Day Two of the clinic was devoted to hunt seat (AKA my jam). Most of the 4H riders compete in both English and western disciplines, but western styles of riding are by far more prevalent in the group (Trainer A joked that I was probably the only one in the clinic that hadn’t been criticized during my lessons for going too slow while riding hunt seat, lol). I’ve never taken a lesson with Trainer A before, so I was excited to start things off with a discipline I’m familiar with.
We spent some time at the beginning of the clinic talking about the origins of hunt seat (foxhunting), some of the hallmarks of proper hunt seat position (the forward tilt to the pelvis, correct hand placement, heel/hip alignment, etc.), and what a hunt seat judge looks for in both the pleasure and equitation rings. Then Trainer A talked about impulsion and extension/collection, and how to use them as tools to get a horse in front of the leg—all of which tied neatly into our exercise for the day.
From there, Trainer A sent us all out to the wall at the walk to warm up. Our goal was to walk very slowly (with as much collection as possible) on the short side of the ring, then extend our walk out to the fastest walk possible on the long side of the ring. It was a great exercise for Big Horse, because he hates walking super slow but he also hates walking super fast, so I got to push him out of his comfort zone and ask for more effort than I usually require from him.
We followed the same formula when we moved to the sitting trot. Ezhno did well even though he’s not inclined towards a lot of extension (we got a consistent 8/10, with a few steps of a 9/10—all of which is on the backyard bred APHA scale, not the fancy warmblood scale 🙂 ). We worked on that for a good forty minutes before we wrapped it up by rediscovering our working trot (and it felt so good to post again, my thighs felt like they’d been through a meat grinder).
At the canter things (predictably) fell apart. Big Horse was super pumped for anything resembling an extended canter… too pumped. He got more than a little rowdy, so Trainer A had me half halt him and if he didn’t respond immediately I pulled him up in a very unpleasant halt, then cantered him back off. It only took a couple of sharp stops for him to focus and slow down when I half halted, but it took a lot of core strength and constant bumping with my legs/spurs to hold him in a slow, controlled canter. Trainer A had me collect him for a few steps, then give him a break for a few strides before collecting him again. The idea was to build up his adjustability while improving his physical ability to collect in short bursts.
It was very effective and educational way to wrap up two hours of hard (read exhausting) work!