Katie Osborne attended David O’Connor’s demonstrations at Equine Affaire, held at the Eastern States Exposition Center in West Springfield, Mass., this past weekend, and was kind enough to send in a report and photos. Many thanks to Katie for writing, and thanks for reading.
I happened to be at Equine Affair in Massachusetts over the weekend and was able to watch David O’Connor’s demonstrationz. The overall theme focused on rider responsibilities: direction, speed, rhythm, balance and timing.
He applied these strengths to work on the flat and over fences on both Saturday’s and Sunday’s demonstrations and utilized the sessions for the general public to have a view into what David’s training sessions entail. Demonstration riders included Hannah Sue Burnett, Kurt Martin, and Ariel Grald.
David focused on the straightness of the horse and focused strongly on the basic leg yield by using exercises such as a large turn on the forehand at the walk to emphasize the horse crossing over from behind. He then worked with the riders on the forward motion in the trot by lengthening and shortening the horses’ stride to promote the horse over-tracking.
In the jumping exercises, David elaborated on the morning flat work session by focusing on straightness over canter poles and then a single fence. From this, the riders were asked to put in a long six strides between a related distance, and then a short nine strides, where Ariel succeeded to add in 10. The riders then worked on bending lines to emphasize the quality of canter and straightness of lines they developed through the session.
Riders spent time demonstrating the value of lateral work in dressage and the importance of the horses developing the strength to carry themselves. The horses then were asked to lengthen and shorten the canter after developing the strength from behind though the lateral work.
In the afternoon session, David demonstrated how to efficiently work on important exercises through the winter to help with cross country and jumping. He worked with the riders over a large oxer to demonstrate the value of having a good position and quality of canter going into a fence, regardless of the style of fence. The riders then worked on straightness over small skinny fences, then riders jumped a faux ditch combination, then proceeded to work over corners.
A crowd of about 3,500 spectators watched David speak during the two days. This opportunity was fantastic for all members of the horse industry to have a look at the fundamentals David focuses on when teaching.