I rode in a clinic today and wanted to ask two questions that I left thinking about.
1. My riding has gone to pot - really - I have ridden and worked for HJ and dressage trainers but the last 9 years I have been just too distracted to be serious. I started this cute horse as a 4 year old 6 years ago but got pregnant and distracted by family. And so he was used as a lesson horse.
I have been working some with a dressage trainer this past year or so with this horse to get him back into eventing - though it has been stop-start with weather and family drama. But point is - this dressage trainer has ridden him and she said I need to do a warm up where he grows out his neck -unlocks his neck and jaw and stretches out his shoulder.... in order to go into the bit without bracing.
So this clinician really doesn't let us warmup our way - it feels more like a flat lesson precursor to the jumping clinic. And so this morning I did not really get to unlock his shoulder. I sort of felt stupid doing the things I was doing because she got after me for it so I just did what she wanted me to - and then of course he was locked in the shoulder and I was trying to get him into the bit right - ended up looking like I was fiddling - and then he would not go into the bit without getting fast.
I do not want to be disrespectful - this is a good clinician - do you think it would be rude to warmup on my own out in a field before the clinic?
and 2. I have always followed the horse's motion when jumping - 6 years ago the eventer trainer I worked with had me lift my hands - she harped on me a lot - to lift my hands because this horse tends to not bring his knees up sometimes and I found that if I did lift my hands, he followed me and did lift his knees/shoulder - he is a heavier style horse. She had me lift my hands and then follow as I jumped.
This trainer today is having me push my hands into the neck which feels like I am pushing him into his forehand even more and one of my riders was there and she said he was jumping like crap compared to what he normally looks like.
Regarding warm up, I think it is appropriate to spend a few minutes warming up, either in the ring, out of the way while the last group finishes up or somewhere else. I much rather get as much from what is probably and expensive ride by being warmed up and prepared as I can be, versus spending the first good chunk of the ride warming up. There's no disrespect to it. It is totally fine and acceptable and preferable, in my book (I TRY to warm up for a few minutes even before my regular lessons).
As for the second question, I can't help you there. Take what you can, apply it your riding, and leave the rest. If the jumping method doesn't work, don't do it past the clinic.
I guess I was sort of feeling like she was schooling our warmup and I felt like she thought what I was doing was wrong but I am like - this is what works for him and I feel like I need to do it so I may go find a spot in a field before I go into the arena. And with the jumping question - I did not understand the hand lift thing even with riding for years - and then I had an AHA moment - it was contrary to the hunter basics I started with - but it really helped balance this horse and lift his shoulder. I am trying to keep an open humble mind to see if pushing into the neck is going to get my horse to reach over his back more or something?
I know I need to work on myself a lot more though with my jumping.
are lifting your hands connected to lifting your shoulders ? Just a curious question
as to warm up - it depends... I've ridden in clinics where the clinician wanted to do their own warm up, I've had clinicians that wanted to observe your warm up and then others where I do my own warm up.
I am just trying to be respectful and participate according to the person's plan but I am going to go try to warmup before going to the arena today and see if I cant utilize some of what warmup usually works for him so I don't waste time and money and frustration trying to get him more into the bridle. Truth is, he would go more into the bridle if he wasn't as spoiled as he is and used to kids riding him.
She wants the hands down and pushing into the neck. I do that with horses that are braced in the back so ask them to stretch more but on this horse I think it compromises his balance and he hangs his front legs. But he is a heavy guy and he is not in great shape.
Hi Lara, I saw your ride this morning. I think the clinician wanted you to push your hands into his neck because you weren't releasing over the fences. It looked like your hands would go up and catch his mouth a bit each time. The exercises seemed to help though-- you really worked hard and you looked good by the end!
I am confused by the phrase lifting the hands.... Do you mean your hands are midair over the neck while jumping?? I had a student who was taught to do that by a previous trainer. Caught the horse in the mouth Every Time. Spent a lot of time re-learning a basic correct crest release (hands Forward and into the crest of the neck).
I would worry about jumping xc on a horse who needed his front end 'held up' over jumps. I'd do the crest release and concentrate on gymnastic exercises to teach him to use himself correctly on his own.
I didn't focus much on what she was telling you since I was watching my students in your group, but I know for me, Heather was trying to get me to REALLY ride to the base of the jump and allow my horse to use itself properly off the ground so their response time was quicker to and away from the jump. With Brandy, who's a bit heavier, she really wanted me to use a TON more leg (she had me kick, kick, KICKING! and she's a hot horse! in my lesson yesterday afternoon) and way softer but still supportive hand, to make her carry herself.
With Doc for sure, it got way uglier before it got better (including breaking some standards!) but the struggle on Saturday was worth it for the result on Sunday (for me).
I hope you felt better after your Sunday ride- you guys looked good after all the exercises! And if you're really curious- shoot Heather an email or facebook message- I'm sure she'd be glad to clarify!
The clinician can only work on what she sees at a given time on a given day. It sounds like she was working on your release, for some reason? Maybe it was backwards, as another poster suggested (and I believe that poster was there, watching, so I'd take that to heart). I know that on a sensitive horse, if my shoulders aren't back on take-off, I can push them down onto the forehand and it hangs its knees. Maybe, instead of lifting your hand, you push down into the neck and push your shoulders back? I can't imagine how a high, lifting hand will help a horse take-off - horses push from their hind ends over a fence, and keeping their heads up seems counterproductive to producing a good jump.
Anyway, you paid for the clinician, and it's your choice whether or not you want to follow that clinician's instructions. Just be prepared for the clinician to get frustrated with you and then not give you much else, if you choose to ignore the advice given - it will appear that you aren't trying, even if you are. It's why I don't go to clinics anymore - I'm lucky to have a wealth of phenomenal instructores here in Area II, and I find that sticking with a given program is far more beneficial to clinicing around. If the clinic is already over, maybe discuss it with your regular instructor? HTH!
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