Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Jimmy Wofford Clinic: Eeeeakkkkss!!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009, 10:10 PM [General]
So... this was a great experience!!! I really like Jimmy!! Nothing he taught was super fancy or anything... It was all basic good ol' basic knowledge. Like Jimmy said... "It's not rocket surgery"! But it wasn't like he was just telling us simple stuff... It's the basics and core of GOOD RIDING!! and it works!! And it's amazing how we all sorta fall apart and lose the basics and get all flustered. Riding is really not that difficult... in theory!!! It's the carrying it out that is really hard!!

But anyways... we hauled the 5 hours to basically Hilton Head! It wasn't a bad drive, but... we were all ready to be there. We pulled into the resort.. and yes.. it was a RESORT!! It was Longfield Stables at Palmetto Bluff and holy crud!! The place is amazing!! It took us 15 minutes to drive through the resort into the barn. And it's all very much southern belle Savannah style. The spanish moss hanging off the huge lovely trees with the swampy marshes and all the marsh grass. It was really gorgeous. The barns ...there is a regular barn and a guest/recieving barn!!! And that recieving barn was gorgeous!! The stalls are huge!!! Like two the three times the size of regular stalls with mats and fans and HUGE thick lucious shavings piled high. They were immaculate too!! They had lovely four rail fencing and pastures with nice grass. There was a lovely breeze, but the bugs...oh my gosh the bugs!! It wasn't horrible, but the horse flies were HUGE!! Like 6 inch suckers!!! There really wasn't any stable flies though... just the big honkin' horse flies and then apparently, it's lightning bug mating season. It was insane!! I wish we could have timed it to be out there at dusk cause during the day there was like 30 lightning bugs doing it just within the 5 foot range around me. Crazyness! But anyways... the place was gorgeous and the staff took excellent care of the boys! They had their feet picked out, were lightly brushed, and had an evening snack! They didn't want to leave!

So anyways.. .we got up Saturday morning and went for the morning lecture with Mr. Wofford. He said he didn't like to lecture so he wanted us to ask questions. And wow.. did we?! Everyone asked great questions and we learned alot. Mr. Wofford explained his training protocol and wow!! No days off :) He said he works on a 4 day rotating basis and the days off are really long hacks at the walk. But a working walk... a march! So.. Fleck and I will have to step it up a bit! He also said he didn't do trot sets as they are not any better than the long walk hacks (yay for all those trail rides... I kept saying Fleck was super fit that year we did at least twice weekly long trail rides!) and it resulted in unecessary pounding of their feet and joints and tendons. He also explained some jumping styles. He said that the perfect jump is one that stays the same rythm. The approach, the jump, the landing, and the exit are all the same da da dump, da da dump.... etc. It doesn't necessarily matter where our "spot" is. He really got into that and it is exactly what his article about it says on his blog (I think that's on his blog). Most of us aren't capable yet of being accurate enough to find the right "spot". He proved that it isn't quite necessary either. Many of us had jumps that stayed the same rythm and we thought they felt great!! And they did! But they weren't the right spot necessarily :) But it was neat. But he also explained the different mechanically between a flat long spot "Stand off" jump and a chip or a barf/puke jump. Mechanically it makes so much sense and NOW I see the light!!! Those long spots don't really give Fleck more time to pick his knees up... it just makes it harder for him to jump over it cause of the trajectory. So it was great. We also talked about the two point, the three point, and the light 3 point seat. And... he also gave me another nugget of wisdom I'd be craving!! I can't ever figure out whether I should sit the last few strides or stay in my two point. Jimmy explained that we gallop between fences in our two point and then when we get close to the jump, we should sit lightly and go into our light 3 point. This does a few things. It enables us to use our seat as an aid and influence the horse, but it also becomes a signal to the horse. When we sit lightly, they start to associate that with the fences, so that eventually they start to automatically rock themselves back on their haunches before the jumps because they realize it's coming. In other words, it becomes an aid in of itself. However, he did warn us against driving with our seats and getting behind the motion. We still need to be in a jumping type position. I don't know.. it really made sense to me!

