Schooling Honest Expression With Johann Hinnemann

Johann Hinnemann working with Endel Ots on Samhitas

Loxahatchee, FL ­- January 19, 2016 – Johann Hinnemann highlighted the idea of submission on the second and final day of the East Coast Adequan/USDF FEI­Level Trainers Conference. He pushed the rider and horse pairs further to achieve expressive movements with each step taken. Riders worked on achieving honest bend with visible, even flexion from head to tail.

“First you must show a balanced horse, then step by step add more bend,” Hinnemann said. “You need visible flexion and bend; with this, you can then find expression. If this balance and activity dies out, you have to renew the impulsion.”

Expression was only accomplished when each horse became submissive to the rider’s aids. Hinnemann argued that only a submissive horse is 100 percent supple. A supple horse is not always submissive. To achieve submission, it is imperative to work on the balance.

Ayden Uhlir and Sjapoer

“Most of the people that show can do these exercises. It is just a question now of how expressive without tension we can present our horses,” Hinnemann said. “The benefit of our sport when we compete is that points are given on expressiveness and a supple horse with collection and a happy face.”

A common theme with each movement that Hinnemann worked on throughout the day was control of the poll. Hinnemann made it clear to auditors that controlling the poll doesn’t mean that the neck got shorter, but rather it is about self­carriage and how the horse stretches through its body.

“When I say make sure the inside ear is up, I say it that way because you see the riders look to the inside ear, you then sit with the inside seat bone,” Hinnemann said. “Just saying this a rider will sit straight. The rider without thinking about it will be able to control the poll.”

Heather Blitz and Quatero

Hinnemann worked throughout the day to develop each horse’s canter after ensuring that everyone understood the importance of the horse’s poll. He focused on the expression and jump with the horse’s hind legs.

“The more you get the hind legs active and controlled, the horse gets a true self­ carriage through the poll,” he said. “Then it is only about keeping it up there and making sure that the horse pushes in a way to keep the hind legs engaged. We must create natural relative self­ carriage.”

With a young hot horse such as Domani, a 7­year­old Hanoverian gelding ridden by Melissa Jackson of Parrish, Florida, and owned by Marcie Biondolillo. Hinnemann worked on giving the rider different tricks to make the horse wait for the flying change aids.

“With an over­reactive horse you need to find different tricks to make him wait for your aids,” Hinnemann said. “Make sure that you can do the change separate from the poll. If you manipulate the bend, your horse should stay in counter canter and wait for you to give them the signal to change.”

Endel Ots and Lucky Strike

Hinnemann spoke throughout the day to the importance of the horse’s neck in getting self­carriage. Each rider worked on keeping the poll the highest point of the horse and allowing the horse’s neck to reach without getting low.

“You have to first stabilize the connection,” Hinnemann said. “Use exercises to flex the horse and make the bend better through whole body flexion. Our job is to bring the withers more up with a steady connection. You must lengthen the neck by not letting the poll get lower. You cannot change the conformation, but we can work to develop the muscles.”

There was plenty of discussion regarding the importance of the base of the horse’s neck. Hinnemann argued that this stretching feeling must come from the base of the neck and reach through the horse’s spine to its tail.

“[Create] self­ carriage through the feeling of the horse wanting to stretch,” Hinnemann said. “This will then get rid of the tension underneath the horse’s neck, and the lower neck will elevate.”

Jessica Jo Tate and Kynynmont Gunsmoke’s Gideon

Jessica Jo “JJ” Tate of Wellington, Florida, riding in her first clinic with Hinnemann, brought Kynynmont Gunsmoke’s Gideon, an 8-­year-­old Connemara gelding owned by Pam Liddell. Over the course of two days Tate focused with Gideon on self­carriage and creating an even feel on both sides of the horse’s body. She continued on day two with an emphasis on the half­pass.

“We did a lot of terrific half ­pass work,” Tate said. “I have been riding half­pass for about 25 years – I don’t feel that old – but wow, he gave me a new feeling, which is kind of hard to come by when you have ridden a lot of horses and done it for a long time. A new sensation and a new experience were really neat for this horse. It really validated for me all the work that we have been doing. For me having someone’s expert eyes like that and keeping the standard higher than it would be if I were by myself was very helpful.”

Tate, who rides frequently with Steffen Peters, saw some overlaps in the teachings of Hinnemann, who has previously trained Peters.

“I didn’t know what to expect. I ride a lot with Steffen Peters, and it was great because I know Steffen rides with him,” Tate noted. “It’s that commitment to the top standard that I see in both Peters and Hinnemann. You find the way with every horse to develop the highest amount of throughness and really work on the horse’s whole body. Both teach the importance of being able to have the horse let go in every part of its body in order for all of its energy to be used in the right way.”

Tate was thrilled with her ride, and she spoke to the importance of using clinics to get outside of the comfort of your home barn and benefit from the eye of respected trainers such as Hinnemann.

“I thought the tips that he gave me were really helpful. He absolutely picked out our weaker points,” Tate said. “I thought that he addressed them in a really fair way but with a high standard.”

Mica Mabragana and Tyara

Wrapping up the clinic Hinnemann repeated the importance of working on basics to educate the horses. Expression cannot be achieved unless there is total honest bend and flexion, creating a horse that exhibits self­carriage and submission. He left auditors with the final thought that you must have a goal in sight and ride to that goal in the most active and relaxed way possible.

“After the first impression, there is never a second chance,” Hinneman said.

Johann Hinnemann
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