Category Archives: Training/Clinics

Rodrigo Matos Wraps Up US Tour with Clinic in South Florida

Photo courtesy Ashley Graham Photography.

Palm City, FL (December 15, 2017) — Dressage clinician Rodrigo Matos spent this Thanksgiving holiday sharing his knowledge and gift for teaching with a lucky group of riders in South Florida. Matos’s clinic was held at Treasure Coast Equestrian Dressage and Arts in Palm City, Florida, November 24-26. Clinic participants were able to benefit from Matos’s unique style of teaching, which is a product of his extensive background in classical Dressage combined with years of teaching experience all over the world.

Matos, of Portugal, began riding at a young age and has always had a passion for horses. He spent 20 years as a principal rider at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Arts where he gained his knowledge of the classical style of Dressage. Matos travels eleven months out of the year, giving clinics all over the world, including Europe, Australia, Dubai, Central America, and now the United States. This was his first year teaching in this country.

When teaching in the United States, Matos is employed by the Academy of Portuguese Equestrian Arts, LLC, which was founded by Sabine Schran-Collings of Heavenly Andalusians in Rogue River, Oregon. His tour of the United States this fall was organized by Schran-Collings, with clinics held in Connecticut, Oregon, California, Washington, Arizona, and South Florida.

Hosted by Heather Bender and Standing Oak Farm in Palm City, FL, the three-day clinic was open to Dressage riders of all levels. “Rodrigo has an amazing knack for working with all breeds of horses and all levels of riders. I feel that this is what makes him so special as a clinician,” said Bender.

Matos emphasizes respect for the horse in his teaching and focuses on making subtle changes to improve the relationship between horse and rider. “Be kind and be respectful to the horse. That’s the most important thing,” explained Matos.

Matos is a proven master, working from the ground to help improve movements such as the piaffe, passage, and pirouettes.  Focusing on horse and rider relationships helps Matos to make minor adjustments that have a big impact.  During his Palm City, Florida clinic the majority of horse and riders were riding at the more advanced levels of the sport. His days were spent helping riders make adjustments and schooling exercises that helped improve their Grand Prix movements and connection.

His compassion for the horses as well as extensive knowledge of classical Dressage creates such a unique style that there is no question as to why he is in such demand for clinics. Riders left the clinic feeling enlightened and very lucky to have had the chance to work with such a gifted teacher.

Matos has several more clinics on the agenda for this year including stops in England, Norway, and Denmark. He plans to return to the United States in the spring of 2018.

For more information on Rodrigo Matos’s clinics or to inquire about his 2018 schedule in the United States, email: MatosRodrigo@hotmail.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RodrigoMatosClassicalDressage/.

Contact: Rodrigo Matos
MatosRodrigo@hotmail.com
www.Rodrigo-Matos.com

Motivation from Moshi, by Jane Savoie

You’re never going to get there. You’re never going to get it all done. You’re never going to reach the very top. There is no final destination.

Do these statements tweak you a little? Are you certain if you just could get to Prix St. Georges and wear that cool shadbelly coat that your life would be complete? Are you sure if you just lost that last ten pounds that your whole existence would be smooth-sailing from that day on? Do you believe if only your horse had perfect one-tempi changes that you’d be completely satisfied as a rider?

You gotta trust me on this: no matter what you think right now, when you reach your goal, you’re going to want more. It’s the nature of being human. And since I’m a horse, I can watch what you humans do with unbiased eyes and really see what’s going on. No matter what you achieve or what you receive, you naturally look to the next goal, the next horizon, the next toy or tool to make your life even better.

This is not a bad thing. This just IS. But it’s helpful to know that you’re not going to get it done. The goals you set will always be stepping stones to the next thing. There is no end.

Goals are very important. They give you a target to shoot for. Having goals directs your mind to find the path. Every day you work toward a goal, you get that much closer. And when you get there, rejoice in the moment! Because as soon as your attention wavers, you’ll be looking for the next one.

What goals do you have for today? For this week? For this year? Write them down and check them off when you reach them. Then add new ones! You’ll be surprised how often you do actually reach your goals!

Have you seen my one-tempis? That was one of my most precious goals. And with good visualization and hard work, I got there!

Love, Moshi

From Indy:

Geoffrey and I had a fight today. I wanted to go to the pond, and he wanted to go hunt rabbits. I got mad and called him mean names. Then I picked up my ball and went to the pond without him. His feelings got hurt, and he went home.

