The clinic went well. Ava loaded in the trailer easily and quickly (huge success considering last October I spent 4 hours trying to load her and never did succeed). I had plenty of time to braid and let Ava settle in.
I’m not sure I’ve really chewed through the whole lesson and come to any conclusions yet. Overall, it was good. The clinician was focused on responsiveness to light aids, on precision of riding transitions (where horse didn’t alter the frame), and in creating relaxation in the jaw. All done with lightness and super quiet aids. He showed me a technique of doing a delayed downward transition where you slow the speed (not the tempo… if that’s the right word) until you are almost walking and then walk. If the horse dives on the forehand, throws their head up, jigs, whatever.. then immediately go back to working trot and re-establish the hind leg to bit and over their back connection. Over time you make the transition to walk longer and longer (through slowing the speed) to develop the horse’s carrying power behind. Obviously you wouldn’t do this in a show environment, only for developing better transitions. And we worked on making quiet, seamless transitions from walk to trot with the utmost lightest aids. There was a lot of focus on perfecting the transitions and quality of the gaits. It was actually pretty basic stuff, but definitely great information and tools that can be applied to all riders and horses.
He loved my horse, but who doesn’t? He was impressed I could vary her speed through my seat, and he was impressed my horse was responsive to the aids.
At one point he yells out “Man, this girl can ride!” And my trainer shouts out “I told you she can ride.” Which embarrassed the heck out of me because the other riders, my friends, were watching. In essence they both said everyone else was mediocre… How would you feel if you’d been in the audience and heard that exchange?
I realized during the clinic that the holes I had had last year, were the same holes nearly every single other rider in the clinic had. Their horse’s were relaxed and rhythmic, but there wasn’t any energy, no impulsion, no power behind what they were doing. The horses were behind the leg. The rider would put their leg on and didn’t get much of a response. (except for the event rider). Or, they might get a quick response but the horse kind of lolly gagged around the arena at quarter power. Because of that, the horses were not developing the carrying strength, nor developing the power, they’d need in order to move up the levels successfully. Most everyone’s lesson involved just getting the horse to go forward when asked lightly and to sustain that forward energy without requiring the rider to continually ask. And the other common issue was getting the horse round, on the bit, over the back.
Overall, it was good. I’m not sure that I really felt it was worth the amount it cost, but I’m poor and $300 for 2 lessons is a LOT of money to me. Maybe if money weren’t so tight it’d be different.
Oh… last thing, I promise. Okay, so if you read earlier posts about trailering then you’d know how much angst and animosity trailering has been causing me the past few years. I knew getting Ava on the trailer afterthe clinic was going to be tough. That is normally the time I get the most resistance from her. I led her to the trailer and we aren’t even close to it and she’s putting the brakes on already. ugh. So I do the whole “You will lunge hard right here by the trailer, or you can get on it!” So we lunged. Tried again. Nope. Not even getting near the door. Lunged. Tried again.. maybe, but still not going on. Lunged. Tried again… and on she went. Just like that. Really only took about 15 minutes tops. But the best thing was I didn’t need ANYONE else to help me. No beating her with whips, no weird lunge line contraptions, no begging or pleading, no abuse, no needing 4 other people to help. Just me and a regular lead rope. It was AWESOME!!!!! I was so happy.