During this session, Michel is teaching Marine and Norton, a 9 year old gelding. They start with some flat work at the 3 gaits. Marine tries to alternate the position of the horse’s neck between a full stretch and a position where the poll is being the highest point. Michel explains to the rider, the proper position to let the movement go through without hindering her horse, leading to favour the correct execution of the exercise. Any kind of stiffness or tension from the rider, especially during the transitions between both neck position, can hinder the stretching movement and by consequence the positive outcome of the exercise for the horse.
After the exercise has been successfully executed on flat work, Marine has to practice it on a cavaletti set-up. Again, Michel insists on the rider’s position which is the key for a successful exercise. As soon as the rider holds onto the reins or interferes with the horse’s mouth to find a spot or to find her balance, the horse doesn’t have the capability anymore to perform the stretching movement desired. The grid has been set up in a manner as to limit the rider’s influence and therefore to allow the horse freedom of movements.
At the end of the exercise, we can notice that Norton is able to jump the cavalettis while stretching his neck with a round quiet and rhythmical canter.