Jack le Goff, who worked extensively with eight time USA Olympian Michael Plumb, shown in the picture above, died last year. Jack was both a wise man and a brilliant coach. He arrived from France in 1970 to take over the USA Event Team. He never missed winning a medal with any of the eventing teams that he coached in his 14 year tenure in the United States. His teams won gold medals at theOlympic Games in 1976 and 1984 and a total of eighteen medals in eight international championships, including four consecutive Olympic Games and three consecutive World Championships. It was an astounding accomplishment by which the USET still measures itself.
A GOOD IDEA HAS TO GIVE WAY TO A BETTER IDEA
So did he recommend lungeing? Yes very much, to the extent that when asked about a basic fitness and conditioning programme he did not advise using the traditional horse trials regime of one month of walking before doing active
work. Instead he suggested that we should “use lungeing and hacking on alternate days. Starting with fifteen minutes on the lunge and then twice that time under saddle.” He realized that a month of walking with the rider sitting in the saddle and no period of suspension did little to help the use of the back or impulsion.
So a good idea had to give way to a better one and it also included the idea that it would be better when hacking to always mix the walk with rising trot and a little light seat canter, because once again it helps the use of the back.
My new equine partner is now also following this regime. When he can easily cope with an active 90min hack and up to half this time on the lunge he will be ready for his jump training to start again.
MARY KING & WILLIAM FOX PITT
I was thinking about all this today as I watched those two British eventing legends, Mary King and William Fox Pitt, warm up their horses for the dressage at Tattersalls International 3 day in Ireland, where there is a World Cup qualifyer. They both make extensive use of rising trot….. and what beautifully balanced positions they have. Their seats just ‘kiss’ the saddle as they ‘lower’ it to the saddle and their balance stays very consistent during both the rise and lower.
It reminded me of watching Reiner Klimke about eighteen years ago at a World Cup dressage round at Gothenburg in Sweden. I was there to watch and
learn and I watched as he rode a chestnut quality horse for two days in a
snaffle and largely in rising trot. I thought it was a younger horse he had brought along to get use to the general buzz of the show. However on the third day I looked up and saw he was changing the bridle to a double. A few minutes later he rode in to the arena and did his Grand Prix test. He didn’t win but he wasn’t far away.
CAROL LAVELL & HERBERT REHBEIN & MIKE PLUMB
At the same show was Carol Lavell, from the USA, and her great and extremely well named Olympic dressage horse ‘Gifted’. I had taught her a number of years previously when she competed an equally well named event horse ‘Better and Better’, who also went to the Olympics but with that cross country genius Mike Plumb. Carol was in Germany to train with Herbert Rehbein as well as compete. What was so obvious about Herbert’s riding and training was his ability to free the back. The elasticity, softness and harmony of his seat was wonderful and to the vast majority of horses it was an instant ‘get out of jail for free card’ that opened the door to a better way of going and a better life. Mike Plumb did the same thing when jumping his horses.
So lets free the backs of more horses and for many of us lungeing is a great option that will allow us to do this. Onwards. William