Yesterday, Nov. 15, I audited the Mary Wanless clinic at Larkspur Farm in Littleton, Massachusetts.
So...what did I think? I enjoyed it, but I thought it was more beneficial for the riders then for the auditors. Don't get me wrong. I took things away from it that I can pull out of my trunk and reference in the future such as bearing down and plugging in. Riders share a trunk load of common faults, but I felt that the clinic was very rider specific. As it should be for the kind of money they're paying to ride in it.
Many of the riders were hollow backed and sitting too hard on the down portion of the posting trot. To solve this Mary would pull back on their waistbands. They were to think about flattening their backs. I prefer thinking "Belly button to spine."
Almost all of the women needed to tuck their bums under them...ahem, that would be me. A little junk in the trunk you know. Oops. Sorry, I digress. In the posting trot they tended to sit down far too hard...again that used to be me. Mary had the riders thinking that the saddle was very hot, and they'd get burned if they sat on it. I liked that. I was taught "Touch, you're up." Remember if your horse is rounding and offering you his back, that's an incredible gift and we don't want to squash it like a bug beneath our bums!
I also liked the idea of an arrow protruding out from the center of your chest. This particular rider was really twisted to the right on a circle. (Ah, how well I know this particular nemesis.) Mary said that the arrow should be pointing in the direction of travel. This particular rider was NOT allowed to look to the right and needed to really exaggerate bringing her left shoulder and hip back. Basically closing the left outside rein to control the withers and contain the haunches. I have to admit that reading about circles in Ride with Your Mind Essentials really helped me. I think that I'd rather use that arrow to shoot the scary monster lurking near E.
Another analogy I loved was to imagine laser beams shooting out of your knees down toward the ground. Correct rider position is kneeling in the saddle. By thinking about this we'll open the angle at the back of our knees. Okay. Once again I'd rather use the laser beams to blaze a path in front of my horse past scary letter E. I really have to stop watching the Sci Fi channel.
During the lunch break I bought The New Ride With Your Mind Clinic, for my collection and had it autographed! Mary will be returning to Larkspur Farm in May 2010 if you're interested in riding or auditing.
Lee Cullen writes about her riding experiences on her blog, Confessions Of A Struggling Dressage Rider.