Lesson Recap: The Diagonal Pair

It’s no secret I love getting lesson from Brett Parbery, I was fortunate to meet Brett when he hosted his first Intelligent Riding Retreat back in 2016. (umm, wow, where has the time gone!) Which has been one of the biggest game changes for my training to date.

I had my first actual lesson from Brett early in 2018 through Sydney Dressage Club, which I haven’t really looked back since! I always try to get a spot on these super popular clinics, if you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend. You won’t regret it 🙂

Lesson Diagonal Pair

I thought I would do a mini re cap on our lesson, as I hope it would also shed some light for other Standardbred riders out there whom are experiencing the same training bumps as myself.

If you are a dedicated reader and have viewed over some of my other posts, you will know my history with Standardbreds and how I am a firm believer that they are born to pace. Meaning they are a 5 gaited breed, not a 4 gaited breed like most other riding horses. If you haven’t checked out my mini-series on the Standardbred Myths, sit down with a coffee and have a read! Part 1 and Part 2.

Out of all the Standardbreds I could have chosen on the property; I chose Arnie to re-educate and ride. His always had a lovely temperament and loves going places and being centre of attention. However, he is probably the one horse on the property that literally paces the most! At the end of the day it is natural for them to do it! We as riders just have to show them when and where to do so.

I was super pumped for our lesson last weekend, because we didn’t have the most positive week prior. You see, I entered a protocol day the week before our dressage competition, which was a week before the clinic. I went to the protocol day with lots and lots to work on for our competition the weekend following.

As I was riding during that week, I couldn’t paste it all together properly and I felt like I wasn’t riding well at all. I didn’t want to drive all the way down to the competition after a bad week and knowing I wasn’t giving my horse the best possible chance of doing well.  I decided to scratch and then re-focus on the lesson the following weekend.

There were two areas of our lesson that we focused on, the first one, which was the main point from my struggles the week prior. Nailing the canter transition in the 2B, coming from the free walk, quickly gathering him trot then canter. I find him a bit difficult to gather! We worked on leg yields and cutting the corner slightly and leg yielding him over and then canter transition. Which really helped! Can’t wait to ride the test next!

The second area, which I really want to share with you is the transitions. You see, because Arnie likes to pace, he doesn’t pick up the diagonal pair quickly he puts in this little thing then goes into the diagonal pair. It worked hand in hand with the previous exercises. We focused on gathering him in the halt, by this we just let him soften and yield with the rein contact. Not to be pulling forward and against the rein aid. The aim was to see the upper part of his neck to relax. It’s a simple exercise to do whilst warming up or even during your training to help re gather and to start listening and waiting  a little more, especially if they get a little longer and become a little sticky/against the rein in the contact.

While working on these little improvements, we decided to try and get his stride in between the walk and trot happening a little quicker.

Here is a clip of this part of our lesson, there is some background noise but you can hear some of Brett’s commentary. I think his training system, horsemanship and philosophy is amazing, it is well worth a watch and listen to if you can hear!

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