From the rising trot and 20-meter
circles, students then dropped their stirrups for sitting trot, smaller circles, and leg yielding. However, with her concern
for the limitations of the horse and rider, Gail kept those not ready for sitting trot in a rising trot. "Your seat will inhibit
your horses forward motion", she explained.
"When a back is tense I prefer
to stay off it", she added. Exercises were given to loosen the stiff riders and improve balance. "Rotate your leg in from
the hip. Drop the knees down. I dont want to see space between your calves and the horses barrel. ONCE YOU GET YOUR LEG ON
THE HORSE, IT NO LONGER BELONGS TO YOU, BUT TO THE HORSE."
"You have to feel what your horse
is doing underneath you. You will never get bending without impulsion", Dr. Hoff-Carmona insisted.
Working each student individually
at the canter, she stressed that the horse must maintain its balance. "Circles help a horse to balance; if the horse rushes,
make a circle", she instructed. "One can spiral down circles to develop the horse's strength. However, the activity of the
hind legs must remain active. NOTHING WITH DRESSAGE IS DONE ABRUPTLY."
The rhythm of each gait was discussed
as the riders learned how to increase and decrease the paces without speeding.
In between lessons, a demonstration
of the progression of dressage training was part of Dr. Hoff-Carmonas clinic approach. She rode her Grand Prix horse in a
snaffle to illustrate that it was the engagement of the hindquarters that was elevating his head, and not a double bridle.
The pair began with a Training Level frame and movements, advancing to leg yielding, shoulder-in, travers, and half-pass.
She and Serr further demonstrated more than one way to teach half and full canter pirouettes, and remarked that teaching the
flying change was easy because all one had to do was be able to count. She then proceeded to prove the statement with a series
of correct, then incorrect changes.
The third part of the clinic was
a lecture on choosing a dressage prospect. Gails statement that any breed is suitable for dressage probably surprised those
who know that she has been breeding Arabians for some 25 years. "The breed does not make the dressage prospect, but the way
an individual horse moves. Movement is the most important criterium", she emphasized.
"Swedish warmbloods", she mentioned,
"particularly have a stride of lightness and suspension, displayed in a movement of elevation, extension and then a float,
like the old classic Arab. Arabians however", Gail stated unconditionally,
"are easily the most intelligent breed."
She believes that any horse can
be trained up to Second Level, and that beyond this level only the talented horses advance. "Basic dressage will, however,
help those horses with weak conformation areas", she concluded.
Training plus talent plus an unrelenting
commitment to the classical methods of dressage have proved once again to be a kind of magic, and few of the horse people
present departed without taking a touch of it with them.