2015 Jennie Jackson Clinic

Jennifer Klitzke riding a gaited dressage school master
No better way to discover “the feeling of right” than by riding a gaited dressage school master.

By Jennifer Klitzke

Blooming trees and sunny daffodils, friendly southern folks, and lots of gaited dressage learning experiences to apply with my naturally gaited Walking horse Makana.

March 20-22, 2015 was my third Dressage as Applied to the Gaited Horse Clinic with Jennie Jackson. Only this time I traveled to White Stables near Knoxville, Tennessee instead of hosting a clinic in my state. I thoroughly enjoyed time with my gaited dressage mentor and an early spring with daffodils and flowering trees in full bloom, plus no snow. (Well, not until I returned home!)

Champagne WatchoutEn route to the clinic I had to stop by and visit the legendary naturally gaited dressage stallion Champagne Watchout. Still wearing his winter fuzzies, he stood handsome for a picture!

The first two days of the clinic were held in the spacious outdoor arena where Jennie taught riders the importance of teaching their horses lateral exercises such as pivot the fore and leg yield.

lateral exercises
It is easiest to teach lateral exercises to the gaited horses in hand before applying them from the saddle.

Both leg yield and pivot the fore are helpful in relaxing the horse’s back and break up pace to establish a natural four beat gait.  The pivot on the fore is a great exercise to teach riders the coordination of inside calf to outside indirect rein which relate with the horse’s inside hind leg as it steps beneath its body and neck, shoulder, and outside fore. Once each horse and rider understood these exercises in hand, they mounted up and applied the exercises from the saddle.

By day two every horse and rider were catching on wonderfully to these new exercises. Then Jennie proceeded to coach them to establish forwardness, rhythm, relaxation, and depth of stride in medium walk and gait. Each time the horse began to pace or stiffen, Jennie asked the rider to turn the horse into the fence and leg yield until the natural four beat gait returned.

Naturally gaited Champaign horse
Leg yield breaks up pace to restore a natural four beat gait.

The more advanced dressage riders worked on canter departs from a shoulder fore position, as well as breaking up stiffness at a flat walk (or trot) using shoulder in and haunches in. (I say “trot” because there were a few non-gaited horses at this clinic in addition to us gaited folk.)

This dressage rider brought her fiance's three-year-old TWH filly and got established in flat walk, running walk, rack and canter by day two!
This dressage rider brought her fiance’s three-year-old TWH filly and got established in flat walk, running walk, rack and canter by day two!

On the second day Jennie demonstrated canter and counter canter; showed the difference between flat walk and running walk; demonstrated how shoulder in, haunches in, shoulder out, and haunches out at a flat walk break up tension and stiffness within the horse to make them soft and supple; and she showed us ways to lengthen the gaited horse’s depth of stride.

Jennie Jackson demonstrates canter and romvere on a gaited horse
Contrary to popular belief, cantering the gaited horse actually improves the four beat gait while lateral exercises improve relaxation and suppleness.

Video: Jennie Jackson demonstrates cantering the gaited horse

Video: Jennie Jackson demonstrates how lateral exercises supple the gaited horse and improve depth of stride in the flat walk

The third day our group headed out to the trails to enjoy the beautiful 135 wooded acres surrounding White Stables.

trail ride
Gaited horses and trotting horses riding together on a trail ride—who said it can’t be done!

What a great group of people I met in Tennessee. I couldn’t help but giggle at your friendly Southern accents, yet ya’all kept insisting that I was the one with the Minnes-O-ta accent!

Jennie Jackson Clinic Photo Gallery»

White Stables

Thank you to White Stables for opening your beautiful facility to host the clinic. Thank you to Ronance for lending your exquisite gaited dressage school master to me, and thank you to Mary and Sydney for taking photos of me while I rode.

For Jennie Jackson’s Clinic schedule or to book a clinic in your area, connect with Jennie on Facebook at Jennie Jackson Dressage en Gaite.