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An Invaluable Experience

My education with Kyra Kyrklund has come to an end. Kyra and her husband, Richard White, were absolutely committed to every lesson everyday, and they each had their own suggestions that I can add to my riding. Kyra has a solution for every situation the horse encounters. She is quick to offer exercises to improve the horse within that movement. Richard is an absolute stickler about rider position and mechanics. He would explain how to use the riders body in a different way to achieve different results. As a combination Kyra and Richard really develop the rider with a new/different feel and improve the horse through different gymnastics.

In regards to position, the most significant change is in placement and use of the leg. The visual of having a spur behind the back of the knee allows the leg to work as a funnel towards the shoulder. Sitting with the seat bones below the horse’s wither and using the top of the back of the thigh to motivate the horse toward engagement. When making a change in position which is “normal” to you, you can lose your feel until this new postion becomes less foreign. Focusing on your position in this way can be really mentally challenging and frustrating. However, having passed through the uncomfortable I now feel much more effective with more tools to use.

One of the most dramatic changes has been the use of the outside rein. I have always strived to be able to ride a horse on the outside rein primarily. Giving with the inside hand to the point of not using the inside rein. I have many photos of myself riding through corners or in a pirouette with the inside rein looped and riding the outside of the horse only. Well that has changed!!! The outside rein now is truly there for speed control with short quick half halts. The inside rein maintains the contact for the bend. The result is that the horse has an immediate response to being checked on the outside rein. Pirouettes now happen by maintaining the bend on the inside rein while collecting the horse on a quick rein on the outside. So much easier with a far lighter contact.

Being the seasoned competitor Kyra is, she has a very calm, quiet way about her. Not being driven by emotions in riding but finding solutions for what is happening. If something is not going the right way, she suggests going back to the last thing that worked along that path then analyzing where the breakdown in communication lies. She advises to really critic a good ride, to know how you got there so that it is repeatable. Following a great ride, don’t expect the horse to immediately feel as the previous ride ended. Instead, can you repeat the process? Is it possible to shorten that process over time yielding the same results?

This training experience has been invaluable. The horses, Whitman and Lombard V, were happy and are returning to the states healthy. The homework over the next few months is to sift through the information given. I am grateful for the opportunity and am a better rider for it.

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