Image by Gone Riding Media
Shannan Goodwin was recently selected to ride The Saddlefitter Big Tour Dressage Masterclass with Charlotte Dujardin at Caboolture Queensland and what a session it was. Whether you ride at Prelim level or higher, every single attendee was glued to their seat and able to understand what Charlotte was saying to improve both horse and rider.
Charlotte Dujardin is an elite British dressage rider, triple Gold Medalist at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics Games, European Champion, World Champion and holds all three World Records in Dressage. She has a no nonsense approach to teaching and didn’t hold back when a transition or instruction was performed in a sloppy fashion.
The Masterclass offered a range of horses and riders from young horse through to Grand Prix. Shannan rode Artistede, her beautiful 11 year old bay Warmblood gelding and was the last rider of the day. Training her beautiful partner herself, Shannan has owned Artistede since a freshly broken three year old and never looked back.
I purchased Artistede off Nicole Magoffin as a green broken horse, explains Shannan.
I was training with her at the time and trying to do dressage on my Stock horse, but I had heard about this young horse and purchased him without seeing or sitting on him under saddle.
He has a slow hind leg and is naturally croup high, but he is bold and will do anything you ask him to which has helped in his training and moving up the levels.
What is truly sensational is that Shannan was a complete Dressage amateur when she started with Artistede and has trained him from the lower levels through to FEI.
I took lessons from Nicole Magoffin, Nicole Tough as well as Tor and Mel Van Den Berge which were fantastic and taught me so much, said Shannan.
I never put any pressure on myself or my horse in the beginning stages, I just did what I told in the lesson and went home to practice and hopefully achieve the same feeling.
We got to Elementary level and Artistede excelled at it. I found that the more you ask of the harder work the more stimulated and happy he was to do it. I got a sense he wanted to go further so we did.
When we got to the Medium and Advanced levels, Artistede found the changes difficult and it took two years for us to push through and make them better. When we asked for one and two time changes he got his legs unstuck and understood the simpler change requests.
Shannan and Artistede are no stranger to large crowds as they have performed at large competitions and were included in the 2017 Festival of Dressage FEI Masterclass with Olympian Debbie McDonald.
I never have to worry that he’ll be silly as he loves performing in front of people, said Shannan. For both Masterclasses I got him into the arena and he really enjoyed himself – he looked around and was happy to see the crowd. He’s the perfect Masterclass horse.
The day of the Charlotte Masterclass didn’t make Shannan nervous, going with the flow of what Charlotte thought they should work on – which was the counter change of hand in canter (also known as the dreaded zig-zag).
This is a move where you half pass to each side and in-between each of those half passes, you’re required to do a clean flying change: even better if those required changes are big, forward and uphill.
Starting on the long side of the arena in canter, Shannan showed Charlotte how she currently undertook the move which was quite nice, but Charlotte could see further potential. Charlotte encouraged Shannan not to just move sideways, but to sweep across the arena.
Everyone in the crowd was riveted to their seat as Charlotte counted the steps and told Shannan when to ride straight and then sweep sideways. The development in accuracy was stunning and right before the crowds’ eyes and Artistede was on his best behaviour.
Next they worked on the quality of the piaffe and passage which was improved when Shannan asked her horse to keep his ears up higher with each stride – the quality of the movements improved immensely.
I wanted to make everything better and that’s what we achieved at the Masterclass, said Shannan.
We still have to work on these movements but I do have Charlotte and others in the back of my mind when we go out and compete.
We hope to make an improvement in our marks soon but it was a really enjoyable experience.
While there was no recording of the Charlotte Dujardin Masterclass, you can enjoy the FEI Masterclass with Debbie McDonald on YouTube.