Tuesday, December 15, 2015

More Auditing: Boyd Martin Clinic

One of my goals for the last few months of 2015 was to audit all the clinics. Many of those goals became laughable after I broke my leg, but actually the clinic thing has sorta serendipitously happened. Most recently, I learned from Austen that Boyd Martin would be in the area teaching clinic-style show jumping lessons. So obviously I had to go watch too!

time to start teaching!

I think there were three total groups - from green beans (rider or horse) to more advanced. We saw the first and last splits, and everyone worked over the same exercises. Tho some grew in complexity (think shorter distances) for the more advanced groups.

this farm had all kinds of neat details. i particularly liked this old fire truck

The host farm was just stunning - gazebos everywhere and incredibly scenic vistas of Maryland farmland in every direction. Plus everyone was super friendly. Had I been in riding condition it would have been seriously tempting to actually join in on the lesson too.

But sadly I can't ride yet (soon!) .... which is probably for the best bc Boyd's exercises and style of teaching are similar to Dan's, but double the cost. Sooooo.... haha I'll stick with auditing for now (tho actually Dan's gone for the season anyway, womp womp).

horse weighs whether his intense desire to bite Austen's hat is outweighed by the consequences of said nip

Anyway, I didn't see any of the warm ups except for the final group of the day (two advanced riders), so idk if it was the same in each split, but Boyd was very hands off during this portion. Both riders warmed up on their own and it was interesting to see how they chose to do so. Particularly, both went through some similar exercises - canter to halt, then striking off in canter again on the other lead. And also testing the flying changes and some lateral work.

see the gazebo in the background? 
Once they were ready to jump, Boyd sent them through a set of three cavaletti on a bending line (the white lines at the bottom of the course diagram). They were spread farther apart for earlier groups (maybe 2-3 strides) and changed to 1 stride distances for the last group. Riders circled through until it was smooth and relaxed looking, and Boyd also took this opportunity to assess each rider's position. Particularly, he wanted to see a softer lighter half seat.

oxers were square and everything rode in both directions. you're gonna need a LOT of poles and standards haha
Next the group moved to the cross rail exercise, starting with just a line of two on the end to get the horse tuned in. Then the full serpentine line. Riders were supposed to "show the horse where to go" and start looking for their changes of direction early.

every split worked on some variation of this bending line exercise
The jumps themselves were not particularly large, and the distances looked pretty inviting - an easy 3 where they changed bend (only tricky if you had a longer-strided horse).

Boyd wanted an exaggerated but soft opening rein to cue for the changes of direction
Again, riders worked on this until it was smooth. A consistent theme was getting the horses to jump 'slower' - don't race off the ground. Boyd didn't want to see any sharp turns either.

big pets for a good boy!
He also wanted riders approaching the serpentine of cross rails (ridden in both directions) from a roll back left turn. The idea being that, whenever possible, riders should approach a fence from the opposite direction of the bend they will land in. This helps the horse jump straighter and is preferable to using rein aids for straightness over the fence, since rein aids can get the horse's head out of alignment mid-jump.

horse JUMPS
The course work itself was actually very straight forward - the outside line rode in an easy 4 (occasionally a 3) to a 3. Boyd introduced that line by having riders come in off the rail to just the end jump on a right lead and land with the idea of turning left back to the rail to loop back and catch the middle oxer to land right and repeat. A figure eight, essentially.

Particularly catching the end jump to land left (the jump pictured above, tho that pic is from a different exercise) proved challenging, as the jump was very close to the rail and corner and horses were anticipating a right hand turn, not left.

Another challenging turn was coming out of that same outside line, then turning sharply right to the red and white diagonal line. Boyd wanted to see smooth turns with riders looking early.


airy oxer on the diagonal. and gazebo, natch.
As mentioned previously, he also stressed the importance of not rushing the horse off the ground. He says horses jump best when they jump slowly (as in, move through the air slowly, not necessarily slow-paced). And when riders get too quick with their upper bodies it makes the horse jump faster too. That's obviously a good little nugget for me to remember lol.

