It seems we are well within clinic season here in the midwest. Fall temperatures mean it's dipped below freezing a couple of times now and the show season is pretty much over. Through November I think i just about have a clinic every weekend.
To start it off I went to a Jennifer Truett clinic today. This is the second clinic that I've attended with her as a clinician and I really enjoy her. She is great with people of all levels, is comfortable and able to climb on horses if needed, and will teach anything from proper saddle fit to biomechanics, to just good solid dressage principles. I think one of my favorite things about her as a clinician is that she also does work in hand that would sort of be "natural horsemanship" but only in that she uses a rope halter and lead and moves horses around on the ground. What I really like about how she does this is that she mainly focuses on their mental stability and focus rather than just moving them around until they submit.
The first lesson was someone who hasn't been riding for very long but had a good grasp of basics. It was wonderful to see some amazing improvements after a 45 minute lesson and I, as always, learned a lot. The second was a women who has an advanced level dressage horse that has such major anxiety that she's never been able to show him. Jen had worked with them on Friday as well and by this lesson on Saturday he was soft, listening, and licking and chewing. People who had seen him both days couldn't even believe the difference and based on the horse she had today the rider was going to try to ride on Sunday!
There were two more intro - training level riders one of which just did a lesson on saddle fit. It made me check my saddle fit as soon as I got home but, other than still being slightly wide in front from the flocking settling (I do have it shimmed in front and that's working for now), it's fitting wonderfully.
Then I watched two training - first level riders and learned even more. The emphasis was on adjustability within the gaits and straightness. I've been starting to work on adjustability within trot and canter in my lessons so it was good to gain some more insight in this. One of the riders was also doing too much to balance her horse through the reins which is something I used to do a lot and still do at times. It was another great reminder to me.
After the clinic I went to the barn with two goals in mind. Straigtness and being able to send her forward or slow her within trot and canter. I also wanted to work on not loosing her shoulder. I decided that based on the weather, and for a chance to change things up a bit, I wanted to ride her outside. This was the second time that I've riden her outside so I figured she might be a little flighty. After pulling her into the barn and tacking up quickly I headed outside to make the best of the daylight.
Indeed pony was quick and rushy so at first I just worked on getting her settled a little and slowing her tempo while lengthening her stride back to its new and improved length. I wasn't going to push for any kind of extension but just a good working gait. In a fairly short amount of time I was able to get her back to a good quality working trot so I went right to a canter. It was amazing!!! I swear she's been doing homework since it was one of the better canters I've gotten. I was also proud of myself because I put on my big girl pants and galloped her even in the new ring. We felt a little like we were going to win the Kentucky Derby (short pony legs eddition) and then when I asked she went right back to a nice working gait without any sass!
I was really impressed and ended with that especially since it was starting to get dark. I'm looking forward to my lesson tomorrow! Then next weekend Susanne Winslade will be teaching a clinic at my new barn! L really wants me to ride with her when she comes back next time (I think early next year?) so I'm going to go watch her next weekend. I'm especially excited about this since I know L wants me to ride with her :-)
Then on November 14th my friend H is riding for Janet Foy! I've never seen such renowned dressage clinician and having H actually ride for her is especially exciting! I can't wait to go to that clinic either.
I'm not thrilled that it's already late October but I'm so truly enjoying all of these amazing opportunities that I'm not even too unhappy that winter is coming.