Friday, December 16, 2016

clinic prep: smooth as ice

Or..... Not haha.

It got reeeeeeal cold here for a couple days, tho things should warm up with the help of freezing rain and icy road conditions just in time for us to haul over for a clinic with Stephen Birchall tomorrow morning!!!


I'm stupidly excited about this haha. Well. Not the weather, that part makes me sliiiiiightly nervous.... But you know what I mean. I've ridden with Stephen three times, twice with Isabel (here and here) and once on that lovely tho sensitive mare Shen.

I've also had the opportunity to watch him teach others, including a few of Austen's lessons, Liz's lesson, and some auditing while I was laid up with a broken leg.

My impression of him as a clinician is extremely favorable. Riding with him is sorta like a time machine six months into the future. Like, "This is where you are going, this is what it's going to be like, this is what you will be working on, and this is how you're going to get there."

Then obvi we come home and try to recreate the magic on our own but obviously the time machine only works in the presence of Stephen and we're relegated back to doing all that homework he gave us (including continuing on with trainer C's program, bc the two trainers mesh perfectly) in the hopes of finding that sweet spot again bc it turns out there still aren't any shortcuts or silver bullets in dressage.


My schedule leading up to this outing aligned in a way that we equestrians almost never experience: the timing has been pretty darn perfect! 

Charlie had a great dressage lesson with trainer C on Sunday, day off Monday, schooled Tuesday and Wednesday (once in jump tack, once in dressage tack), day off for the frigid arctic blast Thursday (but got his feet done, a very important detail here), and will do.... something tonight, as yet undecided. 

Mostly at this point I'm just interested in moving him around to keep him limber and thinking and in a working frame of mind, but I obviously don't expect to be able to school or fix anything the night before the clinic. Rather, I am focused on preparing and clearing the slate in anticipation of a serious learning beat down haha. 


Only downside lately is that there was a miscommunication with barn staff and Charlie ended up on a 6wk shoeing cycle instead of the agreed upon (and vet recommended) 4wk cycle. So he's been all kinds of awkward and tripping to a degree we haven't seen for a while now, and maybe even a titch foot sore. That..... that's maybe actually pretty unfortunate timing.

Oh well. So we may be super awkward in the lesson. But. I mean, that was guaranteed anyway.

Bc let's be real. It's Charlie. And me. At a super fancy dressage barn haha. In what I expect to be among one of the most physically and emotionally demanding rides of our brief shared history together, since Stephen doesn't play around and I signed up for an hour.


It's cool tho. I have a ton of trust in this clinician despite having only actually met or ridden with him a handful of times. He proved with Isabel to have a really quick and clear read on the horse, and an excellent perception for when and how hard and in which direction to push.

Plus Charlie isn't exactly an enigma either. So long as my priority remains keeping it positive and fair to the horse while hopefully absorbing some new skills, we should be good.

I mean. C'mon. The horse looks extremely handsome in dressage tack. Surely that'll be sufficient for getting all the DQs to forgive our erratic awkward flailing, right?? lol...

How do you like to prepare for a clinic? Do you take very green horses on outings like this? Or do you prefer to wait until they're a little more schooled? What are your typical goals/objectives for the earliest outings with your horse? And when/how does the focus shift from "survival is my only goal" to "we're hear to learn, baby!"??

37 comments:

  1. I'm so excited for you guys! Hopefully the weather will cooperate with you. I think clinics are fantastic first outings for green horses. If the wheels totally fall off you have excellent help putting them back on (I don't think that this will happen with Charlie but it happened numerous times with Stinker). I also have always learned something when my goal was to survive so maybe there isn't a clear change but more of a gradual shift in thinking.

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    1. I hope the weather cooperates too!! And I tend to agree with your thoughts above, tho more as it relates to lessons rather than the relatively pricier clinicians. Not sure I would take a horse to a clinic as a first outing bc I kinda DONT want the wheels to fall off or just be in survivor mode for a clinic. Regular lessons tho are the perfect place to get that kind of experience for testing the waters etc. Or at least that's my thought process haha. Obvi it's horses so anything can happen!!