Geoffrey is my best friend. Even when I’m mad at him, I still love him. Now that he’s at home and I can’t play with him, I feel really bad. I’m sorry I got mad. I’m really sorry I hurt him.

It’s said that we hurt the ones we love much more than those we barely know. The good news is, if you’ve hurt someone you love, you can do your best to fix it. You can say you’re sorry. You can take responsibility for your part in the situation. But that’s only the beginning.

There’s a story about a boy who lost his temper a lot. He would scream and yell mean things at whoever was nearby. Frustrated at his son’s behavior, his father gave him a big hammer and a box of nails and told the boy to go out into the back yard and hammer nails into the wood fence whenever he felt angry. The boy went through box after box of nails over the next few weeks, venting his anger on the fence.

Then one day his dad told him to pull all the nails out of the fence. While doing so, the boy noticed that there were a lot of holes in the fence from where the nails had been. The boy’s father told him, “Son, the words you say to people are like putting nails in the fence. You can vent your anger and make yourself feel better in the moment. You can cool off and apologize to those you hurt, just like you pulled the nails out of the fence. But the person you yelled at will always have those holes you created with your words.”

Have you hurt someone lately? I’m sure you didn’t mean to. The next time you start to yell at someone or hurt someone with your angry words, remember: even if you apologize later, the damage will remain.

I’m going to apologize to Geoffrey. And I’m never going to call him names again. I don’t want to create any more “holes” in his “fence.”

Love, Indy

Jane Savoie
1174 Hill St ext.
Berlin, VT 05602
Jane’s Website
DressageMentor.com

Motivation from Moshi, by Jane Savoie

Lots of people talk to their horses, but not many actually listen in return. Have you noticed that?

I have a way I talk to my farrier. When the leg I’m standing on gets tired, I asked him to give back the one he’s held up. I tug the foot a little bit against his hands to let him know. He’s smart enough to listen to me, and he gives me my leg so I can put it down and rest. I’m not being belligerent or stubborn. I’m simply talking to him in the only language I have. I’m grateful that he listens.

Has your horse ever tried to tell you something, but you didn’t listen? Has your horse ever told you he or she was tired, or hurt, or scared, but you decided it was defiance or laziness? Do you tend to use force when your horse says no?

Figuring out what your horse is trying to tell you is part intuition, part observation, and part faith. If you’ve struggled with this, try taking a step back and using a different part of your brain than usual. If you normally go by your gut feeling, try looking at the situation through intense and unbiased observation of the physical evidence. If you normally use only your logical mind and five senses, try using your feelings and intuition to assess the situation.

You can expand your skills by acknowledging what you normally do, and then adding something else. You have the time. You have the ability. Why not give it a bit of practice?

Jane reads me pretty well. She usually knows when I don’t feel good and when I’m just being lazy. She doesn’t just assume that I’m being belligerent, and knows that to push me when I’m not feeling my best would be counter-productive.

Give yourself and your horse a break now and then. Remember, all living creatures have good days and bad days. Sometimes we just need a little respect for how we are feeling in the moment. Of course, if your horse really does become belligerent or stubborn for no reason, a little pushing may be just want he needs. The key is learning to recognize the difference.

Love, Moshi

Jane Savoie
1174 Hill St ext.
Berlin, VT 05602
Jane’s Website
DressageMentor.com

Motivation from Moshi, by Jane Savoie

There is a lot of water around here, where we live. Lots of Jane’s friends have boats. One day a couple of people walked by my stall talking about sailing. I heard one of them say to her friend: “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors…”

I pondered that idea, and realized she was right. If you had a horse who never challenged you, always did whatever you asked, could read your mind, and would perform perfectly every time, how good a rider would you become? Not very good, I would think…

Sometimes the challenges we face are the things that bring out the best in us. It’s our judgement that these challenges are “wrong” that causes us a problem, not the problem itself.

Think about the thing that’s bothering you the most right now. How could you use that situation to learn and to grow? How could you make that a positive event in your life?

Perhaps I’ll challenge Jane a little bit today, just to see what she’ll do. It’s my job to keep her skills sharp!

Love, Moshi

From Indy:

Today, I met a two-legged person who is just my size. I could look right into her eyes and see the joy she felt at my presence. She smiled at me like she really meant it. It made me feel so good inside. I really like her!

Did you know that animals can read your mood, your attitude, and your intention? We KNOW if you’re upset or pretending to be okay when you’re not. We sense the incongruence when you’re smiling but the rest of you wants to cry or is afraid. We’re not easily fooled.

