This January Ally Rogers had the opportunity to ride with 2012 Olympic gold medalist Carl Hester of the UK. Carl was in Wellington, FL the week of January 13th for the Dressage World Masters and to work with his longtime student, Katherine Bateson-Chandler. Katherine was a member of the 2010 US team for the WEG in Lexington, KY and the owner of the horse Absolute, whom Ally has had in training for almost 3 years while Katherine has been busy in the International competitive dressage scene. Katherine spends close to 8 months of the year in the UK training with Mr. Hester. Ally and Katherine have been friends for close to 20 years so Katherine entrusts her talented now 8 yr old Dutch warmblood to Ally while she is gone.
Ally traveled to Wellington to drop "Lenny" off to Katherine for the winter season and was offered the opportunity to ride Lenny several days with Mr. Hester. Carl was actually the one who discovered Lenny for Katherine in England and facilitated the sale to Katherine, so he was well acquainted with him.
Carl has a incredible eye and was quickly able to address the core of Lenny's and Ally's issues. Lenny is a hot, tense and sometimes very spooky horse who loses the ability to connect to the bridle through his back and curls behind the vertical. Through patient repetition of forward and back with slow aids teaching Lenny to deal with his tension by going towards the riders hand instead of away from it, there was a marked increase in the degree of relaxation and connection, especially by the second day of riding. He also worked on Ally's position with quiet but steady contact with her legs and hands. Never taking the aids away totally as the return of the aids causes him to overreact.
Ally felt especially fortunate to have this opportunity as this was a private clinic not available to the public and hosted at a gorgeous facility owned by Jane Clark, Katherine's sponsor, the former director of the USEF and owner of top dressage, jumpers and driving horses. Lenny will stay with Katherine for a month or so then return to Ally as Katherine concentrates on competing her new star, Alcazar, and travels to Britain once again to train with Carl this year with the goal to qualify for the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France in 2014.