Sandra Beaulieu - Begin the Dance - Clinic at Gale Wolfe's Equine Facility, New York, 2013

I had the great pleasure of teaching at Gale Wolfe's facility in Big Flats, NY this March of 2013.

I had a wonderful weekend working with Gale and her students; I gave private lessons and taught an 8-horse quadrille class on Friday night. Gale is a representative for the Ansur saddles and let me try all the different models. I particularly liked the Carleton for it's comfort and shape. I rode Gale's Friesian gelding, Amos, in the different saddles; he is a lovely horse, I wish I could have taken him home with me!

Gale wanted help with her 21-year-old Friesian mare, Beike. She wanted to see if I could get her mare to perform tempi changes that were clean in the hind end. Beike was very well-behaved and we were able to accomplish our task of clean single changes and even performed a line of clean four tempis. Beike has a strong connection to Gale and was wary of me riding her at first, slowing down and stopping when she would get close to Gale on the rail. (It certainly is true that once you form a relationship with a mare they will be loyal to you!)

I could feel immediately at the walk that Beiki was tighter through the left side of her neck and stiffer in the left rein. I used counter-yielding exercises to help loosen her shoulders and played with the timing of my whip on her left hip to remind her stay through in the hind end. Gale likes to hold her whip in the right hand only, so I had her ride with two whips (to get the feel of keeping it in her left hand without feeling like she was lost without the whip in the right hand). We also practiced releasing the inside rein and moving the shoulders for a cleaner flying change.

On the final clinic day, I had Gale and Beiki working on suppling exercises, flying changes and piaffe/passage. Beike was more tired on this day, but still very focused and performed lovely changes in the beginning of the lesson. She started to weaken at the canter and was late on the right change so we played around with some piaffe/passage and ended there. Always end a training session on a good note!

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With Sandra Beaulieu, USDF bronze and silver medalist with competition experience through Grand Prix, USDF "L" judge, dressage trainer, bit-less instructor, equine artist, and author: