Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Time to train...

We had our first snowfall this weekend...well we got around 8 inches of snow! I woke up Saturday morning really early to head out to the farm to load up Hannah and bring her to a nearby farm for the Anne Kursinski clinic. I didn't actually expect the weather men to be right but when I woke up there was already a few inches on the ground!

It took my normal 30m drive a whole hour to get to the farm. Maria was finishing chores and we loaded up Hannah and headed on our way slowly pulling through the unplowed roads in four wheel drive. The clinic was hosted at Kim and Andy Barone's farm in Watertown, MN - Raven Ridge Farm. It is a beautiful and WARM facility, a great place for the clinic.

Anne warmed us up on the flat first. She really emphasized carrying your hands in front of you and stretching long and deep into you heel. She also wanted me to carry myself slightly forward of the vertical, rather than sitting like a "dressage rider". New concept for me but I was more than willing to try it. She wanted to demonstrate her position so she got on Hannah and showed everyone how solid her position was and how we should work on getting ours to match hers. She really liked Hannah and thought she was very athletic.

We then warmed up over a small cross rail. We trotted to the fence, being sure ahead of time we were in two point all the way up to the fence, another new idea for me, but it helped me to stay lighter on Hannah's back. We then had to drop our stirrups on landing and halt straight. A very good exercise for balance and straightness. Here is a video.

Another exercise we did was to canter an oxer, left hand turn to a forward three stride oxer to oxer and halt at the end in a straight line. Here is a video.

One great thing she had us do to all of our fences was to count up to eight with the rhythm of the horse's stride. Another exercise we did was to jump an oxer four strides to the butterfly vertical, turn left over the arch bridge back to the oxer and then FIVE strides to the butterfly vertical. This helped us work on our eye and adjustability of our horse. Here is a video.

We also worked on a bounce line with three fences in a row. The next day we incorporated more bending and related lines and continued to work on being light.

We also held our reins like driving reins and worked on automatic releases keeping our hands wide and off the horses neck working on our own balance.

It was a good clinic, although things were very different then what I was used to, it is good to be open minded and I am really interested in learning different styles and techniques of riding to become better overall.

Another clinic I attended was one of Daniel Stewart's 'Psycho Clinics' taught by Dori Johnson. It was a great challenge and a lot of fun to ride with my students. The first exercise was called steps. There were 8 cross rails set up right next to each other in a zig zag formation number 1-8 on one side. The rules were that you couldn't cross your path or go to the outsides of fences 1 and 8. We were sent off cantering and Dori would tell us a number to jump...that was easy...then we were sent off cantering and Dori would tell us two numbers...the first number was the number of fences we had to jump and the second was the number that the fences had to add up to. For example, 2-6. So you would go and jump fence 4 and then fence 2, or any combination that adds up to 6 in two fences. Then she gave us three numbers, 7-3-21. The first number was the number fence we had to jump, the second number was the remaining jumps we had left, and the third number was the total of all the fences. So if we started with fence 7, we had two fences left to get 14. Then she would shout 6 evens or odds at us in any order and we had to jump those fences. Then she added three evens or odds at the end of the three numbers and that totally threw me for a loop! It was a lot of fun and the purpose of the clinic was the mentally stress the riders and see how their riding changed. It was a lot of fun!

The next exercise we did was called the box. This was a color and names exercise...more my thing but still challenging! There were two fences on each side of the square, about two strides across the center. You can jump all sorts of combinations. The fences we had were Blue, White, Canada, Teal, Ugly, Purple, Jungle and Green. We had to remember which fences were which and as we were cantering around she would tell us what jumps to jump, gradually adding more and more until we got to 8, Marianne Kelley even attempted 10! I could do 6 really well, but 8 was too much for me. The goal was to figure out an easier way to remember the course. Rather than remembering each individual fence, we would remember lines. Then when we got to 8 different fences, we would remember 4 different lines. It was a great concept to making course memorization easier.

Overall these clinics have been a blast! I am starting up dressage lessons again with Alison Sader Larson and look forward to continuing to work on our fourth level movements. I will also be taking a jumper lesson here and there from some local jumper trainers.

I am proud to announce I am hosing my FIRST ever Liz Lund Eventing (jumper) Schooling Show on November 20th and Trophy Hill Farm! It should be a blast, we have close to 20 different riders and over 45 rounds so far throughout the day! Classes range from lead line to different height classes, to fun classes like 'four-bar' and gamblers choice! Stay tuned to see how it goes!

Stay warm if you aren't headed south for the winter!

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