The U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Emerging Athletes Program training sessions for Nov. 16 began on the flat with clinician Peter Wylde asking riders to create smooth transitions by performing them as a sequence of well-executed separate parts.
After a brief warm-up in the arena at the University of Findlay (Ohio), riders transitioned from canter to trot and back to the canter; from a posting trot, first sitting, then softening the horse to the inside rein, then applying the leg to canter, maintaining the canter and riding into the bend, then back down to the trot, sitting the trot till the horse softened, before posting again.
The next exercise was to establish a normal canter around the ring, then to get off the horse’s back down the long side “allowing” the horse’s stride to open up and be “free,” then sinking down softly into the saddle, riding the bend to collect and settle the horse, making a small circle.
Wylde explained that he very much liked the exercise as a simulation of cantering to a forward jump such as an open water, followed by a short line. Riders had a chance to put this preparation to good use during their fence work, as the lines called for a range of adjustments throughout.
Across the diagonals, riders were faced with two four-stride lines, one forward, the other steady. Wylde’s advice was that, “You need to get the four ‘done’ on the landing at stride one, rather than at the end of the line at stride four.”
“Get all your homework done at the beginning of the line rather than wait till you get to the end of the line ‘out of gas,’ “ he said.
Other bits of advice included:
“With a horse that has a short stride you don’t have the luxury of waiting to see how things may come out.”
“With a long-strided horse, start your steadying FIRST and THEN see where you are."
“When you finish a round, stay at the canter till you get the canter you want. This is part of teaching them, so you aren’t just slamming to a stop; keep cantering to teach them to be better and better, then transition to the trot.”
“On any bending line, you have to be accurate with your track: too wide, and you will add a stride, and if you turn early, you’ll leave one out.”
“When you stand in your stirrups sometimes you get too high up off your horse and start balancing with your hands. Doing that ‘splits them in half.”
“Hollow, upside down ‘pancake’ horses are developed by riders who don’t have an independent base; riders should not be dependent on the hands for balance.”
“Stay more connected with your base, and the horse will begin to use his topline.”
On the quality of the riding this year, Wylde said: “We are super prepared for tomorrow. This group is by far the best in the five years of the program.”
On Sunday, teams of four riders each will compete using a Nations Cup format, after which the winners will be chosen by the EAP Task Force.
Participating as EAP finalists are: Erin Bland, Katharine Carroll, Bowers Cone, Gabby Conte, Marissa Degner, Sunny Drescher, Jackie Flynn, Jesse Fortier, Izzy Gabriel, Sean Leckie, Connor Siegel, Emily Sowski, Megan Thomas, Lizzy Traband, Stephanie Whitworth and Micheala Wood.
Seventeen of the Horsemanship Quiz finalists who advanced to the practium were evaluated today in a hands-on-test of horsemanship skills. All the Quiz finalists attended seminars on a rotating basis. Seminar topics included bitting, longeing, learning styles, course design, lameness evaluations, and a farrier presentation. During tomorrow's EAP Nations Cup competition, EAP riders will be assisted by Horsemanship Quiz Finalists.