A hugely popular lecture and limited number of dressage sessions took place at Water Farm yard with former FEI (I) dressage judge, Uwe Spenlen. This isn’t the first time he has held a clinic here, but due to popular demand this one was booked to ensure riders who missed out last time had the chance to book onto one of his sessions. Uwe is from Germany and after retiring from judging, he now trains and helps riders achieve suppleness and balance with their horse through the scale of training. There were 27 riders who took part in the sessions, which took place over three days, as well as an informative lecture giving an insight into the fundamentals of riding.
Over 70 people attended the interactive lecture, which took place on the first day. Two DVD’s were shown to highlight correct riding and explained the scale of training in an easy-to-follow way. There were many opportunities for questions and Uwe was more than happy to answer and help with any issues. If you want to know the difference between bending and flexion or what a potato canter is, Uwe will explain all to you during this lecture! Originally intended to take two and a half hours, Uwe extended this for an extra hour to make sure everyone’s queries were answered.
Sessions were made up of 45 minute slots and all were jam packed with helpful advice and tips to progress your riding. “I find it really rewarding to see riders improve,” explains Uwe. “I thoroughly enjoy teaching the basics of riding as I find many people skip over this section with their desire to reach the end goal quickly. Some of the basics include being able to give a good half-halt, working on your horse’s flexion and bending and practicing medium trot and canter. In my 45 minutes sessions, I can’t change the bad habits that some riders have developed, but I can give tips to help improve their horse’s way of going.”
A number of different horses and riders took part, ranging from those taking their first elementary level dressage test to a 20-year-old retired Grand Prix horse. Uwe offers a quiet and patient approach to help repair any problems that have arisen and improve your overall ridden technique. “One problem I see a lot of is people using too much hand when they ride,” Uwe says. “We have a lot of strength in our arms and hands and unfortunately some riders use this against the horse to try and get them in the correct frame. What we actually need to do is to develop a nice, relaxed seat in the saddle and understand the correct aids to give. Once this has been achieved, self-carriage of your horse will happen naturally and the overall picture will be one of balance and submissiveness.”
The 45 minutes spent with Uwe will definitely give you some homework to take away and practice in your own time. “It’s better to ride your horse five or six days a week rather than less,” explains Uwe. “In any sport you have to be fit and the same goes for your horse. It’s a good idea to have regular lessons so find a patient instructor to help drive you away from bad habits. Many instructors nowadays are under a lot of pressure to get positive results in one lesson, but this is wrong. The scale of training takes time to develop and this shouldn’t be rushed. Submissiveness is your ultimate aim, but you’ll only achieve this by working with your horse and not against him.”
As well as specialist sessions, Water Farm also hosts a range of different events including competitions and training days. To find out about future events, click on our upcoming events and clinics page.