Shaun Mandy’s dressage blog: A fabulous clinic and a useful training exercise

  • Dear gorgeous readers,

    Well it certainly is a chilly one this morning! I am not planning on doing too many outdoor activities today, apart from riding a couple of horses.

    A small group of us are off to the cinema in Aarhus tonight to watch 50 Shades of Grey. I have not read the books so will not be disappointed as have nothing to compare it to.

    A fabulous clinic

    It certainly has been a time of airports, planes, trains and the odd bus. My five-day clinic in Durban, South Africa was fabulous!

    This was my third clinic there in the past six months. It was very rewarding to see my riders progressing and welcoming new beautiful faces too.

    When I left you last I was sitting at Aarhus airport awaiting my jet plane to Stansted. Well, this was delayed by an hour and a half, which meant I missed my bus from Stansted to Heathrow.

    After a little discussion (managed to stay calm) with a National Express agent who did not seem to be up to scratch with company procedures, I got another bus and made it to Heathrow in good time for my flight to Dubai. This was then delayed out of Heathrow and so when I landed in Dubai and got through security, the gate closing call was being made for my flight to Durban — fun times!

    Anyway, I made it in one piece to sunny Durban on Saturday evening and had a lovely Sunday with my friend and fast-growing twin godchildren before starting my week of coaching.

    Apart from a massive electrical storm on Monday with heavy downpours (indoor venue was sought), it was a very hot and humid week.

    A useful training exercise

    A few horse and rider combinations reminded me of the importance of coming back to basics and getting it right on the circle. Staying on a curved track can be so helpful to establish the inside leg to outside rein connection.

    When warming up on a 20m circle in the trot, maintain a constant outside rein. Your inside leg is asking for bend and is helped by your inside rein flexing and guiding towards the inside.

    Think about the connection from your inside arm to the rein to the bit as a piece of elastic that moves in a forward opening action and relaxes slowly back towards the wither as your horse gives in to the inside leg.

    What you are working towards is that your horse will remain slightly bent around your inside leg even when your inside hand goes back to the neutral position and your horse is secure in the outside rein.

    This is tested by slowly relaxing the inside contact (releasing the inside rein towards the bit) and your horse should remain in the frame on the outside rein. It is important to remember you must still ride both sides of the horse during this exercise. If you feel him drifting out through the outside shoulder, you correct him with your outside leg and as you do so, you take the pressure away with your inside leg.

    This is very much a feeling that you must develop as a rider and it will be like a light bulb moment when you get it!

    Continued below…

    Read more of Shaun’s blogs

    A palacial home

    During the coaching week I stayed with my favourite German client, Regina, in her beautiful, palacial home in Umhlanga Rocks.

    We managed to fit in one little beach trip and a couple of dinners on the amazing coastline were enjoyed.

    Shaun Mandy

    On a beach trip

    On one of the days we were driving to my coaching venue, I noticed that we had driven through quite a few traffic light junctions with the lights not working. When I asked why the traffic lights were not working, I was told that it was due to load shedding.

    Basically, the government have not maintained the power stations and now there is not enough electricity for the country! Every day there are cut off periods.

    So for two hours at some point in the day you will have no electricity in your house. Shops close down and it is having a big knock on effect, especially with other countries not wanting to invest in South Africs.

    Little embarrassing for the government I think, though they seem to have no shame.

    Meeting an old friend

    One very special evening occurred when I had dinner with an old childhood friend, Sam Bradley, who I have not seen for about 16 years.

    He moved to Durban a few years ago and noticed via facebook that I was doing clinics there and so got in touch. Isn’t the modern world fun!

    By Friday I was ready to hop on my jet plane homeward-bound and slept from the time my neck hit my neck cushion until touchdown in Dubai. I fitted in a spot of duty free, before heading back to Heathrow and arriving Saturday afternoon.

    That evening I had a business dinner in London, before heading back to Denmark the next day, which has resulted in me being able to announce that I will now be sourcing dressage horses in Germany for clients. You let me know what you are looking for and I find your perfect match!

    Packing starts

    Packing starts

    Tomorrow, I hear the news if my transporter may be bringing me, Poppy and Pringle home a bit earlier (end of February). My little Danish car has been sold and packing has commenced!

    I shall fly home on Friday for my weekend clinic at South Farm, Stanton Fitzwarren — can’t wait!

    Until soon,

    Shaun xx

    My body/mind mastery quote: “In all activities of life, the secret of efficiency lies in an ability to combine two seemingly incompatible states: a state of maximum activity and a state of maximum relaxation” – Aldous Huxley.


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