Clinic Recap

I did, indeed, get to borrow a horse and ride in the clinic on Friday last week. I rode a lovely bay named Z who could be a little balky just at the beginning of a ride but once he got going he was entirely game and cooperative for everything. He took more leg than Eli, and liked a much stronger feel in the bridle, too, so I was whupped by the end. I forget how light Eli is until I sit on basically anything else.

I rode in a group with two other adult amateurs, and we are all reasonably competent on good days, so the flat work focus was lateral work.

We worked on moving the shoulders and the haunches, both of which are important skills to have while jumping if you expect to keep your horse balanced through turns. In moving both the haunches and the shoulder to the right, Z seemed a bit stiff, and I struggled with getting it done. However, moving each to the left, it was a breeze. I think he knew what I was asking both ways. Perhaps my cues were weaker to the right, or perhaps he is just a stiffer horse on the right … probably a little of both.

These skills came into play once we moved on to first cantering over a pole on a small circle — honestly I have no idea how big the circle was, but it did seem smaller than 20m. And then it seemed even smaller once the pole was a vertical (haha). Everyone was able to get it done both directions for the most part, although I was never able to make the nearest inside turn going to the left. I think by then I was just really freaking tired. Z certainly still had plenty of energy left. He got his feet packed and lots of cookies. I know I will be able to use what I learned on Z when I ride Eli. Plus Eli is balanced a little more uphill than Z is, so maybe it will be a little easier for us. The clinician had a couple of tips about the seat and leg in lateral work that will really help me going forward with Eli, things that I had not tried before. I was able to do a little of these things at the walk with Eli, and he figured them out very quickly and was very responsive.

Friday wasn’t too bad, Saturday was freezing, and Sunday turned out really nice! Three days, all seasons, how Texas-y.

The first issue was when using my seat and leg in conjunction to move the haunches I struggled with sitting on the same hip as the leg, and found when using, for example, my right leg I wanted to sit on my left hip, but needed to be sitting on my right hip. Kathleen explained I have to kind of pull myself down into the saddle with my upper calf and lower inner thigh like doing a sitting trot … ugh, I can’t quite get what she said down into words but I knew what she meant and it worked, tip number one helps me immensely!

Crochet Eli doesn’t need lateral work.

The next issue was related to a quarter turn on the haunches, which I do practice with Eli periodically. However, I had not realized in trying to execute this that the horse taking a step back is okay, but the horse taking a step forward is an evasion. I had it the opposite in my head for some reason and could not think of why I thought that (probably because in general I tend to want the horse to go forward first before anything else). I also need to SLOW DOWN when doing lateral work since we are in the early stages of learning it, so I can feel each step and Eli has enough time to coordinate each step. We don’t need lateral work for competition, so the slowing down thing makes perfect sense to me.

I didn’t get any media of me on Z but at least I am getting this all down on “paper.” That kind of helps me remember it better. I am glad I choose to sit Eli out, because he would not have been able to do the left circle over a pole/vertical comfortably. I may try it with him after the maintenance does its job.

In other news, Eli approves of the Amigo quarter sheet I got him and has now worn it twice without incident. He will be off work until Saturday because of his stifle injections, but the weather is very cold and wet right now so I don’t really mind the break from riding.

7 thoughts on “Clinic Recap

  1. ugh i know what you mean about getting down on the same hip as the leg i’m trying to use. it’s like… the exact opposite of what my body wants to do. when i get it right tho, it works. go figure. sounds like a great ride on Z with lots of useful takeaways!

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  2. That is really interesting! Glad you had a horse to ride and that you learned a lot! That circle exercise sounds really good. And of course Eli picked it up quickly! He’s a smart boy :).
    I am confused though about what the clinician said taking a step forward in a turn on the haunches would be evasion. Coming from western, I know most trainers specifically didn’t want a step back in the spin because the horse would lose the integrity of the spin because the weight would be transferred to the outside hind, but the forward step allows the horse to remain on his inside hind leg. Or am I overthinking this because it’s a turn and not a spin? Haha, I don’t know if he explained that particular thing at all, but I’d love to know his thoughts/reasons for it!

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    • I don’t have any experience with spins in Western, but for what we were doing, we wanted the horse taking lateral steps with both hind feet and really “sitting” on their haunches. I vaguely remember from a bazillion years ago when I was competing dressage that if a horse spun on a hind during a canter pirouette it would be a fault. But I could be remembering wrong. Not that I will ever be doing that, but just that I don’t think in English we are looking for the horse to spin on a hind hoof. The forward step would be avoiding the lateral component, I think. Perhaps some DQs can jump in here and rip me a new one lol

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      • Ooohhh that makes a lot more sense in relation to lateral movements. Got it. I figured I was over thinking it! Lol well I’m pretty sure planting the hind leg during a walk pirouette is a fault? But yeah a spin sounds different from the lateral movements you were going for so that makes sense. Thanks for explaining!

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  3. I have a crochet Remus ordered too. I love the Eli one! I can’t believe how excited I get over those crochet ponies SO CUTE> I am glad you got to ride in the clinic and love how well lite your barn is (Eli is like where the cookies NOW).

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