Wednesday, November 18, 2015

audit all the clinics!!! (while Pig feels feelings lol)

So one of my birthday treats was skipping on down to Austen's barn to catch Stephen Birchall teach a few lessons. This is the same clinician that Austen rode with a little while back (click that link for more excellent gifs haha), and he was also here the last time I visited the barn.

i like a clinician who is comfortable lecturing
I really enjoyed watching him teach - and got to observe three lessons (on three very different horses) to see which tactics stayed the same and which changed horse by horse.

also huskies. even if they eat mice, Lyra
In particular, the second horse reminded me a little bit of Isabel. Namely, the horse had plenty of GO, but simultaneously got a little stuck behind the leg and btv. So not a true connection.

included purely for entertainment value
Takeaways of interest included:
  • Leg is sacred. When Stephen first got on the horse (he started out in the saddle for two of the three lessons before passing the horse back to the rider. and for the third, he schooled the horse for the full session), he was very explicit that his legs stayed OFF the horse. No nagging, no constant nudging. No nothing. But when he *did* do something, he wanted a reaction. It had to mean something. 
  • "When I close my leg he has to go forward and take my hand, NOT go faster." Yeeaahh. I need more of this in my life haha. 

the horse went like isabel... but did not look like her at all haha
He also focused extensively on keeping the horse even between both reins, and employed a tactic of "rattling" the reins. The riders I saw seemed to be a bit too slow with the movement, but when he did it himself it almost resembled (quickly) turning a door knob with his hand/wrist. 

pictured: dis how you sit the canter
 He also lectured a bit on the 'elusive connection' - how to find it? The answer: Patience.

Womp womp, no magic bullet.

this horse was SUPER adorable
Another tactic that isn't particularly original (but is right in line with how I need to ride) is to keep focusing on asking for softness by opening and closing the rein - like a vibration - and then be QUIET. And after asking for the horse to soften, you close your leg to push them into the hand.


Like I said - not exactly earth shattering, but just steady consistent patient training, every step of the way.

husky balls!!
One thing that really stuck out to me was that no matter the rider, no matter the horse, the focus was always on improving the gaits and connection. Stephen played around with some movements like half pass and changes while he was schooling the third horse, but generally while teaching it was all about quality quality quality. Inneresting. 

Pig!!
 Then I got to stick around a little while longer to see Pig go through his paces with Austen.

'three tracks = no problem' - Pig
Such a pleasant pair to watch - tho Pig's hotness was very apparent after watching all the big lumbering warmbloods lol. This guy's got ZIP!

pictured: Pig feeling feelings
Then off for phase two of birthday celebrating - beers and fried mac and cheese and beers!!! (Tho not before I saw my life flashing before my eyes when Pig spooked at something - mouse farts? - and spun in my general direction. Not particularly close to me... but plenty close enough to set my crippled nerves ablaze and slam down my broken limb... womp womp). 

I'm actually thinking that a third (and belated) birthday treat might be to sign up for a lesson with this clinician sometime this winter if he continues to brave the blustery north. We'll see! 

32 comments:

  1. A lesson would be fun! Aren't hot horses that are behind the leg and like to curl fun? The leg off is interesting because it is the exact opposite approach I'm taking with Stinker. I'm keeping my leg on so he learns to accept it and doesn't rocket off as soon as it touches him.

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    1. yea i've definitely heard that you should keep your leg *on* a hot horse, and take it off a lazy horse... but i think this was more about building on that - it's not just leg *on*, it's leg with *meaning*. his big point was that the horse should move forward into the hand from the leg, not just go faster. so yea, getting the horse to accept the leg first is important too!

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    2. That makes sense, and fits with what I have been told. I was just misinterpreting what was said. :)

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    3. lol dressage, why so confusing?!? it's all so interesting to think about anyway tho... and really anything that can help me get isabel uncurled will be helpful!

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    4. I loved the leg has meaning comment...I need to apply this more!

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  2. That would be an awesome birthday treat! Sounds like it was an interesting clinic. Although fried mac and cheese is also an acceptable and delicious birthday treat.


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    1. it was definitely super interesting - i just wish i was made of money and could ride in allll the clinics haha. at least there's enough for fried mac and cheese tho :D

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  3. OMG HUSKY BALLS!! Love! The "leg off" so resonates with me... my leg is just white noise half the time. Soooo sad I missed out on fried mac and cheese and beers with you ladies! Sounds like an awesome clinic!

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    1. lol aren't they the cutest?!? if i had gotten any colder i would have dragged one of 'em up into my lap lol. and yea my leg is pretty much just white noise too... needs work!!

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  4. *gasp* What a beautiful arena! Sounds like a great clinic!

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    1. isn't it gorgeous?!? i'm sorta kinda super jealous haha

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  5. LOL 'no magic bullet.' I may have watched the sitting trot gif several times, perfection! Sounds like a great clinician!

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    1. haha he was definitely a pleasure to watch ride - made it look so simple!!!!

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  6. That point about leg... I need some magic for that one!

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    1. yea seriously... it's like you can tell me all day long to stop nagging, but i just can't seem to knock it off haha

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  7. Love getting to drop in on clinics like that! :-) Hope you do get to ride with him.

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    1. i could honestly probably watch clinics like that all day - it's the perfect activity while my leg is on the mend haha. i hope i get to ride with him eventually too tho

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  8. Guilty as charged with the nagging of the leg! Definitely something I need to constantly work on. And poor Pig feeling feelings. I know that feeling.

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    1. lol i definitely know that feeling too....

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  9. Ahahaha! Oh Pig, that face. Man. He and I both had a lot of feels going on for that ride!!

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    1. i keep doing double takes at the last pic too bc the sign in the background almost makes it look like he's sticking his tongue out like a dragon or something lol. a red, fire breathing dragon ;)

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  10. I'm sad I didn't get to go to Equine Affaire this past weekend because of ALL the clinics (plus shopping). It's so neat to see how different instructors explain things in different ways but mean the same thing for the same end goal.

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    1. i agree - and definitely LOVE hearing the different perspectives / philosophies / wording of various trainers. that may or may not explain why i ride with so many haha

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  11. That's some great observations...I have that problem with being quiet and not nagging ..sigh.. The third birthday treat is definitely in order!!

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    1. i hope so!! it'll be a little while before i'm feeling fit enough to spend that kinda $$ on a lesson... but maybe this guy will be brave and keep coming up all winter from florida :)

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  12. Husky balls are killin' me.
    But crikey the man can sit to a canter haha!

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    1. he made it look so effortless!! so jealous lol

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  13. I haven't audited a clinic before but I want to!

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    1. ooh you totally should! this was very low key too - just a great opportunity to watch some good riding and nice horses and learn a little bit along the way :)

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  14. The husky balls and mouse carts had me completely cracking up! Lol XD

    Also completely guilty as charged with the nagging leg!

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    1. i think the leg thing is a common problem with any rider who both jumps AND does dressage - in jumping my coaches want my leg ON, but then my pure dressage trainer wants the leg OFF. there's gotta be a balance in there somewhere!

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