Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Making of a Hunter Horse.......Wendy Potts....the Young Horse

There were way too many horses at the Wendy Potts clinic to post what she did with each horse and rider combination. I don't even recall the specifics on each but it seemed to me most things I see in the ring were covered at this clinic. There were young newly started horses as well old broke to death horses and plenty in between so many aspects of making a successful hunter horse seemed to be covered by the time we got through the clinic.

Keeping in mind that this is my interpretation of what I saw, the technique that Wendy Potts employs to get the forward she wants from her hunter horses was pretty straight forward. Evident from the very first horse was her use of lots and lots of lateral movement to build an impressive hunter horse. Her goal with the lateral movement to create a more flexible horse that can move each part independently. The end result is that bold, free moving, straight travelling creature we call the Arabian hunter pleasure horse.

The clinic started off with a young horse with minimal time under saddle. There were several of these young, newly started horses at the clinic. They had varying degrees of time on them and all seemed to be at a good place to handle the added push that comes with help from someone like Wendy Potts.

Throughout the clinic Wendy Potts had the rider start off telling her a little about the horse. Then there was some work while Wendy evaluated the situation. Many times she would ask the rider if she could ride the horse so she could feel for herself what issues might be. Once she'd figured out what would best accomplish her desired response, she turned the horse back over to its rider and she continued her instruction.

The technique employed on these young horses consisted mostly of pulling the horse's around to the rider's knee. The resulting tight circle was created by drawing back on the inside rein through to the rider's hip while applying pressure with the rider's inside leg.

The circle is so tight the momentum causes the horse to step deep underneath itself as it swing its hips out and around its shoulders something like a turn on the forehand would be. The horse is given a release from this exercise when it lifts its ribcage as it drives from behind in the circle. Another important aspect of this exercise is little releases throughout the process building softness in the horse and keeping it from diving down on the bit.

This exercise helps the horse loosen all the way up through the ribcage and on into the shoulder as it turns, building the cornerstones for lateral movement. The horse also learns to move off the rider's leg when pressure is applied and that the added leg means to go forward because of the deep steps that are taken behind as the horse moves.

Once the horse was released, it was turned the opposite direction so the exercise could be repeated that side as well. The direction of the turn was changed frequently to work both sides of the horse.

Riders were also encouraged to work their horses at a sitting trot to drive the horse more forward and into these turns. Only short spurts of straight forward work were done before returning back to working on those circles. Changing things up often keeps the horse consistently using itself in the desired manner to further strengthen those building blocks.

Wendy Potts admitted the work is tedious and boring but there's no denying the effect if had on the horses and the importance it plays in building a successful hunter pleasure horse. Big improvements in forward and lateral movement were accomplished in a very short time and it appeared fairly easy for the riders to pick up the concept and duplicate it.

To be continued....................

Horse Issues

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  1. sensible I am enjoying reading about this clinic.You took Storm right?

  2. fern, yes, I did take Storm and I will be posting specifics about our experience once I have gone through the other stuff.

  3. Sounds interesting. Thanks for the post.

  4. Thank you very much for sharing this information. I imagine this will be helpful for western horses too.