Wednesday, 17 June 2015

XC & Dressage Clinic with Becky Lee and Janet Adams Day 1

So originally my mom was going to come watch this clinic but the opportunity came up for her to go to a Mounted Shooting practice and competition so she bailed on us.  I can't blame her, given the choice between watching someone else and riding my own horse I will almost always choose my horse. Unfortunately this means there is very little media from the weekend.  Which kinda sucks because Dee and I were on point!
Enjoy the handgrazing photos, it's all I got from Saturday

The schedule of riders changed very last minute so on Day 1 I was in a group with a couple of Entry riders and one Pre-Training rider.  This was actually ideal for us as we will be starting the season at Entry and quickly moving up to Pre-Training/Novice (our move up event is Rebecca Farm). Pre-injury the plan had been Pre-Training all year but since we had over 4 months off jumping my coach and I decided I should run the first two events at Entry in order to preserve my confidence (and Dee's old lady legs). The concern is that if I have a bad go at either Cochrane or Thompson then my confidence will be in shatters for Rebecca Farm.  My entire goal for the year is Rebecca Farm (I've gone for the past 5 years as a groom, dammit I want tot RIDE!).

The XC course and ring we would have dressage in are at the top of the hill and the barns are down near the bottom.  It's a mile trek up the hill to ride so it served as a good warmup.

Becky had us start out our warmup over a tiny log and really work at not getting ahead of our horses. For me, this was the entire theme of the weekend. We schooled all the fences in that area, which meant schooling a steep downhill turn. She had us really focus on keeping our horses underneath us and keeping their poll as the highest point.  Dee swapped leads the entire way down the hill but maintained a really solid rhythm and stayed under me exceptionally well (for the horse who loves leaning in like a barrel horse).  Becky said not to worry about the lead, that it is my responsibility to get us to the fence, and hers to figure out her legs.

We then moved onto schooling the ditches.  As expected Dee was a rockstar and lead the two greener horses over. We then schooled the little half coffin (a tiny rolltop to a fairly wide ditch) and then cantered up a hill to our choice of jumps.  The first time I took the Entry option.  On our next go Becky suggested I take the picture frame. From the distance it looked like it might be Pre-Training so I said sure. We cantered up to it and it got bigger, and then the grass was really long in front of it.  Turns out it's a smallish Prelim jump!!! We were maybe 20 minutes into our second foray XC this year. Dee sailed right over it, but I felt like we were in the air forever. My pony sure remains the best pony.

Spider hates everybody, except Dee apparently
Next we moved to the back complex and schooled up and down the bank a ton (Dee was the only one who got it right every time, everyone else was getting really sketchy distances). The bank is set in the side of a bit of a valley so to get at it you after canter down a hill while turning to go back up the hill to the bank. Since the footing was wet but firm I was really glad to have corks for that section. After everyone figured out the banks we cantered up the bank and then I had a super tight 90 degree right turn to a giant log and then another tight turn to the left (which rode like an S it was so tight) to a big galloping Pre-Training coop. The whole way Becky was telling me I needed more pace, I felt like we were really moving but apparently it was really a leisurely Sunday hack pace. I guess I get to set up some distances and relearn speeds on Dee, I've always ridden really big moving horses so this is a huge change.

We finished up at the water complex. I opted not to get our feet wet before starting since I know Dee is good about water and I wanted to ensure that remained the same mid XC course. Turns out Best Pony couldn't care less. We jumped a Pre-Training ramp at an angle of our choosing and made a tight turn to the banks. There is was up-two strides-down and then a short gallop to a table, a hairpin turn back to the water, canter into the water, turn 90 degrees and jump up the bank out of the water and then another hairpin turn to a galloping Pre-Training fence.  I chose a fairly steep angle, just to see if we could and it sure enough we can. After that it rode really well despite Dee cross-firing about half the course. I was really happy to end there. I couldn't ask for a better horse.

EM doing lunges while handgrazing. I nearly fell over laughing when I turned around to this.
Later in the afternoon I had a semi-private dressage lesson with Janet. I really enjoyed it. She had Dee pegged within seconds. We spent most of our lesson on a 20m circle and we actually had a few trot circles at one pace and with Dee stretching her neck. To achieve this I had to be really conscious of where her shoulders were, keeping them from drifting out on the right and actually making her turn them to the left. This transferred right into our canter and Janet actually commented that Dee has a really lovely canter. Unfortunately at this point a storm had started to roll in.  It started to pour and within minutes we had pea-sized hail. I decided that I was happy with our canter work and was calling it quits rather than trying to wait it out. This turned out to be the right choice as it started to thunder very impressively when I was half way back to the barn.

Despite the rain, it was a really good day with a lot of learning and a whole bunch of confidence building.

1 comment:

  1. what an awesome clinic (and a bummer you couldn't get pics lol). Dee sounds amazing and like she handled some pretty challenging stuff with no problem!