Do you have permission to feel your feelings? Did you know that resisting uncomfortable feelings can make them even stronger? Let yourself FEEL what you honestly feel! If you really allow it, really experience it, that icky feeling will shift. Then you can replace it with something that feels good!

My new little friend, Paz, is a very happy girl. She is such a joy to be with! So today I’m going to allow myself to feel joy.

How about you?

Love, Indy

Jane Savoie
1174 Hill St ext.
Berlin, VT 05602
Jane’s Website
DressageMentor.com

Motivation from Moshi, by Jane Savoie

I’m a dreamer. People say I look “dreamy,” but that’s not what I’m talking about. I dream about things. I imagine winning a gold medal in the Olympics. I dream about sugar cubes in my food every morning. I dream about being massaged by Jane after a long ride.

Okay… I realize I’m probably not going to the Olympics, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do the very best I can, right now, where I am. I can decide to do whatever it takes to achieve the goals Jane sets for us. It doesn’t have to be the Olympics. It can be the next small schooling show. It only matters that I do my BEST. I dream about doing my best, and that puts me on the path of doing my best. It all starts in my mind!

What kinds of things are important to you? Do you do your best? Can you see yourself in your mind, achieving the things you dream about? Do you make that little bit of extra effort to be the very best you can be?

Think about it. Then pick one thing in your life that means a lot to you, and decide to give it your best. Visualize your best outcome. Hold that vision, and see what happens. You may be surprised at your success!

Love, Moshi

From Indy:

I found it! I found the ball I left in Florida last year! I had lost it in the deep grass right before we left for Vermont, and now I have it back! I’ve been worrying about it all summer long, wondering if another dog or an alligator found it and ate it. But no… it was right there, where I’d been visualizing myself finding it!

Do you ever worry about things? Do worries about money or a relationship or a health concerns keep you up at night? Did you ever stop and wonder if worrying actually helped?

I’ve discovered that you can only think one thought at a time. Because of this, you can replace worry with another thought.

So, the next time you find yourself worrying about something, create a story in your mind with the BEST possible outcome of the thing you’re worrying about. Or, if that’s too hard, replay a happy event in your life. Consciously distract yourself with something positive, and let the thing you’re worried about take care of itself for the moment. The issue will still be there when you’re ready to take action, so there’s no need to worry about it now.

I’m sorry I wasted so much energy worrying about that ball. But now I’ve learned to enjoy what I have in the moment.

What would you like to think about that would make you happy right now?

Let’s go play catch with my ball! That makes ME happy!

Love, Indy

Jane Savoie
1174 Hill St ext.
Berlin, VT 05602
Jane’s Website
DressageMentor.com

What Do Medium Trot and Canter Feel Like? by Jane Savoie

Here’s what you should feel in a medium trot and canter:

  1. The SAME tempo as collection (although it might “feel” slower than the collected gaits because the strides are longer). Try counting it out loud.
  2. An uphill balance like an airplane taking off.

The success of your medium gait totally depends on how much you collect and engage the hind legs on the short side.

So give connecting aids and keep them on for most of the short side. Then just soften your hands a bit forward when you start the medium.

During the connecting aids, you’re coiling the spring of the hind legs and getting your horse “bubbling over” with compressed energy so he can express that power over the ground in the medium.

To apply connecting aids, close both calves as if asking for a lengthening. Close your outside hand to recycle that power. Vibrate the inside rein to keep the neck straight. The connecting aids can last for a couple of seconds or even for the entire short side.

If your horse goes wide behind in the trot, it shows a lack of engagement. Use a long set of connecting aids and also as an exercise, do the following:

Ride a few steps of shoulder-in. Then do a few strides of medium. Then collect the trot after the medium by stepping back into shoulder-in.

The shoulder-in engages the hind legs. Stepping into shoulder-in BEFORE he gets wide behind teaches him to keep the hind legs stepping under and not start pushing backwards.

Stepping into shoulder-in to collect AFTER the medium insures that you don’t rely too much on your hands, which would stop the hind legs.

Jane Savoie
1174 Hill St ext.
Berlin, VT 05602
Jane’s Website
DressageMentor.com

Motivation from Moshi, by Jane Savoie

We’re all different. You know that already, right? I’m a cold blooded Friesian. My next-stall neighbor is a hot blooded Thoroughbred. We think differently, react to things differently, and like different things. Does that make one of us “wrong” and one of us “right”?

