Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 5, 2019 – Top US Dressage competitor and trainer Olivia LaGoy-Weltz continued her lessons at the 2019 Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic, instructing young riders from around the country. Read below for some of her top lessons during the week:
Keep your horse engaged and working in front of you before you attempt any complex movements.
When instructing Camille Molten, 2018’s USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 13 & Under Champion, LaGoy-Weltz encouraged her to keep her horse engaged out of the corner before transitioning into the shoulder-in on the long side. Since Molten’s horse had a tendency to pull her frame downhill and not carry herself, LaGoy-Weltz reminded her to always be asking for more engagement so that she doesn’t get too heavy in her hand.
“She has to engage and not just hang on you,” LaGoy-Weltz said. “Shoulder-in, and when you feel her pulling her head down, push more from behind. She has to put in enough energy behind that she doesn’t just pull herself along from the front. She has to work uphill in front of you.”
To help Molten gather more energy behind from her horse and get her in front of the leg, LaGoy-Weltz had her do forward and backward transitions in both the trot and canter. She has to get out of the big, slow tempo and get quicker.
“She’s not allowed to drag you down,” LaGoy-Weltz said. “Her hind legs and her back have to get up underneath her. That will all help her be able to arch her neck up more.”
“Transitioning into passage is about it being an addition, not a subtraction.”
When helping Molten with her passage work, she stressed the importance of adding more energy to the trot when thinking about the passage instead of subtracting from it. When you think of collection you are always adding to whatever gait you are in, channeling even more energy than you had before.
“Keep riding back to front so the tempo stays there.”
LaGoy-Weltz reminded Alessandra Ferrucci to always be thinking of the forward movement while riding her mount Sagacious HF. As he had a tendency to retract himself a little too much in the collection, LaGoy-Weltz reminded her to ride “forward through the backward transition,” always working on the balance of getting him reaching over the back while performing more complex movements.
“He has great leg mechanics, but when he keeps his neck out a little bit you get more of his whole body movement,” LaGoy-Weltz explained. “You want him to move over his back better by being more lofty.”
She also reminded Ferrucci to keep his movement as equal on both sides as possible to help make his canter more bouncing and defined, helping him be even lighter on the ground.
“We love that the 20-year-old horse can still be a fire-breathing dragon out there,” LaGoy-Weltz laughed.
“Make every step really deliberate.”
LaGoy-Weltz instructed Sophia Schults, the 2018 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 14–18 Champion, to focus on each step that her horse took to keep his shoulders evenly between her. She also instructed Schults to increase the tempo in each gait so that he didn’t waste too much energy keeping his front legs on the ground for too long. This was especially helpful as she working on her flying changes, since his forward, flowing movement was interrupted by his front legs not moving quite fast enough.
“Talk to the front end,” LaGoy-Weltz said. “He’s so peppy behind. Stay back and help him not land quite so heavy. He’s has to not stop to change leads, just think that the next stride is a change.”
Focus on good steps behind before you focus on the bend in the pirouettes.
When helping Schults with her pirouettes, LaGoy-Weltz advised her to pay special attention to making each stride even and keeping uphill balance before she became too focused on the bend. Doing this will ensure her horse is building the correct muscles for the pirouettes, and getting even and correct steps in the movement will be appreciated by the judges. She also reminded Schults not to rush the movement, and if she needed to step out of it in order to regain the quality of the canter, that was the best decision she could make.