Sep 30 / Our Third JW Clinic

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I didn’t know I was going to ride in this one until the day before. I drew in after a cancellation and I was ecstatic! Cherie was happy too because we would be going together and that’s always more fun. You can talk about what you learned with someone who was there. It’s actually a better learning experience.

I had to rush to get things in order so I could go. My plan was to get up at 3 a.m., feed and tack up the Bear. He’s my rescue and his new job is the posting with one stirrup and without stirrups. I think it’s as hard on him as it is on me. I’ve worked my way up to 10 minutes left stirrup, 10 minutes right stirrup and ten minutes without stirrups. I’m not young and consequently I’m stiff. I realize how stiff because these exercises loosen me up and build my strength. I wanted to be my best so I wanted to do this before I rode the Bird with Jimmy.

So there I was in the dark in front of my barn riding my Bear when JK pulled up. I know JK thinks I’m crazy. He’s a retired jockey and although he’s very interested in the “show type riding”, he doesn’t understand a lot of it. In particular, why I’d get up at 3 a.m. to torture myself and the Bear.

My Bird was a little more “up” this time but that was okay, I was ready. I had religiously been doing my exercises and I was warmed up and ready to go. Billy Meister was riding a green horse in my class and what a pleasure to watch that kind of skill. The horse soaked up his quiet demeanor like a sponge. It’s good to be around those kind of riders, it makes you realize there’s so much more to this than just correctness. Gifted riders give something intangible to horses that brings out their best in an easy, unlabored way. Natural and effortless.

Back to my struggle with position – my reality. I was riding, oh five minutes and Jimmy told me “lets pick up where we left off last time”. We made a lot of progress with this horse and I want it to continue. That meant, get out of his mouth going to the jump, grab mane and wait.

Birdie did duck out once at this clinic, it was an oxer and the first time he has ever ducked out during a gymnastic exercise. Jimmy and I had a discussion about leg position after that which really helped because with all this painful posting I’ve been doing, I don’t really know where my leg belongs for jumping. Now I do. This was a great day and this time Jimmy didn’t tell me to post without stirrups or post with only one, but I plan to keep doing it until I can post without for 30 minutes. He suggested I read a book, Riding Logic by Wilhelm Museler. I ordered it and it’s on it’s way. He wants me to learn about showing the horse to the ground.

Cherie and Katchi – I’ve learned so much about training an eventer from this pair. I have the mind of a trainer, but I now have to apply it to a new discipline. I am in awe of the progress these two have made together in the past year. Last year there were many times, it seemed impossible Katchi would ever do a horse trial. Now the two of them are a team. Poetry in motion and it seems with each day they are more polished. They had a great day at the clinic. If anything, Katchi was too relaxed, almost napping at times. What a change from last year when alert was a kind description of Katchi’s attitude. The focus at this clinic seemed to be on teaching Katchi to adjust to changes in the height of the jump. Of course, he made great progress, and Cherie was – well perfect.