A final sorta take away from him was: "Never be afraid to put the jumps down." The value in these exercises is not derived from fence height - it's the turns and speed and smoothness that's really important. Cavaletti or ground poles can help put you on the right track just as well.

So all in all it was a very fun clinic for me to watch - esp with the caliber of horses and riders participating. Super impressive! I'd also really encourage anybody to audit a similar clinic with Boyd too. Personally I'm not likely to fork over the cash to ride with him, since his philosophies and exercises match my current program with Dan and Trainer P so closely. But I always love hearing how different trainers explain similar concepts.

36 comments:

  1. I love clinics! That is my nerdy side showing. One of my favorite things about clinics are the exercises that you can incorporate into your routine. Sounds like a fun day!

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    1. this clinic definitely had some useful exercises that i'll take home too!

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  2. Good stuff! I too need to remember that bit about not getting quick with my upper body

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    1. mee too... i'm *so bad* about that haha

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  3. So wish I could have gone to see this! Ive really wanted to see him teach in person for a while.

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    1. i suspect that opportunities will be plenty - esp next season when dan will be so close to windurra. we'll go schooling there for sure!!

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  4. I love watching Boyd teach! I need to audit more.

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    1. i really enjoyed it and would grab any opportunities to watch again!

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  5. Sounds like a good one to watch! :) I get way less nervous as an auditor, so I can actually absorb information haha

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    1. ha i definitely relate to that - esp considering every clinic i've audited has had a fair number of spectators

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  6. What a great opportunity. I need to do more clinic auditing.

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    1. i feel the same way - there's so much to learn from just watching!

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  7. Sounds like a great clinic! I really like Boyd Martin as a rider, and it sounds like he's a good teacher, too.

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    1. i liked the way he taught a lot - was good at giving timely advice, but also had some interesting explanations that i hadn't heard before but that made a lot of sense

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  8. I wish I could jump that big holy moly!

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    1. i know, right? they made it look sooooooo easy too. crazy haha

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  9. I'm envious that so many great clinicians seem to visit/live in your area. Thanks so much for the clinic recap :)

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    1. this area is sooooo rife with amazing riders and trainers, we are super lucky to be able to just 'drop in' on a clinic w boyd martin

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  10. So jealous of your proximity to auditing suh awesome clinics. Great news that the teaching philosophy ties in with what your trainers work on. Hearing similar ideas explained in different ways can be super eye opening and lead to light bulb moments just from a different turn of phrase or exercise.

    Izzy will be stoked when you're back in the tack and look/think back on these exercises so you can work on the tidbits yourselves ☺

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    1. i can't wait to start actually practicing too!! and yea it's always super reassuring to find that what i'm learning with my own trainers matches what the top riders are doing!!

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  11. It's so exciting that you got to audit his clinic!

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  12. I sure hope Lindsey wins the Boyd Martin clinic contest! Sounds like a great clinic, and lord knows Bacon and I could learn to jump slower.

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    1. i hope Lindsey wins too!! it looks like a REALLY fun clinic to ride in, plus lots of good tidbits and pointers. Prisoner would be awesome haha. also yea, i'm with ya on needing to jump slower lol... but fast is so fun!

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  13. Lucky lady! Wish we had more clinics around here. You would figure they would be all over the place in Florida.

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    1. yea i'm actually kinda surprised there aren't more! maybe once winter season really kicks in and more folks are down around there?

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  14. You have the best clinic recaps! I feel like I'm almost there learning too!

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    1. aw thanks! i'm terrible at remembering the little details unless i write them down haha

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  15. I'm horrible at reading things in order/on time, but regardless -- really awesome write up with some great take-aways. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. glad you enjoyed it - i really had fun and learned a lot from this clinic (and have since employed a few of the tactics and exercises covered here) and would definitely audit again!

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