In this second edition of the blog series Riders & Rein Sensors we’re talking with Jacqueline Barth. Jacqueline is a 56-year-old dressage rider on amateur level. When Jenny Veenstra comes to North-Holland to give clinics with Rein Sensors, Jacqueline always takes part. With her 10-year-old Friesian mare Weitske Fan ’t Zand she recently participated in a clinic with Jenny Veenstra. Jacqueline: “I bought Weitske when she was 8 years old. She was just saddle broken and was intended to be a harness horse. But as a harness horse Weitske didn’t do so well. I started to ride her under the saddle and now we’re competing at M dressage level.”
Can’t explain my feelings
Jacqueline: “I’d heard about the Rein Sensors and I was very curious, so for me the clinic with Jenny was a unique opportunity to try them. The biggest problem with Weitske is that I feel a lot of things while riding. I often feel that something is not right, but then I can’t explain what I’m feeling. My own instructor can see what is happening and she tells me exactly what to do, which aids to give. When I’m following her instructions, everything goes well. But when I’m riding at home and she’s not there I start to make little mistakes. I had some issues in the counter canter and with the halt. In the counter she jumps into regular canter and with the halt Weitske would just not stand still when I asked her to. I was curious if the Rein Sensors could give me some insight in how to deal with these issues.”
Harder than I thought
“During the clinic Jenny gave me constant feedback about my amount of pressure on the left and right side. It made me aware that Weitske was not straight; on the right lead I had more pressure on the left rein. On the left lead the pressure on the reins was more equal. While riding in walk, trot and canter with the Rein Sensors Jenny gave me instructions to get equal contact on both sides and it was harder than I thought!”
A perfect halt!
“After some riding in all three gaits to get equal contact on both reins and to get Weitske straight we were ready to work on our biggest problem: the halt. The Rein Sensors showed that I did not give clear aids to Weitske. I wasn’t aware that I gave the aid for halt in three times. The aids for halt weren’t clear and Weitske didn’t understand what I was asking her to do. I had to get back to giving her one aid for the halt and to be consistent in expecting a direct response from Weitske. It was hard for both of us, but after a few tries it worked! I felt what I was doing and it was clear for Weitske. As a result we performed a perfect square halt!”
But there’s more…
“The Rein Sensors also showed some other points to focus on. In her movements Weitske was not using her energy completely forward. She rocked from left to right a little bit and I was moving with her. By being aware of that and getting equal contact on both reins I could make her use her energy in a forward motion. They also gave me the insight that I was riding with a very light contact. As a result I was losing contact and Weitske would get too long in her neck and fall out through her outside shoulder. For me riding with the Rein Sensors was a real eye-opener! It made me aware of what I was doing and feeling. Also, if you have a good instructor it can be a really good addition to your lessons.”
No more cheating!
“After the clinic with the Rein Sensors I didn’t change much about the way I was training, but I am more aware of what I’m doing. I’m more focused on equal pressure on both reins so that Weitske is straight. For Weitske it was hard, because there is no more room for cheating! However, step by step we’re making progress and with every step it will become easier for her.
For now my ambition is to enjoy the training of – and with – Weitske as much as I can, with once or twice per month a competition. My goal is to ride her at competitions the same way I’m riding her in my training. My long-term goal is to achieve Z level with 5 promotion points. When we achieve that Weitske will get a sports predicate”.
Jenny Veenstra about Jacqueline and Weitske
“Jacqueline is a very motivated rider who always wants to do what is best for her horse. So when she asked for a lesson with the Rein Sensors, I was happy to give her one. I was sure she would get some new insights from it. The progress within half an hour was remarkable. I love working with the Rein Sensors because it gives me the possibility to give constant feedback to the rider about their rein pressure, and about what is correct and incorrect. This makes the rider much more aware of what they are supposed to feel. This way they can get that feeling back at home as well.”
“For a true connection over the back, the horse needs to move straight forward towards the rider’s hands. In Weitske’s case, she tried to escape that connection by moving a little from left to right and vice versa. For the naked eye it was hardly visible, but the Rein Sensors pick that up immediately. The moment the horse starts to do it, you can tell the rider to make a half-halt to correct it. Jacqueline wants to be very light in her aids and that caused her to be unclear with her half-halts. We worked on that as well with as a result a better response to her half-halts and a nice square full halt.”
Have you ever ridden with Rein Sensors? What insight did they give you? Do you want to share your story with us? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org