Sunday 7 April 2019

Clinic Notes

This weekend's clinic was shortened to just one day. We were lucky to get that, given the wet and windy weather that resulted in ferry cancellations and a not so pleasant outdoor experience for the particpants.

Throwback pictures from baby Bridget's first outings with the same clinician, 2013. It feels weird posting photos of other people's clinic,  so you're stuck with old ones of Bridget and I.

I sat this one out and just audited. The format is normally groundwork in the morning and riding in the afternoon, and since Bridget is pretty solid these days and Sophie isn't under saddle it seemed to me my money was better saved for another time.

Aww, baby Bridget sass!  First week I owned her. We still laugh because I rode to the clinic on quite a busy road without much of a thought, and the poor clinician just about choked when he heard that. (B was VERY green, lol) 

I still got quite a bit out of it. I appreciate the clinician (Sev)'s approach because it's positive and straightforward. In the morning, the participants practiced all the usual groundwork you expect from a nicely mannered horse: leading without pulling, respecting the handler's space, responding when asked, etc. I know all the horses are pretty solid citizens, so it was interesting to see the wheels fall off a little given the crazy weather and the energy a couple of horses and humans brought to the group.

Once everyone settled a little, one of the greener horses got a lesson in appropriately existing with other horses around her. She's very quick to get defensive, so it was neat to watch the clinician introduce her to each horse and lay down boundaries for her that she respected. I know that mare and just love her, but I'm not sure anyone ever thought she'd willingly walk up to a strange horse and be calm about it quite so quickly!

That done, there was some fun stuff with teaching the horses to sidepass away from and toward the handlers, plus longeing over and through obstacles.

Baby Bridget tackling a bridge for the first time, 2013.

The afternoon riding was fun. There were a couple of green horses and riders, and some nervous adults too, so the starting exercises consisted of drill team type stuff: follow the leader in pairs, focusing on keeping equal distance and pace. Deceptively difficult for everyone. Then it got "extra" with the clinician asking everyone to ride one handed on a super loose rein and do the same patterns. Idea being you should be able to turn and change speed off your seat and leg, no hands required. Surprisingly, this proved to be way bigger of a problem for the riders than the that point most of the horses were pretty tuned into the program, even the super green ones. The riders, however, were pretty unwilling to let go!

B has less than reliable steering too, back in the day.

I'm hopeful I can sign up for the summer clinic. It's put on just down the road from where I board and Sophie will be back by then. I think Sophie would benefit hugely from some of the exercises involving other horses. There were a few greener handlers and horses this time and the usual rules and boundaries weren't always respected. Kind of like a busy show warm up! I'm thinking it would be a fun way to introduce a show atmosphere without the stress and travel. I'm going to see if I can share a spot with someone who maybe wants to take the afternoon riding portion.  If not, I guess we could drag Bridget along and I'll ride. As always, I'd prefer to save some pennies if possible, though  :)

It's kind of sad this remains one of my favorite pictures of us...she was maybe 3 months under saddle here?

Topics covered that I can use:

- Sophie definitely needs work on moving her shoulders independent of the rest of her body.

- Getting Sophie out in a busy arena.

- Having her stand patiently away from everyone...She's not quite clued in that being alone and tied could be a happy place of rest.

- I need to up the ante and rely less on the lead rope for reinforcement and have her respond to my voice and body language more quickly.

- The side pass exercises and turns on the forehand and haunches would be easy to teach on the ground and translate directly to under saddle.



  1. sounds like a great way to spend the day, even if the weather was crummy. it's always so useful to get to watch pros move horses around and put them through their paces, hopefully all the takeaways prove useful with Sophie!

    1. I'd probably audit clinics every day if I could. I always learn so much, and rarely is the audit fee anything substantial.

  2. I always love auditing clinics and learning new things. The timing sounds great for ideas to take back to work on with Sophie :)

    1. It was a super good refresher to tie in with my other plans for Sophie!

  3. I think I would love that clinic!

    1. I thought of you! The clinician has a very similar approach to the lessons/clinics you described with Carmen a couple of years ago.

  4. That looks like such a fun clinic!!

    1. It's always a good time. Severin Pederson is the clinician - he travels up there I think if your group is ever in need of some cowboy help!

  5. I hope you get to do the clinic with banana pony this summer, sounds like it could be very valuable!