Wednesday, August 5, 2015

blogger meet up with David O'Connor!

Phew I'm fresh back from a whirlwind long weekend that included lessons and volunteering at horse shows and lessons and a CLINIC!! Today I'm talking about the latter. (Oh man I'm still so far behind, how does this keep happening?!?).


group 1 listening intently to Mr. O'Connor (in blue)
But really this was a pretty good time. Austen from Guinness on Tap tipped me and Alli from PONY'TUDE off a few weeks ago that David O'Connor would be at Waredaca for an eventing clinic. Obviously we all had to go audit! And, even better - Austen very generously invited us down the evening prior. This way we could enjoy dinner out on the town (made unexpectedly interesting by additional guests) and then make an early start for Waredaca from her house. 


equestrian bloggers unite!! plus bonus husky (who is clearly thrilled lol)
The clinic consisted of two groups. Group 1 had seven pairs - six going novice and one BN. Group 2 had five riders - one going prelim, one recently dropped from prelim to training after a few spills, one prelim rider catch riding a training horse, and two other training pairs. Both groups did stadium in the morning and cross country in the afternoon. Sadly things ran a bit late so we missed Group 2's xc session, but really both groups seemed to be working on the same exercises and concepts - just varying in degrees of refinement. 


more lecturing
I took a TON of notes, which are all dutifully copied below in bullet point form, intermixed with photo spam of unidentified horses standing around listening to David spew forth his wisdom. 

And really, he had a LOT of wisdom to share. After auditing (free + a $10 lunch), I'm not convinced the expense of riding in his clinic would be justified for me and Isabel at present (the exercises and concepts were very similar to my current training program). But the lectures were excellent and I encourage anyone interested to audit a clinic should he be in your area.


major bonus: we got to watch him ride when he got on to school one of the horses!
Ok - onto the various nuggets of imparted wisdom:
  • People ride below their level bc they don't make decisions. If you go out there and make a decision that leads to a mistake - that's great, you've got something to fix. But the lack of a decision process gets you in trouble.
  • Get away from good fence / bad fence mentality. If you don't know what a good fence is, how do you repeat it? How can you repeat it in competition under pressure? Know the parameters so you can reproduce them. Also know what the parameters are when it DOESN'T work so you know what to fix.
stadium exercises focused heavily on the 6/7 stride outside line and the 5/6 stride bending line visible here
Four main Rider Responsibilities (in order):
  1. Direction - Means the rider always has a line and never leaves it. The line is the width of the horse - and you should be able to play within that line. Shoulders in; haunches in; faster; slower - all on the same line. Rider must be exact all the time. If you only jump one path every time, you're not jumping a corner you're just jumping a part of the corner (ie it's no different than one specific painted section of a pole).
  2. Speed - aka Multiple Canters. Flat work is about "go, come back, and turn." How fast can you go or come back? Can you go from 500 mpm to 200 mpm in three strides? The #1 exercise is lengthening and shortening the canter. Riders shoud be doing this more than anything else. 
  3. Rhythm/Balance/Quality of Canter And specifically that the canter is sustained. You shouldn't have to hold the horse or carry him, he keeps it by himself - that's balance. Ears and eyes are on the fence. Not too round, head not too high.
  4. Timing - Recognize the distance. Have to be able to "recognize" not necessarily look for one. When you look you change the canter. When you recognize you see it out of the canter you're in.

the other stadium exercise was this triple of an easy 5 strides to a 1 stride
Position:

These lower levels require a forward seat 90% of the time - unless a horse is backing off. Forward seat is fastest way for rider to get strong. Shouldn't be sitting much at these levels.

Stand up in the stirrups, then put your head below horse's neck - feel the bounce in your heels and the stretch in your hamstrings. Then stand up again, then put your head below the horse's neck again, then stand up, then go HALF WAY down. That's a forward seat.

group 2 working on finding their optimal forward seat by standing in the stirrups
Stadium Exercises: 

Once a week jack your stirrups up 3 holes and circle around in a forward seat with two poles at 12oclock and 3oclock, maintaining a narrow and well defined track along the entire circle, not just over the poles. Horse should be self contained and stay where you put him. This is an excellent way to build rider strength.

The dreaded six stride line (84 feet? I didn't catch the exact measurement) then bending line (72 feet). You have to relate the distance measurement to the CANTER not the NUMBER. Meaning, what canter do I need to get that number? Why do I want that number? Answer: To put the horse in the optimal place to jump.

The full exercise: seven down the line (collected canter), five up the bending (forward canter), five down the gymnastic to the one stride (collected). Build the canter through first turn, slow through second.

