Today Gerald Bloomer was back for flatwork lessons at our yard – and this time Paddy was up, for our first lesson together since probably 2018! I was really keen to get some pointers from Gerald on Paddy’s flatwork as he had helped me so much with Flash.
Gerald spent most of the time with me focused on getting Paddy ‘out and down’ in the contact – he needs more of this work in his day to day, to help him work over his back and be truly connected from front to back vs giving me a false outline in front.
A nice reminder that Gerald issued to me was that 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘦 – to keep Paddy’s withers as my anchor and not let my hands come behind that spot, and push Paddy up to that contact, getting the hind legs working first and then accepting that energy with an allowing contact.
This was a real lightbulb moment for me as although I would always aim to use more leg and seat than hand with Paddy (I probably use too much leg to be honest, I could do with giving him a bit more responsibility for carrying himself around the arena!), I have felt sometimes that he gives me a ‘false’ outline and isn’t always working fully over his back or from behind.
I think if I can focus more now on the withers as my anchor point that my hands won’t come back past and push Paddy out to that contact from behind, that will really help him work more correctly and build up his strength in the frame.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that can help you most!