It’s a very basic instinct to be attracted to things that are like you. The old “birds of a feather flock together” idea. But many of us have advanced beyond such basic programming. Advanced beings learn to appreciate things that are different from what we’re used to.

This can be a very powerful thing when applied to working with horses. We get used to a certain way of doing things, of feeding, of training, etc., and don’t even notice that we’ve developed a habit that might benefit from a bit of tweaking. That’s why we read books, watch DVDs, hire a trainer: so we can learn from the collective knowledge of others.

Dressage riders tend to be very traditional. Sometimes new ways of doing things are frowned upon. But applying new technologies and scientific discoveries just might make dressage an even better, kinder sport for us horses. New ideas in hoof care, chiropractic, massage, new saddle fit techniques… All of those things help make us horses more comfortable and better able to perform at our highest ability. Being open to new ideas and new information helps us stay on the cutting edge of our sport.

Are you open to new things? Are you willing to look at a problem or situation from a different angle? Are you willing to ask for help?

My suggestion is: if you have a situation you want to change but don’t know where to start, ask someone for help. No matter what it is, just ASK. Find someone you think might have the answer and let him or her know that you’re searching. Most people are happy to help if you simply take the time to ask.

Love, Moshi

From Indy:

It’s time to go to the pond! Or is it time to sleep? I’m not sure. My life is all about running and sleeping and playing and sleeping and eating and, well… sleeping. Sometimes I forget what time of day it is.

Do you run a lot? I know Jane often says she has running around to do, but that’s a different thing than actually going outside and running. She is very busy with her various projects, writing, and training, among other things.

One of my jobs is to remind her to slow down and enjoy life. She can’t resist my fuzzy face when I ask for a pat or a scratch, and she almost always stops and gives me attention when I ask. I can feel her heart slow down when she is petting me. I’m her personal tranquilizer.

Are you really busy? Are you enjoying life? Take a moment to pet your dog or your horse, and enjoy their company. Really be present for them. It will be good for both of you.

Or, let’s go to the pond! I want to swim! See you there!

Love, Indy

Jane Savoie
1174 Hill St ext.
Berlin, VT 05602
Jane’s Website
DressageMentor.com

Motivation from Moshi, by Jane Savoie

Did you hear the one about the fellow who stopped by his neighbor’s place to see the new Shetland pony? He went into the barn and found the cute little fellow in a stall. He was petting the pony when his friend came in and asked, “How are you today?” He responded, “I’m feelin’ a little hoarse.”

HAHAHAHA!

But, seriously… Humor can be one of the most powerful tools you have to deal with the ups and downs of life. All it takes is a willingness to look at the situation through a different lens. You can choose to release the tension of a bad or uncomfortable situation through laughter or through anger. The release of energy is similar, but one feels good and the other feels bad. Just know that the goal, releasing energy, is the same for both. YOU CHOOSE which way to do it!

For those of you who are not used to using humor to release pent up energy, it’ll take some practice. If you normally lose your temper or get irritated when something you don’t like happens, then it’s time to retrain your brain. The next time something happens that makes you mad, stop for a second and look for the humor in the situation. Allow yourself to giggle. You’ll be amazed at the shift in your body and your mind. It will also put the people around you at ease. Like Jonatan Mortenssen says, “Feelings are much like waves. We can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which one to surf. ”

Jane dropped a whole bucket of my favorite horse treats the other day. They bounced around like little mice, rolling all over the floor, making a huge mess. Indy was so excited that he ran from one little chunk to another, trying to catch them as they rolled. Jane felt a twinge of angry frustration at the mishap. But she didn’t take her frustration out on Indy, She reminded herself that it’s not what happens, it’s how you react to it that determines the quality of your life. She noticed how funny Indy looked running from treat to treat, and she started to laugh. She quickly decided she was not going to waste even a second being upset. It wouldn’t hurt Indy to eat them, and the mess could easily be cleaned up. Getting upset was not going to help.

“I bet I can get more than you!” she shouted to Indy, as they turned it into a fun game. They raced around trying to beat each other to each treat. Jane was laughing with joy and Indy was bouncing with giddy excitement. It made me smile inside too.

Indy won the game, and Jane won a smile. We all won!

Love, Moshi

From Indy:

Life is risky. Just ask any rabbit. If I see one peeking out of the grass, I chase it. I’ve never actually caught one, but if I did, well, I suppose the wolf in me would know what to do.

Riding a horse can be risky. So is driving down the street. Heck, just about everything you do has some element of risk. Falling in love, taking the new job, trying out that new hairdo… Risky.

