The clinic at Galway Downs was fabulous. Unfortunately I got sick when I got back and have been down for several days. But I'm back to reasonable health, just in time to get my act together for our show this coming weekend.
I clinic'd with the fabulous Hawley Bennett-Awad, based out of Temecula and rider for the Canadian national team. She and her top horse, Gin & Juice, are a staple on the West Coast eventing scene.
I longed Hemie several hours before our ride time, and he was quite spirited. It was a busy clinic with over a hundred participants, so it had the exciting vibe of a show. I was nervous that Hemie was going to have a meltdown with shenanigans, so I mentally prepared myself of dealing with him constructively. I also carefully selected my path from the barns to the cross country field and asked a barn-mate to walk near me in case I needed her to grab a rein and "pony" us down there.
Hemie had a lot of nervous excitement but happily we were able to deal with it without being ponied or having any shenanigans. I just sent him forward, maintained a zero tolerance for bulging shoulder, and focused on having quality gaits rather than quick steps. It did the trick, though I did have to circle him around at the trot or canter while most of the other horses stood quietly waiting for their turn.
The jumps are in little clusters around the property. We started off doing one jump, then did a few in a row, and later on graduated to mini-courses of 5+ jumps.
Hemie was awesome. As soon as we started jumping, his nervous energy morphed into happy excitement. He was totally game, and did not refuse a single jump!
Hawley focused on having me come to our jumps with more speed. Hemie is great at backing himself off of jumps, but apparently I allow him to get too short a stride. Hemie didn't seem to mind me insisting on a more forward canter - in fact I could tell he enjoyed it. She also didn't want us to trot jumps or break into trot when going downhill. I hadn't insisted on cantering previously - I figured if he wanted more time to look at a jump before going over, that is fine with me.
Interestingly, for the first time ever, we activated racehorse mode! In other words, I got run away with!! Hawley had me come to a jump with more speed, and on the landing I came to find that I was not in control and we were careening away. I did what ever 6 year old is taught to do with their naughty pony - circle. It worked and I regained control, but Hawley jumped on me to not do that in the future, less a turn might cause him to trip. She said next time to just be patient and half-halt with outside rein while trying to avoid hitting people or jumps.
We did lots of different jumps throughout the property, including some I knew to be Novice questions. We did one jump - a large log that looks like a wine bottle on its side - which I had thought might be a Training jump. So I did what all eventing nerds do and looked up videos from their last HT. Turns out we did almost the entire Novice course, and did THREE training jumps!!!!
I had a wonderful fan club there to support me and I could tell by their grins that they were as proud of Hemie and me as I was. It was a wonderful weekend. At the end of the clinic each participant asked Hawley for general feedback and advise. When it was my turn, Hawley said simply "clearly he's the best horse of the group." SQUEEE!!! Talk about a confidence boost.
|Thanks to my cheering section!|