Monday 2 November 2015

Jim Wofford Clinic Notes

As noted in a previous post, I had hoped for some really detailed and excellent notes, but I had trouble hearing everything. I feel like the sound system was fine, just the seating was packed and people were getting up and down and chatting through much of the sessions. This is THE clinician I have always wanted to audit/ride with, so you can imagine my disappointment. Luckily, the horses and riders all knew their jobs and very professionally filled in the gaps in my hearing with great visual demos of the concepts. I did take home some tips I hope you'll find useful!
Lots of poles being set, sorry we were too far away to get any decent action shots

In no particular order:

-Jumping: as with dressage, you must go forward before you can go back (collect). I.e. start with long, forward distances before setting shorter ones.

-Gymnastics: Use them to create the best shape, for example with the long, flat jumper he set a series of bounces that gradually shortened to encourage a more rounded jump. Show the horse how!

-No such thing as good hands. We should say a rider has good arms.

-Misreading/hitting a jump is punishment enough for the horse, rider shouldn't react. Go back and try again immediately and praise them when they learn from the mistake. 

-Wait for the horse. Your upper body shouldn't move. Sink through knees/hips at takeoff - ideally about the distance from the fence that equals the height of it.

- Don't post the canter. Creates inconsistent contact, bumping with seat. Sit in a light three point.

- Corners. Started with angled jumps, gradually closed the gap from 3 stride, to 2, to 1, to finally a corner. Can set poles to play with this ie widest part of v is a 2 stride, narrowest a baby corner. Excellent for straightness issues!
My MS Paint skillz are embarrassing, but you get the idea.

-Bounces. Rider body needs to stay over knees. Great for agility, teaching rider to move arms rather than body. Forces horse to land and balance (good for those who like to rush away or fall on forehand after jump)

-Low, wide oxers. Guessing about 2' high and about 3' wide for the lower level session, maybe 2'6 x 4' for upper. He had these set everywhere, 2 forming a bounce, in the middle of a gymnastic line followed by a 1 stride to a vertical. Just everywhere. Idea being you need an agile, adjustable horse who learns to listen!

General: I appreciated how the same gymnastic lines came out in every session and he showed us so many variations to play with. With indoor weather coming, it was timely to see exercises demonstrated to keep the horses interested and practicing all the pieces of the xc puzzle without a lot of wear and tear (or large spaces needed). I also loved his coaching style: serious, but with a great sense of humor. Positive and encouraging with the riders, but the horse's welfare always came first. I kinda want to steal him and bring him back to my barn!

Mostly, I appreciated the horses and riders. I've been to a couple of the George Morris clinics at the same venue where there were seriously over faced horses and riders mixed in (and a rightfully angry George! I know the man has a rep for telling it how it is, but I had to totally respect how polite he actually was about it.) I digress though, this year the horses and riders were all excellent and super inspiring! I'm so thankful to whoever organized it, and to the riders for being there to demonstrate how it should be done.


  1. Great notes! Thank you for sharing!

  2. lots of great takeaways - i love your graphic about introducing corners too. lots of good little pointers in there for me too (like waiting for the horse, when will i ever learn?!?). glad you had fun tho what a shame that it was so tough to actually hear what was going on

  3. Good notes! I am glad you go to go, but sad that you didn't get to hear as well as you would have liked.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, I love Jim!