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Issue #1116, A Day in the Life of Coventry, including "The Horse's Shoulders why do we care if they
The Horse’s Shoulders
During our lessons we hear a lot about the horse’s shoulders. Phrases
such as -- the shoulders are falling out, falling in or collapsing, bulging, or he’s popping his shoulder.
Then a trainer may say did you feel those shoulders lifting, we need to get his shoulders up...!
Most riders just do what the trainer says but does anyone wonder why we obsess over the horses’
The reason we talk about the shoulders is to get the horse straight. But why do
we care if the horse is straight? We want our horses straight so they will work evenly on both sides of its body.
Why do we want our horses to work evenly on both sides of its body? To impress a judge for dressage shows or to develop
our horse as an athlete? The answer is both. Dressage
tests simply evaluate how well you are training your horse. Each movement is performed in both directions tracking
right and left so the judge can score how well you train your horse in each direction.
I prefer to call dressage “gymnastic training” which is what it is for the horse.
By gymnastically riding the horse in both directions and keeping its shoulders straight (in line with the
haunches) we are training the horse to work evenly in both directions. The dressage judge will evaluate how well we
are doing this, and those riders who do not show dressage will just use gymnastic dressage training to make the horse more
pliable, responsive to the aids and balanced both longitudinally & laterally!* As a result, by knowing why we want
our horses straight and having the ability to control the shoulders the horse will perform better
for all disciplines. Ultimately, our horses should be trained with 'four way stretch' meaning on all sides
of their body with the rider always being able to control the shoulders with the outside rein.
*Longitudinal means training the horse back to front such as stretching
or transitions with in the gait. Laterally means training the horse side to side as in lateral work such as leg
yielding, shoulder in and haunches in.
Click here to view article and see photos
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2008 Coventry Reports
Medals, Olympics and Special Medals!
Oh, my! On a hot summer day in Penn
State PA, 2008!
|Molly and Spirit who competed in
|Special Olympic Summer Games 2008
In Stride with Life is a new non profit
organization that merges other organizations for the greater good of us all. We like to call its purpose a Tri-Unity of Community.
For a spring project this year, In Stride with Life brought together athletes from Special Olympics
and Coventry Equestrian Center from Washington County to attend and compete in the Special Olympic summer games. By doing
fund raising the board of In Stride with Life was able to sponsor two athletes and two horses to
travel and participate in the summer games. It was a fascinating adventure for not only the Coventry Caravan, but, more importantly,
for the two special athletes that attended. It was the first time Washington County ever sent equestrian athletes to the summer
Personally, as the one who put together the program, with a lot of help from friends and contributors, I am not sure
who benefited more, me or the riders.
Being at an event like this was not only huge and crowded with all kinds of special
need individuals, but, there was enough positive energy around you that I
think it could have fueled our planet with all
the enthusiasm. I took so many pictures I could not possibly share them all. At the opening games I was enthralled with the
T-shirts the athletes wore and I took several pictures of the encouraging quotes: TEAM or, Together Everyone Achieves More;
Hustle, there is not a substitute; and, Let me win and if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt....
|Courtney and Baby Doll
|practicing the Trail Class prior to competition.
Our two athletes were signed up for classes that they never did before.
They did trail, barrel racing, dressage, and relay races. I thought, boy, this is going to be interesting, but amazingly they
both did really well. They won several of their classes and on horses that never did a trail or barrel class before !
“Sure’” Babe says, “I have not
done this before, but for you, Courtney, lets give it go...”
The weekend we were there was the first weekend in June, and it was
90 degrees. The enthusiasm, however, for all the athletes (and there were well over 1000) was incredible. Everyone was
always happy despite the sweat dripping off our faces.
|Spirit having a bath with Molly and her Mom,
|volunteer Kristin, andSpirits owner-sponsor Mary Louise.
The horses were perfectly behaved and acted as though they have done this 100 times before. Of course,
they loved being pampered with constant baths and the athletes loved washing the horses down, picking the stalls and filling
the water buckets. This is not work in 90 degrees for a Special Olympic athlete - just pure joy, pleasure and bliss.
|Molly proudly in First place holding
|her ribbon among the other competitors.
For me, the highlight was watching all the athletes receive their
awards on the Special Olympic podium. Yes, it was just like the real olympics, only special! Each athlete stood on the podium
and got their medals. A military soldier was there to salute them, and police officer was there to shake their hand. They
bent over one at a time for the medals to be placed around their necks, then all Olympians stood up straight, smiled and held
up the ribbons and got their photos taken. Click click click, cameras and flashes would all ignite in unison. You would have
thought that Paris Hilton had arrived when each award was presented. Some athletes would cry, some would jump up and down
and some would say, “Let me win and if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt.” One athlete said after he
was awarded fourth place for barrel racing, “Next time I will do better, I will go faster.” Not all athletes won,
but each was awarded by the honor of being a participant.
|Special Olympic coaches Kristin Hermann and
|Kristen Kolenda, with their riders. All smiles!
Our In Stride with Life athletes qualified
for the National Special Olympics. This puts In Stride with Life back to work to
do some fundraising. We heard it is in Nebraska or some place in the middle of America. Trust me, if we can get there we will.
In Stride w/ Coventry Report #72
Interview with Kristin in the Tribune Review
came, they interviewed me for two hours, and the result of the two hours is below (via the link). If you cannot open the link
for some reason, I can email you the article.
show at Coventry May 25th.
We came, we showed,
it was a beautiful day, and all had a grand experience. But now do you wonder what it was you did? Click on the link below
for the “Memorial Reflections”.
Click here to download Report #72, to see pictures and Kristin's explanation of "what you did"!
In Stride w/
Coventry Report #71
And, do you know
where your horse is..... getting out 'cause the rains have moved on,..temporarily...
From "The Success Principles" by Jack
The mind is such a powerful instrument, it can deliver to
you literally anything you want. But you have to believe that what you want is possible. Scientists used to believe that humans
responded to information flowing into the brain from the outside world. But today, they're learning instead that we respond
to what the brain, on the basis of previous experience,..
Why does the brain behave this way? Click here to find out...
In Stride w/ Coventry
Chewing the Reins out of the Rider's Hands.
Chewing the Reins out of the Hands... is something we learn as riders at Coventry. I learned
it from some old classicists in my pursuit of “dressage”.
In this report, Brianne and Eli, a 3 year old Friesian-cross illustrate the technique. Simply,
Brianne asks Eli to give to the bit and chew the reins out her hands in doing so he releases his top line. She passively resists
with contact and he gives at his poll...
Click here to read about and see photos of Brianne and Eli demonstrating the technique of "chewing the reins out of your hands"
In Stride w/ Coventry
Sunday & Monday, horses are in. Some are getting
lounged others in the arena....it just keeps raining...Saturday eve at Coventry...
your riding pot of gold
... take lessons at Coventry!
Click here to view Report #69, and to see what Kristin has to say about rain, rain, and more rain!
The No Spin Quote
Here's a spiffy quote from Charles deKunffy:
"The leg energizes; the seat modifies; the hand