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Those of you who've been following our blogs here know that Sofia Valenca from the amazing Valenca family was just here at new trails giving a clinic to us and our horse boy horses to improve us - with a public clinic at the end.

We shared some of what she taught us in the two previous dressage blogs. in this third one we'll go further...

so - she had me, Iliane and josh all put together a pas de trois on several successive days - once on the stallions (with spirit our mustang in the middle because conquistador was lame) and several times on our three big Warmbloods. We’ve put a pic up here from temple farms in Illinois to illustrate but promise to put up some from our attempts when we get our shit together...

Anyhow, the point, apart from it being fun, was to make us really think about rhythm, corners, and timing - the things one always gets told to work on solo suddenly become vitally and practically important when you have to not crash. Especially because in this kind of pas de trois you are pretty much nose to tail.

the movements themselves were basic - voltes and demi voltes, shoulder-in, travers and half pass, straight lines down the center, flying changes when changing direction in the canter and half steps and medium trots when working with all three horses in a parallel circle (i.e. the middle horse has to manage a half step or piaffe, the middle horse has to trot normally and the outside horse needs a medium trot - but all in the same rhythm.

There were other cool moves - something Sofia calls 'the braid' where we twist in and out of each other in a plait-like pattern on the diagonal, and choreographies where the laterals suddenly started to look and feel spectacular.

as soon as one cut a corner, didn’t do a volte clean, or reacted to one's horse coming out of position by pulling on the inside rein rather than letting go the tension on that rein, as soon as one forgot to support with the inside leg on the laterals, or simply lets one's thoughts wander for a second, things would fall apart. As long as one kept one's mind in the here and now and concentrated on these simple things, all went beautifully

The point, Sofia said, was that you can focus a rider's mind much more easily when doing these quadrilles and the horses love it - so are much more available - and we certainly found this to be the case - basically it confirmed the dressage by giving the horses a playful outlet for it.

So we are busy practicing our pas de trois now...

Thank you mentors. We are forever students