Shaun Mandy’s dressage blog: ready for Christmas in Denmark

  • Hello gorgeous readers!

    As I write this, I’m sipping on my second flat white at the Bridge Bar in Stansted Airport, having made fabulous time from my bestie, Elodie Frost’s home in Sussex to the airport. As I’ve missed my flight back to Denmark once before due to alarm failure (or sleeping through it perhaps!) and never really knowing what the motorways are going to throw at you, I like to be the early bird.

    It has been a very busy, but satisfying weekend of coaching in the UK. I love seeing the progress my regular clients are making as well as welcoming new clients. One of my new ones this weekend was the lovely Miss Casey Stickland. She brought her handsome six-year-old gelding, by the Trakhener stallion Connery out of a Wolkentanz II mare, for both days. What a horse! I did tell her on day two if Chad ever went missing it would probably be down to the fact that I horsenapped him back to Denmark.

    This was my first indoor clinic of the winter months. Even though the sun did shine on Saturday, it is marvellous to be invited to South Farm in Stanton Fitzwarren, Wiltshire as you never can tell with the English weather! Entertainment was also provided for me in the form of adorable kittens playing in a Christmas tree in the coffee room (pictured top). Thinking about it, the coffee room may have been an office, but it had a hot pot of coffee available to me throughout the day!

    Using counter shoulder-in

    Meanwhile, back in my office (the indoor school) I coached some great rider and horse combinations and worked through various exercises. One exercise I worked on with a few of my clients during the weekend was counter shoulder-in. This exercise works particularly well in an indoor school and is a great way to teach horses shoulder-in. This is ridden slightly off the track with the horse flexed to the wall.

    For example: riding counter shoulder-in on the left rein, your right leg is asking for angle, sideways and bend together with a soft, flexing right rein, while your left leg is saying keep forward and your left rein is restraining and supporting. You then have the wall acting as a barrier which stops the horse from leaving the track without you having to be heavy on the rein, which can often happen when teaching the horse shoulder-in. So in counter shoulder-in you can really be aware of giving the rein to the horse.

    This is still a collecting exercise so be careful you don’t do too much of it in one session. If you feel that your horse is losing forward tendency, then ride out of it and go straight to get him in front of your leg again.

    Christmas at Hoffmann Towers

    pringleAll is well at Hoffmann Towers and it’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas! From next week until after New Years’ we will wind down a little with half the team going home for Christmas. Pringle and I shall spend Christmas here (our second one in Denmark). Pringle is very much into her football at the moment (see right) so that’s her present sorted!

    New Years’ Eve will be spent in Bristol with a small, but very close group of friends. It is a little tradition we have and I do believe this is the 10th year of us gathering! While I am home, I will do another clinic on the weekend.

    Have a wonderful, happy Christmas all and see you in the New Year!

    Until soon

    Shaun xx

    P.S. I don’t think the firefighter mentioned in my last blog is a keeper, but I did have a lovely time in Copenhagen and have made some super friends!

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