Paradise held its first Better Riding Through Knowledge clinic January9-10 .WE had a very enthusiatic group come ride for the two days.There were several riders that chose to ride privately on the flat and then there were show jumpers that practiced their skills in the ring for two days and then we had a SUPER group of Jumiors that came out for cross country.
The flat lessons are aimed at teaching the rider how to find a more balanced ride from their horses.There is a huge amount of theory given.Lots of time is spent talking about the mechanics of how to get your horse obiedient to the aids and how to affect his balance and get him to not lean or pull or drift.Huge emphasis is placed on straightness and how to achieve that.There is lots of stop and go,then we proceed to lateral work.The riders are made aware of specific body parts of their horses and how to manipulate them for various effect.It is great fun and hugely rewarding to me to see the lightbulbs go off and feel the enthusiam from the riders when they find the right buttons! And the horses go whew!Everyone smiles.
The show jumping always starts out with stop and go.Then we add poles on the ground and proceed to the jumps.Everything is progressive.We had three charming handsome men in the first group and had the addition of a beautiful blond the second day.Horses were all of varying degree of greeness but everyone completed a technical jumping course of bounces,triple combinations,skinneys,barrels and the brush box by the end of the weekend.Riders worked on control,direction,track,size of stride,leg position,you name it.WE had grunting,moaning,smiles,and screams of delight!And we had a huge cheering section for all the riders which always makes it more fun.
Cross country on Sunday was a group of three juniors that were keen,brave and effective riders.We worked on a safer cross country balance and emphasis was placed on the set up before jumps and then the gallop on the getaway.I use alot of small drop type questions with jumps in quick sucession to get the riders in the right position.AS usual God steps in with the use of the drops and the riders develope their own religion quickly!These juniors all ride to hounds and really show the benefits of that through their natural riding styles.Very exciting to an old fart like me that was brought up that way too.There is no doubt that riding out cross country whether hacking or hunting is the greatest way to learn balance.
A very enthusiatic group of mothers took milions of pictures and video of the session and Ben Baugh from the Aiken Standard came out to interview the children to add to the excitment.
It is hard to know what to call these clinics.I try not to scare people away with serious hard core horse language.I prefer to teach in a more relaxed way ,encouraging people to allow themselves and their horses to fumble and made mistakes.Hopefully through systematic excercises with lots of theory behind ,people and their horses can start to learn to progress by understanding what it is each excercise,each type of jump,each course,each dressage movement is asking for and why.How one thing needs to progressively lead to another.All levels of horse and rider benefit from these sessions.And everyone has a great time.Thankyou to all for supporting these clinics.I look forward to the next one January 31 and Feb.1.Stay tuned!