Jeff Sanders Clinic with Steve Halfpenny in South Australia

By , April 7, 2017 9:30 am

I’m out in South Australia, with Steve and Irena Halfpenny who are hosting the Jeff Sanders clinics at their house. I have the absolute honor of riding Kola, one of Steve’s legendary horses, who is fast teaching me all of the tings I need to improve with on my own horse, Ozzie.

The teacher for this clinic is the awe inspiring Jeff Sanders. Holy moly. Wait until you see what we did today and its only day 1. Any mistakes here are 100% me.

Also worth noting it was just amazing to watch Steve & Jeff work together. Ahh-mazing. Plus all of the other riders here at the clinic are crazy advanced with the most lovely horses… maybe I can sneak one or two home with me when I come back.

Morning of day 1


Firstly Kola is teaching me that I need to expect more lightness and softness from Oz. Oz is definitely duller, but that’s because of my expectations. So now my expectations have changed.


Start off in a walk. Put the weight on one seat bone. How long does it take for the horse to turn in that direction?

Then make a conscious decision to make my seat bones weight level again. How long does it take for the horse to walk in a straight line again?

Try with the other seat bone.

What we’re trying to do here is to build up my muscle memory, so I automatically put the weight on the correct seat bone when I am changing direction.


Then we did Jeff’s style of serpentines which were very cool. We are looking for the horse to follow the riders change in posture. On straight lines, relaxed and chill out, looking very relaxed in the saddle.

We go into some exercises next based on these, but the foundation is to do these serpentines in walk, and on each circle part, do something different, like a leg yield, shoulder in, HQ in, etc.

Another thing we have to bear in mind is posture. When we ask the horse to collect we have to have decent posture. This means not having your legs stuck forward and your sitting far back, not slouching, not leaning forwards, havig a lower flat back, not having your pelvis tipped forwards, looking ahead, etc,

Then on the half circle part of the serpentines, the rider has to sit up tall in a good posture, and see if your horses body changes. Does he collect himself a little?

On the half circle part, out a little more weight in your inside seat bone (remember the exercise we just did!). Keep your shoulders level still.

There should be a big different in your posture from being relaxed on the straight lines and good picture when you ask your horse to collect.

After the half circle be conscious about when you level up your seat bones for the horse to go straight again.

When you release your horse from collection, can you feel the horse change weight from back to front?

When you collect your horse, do you feel the weight change to the back, or a chance in your horses balance?

We also recorded some superb videos on saddle fit.


For this clinic Jeff wants to focus on posture, awareness, bits, biomechanics and saddle fit.

The two most common saddle fit issues are sore shoulders from tight fronts of saddles, or sore in the back under the cantle, as the saddles are too long. So don’t use a saddle that’s too long or too narrow.

If your horse is sore at the back of the saddle, he will not be able to round his back and collect, and the rounding of the back starts in this area.

Do a lot of low & low, and you may end up with kissing spines. This is not how the horses body is built to be used. Common in dressage horses. If your poll is lower than your withers, you may run into problems.

Jeff did some great saddle & gear videos you can watch above.

Bosal fitting & contact. If the button (is that the right word) of the bosal is resting against the horses chin, you have on contact. If the button of the bosal is lifting off the chin, then you have contact. I much like this definition to ‘you must pull the head off your horse’ type contact which is both rubbish & stupid.

On styles of riding…

1 handed riding requires a lot more finesse than 2 handed styles of riding.

Baroque riding – 1 handed
Classical dressage – 2 handed
Snaffle bit – 2 handed, used one hand at a time
Hackamore – 1 or 2 handed
Shank bits – 1 handed only


Shoulder in

– point my toe out
– look in the straight line where I am headed
– level shoulders
– smile
– my weight on the inside bend
– 4 track shoulder in

If Kola is slowing down, with a low head (which he does when he slows down), ask for more energy – faster walk, trot coming out of the exercises… this made a huge different to the quality of the lateral work.

HQ in

To ask for more HQ in, I have to move my whole leg back but not turn my pelvis. I need impulsion.


Walk a straight line with a shoulder in. Then at the corner, turn 90 degrees and switch to a few steps of HQ in. All that changes in my leg position. Repeat both ways.


Shoulder in on a circle, for half a circle only, with the horse keeping the same amount or arc as the circle they are on (eg. 10m).

Do a circle, ask HQ to move out to get shoulder in, then ask for HQ to come back in again to normal circle.

how many steps goes to take after you ask for HQ to move out?

Then do the same, but for the last 2 steps really push the HQ out then walk off in a straight line, and do not lose impulsion or engagement.

Before and after you ride, always check your horses back for back pain.

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