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  2. I can't wait to read about it. I think clinics can be very useful as long as they fit into the overall plan. Have fun!

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    1. Yup I definitely agree about the "over all plan" bit. No sense laying out all that effort and expense of the clinician's teaching style doesn't fit at all into my regular training program!!

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  3. Can't wait to hear how it goes! I think it can be beneficial with clinicians you know/trust. They may have a slightly different way of seeing or saying the same thing and that may resonate differently with you. That's true whether the horse it green or not, but helpful either way. Have fun and looking forward to hearing about it!

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    1. Absolutely agreed !! Esp bc they typically don't see us as often, they may observe or choose to focus on areas that we may not have thought much about.

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  4. Be safe driving tomorrow! It's gonna be nasty out! GIF selection is perfect, as usual.

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  5. ooo i want to ride with him! he always got you and isabelle going so well.

    i could not stop watching the llama-pool-fail gif.

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    1. It's oddly mesmerizing and hypnotizing, no? I may or may not have practically cried laughing when I found it lol

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  6. All I can say is bring whiskey and tons of treats for Charlie. And llamas. waat-the-f? lol! :)

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    1. yas on all the things!!! and yea idk what's happening with that pool but i can't stop watching it!

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  7. Be safe hauling, I suspect it will be mostly rain for you so that is great. Have fun! And your GIF game is ON POINT, omg those are absolutely amazing.

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    1. haha i feel like these animals are my kindred spirit - esp maybe that koala lol

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  8. Love the duck landing gif. Have fun at the clinic! I'm Charlie will bring his A game.

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    1. thanks! i'm hopeful he will too - tho he's still kinda figuring out what his 'A game' actually is at this point lol

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  9. I've only ever been to one clinic (not because I wouldn't like to go to more, I just thought taking a decade off would be a good idea) and my whole prep was trying to get my then horse into our trailer. Ha. Ha. Ha. So I had to spend a whole day riding her through the back country to get her to the clinic location. My main priority was to get her into a trailer for that clinic, and it did happen and I was really excited to learn.
    I'll let you know when I move beyond "survival is my only goal" to "we're hear to learn, baby!".

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    1. ha yea the whole trailering thing.... that really is a priority unto itself. and obviously it's something i've been fairly obsessive about haha... in fact maybe i feel another post coming on about where things stand now with charlie and the trailer...

      but anyway yea, i think as long as we know what our priorities are, our objectives and such, it's much easier to feel 'successful' about an outing. whether the priority is survival or something more.

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  10. Fingers crossed for you and the weather. I've been enjoying (a) illness and (b) arctic blast up here, so it's been a not-exciting week for me and da Bird. Hoping the weekend is a bit better for horse outings even if it's damp.

    As for clinics, I took Bird out and about when he was quite green and could not do more than walk and trot in a wobbly green four-year-old way. It's good practice for the horse, being sensible and working away from home. It's generally confidence-building for the rider (Hey, we can Be Sensible and Work Away From Home!!).

    I still focus on surviving instead of learning things. I mean, things get learned, but usually there is also rending of garments and wailing and gnashing of teeth and so forth. (Internally I am a two year old who has been told she can't have the cookie.) Clinic Learning is mostly spending time in the zone where I am not competent and continually Trying To Do The Thing That I Can't Quite Do Yet, While Sucking At It In Front Of People. It's not a fun place for me to be. It's a needful place and an important place and bless all clinicians and instructors who can take students TO that place and help them shove the boundaries of darkness a bit further back. But... I don't love being there. It's uncomfortable and hard work. I usually aim for survival and minimizing the visibility of my wailing, garment-rending, and gnashing of teeth. The learning happens almost by accident.

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    1. ya know. i know exactly what you mean about that zone, especially the part about "sucking at it in front of people" haha. actually my counterbalance to that feeling is to go completely in the opposite direction. especially at these early stages where we suck super hard? i like to turn it around and get a sick twisted pleasure out of being super failtacular in front of people who would judge us for it, bc deep down inside i know we're only here temporarily. and if i really give in to it *now*, really wallow in the 'zone' as you say, we'll be all the better for it later. and then those folks who would watch and judge now can eat their words later.

      maybe. or maybe we'll still fail later too haha but this is the story i tell myself ;)

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    2. Wow that whole description of the Zone of Garment Rending And Weeping And Gnashing of Teeth was SO fantastically relatable! It's hard for me to display my failures in front of others, too, so showing and going to clinics have been an important piece of my mental/emotional progress as a rider!

