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Mark Todd Clinic - Day 1 :)

Day 1 of the Mark Todd clinic was really interesting and lots of fun :)   Who's Mark Todd???  Well among other things, he was rated Rider of the Century by the FEI.  So basically as good as it gets.  From wiki:
 Mark James Todd, CBE (born 1 March 1956) is a New Zealand horseman noted for his accomplishments in the discipline of eventing, voted Rider of the 20th Century by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, (Fédération Equestre Internationale.[1]
He won gold medals at Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988) Olympics, the Badminton Horse Trials[12] on four occasions, the Burghley Horse Trials[2] five times, and as a member of New Zealand’s Eventing team he won gold medals at the World Championships in 1990 and 1998 (Rome), the European Championships in 1997, plus 20 or more other international events, and numerous other international individual and team titles.
In New Zealand he has been honoured with the 1998 Supreme Halberg Award[3] as New Zealand Sportsperson of the year and inducted into TheNew Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.[4]
Todd and fellow equestrian Andrew Nicholson, are the first New Zealanders to have competed at six Olympic Games.
On 25 April 2011, Todd completed a fourth Badminton victory riding NZB Land Vision, becoming the oldest winner of the event.
For more info, Google is your friend.   Anyways...  He stopped clinicing in North America more than ten years ago, so when I heard he'd be here for the Royal and this clinic, I was pretty excited *g*

The facility hosting the event is stunning.  I don't think I've ever seen an arena with windows like that before :)  Wow.  And had a blast walking the xc course at lunch -- looks like so much fun!  hahaha

All the levels did the same exercises -- the only differences were the heights of the fences and the degree of perfection expected *g*

At the very beginning they went into lateral work in walk and trot.   Overly exaggerated as the goal was to stretch and supple the horses to jump, not aim for dressage perfection.  They started with leg-yield, first to/from the quarter line and then across the short diagonal.   Then it was into shoulder-in down the long side followed by counter flexion on the short side.  The more advanced groups also did shoulder-in to traverse transitions.

This was followed with some pole work -- three poles down the long side.  Canter them first 4 strides to 4 strides, then 5 to 5.  Then 5 to 4, and for the more advanced horses 4 to 5.  The focus here was accuracy and straightness.  Riders that had trouble with their horses swapping leads, quickly found once they got straight they held the lead.

Then the jumping began.  The next two exercises were done in alternate orders but seemingly not due to experience so much as temperament of the horses in the group.

One exercise was a 3 loop serpentine with jumps as you cross the center of the ring, half way between the center-line and the wall.   Jumping into the wall to back the horses off.  Focus on getting close to the base and accurate lead changes.  The greener horses also had poles flat on the ground to switch leads over.

The other was cavelletti on a circle - five canter bounces.  Focus on maintaining the bend and rhythm.

This was followed with an interesting gymnastic.  Off the left in trot, pole to and X, one stride to an oxer.  Land on the right lead.  Canter two strides on a bit of a diagonal to the right.  Switch leads over a pole and straighten out.  3 strides to a vertical.  Land left and continue around the corner.   Nobody had an issue with the jumps, but there was all sorts of problems with the leads.   Mark didn't make a big deal of it, just had them keep asking each time and eventually the horses got the hang of it.  Concept being to jump and keep paying attention.

The next gymnastic was a straight line, vert one stride "scary" oxer 4 strides easy oxer.   Idea being that often in competition they'll put an airy vertical followed by a scary fence (this one was scary because it had barrels under it :) so the horse's attention is drawn straight to the scary fence and they pull the vertical because they don't even acknowledge its presence.

Then some courses incorporating any/all of the above along with a random oxer either just off the wall or jumping into the wall.

Ok so points of the day:

- EVERY transition counts.  (ummm we don't want to consider how long it to A to knock that into my little brain, but I'm happy to say it's there now so I was pretty excited to hear it from the Master himself :)

- LOOK for your fence. Earlier than you think you need to. 

- Obedience to the leg is absolutely non-negotiable; this should be established in the lateral work in the w/u

- Horse, esp if hot, should end each activity in his "happy space" relaxed and chilled.

- EVERY transition counts.

- LOOK for your fence. Each one, one at a time.

- You must never rely on your hands for balance.  Corollary - hands should be soft and following - esp through gymnastics.

- Find and fix problems over poles before ever jumping (ie straightness, obedience, rhythm, etc)

- if the horse is arguing with your hand, fix it with the leg

- horse should reach for contact; avoid a "fragile" connection

- EVERY transition counts.  Even the "oh thank god we're done" one.

- LOOK for your fence.  Seriously.

- "oi" command.  As in, sit up and listen to me NOW.

- focus on outside rein and riding forward through turns.

- EVERY transition counts.

- LOOK for your fence.

Can you guess which points were stressed repeatedly?

Fun day - looking forward to tomorrow :)


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