During a recent clinic in South Australia I rode this lovely, tall, 5 year old warmblood mare.
Freya is a big moving horse with a lot of energy. Unfortunately she has a history of carrying a lot of tension while working on the ground and during ridden work. This is something her owner discovered after purchasing her, one year ago. Luckily, this mare has a wonderful owner who wants to help her feel well and do well. She has been doing in-hand and lunging work she has learned from Manolo Mendez's "Introduction to working In-Hand" DVD and from watching Manolo teach at clinics.
These photos are a great example of how I rode Freya for a couple of different reasons.
Freya is quite tight throughout her body. Her back in particular is tight and in her neck, the muscles are tight and irregular around the C2/C3 vertebrae area. Freya has a tendency to tilt her head and has a lot of energetic tension.
Firstly, I rode in a light seat which gave Freya the opportunity to use her whole body as best as she could without any rider restrictions. I kept my legs in a neutral position and leant my body slightly forward.
Giving the reins forward helped both with eliminating Freya's tension and teaching her to stretch her neck forward. It is very important that Freya learns to carry herself with her neck stretched forward and out with her throat latch open and her nose in front of the vertical. In this posture, we can help her repair the muscles in her neck and build new muscles. This posture will also make it possible for her body to soften overall and for her to begin to use her back, hindquarters and abdominals correctly.
The energetic tension is interesting and not uncommon amongst horses with body issues… Once Freya had been given the room to move her neck forward and out and not hold her body, neck and head short, high or tilted, the tension in her neck released which then allowed her mind to relax and then she was able to relax through-out her whole body - the chain reaction effect - no more neck tension or tightness - no more feeling uncomfortable - no more stress or energetic tension.
On Day 3 of the clinic, Freya's owner rode her the same as I had the previous day and achieved the same results: A happy, soft but active Freya, no stress, no rushing. I am really looking forward to seeing this mare and her owner again soon.
Note: The neck issues with this horse are a result of previously being ridden short and behind the vertical. The photos are an example of how I ride to help teach a horse to uncurl, stretch, strengthen their neck and develop new muscle in the problem area.
Update: This is a lovely comment from Freya's owner:
"I had been so looking forward to this clinic and you certainly didn't let us down! We have had some really good relaxed rides since the clinic and I actually think she is a different horse all together - I'm in a different mind set as well. Will be interesting to see if her relaxed attitude carries through when I take her to a new arena this weekend. Can't wait till the next Chantelle clinic! 😊😊 Mette & Freya"
Manolo Mendez DVD link: www.manolomendezdressage.com
In Australia and New Zealand contact Kate Mendez at firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase Manolo's In-Hand DVD in Australia and avoid paying international shipping and International rates from the USA.