Paul Belasik Clinic... Anyone Attended?- UPDATE- We Attended!
I've heard great things about his short courses at his farm in PA, but I have the opportunity to participate in a 2-3 day clinic where I could bring my horse (a HUGE plus).
Has anyone participated in his clinics? If so, what level were you riding, and what was your impression of the experience?
Last edited by Petstorejunkie; May. 12, 2011 at 08:23 AM.
I went to one of the clinics in Colorado. My horse was coming off of a pasture injury (back) and 2 1/2 years of rest. She had been schooling PSG level work before the injury. I am very concerned about her back and want to make it stronger.....important for me to make no mistakes in this area. I wanted to have a more "classical" input into this question. I really got a lot out of the clinic. Paul had opinions about how I should warm her up and ride her that I found somewhat surprising....and very different from the german-type advice I'd been getting. He worked on my position. the whole thing was very positive and very, very helpful.
I have never attended one of his clinics, but I have taken 2 short courses with my mare and I take regular lessons at his farm on his horses.
I would say absolutely go. When I started riding with him, I was still heavily in H/J position. In two years he and his horses have literally transformed me from barely being able to sit to the trot, to feeling my first passage in the past few weeks.
When I took my mare, she was on her forehand and we were certainly not doing the laterals correctly (rider error). At the end of both short courses, there was marked improvement in her carriage, acceptance of the bit, tempo, and everything in between. We were doing first level movements at the time - as a rider, I was schooling 3rd level at the time.
He is a stickler on position and of doing the movements correctly- This attention to detail is invaluable as a rider (IMO). He is a teacher that gives 100% to the person and horse who are there in front of him - he always seems to be absolutely committed to the rider and horse getting it - I've never seen him teach from the sidelines - he's in the ring with you - watching EVERY movement like a hawk. I find him to be patient, positive and has great insights. However, if you've read his books - expect to meet someone a bit less extroverted as the books seem to reveal. I'm obviously a fan!
I would definitely ride with him if you can afford it, and be prepared to work your ass off.
Paul comes to my lesson barn for clinics twice a year and I've been auditing the past few years. Last fall I took my horse and rode two days. We explored new territory in the trot tempo to improve my horse's impulsion (my trainer refers to this as "balls to the walls" trotting). I worked a lot without stirrups and he was very helpful with my position.
I do feel that what I learned in the clinic has helped improve my seat and my horse's medium gaits, particularly the medium trot.
I have seen him teach many times. One of the instructors at the barn where I work regularly rides with him. I like him for the rider's position, I don't like him for the horse. I don't agree with some of his methods. For example, he used to have my co worker lunge her 5 year old in uber short, tight side reins, with no elasic or donut. This was to teach him to "accept" contact. IMHO contact is elastic, and lunging in that way teaches horses to evade contact (or to resent it).
I wanted to update that I've decided to clinic with him. My old instructor audited a clinic of him today and yesterday and is more than confident it's a good fit for me and my horse.
Thank you everyone for your opinions!
My horse and I were successfully showing mid 60's at training level, schooling 1st. Struggling with correct shoulder in, and getting balanced enough for lengthenings.
My horse is a 17yr old (never guess it) TB who can be a bit of a head case. I'm 30, and have been riding that many years, but been studying Dressage for about 5. I had not worked with an instructor for 1.5 years.
I took a short course with Sophie Clifton the days leading up to the 2 day clinic with Paul. I strongly recommend doing this. Sophie is fantastic to work with, and really helped me prepare to learn more from Paul. In total i had 8 lessons. 6 with Sophie, 2 with Paul, and I left feeling totally prepared to carry on the progress at home. I blogged during my journey. Below are some highlights:
Time with Sophie:
In warmup distinguish between change in rhythm and change in stride length.
STAY OFF RAIL
bigger, more pronounced VERTICAL posting for longer stride
smaller, post for shorter stride
belt buckle stays vertical, strong back. vertical pole through the body
test by standing in stirrups conscious of top inside of shin where top of boot meets leg.
on a circle, to encourage stretch, carry hands, stay consistent in personal balance, ask for flex with inside thigh through below knee and inside hand, then talk to him with outside rein. keep rhythm consistent; keep carrying hands. watch right leg, think of stepping on his hind feet.
Consistently THINK each circle turn. OK to stay on same circle as a THINKING and ACTING rider
WT transitions carry hands, legs long and rotated. Hands function like side reins, when he gives, hands release without moving (rider changes nothing). In downward, keigle muscles aware, very slight thigh, CARRY HANDS, and most importantly ride the steps of walk. hands do not release just because we accomplished the downward.
Canter work 15m circle. Set the circle and stick to it. outside knee back, Carry hands, Inside hand gives forward, not down, or out or any other direction... FORWARD. Hold outside rein. connection awareness of bit, elbow, hip, hind leg on the outside.
Give forward with inside rein and take with outside rein. reinforce/support with outside leg.
no rest for the confused. if he breaks, keep the same circle and ask for upward again.
ring finger further closed than other fingers
when in doubt, shorten reins.
