Jenny stressed that we don’t spend our time worrying about little things, such as a mistake in one ride at a show. She suggested we try to be upset only for a few minutes and then spend our energy on something productive, like improving for next time.
On three of the afternoons, we joined the riders from the George H. Morris Horsemastership Sessions for lectures from Dr. Deb Bennett, who talked about the physical reasons for much of what we do with horses. She talked about straightness, and the importance of collection as coiling the loins, as well as emphasizing how important it is to have the horse calm and focused. Dr. Bennett was very consistent with the top trainers we had ridden with throughout the week; it was great to be able to connect what she was saying to our lessons.
Veterinarian Dr. Rick Mitchell spoke to us about nutrition and preventative medicine, and farrier Dean Pearson gave a presentation on how to recognize problems in the horse’s hoof and how to pull a shoe if necessary.
Mary Phelps also gave a talk on media training and conducted a mock press conference with us.
For our last lecture of the week, Robert Dover spoke to us about competing. One of the biggest points he had was to have a smile on your face… something so simple that is often forgotten.
Robert also talked to us about having confidence when we go into the show ring. He suggested that we show off our best movement on the outside of the ring to not only impress the judge and audience, but also to boost our horses’ confidence by doing a movement they are comfortable with (like an extended trot).
It was comforting to have Robert talk about being nervous. He explained that it was normal, and even he gets nervous when he shows. But it's important to prepare yourself for the show ring, which will make everything go better.
One night, all the riders and auditors came together for a casual dinner, where we got the opportunity to hear from some young professionals in the horse industry. This helped many of us envision our futures. They spoke of the struggles of becoming a successful professional in the business.
Many of us wondered about riding while at college, so hearing from them was very insightful! We were able to hear from Lauren Sprieser, who had gone to college and continued riding, but we also got to hear from riders who had decided that college was not right for them.
We also heard many great stories from Lendon Gray and Robert Dover about their experiences as professionals and riders. We got great insight into how working hard as a working student or a groom can pay off greatly in the end. The horse industry is definitely a difficult one, and it was apparent that commitment is key to success.
One of the great points of the night was to take a business class; it became clear that nearly all of the professionals in the room wished they had. Overall, the night allowed us to get a better idea of how we want to direct our future.
All riders and auditors were very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic. I want to extend a huge thank you to the instructors, barns and sponsors who donated their time and stabling. I also can't thank Lendon Gray and Robert Dover enough for this incredible experience. Of course, thank you to all who made it possible for me to be a participant at the clinic and to everyone who supports my riding.