My Journey To Lightness with Philippe Karl Part IV

October 2011
Delta, BC, Canada

The third session of the Instructor’s Course of Philippe Karl’s L’École de Légèreté once again drew dozens of people from all over North America to the Adderson Family’s equestrian centre, “For The Horse”, in Chase, BC.

This session was taught by Bertrand Ravoux, one of four Instructors who are qualified by Philippe Karl to teach Instructor’s Courses of L’École de Légèreté. M. Ravoux did not disappoint and proved himself to be remarkably skilled for such a young person. Although he occasionally struggled with expressing himself in English he brought much clarity and humour to the session.

The session’s format was similar to that of previous sessions. The first day’s lessons were a full hour, and M. Ravoux, who had reviewed all of the previous session video as well as M. Karl’s teaching notes, evaluated the candidates and their mounts before deciding the exercises necessary. Also, several candidates attended with different horses, which meant further adjustments were needed. The second and third days’ lessons were 45 minutes long and each day finished with a lecture, covering the necessary material. The third day’s evening featured a dinner and convivial get-together for all attendees. The fourth day, as usual, consisted of two group lessons: the first, for work in-hand and under saddle; the second, over fences. The lessons were followed by a demonstration by M. Ravoux of riding a young horse, and a wrap-up session to answer questions and discuss homework to be studied before the next session in April.

Caspar (Favory Fantasia III-1) had largely recovered from his respiratory infection, but was only being lightly longed and was not yet in work by October. Therefore, I attended with Nicolina, a young Canadian-Arabian cross mare, whose stage of training was comparable to Caspar’s- and who also required help from her rider to keep her focus in an unfamiliar situation. With Nicolina, the work included: pronounced bending to provoke neck extension, and alternating work with a high neck with work with extended neck, in true- and counter-bend. The focus of the gymnastic jumping sessions was to have the riders do as little as possible: it would be a grave error to disturb the horse’s physical or mental balance. M. Ravoux also discussed remedial techniques for retraining spoiled horses for jumping.
We accomplished quite a lot and I was pleased to practice some techniques for improving balance at the canter. I was especially glad to have had the opportunity to expand my repertoire for work in hand and improve my technique; in this third session, M. Ravoux was able to teach in more detail. In all my work with all of my horses, the work in hand has become an indispensable part of my training routine; all of the mounted work becomes just so much easier as a result. I always include it now as part of the warm-up of a session, even if only briefly; sometimes the session only consists of work in hand. My homework with Nicolina follows the logical progression already established. It includes practicing clear lateral flexion to encourage neck extension; practicing flexions and lateral movements in-hand, paying particular attention to my positioning relative to the horse; to introduce poll flexion when the horse is calm and accepting, but always remembering to include neck extension to prevent any overbending or leaning; when shoulder-in and counter-shoulder-in are easy on both hands, introduce travers and renvers; practice canter exercises and depart from active trot until canter becomes more balanced and more slow (closer in speed to walk: then introduce depart from walk); practice approaching jumps while doing as little as possible, avoiding pressuring or unbalancing the horse.

One major emphasis of this session was the value of transitions: between gaits, within gaits, or between positions. This allows the trainer to exploit the horse’s anticipation- which, contrary to some opinion, is something to encourage. The horse’s anticipation is a sign of the horse’s mental engagement and desire to please, and can be exploited by the thinking trainer as a means to shape the horse’s response to the aids.

So, one may wonder, what has Caspar been doing? Well, while he was still showing a cough and snotty nose, from mid-July to October, he did no work. But we did play games to keep him busy, working on improving “curtsey” and “kneel”, and preparing for “down”, as well as other problem-solving exercises such as picking our way through an obstacle course of tires. Nearer to October, I would frequently hop on him bareback during the play sessions, and walk about with just the longeing cavesson. Being unable to ride Caspar had a side-effect of improving our relationship (he is still as cheeky as ever, though). After I returned home from Chase, I started to work Caspar again, and I have been diligently studying and practicing our exercises (in between winter storms) to get him caught up. I am thrilled with the improvement in his mental engagement, and his “throughness” and impulsion in the exercises. Beginning every session with longeing and work in hand has made the ridden work very smooth and I am always excited about our work together.

~Written By Sherry Leväaho

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Blogosphere News
  • Furl
  • Live
  • MisterWong
  • MySpace
  • Print this article!
  • Propeller
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • YahooMyWeb

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>