February 2, 2015

Just breathe

This past weekend I had the opportunity to ride my horses Bunny and Audi in a clinic with Richard Lamb. The clinic was held at Fox Mill Farm and had an eclectic mix of horses and riders with various experience, goals and backgrounds. I found that aspect of the clinic to be particularly pleasing because it made everything super down to earth without a drop of pretentiousness- and it was further proof that no matter who you are or where you're going, the basics of dressage will always be your bread and butter.

Since I wasn't familiar with what Richard is like as a trainer,  I went into the clinic with an open mind, excited to see what would happen. I felt a bit vulnerable, but in a really good way, kind of like I was a kid again. Richard did an exceptional job assessing me and my two horses. He zeroed in on my fault of looking down and gave some good tips about how to address that issue, and further explained how it will improve the manner in which both Bunny and Audi carry themselves. He also pointed out that I tend to hold too long with my thighs int he half halt, thus causing the horses to become braced in their backs. I had to think more about keeping my calf down and on, while engaging my core and keeping my hands up and out in front with my closed thumb for the half halt. Richard stresses breathing along with eyes up as two key pieces to riding a horse straight and uphill. It's pretty amazing how often I hold my breath when I ride. I guess I will be singing while I ride from now on!

We worked over poles on Saturday and then small courses on Sunday. It was pretty cool to feel the transformation over the two days. I started to become much more aware of my body in a different way than I had been before. And the kicker was feeling Audi start to jump, like really jump. I mean the fences were tiny, but he started to use his body is new way. He always seemed like a clutz over jumps in the past so I was thrilled to finally feel him settle into the concept. As Richard said, it was good for him both mentally and physically. My students Camryn and Mary Kate also participated in the clinic and got some good takeaways from the experience.

I owe a big thank you to John and Lea Reynolds for providing me with the opportunity to ride with Richard and to Denise Maillie for organizing the clinic.

The final group on Sunday aka "two bays and two grays"

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