Jeff Sanders Clinic Report (Frankfurt Nov 2014) part 2

By , November 27, 2014 10:25 am

This is part 2 of the writeup from the 2 day Jeff Sanders clinic in Germany in Nov 2014. It was cold but FANTASTIC!

Travers (looks like HQ in)

– Sit on your inside seatbone
– See the corner of your horses eye.
– Do travers @ center, before you do lead changes. This is the key to good constant lead charges.
– Figure 8 = this is Jeffs least favourite way to teach lead charges
– Lead changes start in travers in walk.
– Only ask for 3 steps of travers, then walk in straight.
– Front end stays walking forward, HQ goes to one side.
– If it is very good, do walk-trot-walk

Group 2 – 4:15pm

Head carriage

– Horse to be relaxed at the poll.
– In piaffe, the angle of the nose/head should match the angle of the pelvis. So the horses nose is not vectical, and its definitely not behind the vertical
– HO engagement leads to a rounded back, which leads to a rounded neck, which leads to the poll at the highest point.
– Don’t watch your horse. Feel your horse. Do not look down!


Hold the garoccha with your palm upwards, like a tennis racket. Do all of the following with the garrocha.

– Shoulder in on a circle
– HQ in on circle
– HQ out on circle
– Shoulder out on circle

Advanced Group – 9am DAY 2

Pick up the rein

– Son’t drop reins during work time. This encourages horse to wait for it, and push head forward to get release.
– But it doesn’t mean pick up and maintain contact. Being “on the bit” is actually a new concept
– The old masters didn’t want constant contact. It doesn’t work in hackamore
– As you pick up the reins look for moment horse gives to you and carries himself
– You are not trying to collect horse with reins, you are just lookup to put his head and neck in a position that makes it easy for his HQ to collect.

No tension and inconsistency, and the horse being heavy on front end, all will make collection difficult.

If there is no relaxation, you can’t get good engagement in horse.

Turns with no reins – working on the seat

– See how much change you can get from your horse using seat and leg only. Change your seat bone weight. Changes bend in the horse

[seat bone = bend]
[Leg = Communicates direction]

– Go along the fence line. No reins. Do rollbacks.

“You have to ride consciously and be aware of what your horse is doing, and not tune out”

“As a rider figures out ‘what is my biggest problem”(tension in the poll, etc) and always be ready for that to happen, until you build a new habit.

Don’t try and concentrate on too many different things when you ride.”

“You can really only concentrate on 2 things at a time.” Focus on big problems first, not the little things, and the little things will go away.”

“Watch yourself on video tape!”

Slow canter

– If horse rushes, do small circle. When relaxed, go back to a large circle.
– In lope, look for no change in how your horse carries itself.
– Get this before you do any side movements in lope.


Mix them in. Helps to get horse on the HQ.

Less advanced group – 10:30am – Group 2


On circle when changing rein do not disengage the hindquarters, as this loses collection. Instead move the forequarters. If you do disengage HQ, rock the horse back to rebalance the horse.
What is important is not what accomplished at 2 day clinic. What’s important is the next 2-4 weeks after clinic, especially if you video tape and watch yourself ride. If done consistently, you’ll be amazed at difference in your riding. When watching the video, also give yourself credit for your achievements.


Seat: Sit on your backpockets. But stay upright, don’t lean back. You can practise this with a yoga ball. When on back pockets, roll the ball forward. Practice this at stop sign when you are driving. If you stop with your feet in front of you, you are off balance. Breathe out when you do this. Close your fingers, do not pull with arms and lean back. If you pull the reins, it’s hard to sit on back pockets.

– Look where you want to go
– Have a little weight on inside seat bone
– At halt, feel the hind end drop before the turn.
– When turning, release outside rein
– Keep the feet moving in roll back, or horse will shift his weight forwards.


– Sit on your back pockets
– Hands only stop your horse going forward
– Slight leg pressure
– Can back up now straight and in bends
– Don’t let people see how you’re moving your horse!

“When you’re communicating with horse, it’s a private conversation. It’s not for everyone to hear”

– Back in straight line
– Back in circle, weight on inside
– Walk circle. Then back up in the same tracks in that circle
– Feel where hind ends drops in backup.

You don’t need to overstretch top line instead, relax the back muscles and contract the stomach muscles

If head low, the hind end is up and not engaged
If head low and hind end low, this is over stretching of the ligaments along the vertebrae. Not good physically for horse. (eg. Reining horses)

“Horses stretch their topline all day, walking and eating grass. More than you could do riding.”


– Walk
– Backup
– Rollback
– Rebalance horse afterwards

1:30pm – Theory – Bits

Need to study the horses mouth before you choose the correct bit. This is very important.

Check bars of the mouth. This is the area between front and back teeth. It is skin on bone. Are there any weird things growing there? Smooth bars are very good. Check your horses mouths width.

The tongue can be thick, normal, or thin, and sit below the teeth.

How low/high is the roof of your horse’s mouth? Is it deep or shallow?

Jeff told a story about a horse that was bought in the US for €30,000, and brought to Europe. Then someone put a €30 bit in its mouth.


The inside of the cheek pieces should be smooth. You don’t want edges on the inside of the cheak pieces.
Buckle at head piece.
Reins – there should be 1 connection made of leather, between reins and the bit that can easily break.

Your horses back

– Every time Jeff rides he checks his horses back first. He is looking for evenness in muscle along the vertabrae. Is there any tightness/soreness?
– When horses bend its mainly through shoulders and loin, not the ribs.
– 14th vertebrae is the strongest part at horses back. We want our balance over this. Any point we sit back further, its on weaker part of horses back and its harder for them to engage and lift back up.
– If saddle puts any pressure behinds 18th vertebrae there is likely to be problems.
– Most modern western saddles not designed to be allowed to bend. Saddle should sit you at the 14th vertebrae, have no weight after the 18th vertebrae.

You do not want the tree to be too long at the back. This can cause muscle tightness tissues if weight after 18th vertebrae.

A long tree, or a flat tree will prevent lateral bends.

Advanced group – 2:45pm

– When ask to round, poll must be highest point. When poll low, hind legs take small steps, HO not engaged.
– If head too high you get a hollow back
– Can 1 side of horse reach more on a straight line?
– If you shake rope to go backwards in groundwork a lot, it creates problems, high head, hollow back, and the horse pushes his front legs to go back, rather than engaging his HQ. This is bad.


Canter to halt. Count it 3-2-1 woah. Sit deep in saddle.
Remember to tell horse she did a good job..
Have you hands near the pommel, so your hands don’t turn when you turn your body. It also makes it easier to draw a sword! Less rider movement is more elegant also.

Beginners Group – 4:15pm – Myths

“If your are soft, your horse will be soft” [False]
if sitting with your toes out, you’re locking up your pelvis. Thenn you can’t turn your shoulders/body freely.

Visualization = there was a pilot captured in Vietnam. He spent 5 years there in solitary Confinement. He played 9 holes of golf every day in his head. He felt the grass under foot. Then he was released. The first time he played, got his highest score ever and he continued to play at that level.

Very sensitive horses, make the best horses, but more difficult/challenging early on.
Young horse = get him very good, at stop, right and left.

To surmise, this was my first time watching & meting Jeff and it was a wonderful clinic. There is lots of stuff here I’m going to practise with my horse. Planning to go to another Jeff clinic next summer & learn more!

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