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Lucinda Green Clinic

So I was privileged to catch the second half of the Lucinda Green clinic at Eventing Canada today. Perfect weather and of course an awesome facility made for a great day -- and I definitely came home all re-inspired for event season :)

The focus of the day was on safe riding, control and accuracy -- all arguably part of the same thing :) Safe riding was focused on basic equitation and being able to keep 2/3 of the horse in front of you (compared to the 1/2 often seen in the hunters). A deep seat with the horse up and light in front. This is a slightly more defensive position for when approaching something your horse is likely to question. One rider in particular experienced a significant difference in her fairly green horse's confidence level and jump when she got the hang of this. Was *very* kewl to watch.

Lucinda also encouraged riders to practice using "emergency reins" - which is when your reins are superlong (say after a drop fence) and you keep the contact by having your hands wide and sitting back so you can continue safely to whatever the next challenge is a stride or two out. While in competition it's unlikely you'd ride this way more than a few strides, she was having them practice it on long approaches to the fences -- and all the horses jumped well out of it.

Control and accuracy were together. After each course - and for some horses each fence - the riders were to bring the horse back to a halt. No land and bolt, they have to land, balance and think. Ditches and banks were approached at the walk for everybody below prelim. And very quickly even for the greenbeans technicalities were introduced. Up the bank over a skinny (and I mean *very* skinny. Maybe 4' wide?) Over the skinny, down the bank, over another slightly-less-skinny (in this case, 3 bags of shavings standing beside each other). Nothing tall, but exceptional control and steering required. Highly recommended that all riders approach at the trot and/or coming back to the walk for the bank. And they all pulled it off.

The ditch, likewise, was built up into a coffin -- again made of skinny rails. For all levels. One stride for most of the groups; the prelim guys worked up to a bounce on one side with one stride on the other. And by the end even the "doesn't like ditches" horses were doing it confidently. From there onto the actual (read unmovable) coffin which they all managed, and working on jumping the ditch on an angle (this only for the ones who were reasonably confident jumping it straight). This was followed with work over the weldon's wall (for non-eventers in the group think straight vertical wooden wall with a ditch in front). Again, approaching at the trot the first time to give the horse time to see and understand the issue before having to jump it. The prelim guys got to jump it backwards (with the ditch on the landing) which a couple of them definitely considered but all jumped it on the first try.

And all the time working on the various xc positions and regularly bringing the horse back to a halt after, or even inbetween, the fences.

After the various ditches they moved on to the steps -- much bigger bank than the baby bank they warmed up over. Again always approaching the down in the walk or very slow trot. Up being much easier was basically a non-issue. And every once in a while practicing dropping down the bank (or both steps) and continuing to either a coffin or weldon's wall. Technical to technical with the focus on control and accuracy. And the success rate was huge. Introduce everything slowly and give the horse a fair chance. When they didn't understand or were at all concerned they were given a lead by a more confident horse. Till in the end they were all managing it.

Ditches, banks... To round out the xc trilogy is water! Given the insane amount of rain we've had this year the water complex was full -- as in way too deep to do anything other than walk or trot through, but they all got to do this and try jumping out.

Having worked really hard and mastered the technical arts of xc, they finished by putting it all together with a course that started with technical and finished with a great gallop over the brush fences. End easy and fun :) And smiling. The way xc should be :)

And Lucinda was awesome. Positive and friendly and creating change in every one of them, and yet at the same time not tolerating any stupidity. hahaha I loved it.


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