Thanks, ESG, for being such a wonderful host! And to Mark also! He had to put up with your farm being over taken for 3 days.
I had a great time. I'm almost glad I declined the picture taking opportunity - not sure I would want all of COTH critiquing my riding! LOL
I enjoyed my lessons and they were quite helpful. I brought my coming 8 year old Ideal/Bonjour mare the first 2 days. She was quite the good girl and only had one little mini meltdown the first day over a CAT of all things. She got over it quickly, thank goodness. (She is scared of the entire world but is much better now than she used to be.) We worked on improving our medium trot and also worked on our counter canter. And also worked on improving the quality of the canter in general.
The third day I brought my 2nd/3rd level BWP mare by Galant. We worked on maintaining more impulsion in our lateral work and sharpening up our simple changes.
I agree with flshgordon that Whit was good at explaining the WHY of things. She was also great about answering questions.
Next time I will be a bit more prepared as to what I want to work on in my lessons. The first day Whit asked me and I was like "I don't know, what do you think we should work on." Then on the drive home after that first lesson I decided I needed to work on counter canter the next lesson. With my BWP mare, I hadn't ridden her in 2 weeks so I wasn't quite sure how she would be. She was wonderful but again I wasn't as prepared as I should have been to say what I wanted to work on.
Here is my quick list of the big important items I learned at the clinic:
1. As previously mentioned, fast is not impulsion. Start everything off slowly, use your posting to slow your horse in the trot, and add oomph when they have learned where and how to carry themselves correctly.
2. When working on the stretchy movements at the walk and trot, keep your hands together and not wide to make sure that the horse doesn't drop their shoulder in the stretch, just their neck. Adjust your reins often in these movements to maintain the contact.
3. When half-halting in the canter, imagine that your hip changes from doing a forward oval to an upward circle, and keep the entire movement soft.
4. Working on a circle is the best way to build strength in the horse because you are creating an environment where each step is the same/similar as the last - no corners to adjust balance and change tempo.
5. Using the exercise of posting with 2 up moments to 1 down will help you pinpoint your position flaws.
6. Demand the horse's attention when you are working with it. Little slips here and there are ok, but do not let them run around looking at the scary butterfly, divot in the sand, blowing leaf or imaginary whathaveyou. You are asking for an hour, they can have those other 23 to themselves.
7. What most helped me were her words of advice aimed strictly at me with my very quick, spicy little mare. They went as such:
-Some days, all you will get is a warm-up. If they are already over-thinking or upset, just call it a day and get off.
-Always, always keep your composure in the saddle. If they are all wound up and then you go off, it's like lighting a fire in the hay barn. Keep it together or get off.
-For hotter horses, take the speed down to as slow as you can get them to work. Add impulsion once you develop relaxation.
-Breathe. Audibly exhale in the saddle and make sure to keep yourself as relaxed as possible to try to encourage your Type A mount to do the same.
Overall, a wonderful experience. She seemed equally at home with all of the riders and all of the horses and was pleasant the whole time.
And yes, I absolutely bought the photo of my horse, head on, with her tongue sticking out.