The last day of Anne Kursinski’s clinic focused on “getting it done.” The riders worked over a more technical track that tested looking ahead with their eyes, riding a straight line from point A to B and being an effective rider.
Again, the riders started on the flat with transitions, circles, leg yield and turn on the forehand and haunches to get the horses listening to the leg. Anne also stressed in the warm-up that riders need to visualize in preparation for jumping. She said, “Most of the time when I’m riding, I’m putting myself in my horse’s shoes. Have you visualized before you jump the course? Are you visualizing positively? You need to be confident, you need to believe in them, you trust that they can do it. They get those messages.”
Anne also noted that when a horse resists the aids, that the rider has to stay strong with their position. “They stiffen their back, they buck, they test the rider,” she said. “They try to pull you out of the saddle on purpose. You have to maintain the position! That’s the point of equitation; body control! Don’t be a rag doll up there. Stay strong in your core. I have a position and they have to come to my position. If you only practice what is easy, you never get any better! Perfect practice makes perfect.”
After warming up, the riders started jumping similarly to the first two days: counting out loud to a diagonal jump, riding into the corner and halting straight. They then rode a figure-eight over the same vertical with the progressive counting exercise from the day before. Many riders had difficulty gauging where their horse’s stride was in comparison to the jump. Anne emphasized to look at the jump earlier, then count and stay with the rhythm of the horse.
Visualization and looking early came into play when the riders worked over a more technical course. Anne had the first group of riders start right lead over a grey vertical, turn left, jump a liverpool out of the turn, five galloping strides at 77′ to a log jump coming home, then right rollback to a green vertical three strides at 45′ to a grey oxer. They then rolled back on a triple bar with an X in the middle and rode four direct strides at 70′ to a one-stride combination, square oxer to a vertical with brick walls underneath at 24′.
The riders had difficulty getting the correct number of strides in the lines and had to repeat the exercise. Some tried galloping up the line, but still could not get the correct number. Anne said, “It’s not about how fast you go, it’s about the track, the line. Stay out in the turn and ride a direct line. You see these children’s jumpers just rip around and when they go to move up to the low juniors, there’s a big difference. It’s more technical. Come on, get up there! You’ve got to make it happen! You’ve got to ride—it’s not a beauty contest!”
The second group of riders rode the same course, but the grey vertical became a wall. Horses and riders were a bit spooky to the wall out of the turn and again, struggled to get up the line in five strides.
Like the day before, Anne made everyone use driving reins to soften their arms and tell their horses to move forward from their legs. Again, Anne stressed riding into the turns. She said, “Don’t cut the turn, be organized. That you’re thinking, you’re a thoughtful rider, you’re paying attention—that you’re thinking ahead and you have a plan.”
The third group worked over bigger jumps and therefore had to be more accurate with their distances and really getting the numbers done in the lines. When riders had trouble and their horses stopped, Anne made them do it again. After one rider rode aggressively and got the job done, Anne exclaimed, “I love that she didn’t give up, she fought for it! George Morris would say, ‘I love a man who rides like a woman and a woman who rides like a man.’ You have to learn to be tough and also how to be soft. You have to be able to do both depending on the horse.”
When asked what they learned over the weekend, riders said that they needed to be physically and mentally stronger and that they needed to be a rider, not a passenger. “Yes, correct,” Anne said. “You’re creating what you want. You have to be more sophisticated. You have to have discipline!”
Riders also noted that they needed to be looking at the jump sooner to know where they were ahead of time. Anne said, “Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, and Kent Farrington, they know where they are way back. They may not say it’s 12 strides out, but they know where they are way, way back. Because they’re looking. If you don’t look, you can’t see it. And how is your horse supposed to know where he’s going? The horses really see through your eyes.”
Read more in Day 1: Control Your Position To Control Your Horse and Day 2: Clear Communication Is Key. Finish Line live streamed each day of the advanced section of the Nov. 17-19 clinic and those videos are available on demand at www.ridingandjumpingmentor.com.