Thursday 11 February 2016

Sandra Donnelly Clinic - Day 2

I'm a terrible blogger. I wrote this post, scheduled it and then went on my merry way. Blogger ate it and I couldn't summon the will to rewrite it. Every time a post disappears it kills my desire to blog. I may need to switch to a new platform.


Day 2 of the clinic started off with Ritchie. Shimmer-E was able to come and watch and get an education in jumper land (she is my favourite DQ).

Our flatwork started with going over the differences in full seat, light-seat, 2-point and driving seat. Sandra then put us through our paces, having us change our seat and demand a reaction from our horses. Turns out my light-seat has disappeared. 

Full seat? No problem. 2-point? Rock solid. Driving seat? Effective. Light-seat? Completely gone. I couldn't for the life of me allow my hips to move with him. Sandra told me that she's not surprised. Dee doesn't really let me practice light-seat without some fireworks. My homework is to keep working on it with Ritchie until I feel really solid in it. Then to work on it some more before I try and transition it to Dee.

Moving onto the over fences work, Ritchie really showcased the fact that Saturday's challenges were more of a test of my determination than fear or confusion. We jumped a skinny, brush boxes, a one-stride, a two-stride, planks and lattice. All which was new to him and he didn't say boo. We did have one drive by, the first time in the one-stride, but it was definitely a steering problem, not a jumping problem. 

It wasn't always pretty but we did everything successfully. And we did our first real courses!

My main goal for Ritchie during the clinic was just exposure. He stood quietly while others had their turn. He couldn't have cared less when the other riders forgot I was riding a young stallion and parked themselves quite close to us. I was super proud of him. For a young horse who's had very little exposure to new experiences and places he really couldn't have performed more admirably.

A somewhat accurate portrayal of our set up

For the first time ever with Dee we completely mastered the flatwork and weren't the remedial child! Sandra had us turn down the center line and leg yield back to the wall, and then do it the other way. We started out walking and she had very little to say to Dee and I that wasn't super positive. Next came the trot, still super positive. 

We then started asking for a walk transition while continuing to leg yield. This turned out to be super helpful for me because Dee and I really struggle with downward transitions (Dee is convinced we should only ever go faster). It was critical to keep her body straight while doing this, no allowing her to fall in (or out) in her right shoulder. When we were straight we had some incredible transitions.

Same exercise at a canter. Dee and I haven't schooled canter leg yields but you'd never know it. It was the most magical flatwork. If it hadn't been a clinic I probably would have called it quits there and floated around on cloud nine for the rest of the day. That's how good it was.

I normally go first because I am really good at remembering courses. Except here. This is not the course I was supposed to do. For the first time in well over a year I forgot my course.

We moved right into jumping. It wasn't long before Sandra had the fences set at 3'3" (and even one that was sneakily 3'6").  We were able to jump around and successfully nail a pace and keep my nerves from interfering. I was super good about not looking down because I picked a spot really high on the wall and did not take my eyes off it (otherwise the fences started to freak me out a little, which is silly, we are both more than capable).

We even jumped a giant (think 3'3" with a 4'3" spread) triple bar. Considering I've been scared of oxers and petrified of triple's and hog's back's I was really happy with how it went.

Ritchie is a very physically demanding ride. So by the time I rode Dee I was a little tired and my legs were very sure I shouldn't be doing anything. I ended up running out of steam near the end. It really showed up coming into the triple on one of our final go's. I had a good pace but was nervous and Dee backed off as we came to the base. I just wasn't able to add enough leg and we came to a graceful, if abrupt halt in front of it. Sandra told me she thought we had it and that Dee could have helped me out a little. We got it done in a second try but it was becoming obvious that Dee was backing off and I just didn't have the gas to really get it done.

You can see how it's starting to fall apart here, but we still get it done

Because Sandra is awesome she lowered some of the fences so we could end on a better note (the second fence in both of the related distances stayed up, but the first fence got lowered). It was completely the right thing to do. It was also really nice to know that it wasn't anxiety or panic that necessitated the drop, just a lack of fitness on my part. I can work on that. #goalbreeches 

Overall it was a great clinic. I couldn't have been happier with both horses. I can't wait until it's show season.


  1. that looks like such an awesome clinic - great flat work exercises and even more fun jumping! glad both horses did so well, and especially nice that you felt comfortable (if exhausted lol) over the bigger fences!

  2. It sounds like an awesome clinic. And I can sympathize with you on the fitness and trying to ride two horses. It is exhausting.

  3. Your ponies are doing awesome! Show season is going to be so much fun.

  4. Great clinic! I have no fitness level to even finish one clinic on a horse! I have to work on that