2 days later...
Big things learned.
serve tea to the inside for shoulder in.
when in doubt, widen hands
H cannot snake neck and throw shoulder without rein laying on his neck
give up go(^%n groin muscle!
shoulder in is about articulating the inside hind in a straight upward arc forward to load it, not laterally
haunches in is just outside leg back, keep shoulder square on the line.
Clinic with Paul
We worked very slightly on my position. Commenting on my position he said "you're almost there; you're an athlete, you'll get this quick." I worked on keeping my middle keeping still instead of fluid. The waist is not a joint!
One exercise that was really helpful in connecting the torso and finding my balance, was to stand straight up in the stirrups, with my shoulder, hip, and heel still on that same vertical line, both at the walk and trot. GREAT to check to see if you are using your body effectively or not.
We worked on distributing weight down my thigh, and helping me get the body control to keep my glutes doughy. interesting point. He asked why I was posting with my horse in trot, I said because he's back sensitive and while I'm still trying to keep him consistently through, I want to have less impact on his back. Paul says he starts his babies in seated trot, because you don't have as much influence over the back when in posting, but that posting is a better option for people with positions that need work.
When it came to raised work (putting a horse UP into the bridle and round) H decided he wanted to pull the neck/jaw crap again. It became his neck bulge versus my left shoulder socket. Paul said to hold my position, and not to get emotional and he'd come round. It took quite some time, I was thoroughly pissed and frustrated with my horse that he's decided to be a jackass and cost me $280 worth of time, BUT in the end we did have a few laps through.
It was a HUGE lesson learned for me.
I practiced standing in my stirrups and could get half way around a circle without issue (the day before 4 steps was doing well!) We were ready to go have a good lesson.
and we did!
at the walk, keep belt still, keep seatbones still, and become aware of the thigh flesh in contact with the saddle. Let that part rock while the rest remains still.
In the trot use trunk as a fixed unit. Use the bounce to your advantage like you are bouncing up and down on a trampoline. To get more impulsion, press the sternum firmly forward but don't tip forward. Keep contact firm, do not give or else the shape will sprawl.
transitions are done with thigh pressure.
Biggest thing I learned. Stick to MY goal, don't be reactive to every little thing he does. Hold my position until he's back in submission. Holding my position with strong back and my hand connected to that strong back is all the influence I need to prevent bulging necks, inverting, and hissy fits.
Keep the connection from bit to back, hold position.
What a GREAT synopsis PSJ! I've wanted to ride with Paul for a long time, but money and transportation get in the way of everything!
I love your ability to boil down everything you heard and did to the core basics...literally, the "core" basics! Good imagery, too, which always helps me ride better! I love the fact that these are things you can carry back home with you and continue to work on! Awesome!
Now, I haven't worked with these two BNT's separate, but I highly recommend saving your pennies now so that you can do a short course and clinic in your future. To do both, I won't lie, was a huge chunk of change, but I thought it was better to spend a week in intense, correct training, than weekly lessons with someone....well.... adequate but not amazing (as most instructors are).
The most valuable thing I took from this clinic was the confidence in the plan developed. No second guessing my actions. When you're working alone that is a HUGE thing to have. My horse got a lot of self confidence too!
I plan to do another short course after the summer heat with Sophie. Then, next year, follow the same format.
The nice thing about Paul is that he is a teacher, and I've never left a lesson with him feeling that I didn't get my money's worth. Expensive yes, but I'd rather save every extra penny and spend it on correct training, then nickle and dime my way through instructors that are just adequate in their theory and in their teaching.
I'm lucky enough to live close to his farm, so I ride his schoolmasters and then apply my lessons to my poor 18y/o (you'd never guess it) hothead mare. It has changed both of us for the better.
I've heard that the waist is not a joint a million times - I have the unfortunate conformation problem of being very long waisted. But finally - my seat and back are one unit and I've gone from not being able to sit the trot to learning tempis, passage and pirouettes on his stallion. And I continue to learn lessons from him and his horses that profoundly impact my riding!
I think PB is great. He's a real stickler for position - which allows feel to come-which should be taught prior to inviting a horse to try a movement.
PSJ, thankyou for sharing your experience. It sounded like you gained alot from it.
i rode with paul belasik when i was 14 for a few days when i was having epic failure with my mare. it was fantastic, but i dont remember enough of it. years later, i now just bought new mare and really want to take her up there next year.
i love the notes psj! can you elaborate serve tea to the inside for shoulder in? also i agree this should be a sticky note.
Whoot! PSJ. Sounds like a worthwhile use of hard earned dollars. I'm with you -- intensive time with good results instead of weekly or biweekly lessons and not enough solid principles to come home and continue when working on your own. Thanks much for posting your thoughts. I could feel myself with you in the lesson. The vertical posting -- I'll have to try that and compare. I used to only vertical post and then got thoroughly chewed on and told that you always horizontal post to influence to hind legs to come forward. We'll see.