Severo Jurado Lopez has been in Austria for a two days clinic in Aurachkirchen near Gmunden. The Austrian Salzkammergut region was really ambitious to welcome the Spanish Olympic teamrider: freezing fog – one of my all time favourite weather conditions. Minus 4 and a cold that is creeping inside through every little gap. Thank you, Austria – really kind of you!
But everyone survived – as we usually do. The few Spanish horses wore 3 rugs, as they do throughout all the winter months and Severo did not really recognize the weather conditions – he was too concentrated to take care of the surroundings. It´s not enough to say that he did this clinic with a lot of enthusiasm and dedication – it is even more: He dives into the problem and doesn´t hear or see anything else. No matter on which level horse and rider are. That´s the way he rides - always with full concentration. I have seen him ride in Ermelo the last two years on many different horses. I got the impression, when he rides a horse, there is nothing else existing than the horse and the arena. Nothing could disturb the concentration. And exactly that is a part of his philosophy. And it´s all a lot about a philosophy. That is a different aspect than I expected. He listens to the horses behaviour and explains the rider what the horse needs at the moment to understand and to perform. The rider has to be there in the right moment to show the horse the way it should move. It´s nothing about pressure or hard physically work. Do the right thing at the right time and the horse will understand – it seemed to be that simple. And the way he explained it, it was that simple. And I understood what he explained. That´s a really good concept: to understand what the trainer teaches you! So… you might really learn it!
There was one really anxious Spanish stallion. He seemed to be afraid of everything happening in the arena. On the other way – one minute he was anxious the next moment he declared all Austrian horse girls what his real profession is. So he was not really that shy, just convinced his human group that they should not touch him. He maybe had done that successfully over the years. Severo said, that this one is so insecure – the rider has to give him certainty that all the rider´s aids are on and it is ok for him. Hands on, legs on and maybe whip on – just touching, not doing anything. So the Mimosa was really excited and angry about the thing with the legs on and the whip touching his coat. Oh dear, he was shocked! A whip – forheavenssake – a whip!! And all legs on, oh god! And after some time just sitting there, keeping the hands down with contact to his mouth, keeping legs on, no matter how quick he jumps, and whip on – the stallion decided that this doesen´t kill him and he doesen´t kill his rider and so they could also work together with all this communication stuff. And again: it was that simple.
The whip is a more positive aid than I ever thought. Used the right way and intension. Stallions often don´t like it to feel the pressure of the ride´rs leg. Mares don’t´ either. My beautiful white one is really very clear in his concept: if he doesn´t like the pressure from my legs, he just walks through my reins. It is not complicated for him because he is really strong. I try to be strong too – but he might be better on being strong. He is a good guy – as this Spanish stallions usually are- he never endangers me in anyway, but he just tells me to get away with this leg pressure thing. It is uncomfortable for him! But this time I had to use the whip instead, just to tell him to move his hindlegs forward. After 3 times of kicking against my whip – he listend to what it might tell him and moved his hindlegs without pushing against the reins. He kept his mouth shut and his head down. A concept that brings a lot more fun into your dressage lessons – and even into your competition!
My Ducado had something like the halo of a saint this weekend. Can´t remember any event when he had been that good and concentrated on his work. The Austrian Warmbloodmare before would have been of interest, but after some minutes we were alone in the indoor, and it is really easier with a stallion if he is alone, even if my Spanish stallion is very easy to handle. But he can be really strong in his neck if he is not convinced that my version is comfortable enough for him and – besides – he would like to have an eye on this blond girls from the alps (Haflinger are of special interest). A medium advanced level dressage can be very, very long if this big neck is not loose and his brain is in outside work modus, trying to catch up with the alps girls nicking conversation on the other competition ground. It doesn´t mean his teeth are on the highest point, it´s still his neck, but he isn´t in a contact with the riders hands. When I told Severo that the stallion gets so strong on the bit, that he moves easily through my half halts – he knew exactly what I meant. Maybe one of the many stallions he rides every day also had the idea of pushing against the reins? Mine is maybe not the one who created this. They are stallions and sometimes they do not have enough time for us or not enough coolness to concentrate, or simply no interest!
So he explained it really easy for me, how to solve the problem. And on the next day it was an easy ride. Ducado found out that we might be better friends if he keeps his nose down throughout the work and decided to make me happy. Of course everything worked out right then: half passes, Changes, collection.
There´s something about halfpasses in common: suddenly the half passes seemed to be a part of the basic gaits of a horse. Well, that was new for me. Severo wanted us to show the basic gaits and half passes. I usually try to prepare and bend and do many other complicated things before I finally decide I could dare to ride one half pass. So – far too much drama! Just go into canter and then ride a half pass – and it works! If I don´t make it more complicated – it is that simple! Again…
For my horse nothing is easier than half passes. Bending is so easy for him. So he was kept busy from the beginning. Busy stallions are good stallions. Tired ones as well.
The most difficult thing for my beautiful but self-confident white one is starting a piaffe. From his point of view: hold back in front – and ride forward from behind. What a stupid idea! Decide what you want! Forward or backwarts – but surely not stepping up on the same point again and again… what a nonsense! He well knows a piaffe, he was taught in hand – and by the way – it IS easy for him. But not with my aids and WITH me! He get´s really angry about that. With Severos help he made some good steps with his head down most of the time. The problem in general is, that Ducado doesn´t concentrate enough. Concentration is the most important thing…
Then Severo said to the stallion: „Hey, you are the only crazy guy here! We are all calm. Just you are crazy!“ Ducado seemed to think about the words and then he decided to do as he was told – and then it WAS simple for him. Severo told me afterwards that Ducado is a Spanish horse of special quality – his canter is outstanding for a P.R.E. He has not often seen a Spanish horse canter in that quality. His athletic conformation and his non complicated mind are of interest for breeders. “They are good guys, they might be loud, but they are good guys and won´t do really bad things!”
If you know how to do it – it is really simple…