Christian does a lot of really cool exercises with his students, and even though I've ridden with him at more than ten clinics, he keeps bringing new ones.
I tried this first exercise on Sunday morning while I was warming up alone. It was a little difficult but something even most lower level riders should be able to get through without much help. It was a simple figure eight done with circles less than 20-meters. I tried for 15-meter circles, but some of them ended up being closer to 10.
Just like in a regular figure eight, there is a stride or two of straightness where the two circles meet, but on the actual circle, you ride with a counter bend. During the stride of straightness, return the horse's neck to straight. As you make the turn for the next circle, change to the other counter bend. Straighten the neck where the circles meet, and counter bend the other way.
It sounds easier than it is. Doing this will really reveal how much your horse is on the forehand and how tight he might be through the withers and neck. I could feel Speedy's neck begin to soften, and he definitely started picking up his shoulders.
Here's another one ...
Return to the larger circle on the left lead but tracking right (counter canter). On the bottom of the circle repeat the two voltes (the other two ears) on the left lead, tracking left.
I watched several riders do this exercise. I don't think it's as physically challenging as it is mentally taxing. It looked a lot like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time. While it might be challenging for the horse, I think that the coordination of aids might be what makes this so hard to put together.
I am not sure that Speedy and I are balanced enough to do this at canter, but I am definitely going to try it at the trot.
Christian showed many other exercises, but the ones that I've shared over the last few days are the ones that I took away. Of course, the exercises that I found most interesting were those related to what Speedy and I are working on right now. Next time Christian comes, it will seem as though he is introducing brand new exercises, but it will only be because I hadn't paid attention before. I can't wait for his return!