Saturday 14 March 2015


Hi guys, these are just my clinic notes for day 1, and may not make a ton of sense or be completely coherent - I'm just writing my first impressions and thoughts before they flee my brain completely. No pictures either, sorry, so feel free to skip this one if you want something lighter :)

Day 1 of the clinic started out super windy and rainy and the poor horses were going nuts this morning when I got to the barn. Neither would eat or drink and they are both just generally looking stressed. I've been mixing their grain with tons of water so they drink a bit more, but they've definitely dropped a little weight and aren't cleaning up their meals. At least they had some weight to spare and we head back home tomorrow to their happy home barn!

My day 1 lesson recap:

The instructor was very, very, very picky.  I don't mind having my riding picked apart, but I feel like some of the expectations for Bridget were a little much. She really wants you to ride with a lot of contact, which was new for Ms Bridget,  and poor pony was never allowed to have her head above or below vertical for a second. That alone is a huge ask for a baby pony who only started to be somewhat consistent about being on the bit a week or so ago! We did a ton of transitions, again focusing on having the pony on the bit throughout (even into the canter), some spirals, some bigger and smaller trots, and a bunch of serpentines. Nothing out of the ordinary as far as exercises go, but what struck me was that she really expected perfection in every single stride. I`m on the fence about that because while I get that only perfect practice is going to make perfect, on the other hand this a green pony, and I like to encourage the small things and keep it fun for her too! Even a momentary bobble on an up or down transistion meant we had to do it again. And I mean momentary - minute changes in balance. Midge tried her heart out today, and the results were by all accounts impressive, but I`m unsure whether she`d want to play along at that intensity level in the long term, Mentally and physically I feel like that would be way too much for her at this point. The only 'gimme' Bridget got was a loose rein walk break for one 20 m circle 'because she is a baby'

As for me? I need to focus more on where my seatbones are. I like to weight my inside stirrup a bit too much. I am too generous with my reins in general as well, particularly the right one. I need to remember to look up, shoulders back, as always. I take too long to find my trot diagonal when posting - she wants me to be rising a stride or so into the exercise, not 3 or 4 or whenever I think about it. Dressage reins bight is on the right always - it's not a flat class where you keep them to the outside! Switch diagonals not always at the centerline, but whereever you change the bend.  Overall, she said a lot of the little things I am lazy about make the first impression of my riding not the best, when I am actually a decent rider. I don't know whether I should be happy about the decent part or embarrassed at the lazy part - this lady wasn't big on compliments or positives so the comment came across more as 'you look bad - smarten up!' lol :) This is all homework I am expected to be better at by tomorrow - I sense failure in my future :)

Where I'm left a little confused is that she was SUPER picky and fussy with me and one other horse/rider combo. Everyone else got a free pass or a quick reminder on a lot of the things listed above, particularly the horses - many of whom are much more experienced than mine. While it was nice to get so much attention and advice, I was a little taken aback that she seemed to take us quite so seriously as a 'dressage' combo when I had only asked for help with balance and canter transitions because 'my pony is green and can't canter on a circle with a rider yet'. I do believe I mentioned I mostly trail ride and want to event one day - seriously, I tried my hardest to not fall under the DQ train, but I got crushed and spat out in a little less than an hour :)


  1. I've always wondered why clinicians pay more attention to one pair or another, and what their motives are. Regardless, I'm glad you have good things to work on and that Midge was a good girl!! :D

    1. Yes! Sometimes you can see what they're trying to fix or why they're focused on that particular person, other times you just don't see it at all. I always cross my fingers I'm not the one getting made an example of in the latter situation, but it seems my luck ran out!

  2. sounds like Bridget was a very good girl and really tried to rise to the occasion! nice work!

    my mare has successfully trained me into not asking much of her - and on the flat she'll only ever go as far as i push. so a big focus right now is to force myself to ask for MORE and really go for it, ya know? and when i do - she stays right with me and can be very impressive.

    so perhaps that's what the clinician had in mind - really trying to push the limits and see what Bridget really knows? but of course, i'm a little torn like you on whether that's always a good idea with such a true green bean (vs my mare, who is absolutely NOT green, despite what she claims...)

  3. I've never ridden in a clinic, and these are the types of experiences than turn me off from them. It sounds like you got a lot of great advice and work, but I take everything so personally I probably would have been sobbing in the middle of the arena after 10 minutes, lol.

  4. I'm glad that it went well and you have such positive take aways to work on from it. However I am saddened to read that you felt pushed a bit too far - leaving a lesson with a bit of a bitter taste or some negative thoughts always needles at us and rots our brain with what ifs. I'm sorry it didn't quite go to plan but it sounds like Ms Bridget is well on the road to being a solid citizen and can live up to harder work. Plenty positives for the future and her halo & good pony medal of valor are on the way