Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Clinic Day 1

Ever have one of those weekends where it seems like the world is against you? That would be the feeling I'm left with after this weekend's trip. 2 hour traffic jam? Check. Missed ferries? Yep. Horse missing shoe at last minute? Yes. Cold and rain each night of (tent) camping? Check. Dead battery on truck, unable to be boosted? (We left it unlocked at the campsite and the barn kids plugged in for lights and used our handy usb plug in to charge all their devices before we noticed...) Yep. Middle of nowhere with no roadside assistance? Yes. Freak snow in the mountain passes? Why not. I even caught a wicked cold to add to the fun. I'll spare you all the miserable details - we're home, everyone is fine, G didn't divorce me for taking him on the worst trip ever. We obviously didn't get a ton of pictures, since a dead truck battery meant no charging of phones or cameras. This makes me very sad, but there is a possibility the kids took some pics with their fully charged devices ;) Let's get to the riding part - which was more fun, but also a bit of a struggle.

When we arrived Thursday night I tacked Midge up and went for a quick hack around the grounds. The other horses were pretty wild and needed to stay in the ring, but Midge was a good girl so got to go splash in one of the water jumps and wander about the fields.  It's a huge place, but sadly the footing in much of it was not the best this year - the unrelenting wet of the coast has wet has apparently reached even the near desert of the interior of the province.
Still a beautiful place, just a bit grey and mucky.
Self explanatory

Midge being Midge, she settled into her little pole corral, ate her dinner, and made not a peep all night. I had an early morning lesson time, and Midge was so chill I needed help convincing her to get out of bed :)
Not that into it

Our lesson group was interesting. I had done the intro clinic last year, so signed up for starter/pre entry (I think that equates to Beginner Novice in the US). Since the clicicians do tend to have you school stuff above the level you signed up for, I was a little worried when I saw I'd been added to an Entry (Novice-ish) group, but I figured I would have to be brave and that it would be a good learning opportunity.

On the actual day, it seemed like our group was really inexperienced and struggling. We didn't actually get out of the arena, and I admit to being a little unhappy...in the hour and a half ride, Midge and I did maybe 10-15 min of warmup, and maybe another 15 of running through various jump exercises. The rest was standing around waiting and watching others work through stuff. I probably sound like a bad person, because obviously we've all been that person in the lesson and the instructor really had no choice but to focus on them for safety reasons. BUT I paid a lot of money and drove a long way for xc schooling, so I was disappointed.
 This WAS a very tricky exercise tho...not a lot of room for mistakes and requiring a very handy horse (or a not so handy pony, whichever;) The clinician used this as a starting point for all the levels...a great test of accuracy, steering and a stop and go button.

Luckily, I had scheduled our pace clinic directly after so we still had a chance to get out for a gallop. Midge, having used no energy in the previous 90 minutes, suddenly woke up, realized she was outside the arena, and went a little wild.  About halfway through our first lap, she randomly sucked back, I leaned forward and kicked...and she took offense, got her head down, bucked a few times, and bolted. And so I fell off. HARD. It hurt. I got back on, went two more times with some minor antics, and had some fun. Midge started to find a bit of a rhythm and was actually pulling most of the way. Fun pony, although naughty.

I'll end here with two separate questions I'd love to hear your thoughts on:

1. What do you do if you don't feel your clinic or lesson group is a good fit? Say something? Trust their judgement and just hope it's an off day?

2. Riding silly antics. I've been told to slip the reins to help avoid being pulled out of a secure position. Then kick forward. "They can't play if they're moving forward fast enough" I've also been told to sit deep, stay tall and strong, and no matter what, keep the horse's head up. The problem I'm having with option 1 is that most athletic horses are perfectly capable of continuing the silliness at speed. With option 2, an incredible amount of upper body strength is needed...particularly if your pony enjoys letting loose going down hills ;) What's your approach?

14 comments:

  1. Oh geez, sounds like kind of a rough journey! :( At least G was there to help (imagine the trip by yourself eeek)

    To answer your questions:

    1) If a clinic or group isn't a good fit? I have occasionally said something. Usually I am more prone to silently stew haha. Kind of depends what's missing.

