Sunday, April 26, 2015

Linda Zang and Cupcakes

Last Friday I had the extreme privilege of spending an afternoon watching Dressage guru Linda Zang teach several lessons at a private farm nearby.  It was a last second invitation and I am SO glad that I took the offer.  Linda is highly regarded in both Dressage and Eventing circle for her skill as an instructor, her accomplishments as a Dressage rider (taking Thoroughbreds to the FEI levels), and her status as an FEI "O" Dressage judge (one of only two in the US), and one of only six "O" judges worldwide that conduct judge seminars and educational panels.  She's like the Zen Master of Dressage in the States and sought after for her knowledge.

As you might expect, it was an absolute treat.  Linda is very down-to-earth, she is very pleasant to talk to, but is not afraid to be blunt and call you out for poor or ineffective riding when necessary.  No sugarcoating here, but still someone I could imagine clinicing with and getting so, so much out of it.  We saw three very different horses in the three private lessons:  first one was a big, young Hanoverian/TB gelding with spectacular movement, but not a lot of focus and still relatively green for his age.  The second was a six year old old-type Warmblood with less spectacular movement, but still very correct and well educated and obedient for a six year old.  The third was a little Thoroughbred cross mare, very typey-TB, with less natural dressage ability than the first two and by no means a big mover, but a confirmed Second Level horse looking to move up to Third Level.

Linda was able to make significant improvements to each horse/rider combo through her suggestions.  They were exact, timely, and very impressive to listen and watch the change occur.  Every great thing I had heard about Linda going into that afternoon was validated, and I really just enjoyed hearing her opinions.  I hope to ride with her one day as well, just for the experience and the input. 

Key points:
- Horse supples through the shoulder
- Ride the hind leg up to the opposite front leg (inside hind to outside front) to create the swing, throughness and connection
- Horse's energy should be up and through the outside shoulder, gently filling the outside rein
-  Ride through the inside and ride off the outside rein

I also found it interesting that she specifically said that it's good for dressage horses to spend a year or two as a quality hunter (with proper training) because a good hunter is allowed to come forward and go longer and lower, and the horse "learns to use himself longitudinally."  Meaning, and as she elaborated on, horses need to "start long and low, and you bring them up over time."  It is so nice to hear someone of her caliber support that theory. 

Interview with Linda Zang about assisting Eventers:

Great demo from the 2014 Thoroughbreds For All! event at Rolex Kentucky, where you can see a big change in the horse's way of going from start to finish per Linda's comments:

^ GREAT points in that video!

We were also fed cupcakes which made that just the most fantastic afternoon ever.  I look forward to attending more and learning all that I can from Linda.  Also, I'd be happy to return to that private farm because it was CRAZY GORGEOUS and the owners are incredibly fortunate to have such a property, their effort in planning and building is evident.  Seriously it was wonderful.

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