Lesson Recap: Slowing it Down with Jean Luc Cornille

This is pretty much stream of consciousness about my Saturday lesson, but there's no way I could shorten this.  In fact, I really feel like I needed to write it down so I had to think about it a second time.

While I was gallivanting around Texas last weekend, my trainer was auditing a Jean Luc Cornille clinic in Lexington, and came back bursting with ideas that would clarify concepts we were already working on.  She said she pretty much dragged a couple of other students to it, and I would have been dragged too if I hadn't been away.

His "THE SNOW IS SLIDING OFF THE ROOF!" face.

At my lesson today, she did one of the exercises with me, and without having seen the clinic I have to describe JLC as "biomechanics with an MRI machine nearby"  (Not literally.)  JLC's website describes it like so:

The authority-pleasing, question-suppressing, rule-following approach is wasting the athletic abilities of talented horses and gifted riders. Modern science exposes the horse’s vertebral column structure and function in details previously unknown. With this knowledge in mind, the rider’s feeling can lead the horse’s education toward unprecedented achievements.

She spent about 10 minutes talking in the beginning, and I am not sure I fully grasp it all yet even though I rode it and it made a big difference in the way Connor went.  Basically, she talked about getting the horse to carry his weight evenly distributed and off the forehand, and how the ribcage relates to that.  Even if a horse is bent in the correct direction, his ribcage can still be out of alignment on multiple different planes, and that makes him unable to use his back correctly, really carry himself, or shift his weight back.
The main road to the barn is closed because they're replacing a bridge along the route, so I have to cross this scary freakin metal bridge to get there for the next 6 months or so.

Our entire lesson was spent at the walk.  At a very slow walk, because she wanted both he and I to have time to think about our mistakes and our successes.  And when I mean very slow walk, I mean hardly moving, with Connor deliberately thinking (and he was really thinking) about where to place each foot.  This was really hard for him, given his tendency to rush.

So I was:
- Keeping the walk very slow but still engaged
- Keeping my core very still and tall
- Using the upper inside of my inside thigh toward his wither to ask for the correct bend
- Not using my lower leg unless I needed to make a big correction
- Keeping him in shoulder in the whole time

Not only was it really hard to slow him down (we only got as slow as she wanted maybe twice - and when we did, I knew it was right because I could hardly feel his footfalls), it was also really hard to keep all his body parts in line.  As soon as I got the ribcage, he'd swing his hindquarters out.  She actually got on him at the end to feel what I was feeling, and she said that I was slowing his front legs down, but the hind legs kept going pretty quickly, so all that energy had to go somewhere and therefore it went sideways.  I have to slow down every single leg, not just two.

"Please stop writing...please?  This post is long enough."

The amazing thing was, even though we only got a step or two here and there of really doing that exercise right, Connor went amazingly well.  Steady in the bridle (the Micklem/loose ring) and REALLY concentrating on what we were asking.  In fact, he was concentrating so hard that when the piles of snow on the roof started to melt and slide off while my trainer was riding, he only gave it the hairy eyeball.

"Wow," I told her, "If you didn't have his brain where it is now, you would have been on the other side of the arena."  She agreed and said, "This exercise is honestly more about his brain than his body.  He needs to make mistakes, but slowly, and understand why they are mistakes and how to fix them.  He can't do that if he's rushing around."
It's warm, so pony doesn't have to wear a hood anymore and the Great Mane Pull is beginning this week.  He gets to look super manly in these training braids for a few days, because I am NOT letting that mane flop back over!

When she really got him straight and aligned, his whole topline changed.  His throatlatch relaxed, his poll was lifted, he was on the bit, his underneck muscle disappeared, and he looked round.  When he was tense and not aligned, you could see the change immediately.

I am in Indy all week for work training, staying in a hotel, which means I'm pretty far from home but only 30 minutes from the barn, so I am taking all of my makeup lessons at once this week.  I'm excited to be doing that now, with these new concepts to work on.


20 comments:

  1. Really interesting! I think I was concentrating as I was reading this post - trying to imagine riding the slow walk. Glad you'll get some more lessons in this week!

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    1. I'm glad. These types of posts will only be interesting to like half the people that read this blog, but they're the reason why I started it in the first place. Glad you got something out of it, and stay tuned for the rest of the week's lessons, I'm sure they will be more of the same.

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  2. Ah, I freaked when I saw the post title because I thought you rode with JLC, but it sounds like your trainer brought back plenty of info. I have clinic-ed/lessoned with him as often as I can over the last few years and he has hands down been the biggest influence on how Mollie goes today. If you have a chance to ride with him or audit definitely do it.

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    1. Haha sorry for the tease! No, I didn't even see the clinic, but my trainer is over the moon about the way the information she got has changed her students and training horses this week. I'll be getting some homework articles to read too. He's got some good ideas!

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    2. He is a huge plethora of information. Unfortunately his website isn't the easiest to navigate, but he has tons of resources and information on there.

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  3. That sounds fricking awesome & make up lessons while work foots the hotel bill sounds like heaven!
    Can't wait to read all the recaps ☺☺☺

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    1. Ahh yes, I can't wait either. And it's the first week it's warm and light out too!

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  4. This sounds very much like what I work on with Paddy. His feet have got to slow down enough so that he can think about what they're doing - this was a huge problem with our mach-one-Haffie trot. Now we're down to a more manageable tempo and he can concentrate on what I'm asking him for rather than just dashing around as fast as he can. Not gonna lie, it's hard and frustrating at times, but soooo worth it!

    Also not sure this helps, but for thigh on horse i think of touching my knee to my other knee (through the saddle) - because if I think knee-to-wither, I pull my leg up. Great habit of mine, lol.

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    1. That's a really good tip. Honestly I struggle with the feel of that part of it. She says I move my core too much when I try too hard with that aid, and then he won't go slowly.

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  5. Sounds like a great lesson!! Love it when trainers bring in new stuff! :)

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    1. Me too! Mine is always learning and bringing stuff back.

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  6. sounds like a great lesson - good luck working on those concepts! i really can not wait to dig back into the biomechanics work when my trainer comes back in march... it's such important work but i really struggle with it on my own... and it's esp frustrating bc my mare is like Connor in that she tries to rush through everything haha

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    1. It's hard to get them relaxed and thinking that's for sure. Rushy ponies!

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  7. Everything you just wrote sounds insanely hard and I think my brain just exploded.

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    1. My brain exploded learning it too, you're not alone! That's why I said I had to write this post the way I did. When I teach it to you guys, I learn it more thoroughly than I do if I just take the lesson and it goes in one ear and out the other.

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  8. <----dragged ;-) It was pretty brain exploding for me but I was riveted. I am excited to try to put some of the concepts to work!

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    1. Yeah! She said you went, but I was waiting on you to out yourself :) Wish I could have gone!

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  9. Replies
    1. Toooooooootally. Anything that puts me closer to the barn than my usual 45 minutes deserves a hell yeah.

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  10. Ooh love New ideas like that. I love those small, perfect moments.

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