An adventure is in the making. Thursday we ship the boys to the Arthur Kottas Clinic for a lesson on working in-hand and long reining. The clinic coordinator, Barbara, assures me that Kottas does what the horse needs. In one of her lessons Kottas decided that the horse needed to be longed, so that’s what he did. I’m guessing that longeing the boys is definitely a possibility. We may never get to “in-hand and long-reining”!

That being said, we’ve been practicing and practicing! There are a few books and videos describing these two disciplines and I find the authors don’t agree on all points. So, I’m heading to the clinic with a more than open mind, ready to be told how to do things correctly.

I’m hoping Kottas will work each horse, then teach us how to do things as opposed to us showing him what we “don’t” know, then being corrected.

I will have to alert Kottas to Z and Z’s LOVE of the Spanish Walk. Any excuse will prompt it. You don’t want to be standing in front of one of them and casually move a whip…

Wednesday Allen helped bring the boys in from the paddock. He had Zeloso just outside the gate while I was attaching the leadline to Zelador. I heard Allen say something, but couldn’t understand what, so I turned to look at him. Zeloso was on his hind legs, pleased as punch. Allen commented, “He’s full of energy.” (A note to myself: work both horses Thursday morning BEFORE heading out to the clinic!)

Wednesday evening I did a second long reining session, first with Zelador, then with Zeloso. I tacked up Zelador in the stall, led him outside the barn, then long reined him to the arena. When I was done I long reined him down the laneway, into the barn and into his stall. With Zeloso I long reined him from his stall, to the arena, then back into his stall. Both boys listen very well when in the long reins. Zeloso did manage to pull his giraffe trick and grabbed a bit of an overhead branch on the way to the arena. This favourite game did not happen a second time. I sharpened up.

The work in-hand is great fun. The boys and I have managed to create a shoulder-in which we turn into a renvers which we maintain off the wall and ooze into a half-pass. Another favourite is to take the renvers off the wall, then do a walk pirouette towards the wall. The wall helps the horses take short steps which helps the pirouette.

Both boys are easy to cue the Spanish Walk in-hand. In the long reins I move up to their ribcage to cue it.

They’re both very accustomed to me developing the piaffe in-hand so these past five days I haven’t done any piaffe work. At first when I stood beside them facing the rear they offered their beginning version of the piaffe. Now they stand quietly because they understand to wait till I cue something.

Yep, an adventure in the making.

P.S. Allen said I should take the ridged ball and have them retrieve for Kottas. Somehow that doesn’t quite fit into my vision of “classical” training done by Kottas at the Spanish Riding School.