Children and dogs rarely analyze a situation for risk. We just jump in and do. We live life in the moment, with our emotions and enthusiasm unchecked. It’s much easier for dogs to maintain that lighthearted and honest reaction to life because we naturally live in the moment. Children have such incredible memories that their minds get trained to expect what they’ve experienced before. Sometimes the memory of past things that didn’t go as planned hold you back.

Are you living your life through your past? Are you waiting to be sure everything is perfect? Are you waiting for just the right moment to take that big leap?

What if that moment never comes? Are you okay with never trying?

People who try and fail are miles ahead of people who never try. Unfortunate are those who are always waiting for the time to be right and never set out to follow their dreams. Take a risk. There is no time like RIGHT NOW! Your dreams are waiting for you to start! But, YOU have to START!

I’m going rabbit hunting today. Would you like to go? We don’t have to catch one to have fun. Let’s just DO IT!

Love, Indy

Jane Savoie
1174 Hill St ext.
Berlin, VT 05602
Jane’s Website
DressageMentor.com

Motivation from Moshi, by Jane Savoie

Balance.

It’s the nature of all living beings to always work toward balance. Finding balance is much like driving a truck. I can feel Jane turning and adjusting the steering wheel of the truck all the time from my stall in the trailer. She doesn’t just point in the direction she wants to go and then become passive. She constantly makes tiny corrections to keep the truck and trailer going straight when the road is straight, turning when the road requires that she turns, but always heading in the general direction of our destination until we actually get there.

Finding balance in your life is the same thing. You don’t just say: from here on my life is going to be balanced. You constantly have to make tiny (and sometimes large) corrections, tweak and change your behavior, your direction, your actions, until you get to your goal or destination. And of course, once you get to your destination, there’s always another destination waiting.

When Jane rides, I can feel her body move in harmony with my movement. She is very balanced because she DOES allow herself to move as she sits on my back. If she was still and unmoving, she’d disturb my balance. And that would make it hard for me to do the things she asks me to do. It would also make us both very uncomfortable.

Where in your life are you stuck and stiff? Are there areas in your life where you’ve stopped moving with the flow and become unbalanced? Where are you too passive and without a sense of what needs to be tweaked or changed? Where are you too rigid? Can you look at the areas of your life you’d like to be different and create a new map for how you want to get to where you want to be? Are you willing to make the small and large corrections necessary so you can get there?

Go to the barn, get on your horse, close your eyes, and allow your body to move in balance and harmony with the movement of your horse’s body. Allow yourself to flow with the sway of your horse’s back. Now imagine your whole life flowing in this way. This is one of the gifts horses give you. It’s an incredible metaphor for life. This is where that special magic happens.

Love, Moshi

From Indy:

I love to run. I really do. I love to swim, to chase things, and run as fast as I can through the grass. My body is fit and strong because I get lots of wonderful exercise.

I’ve noticed that I really do feel differently when I’m running with one of my friends. We challenge each other in a very fun way. Somehow, I always seem to run a bit faster and jump a bit higher when I have a friend nearby. We challenge and support each other without saying a thing. Just being together changes our focus, and naturally inspires us to give what we’re doing a touch more effort.

Do you need to get more exercise? Would you like to be a bit more fit? I hear being fit really helps your riding abilities. Jane is constantly exercising to keep her body strong and healthy. She has a couple of good friends she meets with when she exercises because it is much more fun to do it with someone, and it keeps her inspired to try just a bit harder.

If there is something you know would be good for you to do, like exercise or ride more (or both!), find someone to do it with you. You’ll be surprised how much difference having a friend along will make! It helps you stay on track and keeps you inspired when you get tired.

My friend Scruggs and I are going to go swimming today. We’re going to run all the way to the pond! Would you like to go with us? We’ll race you there.

Love, Indy

Jane Savoie
1174 Hill St ext.
Berlin, VT 05602
Jane’s Website
DressageMentor.com

Teaching Flying Changes with Laura Graves

Watch Laura Graves, a member of the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team that won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, talk you through step-by-step instructions to teach your horse a flying change. Graves demonstrates the exercises, from simple transitions to flying changes to the more advanced tempi changes, aboard Fizau, owned by Susan Shattuck-Fryett, and on her 2016 Olympic mount Verdades. This week, cheer Graves on as she competes on The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team at FEI Nations Cup CDIO5* Aachen aboard Verdades.

© 2017 US Equestrian Federation