned him for two years and he is now regularly winning competitions.  They demonstrated Piaffe, a calm, composed, elevated trot in place with minimal movement forward.  Passage, very collected trot, in which the horse has great elevation of stride and seems to pause between putting down its feet.   Half-pass, a movement where the horse moves on a diagonal, sideways and forward at the same time.  Finally, Jane performed some flying changes, a single change is often performed during canter to change direction however at this level of dressage flying changes are performed in a row, Jane started with four canter strides in-between each change, then three strides, then just two – a joy to watch!

Jennie summed it up and said it was nice to see a horse happily doing what you want it to do and that Dressage should be really elastic and beautiful.

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