the catered lunch was quite delicious - well worth the small cost, esp considering David continued the conversation throughout
Other General Miscellany:
  • Most ppl bend too much to the inside. In dressage AND show jumping. Outcome is that haunches are too much to the outside. Need to use outside aids. Otherwise lose outside shoulder and drift off line. He wants the horse straight - both in show jumping and xc.
  • Horses run at the fence bc of anxiety. that anxiety is caused by riders 98% of the time. For one anxious horse in the group, David directed the rider to "Pat him to trot" rather than pulling him down. Make it a game. A puzzle. Patting is about relaxation. Do a lot after the fences on course. Land and walk. Or land and trot. Pat him. Etc.
pretty sure this ramp was jump 16 from Isabel's and my outing at Waredaca earlier this summer
  • Take your eyes off the fence when you're thinking about the "next." But until that point, look right at the fence where you want to jump it.
  • He wanted the canter lead corrected before turn in stadium.
  • Re: the two different canters: Which one is harder for you: lengthen or collect? Work on that one. Pros warm up by testing the "zing" and a "whoa" in the canter then move on.
  • Don't give up on a fence. At this level the horse can jump it from the walk.
David preaches from atop his mountain. and the crowds go crazy!
  • A change in speed on cross country has to do w how vertical the face is. If we get short to a vertical fence they could hang a leg so we need balance. Whereas a less vertical face means we can keep coming.
  • When walking a course always walk up to your fence then look backwards to see a truer sense of the terrain.
  • He doesn't walk courses with his students. Maybe the first 2-3 times, and then they are on their own.
it was a gorgeous day out for the clinic. a touch hot, but really quite perfect!
  • In a drop, keep shoulder in same place and allow your seat to follow saddle through the arc. It's not "leaning back" bc otherwise you'll just get pitched forward on landing.
  • Tie knot in end of reins on cross country. Safety mechanism in case you slip your reins - it protects the buckle from too much pressure. 
  • Stirrup behind ball of foot for xc, at ball of foot for stadium, and maybe slightly in front of ball for dressage.
this mare was amazing and reminded me a lot of Isabel - or rather what Isabel could be with continued education. Fitting that the mare's name was Empress, as Isabel can only presently claim to be Princess, or maybe Queen on a good day lol.
XC Position / Exercises:

Make any adjustments about six strides out - in the 'preparation zone.' That's about when the horse realizes what they're even jumping. In the preparation zone, move seat toward back of saddle and slightly open chest (for shorter riders, taller riders have to be more careful with their torsos). As you open your chest and bring seat back in preparation zone you may find that by the last two strides you're in the saddle or very close to it.

These two different positions (forward/galloping and preparation) tell horse "we are cruising now" or "we are jumping now."

Once you're in that 6 stride zone you have to maintain - and react if it changes. Managed maintenance.


the standards were eventually built up to a small vertical to finish out the schooling
So yea - David O'Connor Clinic! Lots of good stuff in there. I was really pleased to see how consistent it all was with the lessons I'm taking with Dan and trainer P from OF. Tho David really excels at lecturing. Even tho many of his spiels were quite clearly 'canned' - as evidenced by hearing the same thing twice for the two different groups - there was a LOT in there to think on and chew over, and my notes definitely benefited from hearing it twice.

And most importantly it was a super fun outing with Alli and Austen and I can't wait for another opportunity to hang out with those lovely ladies! 

34 comments:

  1. What FUN! And thanks for sharing your notes

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  2. Sounds like a GREAT day with some fun ladies!

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    1. it was awesome - Austen and Alli are tons of fun to hang around with !

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  3. Love David! You got some great tidbits.

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    1. he was a riot!! definitely enjoyed listening (and watching) him teach - his lectures definitely provided quite a bit more context to some of the things i've already been working on

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  4. I had a BLAST with you guys at this clinic!! It was totally worth my extreme exhaustion. :)

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    1. So tired. Such fun. Slo mo video. Crazy people. I mean, it was a complete experience. ;)

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    2. haha a complete experience indeed - exhausting but yes totally worth it!!! had so much fun with you ladies!

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    3. Complete experience. Bahaha. Yes it was!

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  5. Oh my gosh- to hear words of wisdom from the DOC himself! What an experience, and I cannot BELIEVE auditing was free- WHAT?!

    Love this recap!

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    1. yea i couldn't believe it either - and obviously we couldn't let that kind of opportunity pass us by!! glad you like the recap too - very information-dense but hopefully it's useful :)

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  6. Lots of good stuff in these notes! Thanks so much for sharing. I'm auditing a KOC clinic next weekend and will hopefully remember to share mine as well - it'll be interesting to hear what she has to say vs. DOC.

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    1. oooh yea i will definitely be curious to hear how her perspective might be similar/different - have a blast!

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  7. How cool that ya'll met up for the clinic!!

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    1. the clinic really was the perfect opportunity for us to geek out lol, that's for sure

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  8. Lots of good things to mull over! Auditing clinics is such a good time!

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    1. i totally agree! i really haven't been to many clinics at all, but would like to get out more. and 'free' is exactly my favorite price point lol

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  9. How awesome, Lyra is making such a stink face lol

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    1. lol she was not amused at the forced photo op haha

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  10. So jealous is the best way! DOC clinic + blogger meetup is just great. Personally I have gotten more from auditing clinics than I have from riding in them, especially with the clinicians who are good lecturers. Thanks for sharing the notes - lots of gold nuggets of wisdom there!!

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    1. i think you might be right about riding vs auditing. this clinic would have been most valuable if we were struggling specifically with one of the concepts covered - and i think the rider whose horse David rode definitely got her money's worth! but really the lecture was the best part for me, and that didn't cost any money so... ya i'm happy haha

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  11. That's awesome! I wish he would come to California.

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    1. i'm sure he does with some regularity - he really seems to go everywhere

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  12. Replies
    1. it really was. i could probably listen to the same lectures over and over again and still hear new things.

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  13. Soooo jealous. Looks like fun! And I like learning about drops in any way a person can explain them, because they piss me off.

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    1. i don't mind drops particularly - except my position sucks and i always end up slamming into izzy's back and getting tossed around.

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  14. Wow what a great experience! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. i'd go again in a heart beat - he had so many great things to say!

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