Shaun Mandy’s dressage blog: Moving home and tips for riding half-pass

  • Dear gorgeous readers,

    I am home! It is great to be back, but at the same time feels a little strange that I have left Denmark for good and said goodbye to Hoffmann Towers — it is the end of an amazing chapter. I will, of course, shaun leaving partystay in touch and I still have lots of Hasse Hoffmann’s Dressage with heart and mind books for sale.

    My last couple of weeks in Denmark were really building up to the move home, sorting transport, vets, selling things, buying things and, of course, a mini leaving party!

    Poppy, Pringle and I were picked up by the fantastic Transporter, Ejlif of Odense International Horse Transport, on Thursday at 7am. We made our way down through Denmark, Germany and then Holland arriving at the ferry terminal by 9pm. I did not realise at the time, but the crossing from Hook of Holland to Harwich, England is 8 hours. I have a small phobia of open waters and large ships so finding out that I would be sleeping on the ship for a full night crossing rattled me a little!

    Shaun Mandy leaving denmark

    After ensuring that horses and dog were settled in for the night on the lorry, Ejlif and I went up to the restaurant for dinner and a small Pinot to settle my nerves! It was a very smooth crossing and I slept soundly in my little cabin.

    We got off safely the other side the next morning and made our way to Forest View, Malmesbury via Shaun Mandy Pringle having a snoozeEssex and Oldencraig in Surrey for a couple of deliveries.

    The weekend was spent unpacking and settling in. Jeanette and Casey Stickland, who own Forest View, have made me, Pringle and Poppy feel right at home. My family also came up from Bournemouth on the Saturday and so all-in-all it was a full weekend. Now I must start working and entering some competitions for Poppy.

    I am planning my next clinic for 14 March, which will be here at Forest View, now that I have my own lovely indoor school to coach from!

    Going sideways

    Recently I have been working more on Poppy’s half-passes. Remember, your position and use of body weight is very important when executing the half-pass. When your horse is established in shoulder-in you can progress to travers and half-pass. These are more collecting exercises and so must only be started when your horse is strong enough and the basics are well established to move on, not just because he has reached a certain age.

    My new yard

    My new yard

    In the shoulder-in, it is only your horse’s inside hind leg that steps further underneath him, therefore, becoming more supple in the outside shoulder. With travers and half-pass both hind legs are stepping more underneath him and so both shoulders become more supple. For this reason it is more of a collecting exercise and so more difficult for your horse.

    When riding a trot half-pass to the left, for example, (remember it is easier to start a half-pass from the centre line to the track than out of a corner), the left rein is the flexing rein and can also guide.

    The new indoor arena

    It is a common mistake for riders to hang on to the inside rein, which blocks the movement and flow of energy through the horse’s body. You should be able to see the left eye and nostril when your horse is flexed in this direction. Your inside leg is the forward driving leg and stays in normal position. Your outside rein is restraining and supporting and is the rein that stops your horse from flexing or bending too much in the neck. Your outside leg must move a little further back and is asking for sideways. Be careful not to grip with your knee or swing your lower leg too far back. Move your whole leg from hip to heel back a little.

    As you start the half-pass, step a little more onto your left stirrup as this is the direction you are moving towards. Your right seatbone will come a bit more to the middle of the saddle as you bring your right leg back and your outside shoulder position back too. The trot rhythm should not change when you ride into a half-pass. If you lose forward tendency, abort the exercise and ride straight! Once you have the forwardness again you can carry on.

    When starting your horse with half-pass, do not ask for too much bend and allow the hindquarters to trail a little, this will make it easier as is less collecting and will, therefore, be easier to keep forwardness.

    Well the sun is setting and animals need feeding!

    Until soon,

    Shaun xx

    When archers shoot for enjoyment, they have all their skill; when they shoot for a brass buckle, they get nervous; when they shoot for a prize of gold, they begin to see two targets — Chuang Tzu

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