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Saturday, 15 April 2017

Eventing Legend, Yogi Breisner, Puts Us Through Our Paces!

The day after the Inspire with Yogi Breisner demonstration back in mid-March, there was opportunity to have a lesson with the master himself, putting both you & your horse put through their paces! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to have such an experienced pair of eyes on both Louie & I.

As Louie had been off ridden work for about four weeks, I was convinced I'd not be able to get a spot back in the clinic with just four days notice. But I was a VERY lucky girl... I managed to organise a private, one-to-one 45 minute lesson with Yogi!

A private lesson with such an eventing legend definitely made the 5am Sunday morning start much easier - our lesson was at 7.30am, before the rest of Yogi's coaching day started.

If you ever get the opportunity to have a lesson with him, take it! I'm not a big fan of "one-off" lessons with high profile names - they don't get to know you and your horse, and often make temporary fixes to some of your weaknesses. I already had one exception to this - Lucinda Green, who I was fortunate enough to have a lesson with on Thomas in 2013. I'd have a lesson with Lucinda again, but now I've got Yogi on my list too!

Our lesson started by telling Yogi a little about Louie & I, and the areas that we found most difficult - for us that's a confident contact; taking it forward and away from his body. Louie's worst habit is to sit behind the bit & not take a hold of the contact. Yogi then let me warm up as I would normally, getting a good look at us as we did so.

Yogi agreed about the contact, and showed me the feeling he would like from the ground, and to make sure that I was very clear with my contact - it was either picked up or on the buckle end. This was to avoid Louie tucking in behind the contact even when standing still.

We came onto a circle at the top of the arena to work on our contact, first in walk and then in trot.

Like I say, I usually wouldn't go for a lesson with a big name, but I was certain Yogi could offer some words of wisdom and a couple of tips for us. I really wanted the lesson to give me something to take home and put into practice everyday... we got just that. A slightly different way of explaining the importance of pushing Louie forward, keeping him up to the bridle and getting him to take the contact.

I would admit that my own biggest weakness is my hands - they seem to have a mind of their own at times! I also have a terrible habit of riding with "wet" fingers, not gripping the reins as closely as I should. This is something that Yogi really worked on with me, and gave me some top tips as to how I could work on keeping my hands still and not becoming over-active on the contact.

Yogi also helped with my lower leg, making me bring it much further forward and keeping less grip in my knees. This I found really useful! & could almost instantly feel the improvement it made to my overall position right through my upper body. I also found it gave Louie more room to come up in his frame and use his shoulders to make his movement more fluid, as well as feeling more balanced.

I took some really useful everyday tips away from my lesson with Yogi, and since then have been working hard on putting it all together. Easier said than done! Remembering my hand position, my fingers, my lower leg, my knees, using my upper body... But when it all comes together, the difference can be felt immediately!

At the end of our lesson, we discussed bitting. He agreed with Philippa's suggestion to try an uber bendy rubber loose ring to encourage Louie's contact. Since then, we've been working in this bit & it's working well! Louie is sitting much more into the bridle and confidently taking it forward more consistently - we first tried it during our March Showjumping lesson. We've still got a bit of playing to do to find the best bitting combination as Louie can be strong in it, but we now need to strike the balance between something that is soft to give him confidence but that he doesn't just ignore!!

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