Skip to main content

Emma Claire Stephens: 2016 Aspden Recipient

Thank you so very much for the grant money. I really appreciate it! I was able to use the funds for training with German trainer, Berndt von Hassler. Berndt is a very strict, but fair trainer and he has taught me so many things. I have learned what “inside leg to outside rein” really feels like. Also, I have learned what it feels like for the horse to really use his back.

We started out on a 20 meter circle (for several lessons) and Berndt had me doing lots of transitions from walk to trot, back to walk. On each transition up to trot, I would ask for shoulder fore first. That would help Vivi’s balance. When going back to walk, the goal was to keep his hind legs moving and to really move forward in the walk and not slow down. After that, we would move on to trot to canter transitions, once again asking for the canter out of a shoulder fore position. After a few lessons, we moved on to transitions within the gates. For example, we would go from a canter lengthening to very collected canter, back to a working canter. All of this taught me to keep his hind legs active and not lose his balance. Since I am just getting to know Vivi, all of these exercises have helped him understand my aids and helped me understand how much aid I have to give to get the result I am looking for.

Vivi is a very sensitive horse, so I have also been working on keeping my hands very quiet. We have worked on making transitions without the use of my hands, so that I can strengthen my core and use just my seat to make the transition. This has been quite challenging, but I am starting to get stronger and really sit in the saddle and use my core.

Another exercise we worked on was to ride around the arena and do an 8-10 meter volte at every other letter. The goal was to keep Vivi in balance and for him to not slow down or change his tempo. This exercise was really fun, especially once I got the hang of it.

This was such a wonderful opportunity, that we have decided to continue training with Berndt as much as possible. I cannot thank everyone who is a part of the Cynthia Asdpen Youth Development Fund enough for everything you have done for us! I wish I would have had the opportunity to meet Cynthia Aspden. I am sure that I would have loved her.

Emma Claire Stephens