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Kyra Kyrklund Clinicby Walter Berger

On the Monday after Equitana 1999 finished (did anybody not go, what an Expo!) I managed to attend the Kyra Kyrklund clinic thanks to transport provided by friends and parents. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. Kyra was going to ride 4 Warmblood horses varying from 4 years old to amazing. The sound system was excellent, so you could hear everything Kyra said. The clinic lasted for 4 hours. She must be fit.

She started with the 4 year old, saying the main things she expected from a horse at this stage was responsiveness, forward and straightness. The responsiveness was tested by doing halt – walk – trot transitions. When an aid did not get sufficient response, the transition was repeated with a stronger aid. During halt – walk transitions that had to be repeated a trot was the result sometimes. Kyra did not mind this, because the horse had responded to a stronger aid.

The second horse was a 5 year old. What Kyra was looking for were again responsiveness, forward and straightness. She was also looking for the horse to accept the contact more and work in a rounder outline. As she was working the horse, she was constantly explaining what she was doing (you really had to be there, it would fill a book). Again the horse was lacking some responsiveness, but after a couple of stronger aids was working nicely. Another point made during this was that the horse has to carry himself in the proper frame and MUST not be held in something vaguely looking right. The frame comes from the horse going forward and working properly from behind into a contact. Some people, once the horse goes into the proper frame go “Ah ha, gotcha” and attempt to hold him there, which has the effect of jamming him up and hollowing his back. The rein still has to follow the horse movement and encourage him to work from behind.

The next horse was a 6 year old Swedish Warmblood stallion. You could see the difference another years training makes. He seemed to working nicely and responsively. The main things Kyra worked on with him were lateral movements, encouraging him to work evenly on both sides. The emphasis here was to get good lateral without loosing the forward and straightness. This was made to look easy by Kyra. I think she also did some canter work and a couple of flying changes with him later on, but the next horse overshadowed this.

This was Mary Hanna’s Limbo (would you lend your top competition horse to the opposition for a demonstration?). Kyra initially seemed to have a couple of minor problems finding all the right buttons to push, but once they got going, they got going. Again transitions were emphasised. Also transitions within the paces, that is collection. This resulted in everything from piaffe, passage, working and various extensions in the trot. The same was done in the canter, including transitions back to trot and walk. Once Limbo was collecting nicely in the canter, some canter pirouettes were introduced. As if that wasn’t enough Kyra then did some walk pirouette – canter pirouette transitions. After that she progressed to something easy. One time changes. But she didn’t do to many of these because she said that horses get to like these too much sometimes.

A word on selecting dressage horses. Kyra calls the natural extended trot that a horse does in a paddock an Expensive Trot. A horse should be selected on the conformation that lets it collect itself. That means it has to have the ability to bring its hind legs under neath itself in order to carry its and the riders weight.

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