So then we got tacked up and had our stadium lesson. It was okay. Embarassing a bit though... We started by trotting a low crossrail/gate. Well... I've gotten so used to Fleck bolting and running that I'm not quite sure how to ride him now that he's calm and slow and respectful. (HA! Maybe that's a relative slow and calm and respectful though!) So... I left my leg off and he stopped. Doh!! How embarassing!!! But luckily I think Jimmy realized we were asleep and we were fine after that. He had us look at the chapstick or hankercheif he put on the top rails and had us look AT that, not off into the distance. This, he told us, helped us determine when our horses were going to take off, therefore we could be more with the motion. It did seem to help, but man was it hard to remember to do! We did some fun bending lines, a triple line, and the liverpool and called it a day! The other groups were pretty much the same thing as my group, just lower fences. It was fun watching everyone else go too. We also had lunch brought in and got a great lecture about electrolytes sponsored by Buckeye feeds. While watching the other groups, the boys got some turn-out time and we headed out for dinner and went to our hotel for the night to get ready for the next day!

Sunday was Cross Country Day!!! We were the first group again and the bugs were horrible first thing in the morning, but the cross country course was gorgeous! It had water, banks, ditches, trakenhers, and even a sunken road! None of the fences were very big, but the technical stuff was all there. Jimmy had us warm-up by doing a short little 400 mpm canter and then a 500 mpm canter and man...that got Fleck all fired up!! Then he had us jump a fence by getting into jumping position way far back and then just staying that way! He was proving that we don't need to jump the fence for them! So we then went to work on some technical stuff. I really liked how he built up the exercises so that the horses and riders understood it. We started by going up and down the bank, and I was so proud!! I was able to land in my feet and not slam on Flecks back! Of course that didn't stop Fleck from taking off on landing! Jimmy told me it was okay for me to sneak behind the trees and smack him around for being naughty!! I managed to get him stopped a bit quicker each time and eventually he quit trying. But back to the banks... after we jumped up and down, Jimmy added a stadium jump one stride out. We did that up and down. Then he made it a bounce and we did that. Then he changed it to a skinny and the horses all understood and did it fine. Then we moved over to the bigger bank with the 3' skinny log. Jimmy added some wings to it, which I think maybe spooked the horses a bit as almost all of it had trouble the first time. But we all figured it out and the horses did great! Then we moved on to some fun stuff and did some easy fences. Then we did the trakenher, which made me very happy as Fleck and I have been having issues at Pine Tops trakenher. And of course....Fleck just sailed over it. Well, that's not true... he did weave just a bit but I was able to put my leg on, at the girth, and send him forward and away he went. We then did the ditch, which was neat! It was like a V shaped ditch. So we jumped the skinny part, then turned and jumped the middle, and then turned and came back over the wide part. Fleck was great to all of them. We then moved onto the water jump and jumped a jump in the water and the bank in and out. After that, our time was up. It was a fun course and we all did well. I think we all learned a little bit too. For example, I learned how to gather up my reins properly after slipping them at a drop. I was also reminded that I can't get ahead of Fleck out on the XC course.. I have to stay behind him and with him so that if he wiggles or weaves or sucks back, I'm right there with support to keep him going forward! We hosed off the ponies and took care of them and then watched the next group go. Then we had lunch and packed up and headed home. The lunch topic that day was also great... all about starches and sugars and feeding ponies. We also won some pony treats which made Fleck very happy!

The trip home was uneventul and we all arrived safe and sound. It was a fun weekend and we're glad we went! Now to keep heading forward and getting better each day! This was the barn!! (Pics borrowed from Lei! Who was also at the clinic and did great!!!) This was the recieving barn!! Fleck and Logan stayed here and loved it!

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