I went to a Pony Club Instructor Course this week which was very interesting. Basically it was about setting the standards for each progressive test and what is expected at that level. I am new to Pony Club teaching so it was all a bit new but there were some interesting points I took away.
We used four guinea pigs, aka riders and ponies, of varying ages and ability so that we could deduce the level they were at. As usual there were some opinionated instructors, and I spent most of the time listening, but many people and myself included, were shocked at how little preparation went into each transition the girls rode.
Later on we learnt that none of the guinea pigs would have passed their D+ test as they didn’t prepare their transitions.
“Ah, I can use this in tomorrow’s lesson” I thought to myself. So duly the next afternoon I found myself in the corner of the arena watching my little ride warm up. It was a hot afternoon so we only worked the ponies in for about ten minutes and then I brought them back to walk to ask some questions.
My first question was to describe the walk-trot transition. Then the trot-walk transition and finally the walk-halt-walk transitions. It took a while, but we managed to break the procedure down into:
1. Half halt, this lets your pony know you’re about to do something.
2. Seat, be it take sitting trot or sit taller.
3. Leg or rein aids, depending on whether the transition is upwards or downwards.
4. Seat – particularly sitting for the first few strides of trot.
5. Establish the new gait – thinking about rhythm and forwardness.
The first two points tended to be completely ignored so the rest of the lesson was spent with me shouting “whole ride prepare to …”
By the end of the session they were riding consistently good transitions which were active and the ponies responsive. Next time we’ll move onto accuracy by riding transitions at the dressage letters.