Last weekend, I had the chance to ride one of my boss' young green beans in our farm-hosted jumping clinic with Jeff Cook. Jeff trained with and worked for George Morris at Hunterdon for ten years before moving out west with his family, and comes back here on a fairly regular basis to do clinics with us. This was my first time meeting him, first time riding somebody else's horse in a clinic (while she watched... nerve-wracking as she is a far better rider than I am!), and first time doing an exclusively equitation-based clinic (versus dressage or eventing). As James is a little baby wiggly worm and I am a complete rust-bucket over fences, we did the baby section designed for the greenies. Mostly what I got out of this was polish on my basic equitation, especially in the canter. Suddenly, after all this time, I have discovered that yes, I too can two-point like a normal human being! THAT IS SO EXCITING.
For those of you that don't know my background, I started with a huntseat-type lesson barn, moved to a dressage and CT barn when I was a teenager (but did mostly dressage), and had horrible dressage-like equitation over fences for the LONGEST time. It has been a SERIOUSLY long and uphill road trying to counter that, and I've spent a lot of time in my past sitting in the saddle while on XC because I just couldn't figure out HOW to two-point correctly without losing my balance or getting exhausted. Last year, when I did the Eric Horgan clinic, he talked to me about keeping my base of support in my calves versus my thighs while up out of the saddle, and I tried but just didn't understand what he meant. The week before last, however, I was riding James and thinking about what he said, and suddenly I found myself up out of the saddle, base of support right there in my hugging calves, able to balance perfectly and comfortably out of the saddle. Wait, WHAT? WHEN did I learn how to do THAT? I used to ride up out of the saddle like a typical dressage rider, with my base of support in my thighs versus my calves. The problem with this is that you lose your lower leg over fences when you don't have strength in them, and you tend to tilt in the saddle because your balance is too high. Aaah, the things you learn as time goes on!(XC used to look like this. Trying to get in two-point used to look like this.)
Suddenly, I found that I could stay comfortably up out of the saddle. So much WIN! You'll see in the following video that I lose it in the beginning of the circle I made, and fall back into my tilty habits, but I regain composure halfway around the circle and continue onward. Go James go!
Obviously this is going to need a lot of practice. But hey, it's a start! Now we just need some finesse.
Something else Jeff pointed out to me, besides the things I already knew (keep your hands closed around the reins, bring your toe out a little more) was that I shouldn't have vetwrap on my stirrups. But.. but.. but..! It's so pretty and blue! That might be so, he said, but I'm really fooling myself if I think it's going to help me at all. In the end, all it will really do is give me a false sense of security and have me stand up on my toe more than I should. Same goes for the jointed stirrups I use, he said. Now, I know that George is a stickler for those old fillis irons, so I'm not about to go trashing my jointed stirrups, but I did cut off the vetwrap for the second day of the clinic. Awww, maaaan! Goodbye beautiful blue. But he's right, and as I have a tendency to lose my heel sometimes anyway, I can't take any chances. No excuse for not having proper equitation for the sake of having some shiny colors on my stirrups.
We did a lot of basic w/t/c work with the young horses and the green riders, so there wasn't much for me to get out of it. We jumped some tiiiiiiiiny little things, which James was SO unimpressed with....
.... but it was still very fun. My take home message from the clinic was mostly that I need to practice, practice, practice and not let my skills get too rusty while waiting for the mare to get back on her feet. Jeff was a fabulous clinician, very nice and super helpful, and I recommend him if you have a chance. I only wish it had been Gogo instead, I know I would have gotten a TON of stuff out of it with her.
And for something a little more interesting than James hopping over a six inch crossrail, here is my boss riding one of the Florida horses. MUCH more exciting!
Mare is getting primed for her next vet visit in a few weeks. Her legs have been quiet and tight (sometimes with minor fill, but nothing alarming, and it usually goes with fill in the fronts too), and she's actually been well-behaved for once! I better not say that outloud though, because you know it'll never last!
Zac's 3 week update
18 hours ago