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  11. Yay a clinic, so excited for you and looking forward to reading all about it. That duck gif made my morning.

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    1. haha i want to be as smooth as that duck when i grow up

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  12. Be careful hauling in the cold this weekend! I have actually never ridden in a clinic myself but I think they are great learning opportunities for young/green horses! If I ever have the chance I'd like to take mine to one as well. I believe I have heard of Stephen - nothing but good things!

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    1. stephen is basically my most favorite clinician ever haha - true story, one of the last times he was in town i wanted to ride with him so badly that i borrowed a stranger's horse lol

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  13. I love how the duck in the first gif just plays it off like he meant to do that. I think that's the real metaphor here. Even if your green horse has a problem at the clinic, it's an opportunity to learn. I've taken Nilla to clinics that we wren't remotely prepared to be at and gotten a lot out of them as long as the clinician isn't too pretentious. Have fun!

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    1. ha yup i agree completely! i wanna be like the duck in the gifs above, and NOT like that damned second alpaca or whatever that couldn't manage to learn from the first's missteps haha

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  14. As usual, you're winning at the gifs :) My clinic prep normally = 0. I like bringing our normal, everyday selves for feedback. Have fun!

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  15. Fingers crossed that the weather gods pull through, and that your clinic is thoroughly enjoyable. I'm sure worst case scenario, nobody will judge as we've mostly all had a green horse at some point and big kudos to you for getting him out there! Your koala gif killed me haha! Looking forward to a clinic recap!

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  16. I loooooove clinics at any stage. I always learn heaps from watching the other lessons too. 3 day clinics are my favourite because they give you a chance to delve intensively into any issues and really work on the details. Have heaps of fun!

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  17. GIFs on point as always! I'm excited to hear about your clinic :) Usually Apollo and I prepare by him going lame bahahah

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  18. Please forgive me for doing such a bad job of reading comprehension on this post. I know you're going to a clinic and wondering how it will go. . . but the GIFs!!! I have only audited clinics and the one I remember best was George M. Who belittled a girl I later boarded and befriended. It was not pleasant. The way he taught--not the befriending. Have fun!

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  19. I love love love clinics so much so honestly I'll go to them with most any level of training, so long as it's a clinician that does will with green horses and isn't assuming that you're pretty confirmed if you're at the clinic. So, like, maybe wouldn't take a baby green horse in a GM clinic. But I think that there are great things a horse and rider can learn in a clinic setting, no matter their level. The prep really depends on the horse too. For Val, the week leading up I'll usually do a few rides to make sure all buttons are functioning well and if there's anything I know it a pet peeve for the clinician, I'll make sure that's not going to be an issue. But for a green bean like Charlie, my approach would be basically what you're doing. I can't wait to read about your learnings!

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  20. If I hadn't already been on my own lesson adventure in your area, I would have come down to watch Stephen's clinic and hang out with you and Austen. Next time!

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  21. Exciting!!! have a wonderful clinic.

    Also - I was so distracted by that alpaca gif.

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  22. The alpaca gif... I watched it SO MANY times.

    I obvi took a green guy to a clinic - but as we discussed yesterday, yeah, he's definitely a broke greenie. Just totally new to a lot of concepts and travel still. With that in mind, my goal in taking him was first and foremost for HIM to have a good experience and not think it was traumatic. Second to that, I hoped to pick up some points for things he's weak on that I can help him with, and thirdly, I hoped to get a bit of feedback on myself. The order of my priorities worked out perfectly - Grif didn't hate it, I did pick up a lot of things that he's weak on and figured out some ways to manage them for the future, and I got a few notations about my riding, too, though a lot of these ended up being asides and nothing was real focused.

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  23. I still have never been to a clinic CRY

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