Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Pat Burgess Clinic Day 2!

So to recap...

hahaha nah you're not new here -- if you want the recap, scroll down one post :)

Day 2:

So I got up bright and early Sunday morning. Ok that's not entirely true, neither I nor the weather was particularly bright. But it was early. And headed off to the barn. I still wasn't sure who I'd be riding -- the night before I was definitely wishing I'd taken Arthur up on his offer. Argh - my own fault for not wanting to impose. Clearly I had a feeling Sienna wasn't going to be good to go, because I fed Moe before taking Si out of the stall to check. So I lunged her and she was at about 90%. Taking roughly one nqr stride per circle or circle and a half. But that stride was still there. And jumping for 2h would not be a good idea :( So instead I got Moe ready to go and put him on the trailer. Also being a superstar he just walks right on (esp good as it was pouring rain at the time!) but then he got very upset when I didn't put a friend on with him, so I wasn't sure how it'd go. Fortunately he settled as soon as we started going. By the time we got there when I went to check on him, he was busy muching away on his hay and gave me a look like "yeah? What do you want?" hahaha Took him off the trailer and he grew an extra hand or two -- but then he noticed . . . GRASS!!!! And that was about the end of Moe's excitement. Put him in the stall Sienna had had the day before and went to offer assistance hauling poles in out of the rain as the clinic was relocated indoors. "We're just about done." Perfect timing once again *g* But I did at least help move stuff around a bit so the riders in the first group could go get their horses ready. At some point in the organizing I mentioned to Arthur that I wished I'd taken him up on his offer, which he told me I was welcome to do and Suzanne convinced me it'd be ok to accept. So I did :) And from that point on was kinda like a little kid at their first lesson *g* hahaha I'm quite certain I provided the entertainment but omg I had so much fun doing so!

Again volunteered for ring-crew duty and the clinic followed much the same format as yesterday. Starting with gymnastics and leading to cantering single fences, with the focus being on keeping a "medium length" canter (not to be confused with a medium canter in dressage!) -- medium length so that should you need to lengthen or shorten you have the option of going either way. It was really great watching the young-horse group and seeing how much their (the horses') confidence had improved from the day before.

So when it was our turn I brought Arthur's wonderful horse out to the ring (who was all tacked up for me and everything! I was so incredibly spoiled :), and while I've never seen him before, Pat knows him so I figure we're good to go. He's compact -- the sports-car model :) Very much like Zel that way with stop/go/turn on a dime abilities. And far more in-tune to both balance and leg then many I ride *g* Our first couple transitions were ummmm enthusiastic :) N of course I'm trying to be all soft and quiet and not do anything wrong on Arthur's baby... Which was less than effective. After about 2 minutes of this (everybody else was still getting on and organized) Suzanne comes over and rolls her eyes at me "Just ride him. Like you would any other horse. Frame him up and go." Most polite smack across the side of the head ever. hahaha and exactly what I needed. Oh yeah, I *do* know how to ride and I'm not likely to break him. Seconds later horse is on the bit and instead of the sewing machine trot we'd had a few seconds ago we're floating around. Soooooo nice. Suzanne just looked at me and grinned. She knows. Had a few more examples of extra-response -- making a tight turn, turned even tighter than expected. Ask for forward and get HUGE. Ask for collect and get halt. Oops :) But I was having sooooo much fun playing around to find said buttons. And the saddle! So this thing crazy-glued my leg into position for jumping, but trying to do flatwork in it? Oh my... hahaha fortunately it was a jump clinic so this was not tragic.

So we get to start jumping. And the first couple just had me laughing -- esp the canter after which was pretty sweet :)

But then Arthur came to watch his super-horse jump (found out later he's never seen anybody jump him before??? Yikes! Double thanks then for letting me play :) and I promptly forgot how to ride. *sigh* got left behind on the first jump and couldn't quite catch up. Argh. And then overcorrected and got ahead. Pat asks "What were you doing?" "Trying not to get left behind." "Ok that's a good answer. Now go do it again." Eventually I got it, but it took more attempts than it should have! Felt really bad for A watching that. Fortunately Quinny was super kind and didn't seem terribly concerned about it :) Just wanted to go jump some more. Little ears pointing forward every time we turned even slightly towards anything that could potentially be considered a jump :)

One we were supposed to do the gymnastic, canter around the short end, and halt. But it took me more than the short end to get the quality of canter that I wanted, so I rode a circle. But then when I *did* get it it was so amazing I giggled. hahaha and I get from the middle of the ring *insert British accent here* "If you're *quite* through cantering around up there . . ." hahaha but she was laughing too so it was all good.

After that of course the exercise changes to jump the gymnastic and then circle -- so really, I was just a step ahead of the game :) That's my story and I'm sticking to it. The first couple flying changes I asked for were ummmm dramatic too :) hahaha but eventually I located the right degree of aid needed.

Had a laugh at one point the exercise was ride a canter circle (and we launched into that transition! hahaha oops :) and then go all the way around and jump a tiny vert and all the way around once more by which point it'd be an oxer. So we did that. And the immediate comment was "you need to jump higher" hahaha yes, yes we do :) So we went around a few times with it getting slightly higher each time. Never *actually* got big but at least got to play a bit :) I swear that pony has springs in his shoes!!!

Looking at the video afterwards I have to admit it looked neither as discoordinated nor as dramatic as it felt. Which I suppose is a good thing - rather like any other ride really. But man, it's now Tuesday and I still grin at the memory of it :) I wish I could share that feeling cause the videos just look like any other little horse cantering around over tiny speedbumps. But the feel. Wow. I guess drive your 20yo K-car around the track and then drive your 2011 Ferrari around the track. From the outside it's a car going around in circles. But from the driver's seat . . . I got a few comments from Pat about the excessive smile :) hahaha ah well -- better than being told to relax!

The interesting theory conversation of the day was where to look -- off in the distance or at the fence. Pat, as with many other ul clinicians I've ridden with (Andrew Hoy in particular I remember really making a point of this), suggests looking at the fence on the approach (at least in your peripheral vision) until takeoff. "Beam your horse to the jump", and the corollary of course "jump one fence at a time" -- a couple riders' horses had in trouble when the rider was mentally on the third or fourth fence of the combo and their horse was still on the second. You could see a huge difference in the horse's ability when the rider stayed "in the moment".

The only thing that could've possibly made that day better would've been to have been riding said awesome horse in the afternoon group which got to jump much higher :) But honestly, I haven't had that much fun since Zel. Which leads me to believe that perhaps Sienna, as superstar as she is, isn't really the right horse for me; cause to be quite honest, as much as I wanted to ride her, I wouldn't've had nearly so much fun. Starting to think now she may go in the school earlier than originally intended and I'll have to find me an unbroke sportscar model (since my budget never has and likely never will afford the broke version :) And so Entry it is again *sigh* Well we shall see. Have a lot of other things that need to happen in there too!

So take-aways from the clinic:
- breathe.
- position position position. Leg must be still. Hands must be independent.
- sit UP! Don't commit to a jump before your horse does. At best you throw him off balance. At worst you jump the fence alone.
- use bounces to teach balance, coordination and thinking.
- visualize -- horses think in pictures, so should you.
- love your horse and make sure they know it.
- stop while it's still good.


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