This is Linney. She belongs to a student of mine. She has a history of shortening her neck and her stride as a response to contact. She also tends to get crooked and bulge through her ribcage, especially to the right. In this picture, I am asking her to lengthen her spine and move forward freely into a light contact, and she's going for it. What a good girl!
|This is my throroughbred Julian and me doing Connected Groundwork years ago when he still lived at the Smith College Equestrian Center. With my left arm I am bringing awareness to his lower back, helping him release tension there and give me a nice bend. With my right hand I am sliding on the rope, to invite him to stretch into the contact. I am also rotating to the right and lengthening my spine. This technique helps Julian release over his topline and learn to use his undercarriage to support himself. Note the soft, thoughtful expression on his face, the deep engagement of his inside hind, and the fact that he's flexing right without twisting his head.
|This is a lovely mare named Annie I rode a handful of times at Full of Grace Farm. At this point in the ride I've been using rotations and rein combing to encourage her to telescope her neck into the contact, which she's doing beautifully. She's also fairly soft in her back and is thus able to use her abdominals nicely. This is a very elementary posture, meaning that she's in self-carriage, but not collected. Once she got the hang of this posture, if I'd kept working with her, I would have gradually started asking her to shift her weight back and step under herself more and more, without losing the freedom over the topline.