    2) Riding antics? I personally don't think I could slip the reins to a horse that was being silly. But I do think about sitting tall and riding forward, so that's kind of a combo! :)

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    1. G is the best! So happy he was able to come along, although I did feel pretty guilty about it! :)

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  2. OH my gosh what a rotten trip! It's so disappointing to look forward to something like this and then EVERYTHING GOES WRONG. But, you got to gallop your pony and jump that fun exercise, so that's a win? To answer your questions, 1: I just suck it up and ride where I'm placed unless it's blatantly unsafe. I'm paying the clinician because I value their opinion, and part of that opinion is the group in which I'm placed. Though if the issue is with a lesson group taught by a trainer I work with on a regular basis, I would probably talk with them about finding a group that's a better fit. #2: I tend to lean more towards the second method you list - yank that sucker's head up and kick! A one-rein stop can also be REALLY effective since it pulls the horse off balance and they're kind of forced to stop their silliness.

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    1. I kind of prefer the second method too, it's definitely more instinctive than just letting go! I was trying to be positive all weekend, but yeah, eventually it got a bit ridiculous, like "universe, what did I do to anger you so?!" :)

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  3. There was an interesting article somewhere in the inter webs recently about shorter stirrups and shorter reins improve your security cross country. Not sure if it was WF-P or another uk eventer. A buckingsooking or bolting barrel of a cob is a hard thing to stick with,

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    1. The cobby roundness and proportionately shorter necks make it really hard! The short stirrups/short reins thing is something the pace clinician mentioned...in the context of galloping position and keeping your "triangle of support" super strong!

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  4. Oh man I hear your frustration loud and clear. So sorry :( I used to lesson regularly with a rider who routinely sucked up all the oxygen of the group, including often necessitating the trainer getting on her horse to school it for 20 or so minutes while we just sat around. It sucks. I switched to privates. Idk how it's possible to foresee that in a clinic setting and imagine I would just sit quietly and fester, bc honestly I don't even know what one could say. It kinda is what it is, which is shitty. Anyway all that other stuff sounds super frustrating too - esp the fall. Hope you're ok, and even more hope that the weekend only improved from there!

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    1. Yeah, there was about 20min spent watching the clinician ride, with no explanation or direction provided. I get that it was necessary, and you can always learn by watching, but seriously, teach me some xc riding already! Lol
      I wasn't too worried about the fall. It hurt, but it was funny to see B feeling so very sassy. It never happens, and wasnt scary, so she got a free pass on that one.

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  5. I feel so bad for you! That's a heck of a lot of stuff to go wrong on one trip. As for clinics, if I am not learning what I hoped, I will try to ask questions if the opportunity presents itself. I have gone home from some clinics feeling like I just wasted my money. For sillies I will hold the head up and just leg for forward without buying into action with reaction.

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  6. We had a rough clinic/lesson the other day where my BO and I explained that we were there to help our horses gain confidence over "scary" fences (they had a make shift xc course)... the other girl in our group (sweet as can be) you could tell just came out of the hunter ring and was popping around on a been there done that eventer... not a good mix. She needed help steering and we needed to start with smaller jumps. Long story short... I was told not to trust my horse... see-saw his mouth (which I did not do)... and got dumped... I walked out. 😂

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  7. That sounds pretty rough to me! I tend to avoid clinics because they cost money and it bugs me if it's not a fit. However, when I go I suck it up. If there was a two day clinic and I felt that the first one was not suiting me I might say something.

    As for the antics- I take a firm hold of the outside rein, give and take the inside and kick on.

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  8. Arg. Sorry that things didn't go as planned and I am glad you were ok after the fall!

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  9. Always be your own advocate in riding, if you feel its not a good fit then you need to speak up. Definitely sometimes I've had to wait around for other people to work through an exercise I've had no trouble with, and then again sometimes I'm that person too, so it all becomes even eventually.

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  10. How frustrating :( I'm a wimp so I'd silently stew and maybe if I got the balls would bring it up with the manager. In the second situation I've been taught to "hands fore". Not to slip the reins, but release some of the pressure if they are feeling trapped. Definitely forward, sit tall and back, and one rein circles/stops.

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