Monday, January 11, 2021

gymnastics clinic

A couple weeks ago my friend Amy and I signed up for a gymnastics clinic at that cute little farm you might remember from lockdown (hint: remember that tiny little pony I got to take a lesson on??). I've been eager to get back to this farm all year, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. 

Especially bc this indoor arena is lovely omg. And I figured it'd be a nice winter excursion for when all our arenas at home are either succumbing to the wintry elements or under construction. 

tortured pony is still sweet <3
And it was pretttty cool. First tho, I really have to brag a little on our horses. These sweet geldings are just so good. We arrived at the facility with about 15ish minutes to unload and tack, went into the arena and immediately set to warm up. And then started jumping pretty quickly -- since these exercises are pretty fatiguing so you don't want to overdo the warm up. 

That's honestly kinda a lot to ask for a horse to go from trailer to jumping in just about 25min. But our horses were All Business for it, and set immediately to the task. Good ponies!! 

pictured: a whoooooole lotta bounces omg.... 
grids ridden L to R in this image, diagonal ridden R to L. basically one big figur-8
Tho, lol, Charlie's first time down the bounce line (top of diagram) found him to be just a tad surprised at how quickly things escalated lol. Sure, all the fences were half-cross-rails that first trip.... But still lol.

Our typical lessons with Trainer P involve quite a bit of progression in the exercises -- particularly in building them up. This lesson, tho, there was progression in height but virtually all the elements were in place even for our first trip. Which ---- count 'em, that's NINE bounces lol. I thought Charlie was gonna croak!

verticals on the diagonal featured all sorts of fun distracting stuff on the ground
After that, tho, Charlie was Ready.To.Go. He was very much not inclined to make the same mistake and agreed that forward was better! Which, it's so funny to feel that switch flip in him. Bc when Charlie's "on" everything is just so much easier. 

Walk to canter? Absolutely. Push-button auto-changes? Don't mind if he do! Plus he was super into all the corners and staying relatively straight down the lines. 

omg charlie almost croaked the first time he saw this epically long line
Tho.... I did end up letting the clinician know that we aren't exactly at peak fitness right now and would want to be a little economical with our trips. Meaning: not a million trips, and making sure we get to the elements that will be most beneficial for Charlie. 

In my mind, this meant not needing to do the whole line of bounces a ton, and not necessarily at full height. IMO bounces really don't need to be that aggressive to be effective -- esp for a horse like Charlie. 

this line (the bottom grid in the diagram above) was much more his speed tho
also, how gorgeous is this ring?? check out the viewing lounge right outside those windows -- perfect for covid times!
So after a few full trips around the figure-8 of both lines, we switched our attention to focusing predominantly on the other grid (pictured above). This was three bounces, one stride to an oxer, then one stride back to three bounces. 

Idk if it was me or Charlie but either way we both seemed a little more comfortable with this line. And we liked it even more when it reached its final form: three bounce jumps to three one-stride jumps. 

final configuration saw one of the last bounces come out to make it 3 bounces to 3 one-strides
In terms of feedback, there wasn't a whole ton to be had. Her most common suggestion was to make sure I was keeping my upper body back, and holding my hands UP vs pushing down. 

This was a little tricky bc as y'all know I've been working really hard on just putting my hands forward and leaving them there. But I guess when the exercise involves so much literal heavy lifting from Chuck, it's up to me to do as much as possible to be helpful (or at least not hindering) with my own position. So. Hands up, got it! 

"are we done yet??" - charlie, probably
Meanwhile, Charlie's buddy Punky had the time of his freakin life haha. Where Charlie felt like these exercises were uncommonly hard work, Punky was straight up in his element! The grids were challenging enough to keep him from just blasting through (like in our bounce practice video a couple weeks ago) but super engaging for him, and he really did a great job. 

I included a lot of footage of Punky in the video too, just to help you all get a better sense of the scale / height / set up etc since helmet cam is a little challenging in that regard. 
Tho you know me, such a 'ho for that media lol, and I thought this would maybe be an interesting lesson for helmet camera so eh! It's easier than trying to beg and cajole random standers by to take video, at least. 

Anyway, tho, it was really a fun outing. A nice way to get out and do things in the winter time without it really being a big deal. Plus the clinic fee was extremely reasonable ($45). We had gone back and forth about which group to enter -- Amy originally said BN, and I was thinking more toward 3'. But we wanted to be in the same group and settled for 2'9. 

And I'm honestly pretty glad we did lol since as far as I'm concerned the jumps were plenty big enough for such technical and complex exercises omg. Tho I left in footage of the other horse in our group (an absolutely gorgeous 1.10 warmblood and 100% the horse Charlie *thinks* he is) doing the final full lines so you can see that too haha. 

So. Another adventure in the books! Hope y'all had a fun horsey weekend too ;)


  1. OMG SO MANY BOUNCES. But the whole exercise sounds (and looks) like an absolute blast.

    1. so many bounces tho omg haha, i do not think charlie was impressed -- but he was good!

  2. That is such a reasonable price for a clinic like that!

  3. Sounds like a fun, and totally worth-while clinic!

  4. SO FUN! Gymnastics are my favorite! Sounds like a really great outing!

    1. definitely!! super happy we went!! charlie normally feels like gymnastics are his favorite too, and lord knows he needs to do roughly one billion repetitions lol.... these were just a tad hard for him -- or at least, the long line of pure bounces was pretty hard -- but he really did great!

  5. That looks like a great lesson, and such a nice facility. Henry would definitely have to have a good hard look at that many bounces in a row!

  6. Charlie eats jumps for breakfast. That looks like a great clinic. And so reasonable in price too.

  7. This is so cool. I love all the gymnastics, though I am too lazy to set up more than a few fences in a row at home. The helmet cam was really fun to watch.

  8. Holy cow I don't think I've ever jumped so many bounces in a row!

  9. That sounds like such a fun clinic! Also, that's A LOT of bounces! Good boy Charlie!


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