The Pony Floated, Like a Stallion In an Open Field!
Updated: May 6, 2020
Some years ago, at Rivers Edge in Maryland I attended a clinic to learn from the master. Here is a story I have told to many: Charles always asked each rider why they had come, how he could help them. The rider was on an impeccably groomed, and beautiful Connemara Pony. "I don't think he's really extending at the trot." Charles asked her some questions to identify what the level of her riding.
Then he gave her a "set" of dressage instructions that were appropriate to her training level, about 15 minutes of riding, The rider repeated the drills, executing each movement on each letter with little prompting. A few minutes into the exercises, Charles looked at me and asked, "Is it me? something in the coffee? or is that horse twitching his tail this much (maybe 2 - 3 cm by the width of his fingers) to the left on each stride?" He asked her to repeat a short series of movements. As the horse passed us . . . damned if he wasn't right, twitch, twitch, twitch, maybe an 2 - 3 cm like one half of a pendulum swing, the other half aborted.Okay, he commanded, come to me. Charles caressed her horse, carefully examined her tack, took off the saddle, checked the pad, checked the back, examined the girth, the bridle, the bit. He gave her another 10 minute drill set. Off they went. It was years ago, I don't remember his exact words, but I do remember the sense and sentiment of what he said. "Do you have a left seat bone? Centered riding, with an independent seat, you are jabbing him with your right, CENTERED. Sit the trot centered, don't lean, sit, sit, sit he chanted a rhythm for her." As the horse passed us the twitch was gone, back relaxed and swinging, amazing. Okay he directed, extend the trot from F to H, come to M and extend again to K. Honest to God, the movement of that horse sucked the air out of the room. We all gasped in amazement as the pony floated, like a stallion in an open field, those two diagonals of the arena. I realized then, I see nothing, and know nothing when it comes to riding and training horses. —Guy Ramsey