Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ralph Hill and Andrew Harbinson Clinic

Thursday, August 21, 2008
    So.... Fleck and I decided to go ride in the Ralph Hill and Andrew Harbison clinic being held at Pine Top Farm this August. The Area 3 adult riders group hosted it. And i'm soooo glad we went. We had an absolute blast!!! Karen and I hauled together and we got there Friday afternoon and after eating Arby's for lunch we watched some of the Andrew dressage lessons. Neither of us had originally signed up to ride with him, but after watching a few lessons and seeing the changes in the horses we decided we should ride with him! So we signed up. Poor karen had her lesson that afternoon...we had just tacked up to hack around and then they decided to have her ride then. But she and Omaha did great. Fleck and I had an awful ride.... he was very rushy and fast but behind my leg... Very frustrating. So... oh well. Our Andrew lesson was Saturday afternoon. After our rides, we showered and went to dinner (Mexican!!!) and then slept in the trailer for the night. Considering it was August in Georgia, the weather wasn't all that bad. Saturday am we watched a bit of the prelim group go and then I had to go tack up. Fleck and I went in the training group along with 5 other people. It was such a fun day. We did some grid work and Ralph stressed the importance of gymnastics. Thanks Karen!!! Fleck was a superstar and did really well once he got started. At first he was fussy and rushy and basically just giving me the finger. But Ralph stressed that Fleck was only allowed to trot after the walk was nice, he was only allowed to canter after the trot was nice, and only allowed to jump if the canter was nice. So at first we did a lot of circling.... circling to get that nicer canter. But it worked and eventually Fleck gave up and just gave me the nice canter from the get go. The gymnastics were fun and all the ponies did well. By the end of the lesson, Fleck was being a rockstar! So I was very happy with our day. Then we went and had lunch....Arby's again! Then Karen had her lesson and unfortunately it coincided with my dressage lesson. But I did get to catch the tail end of her lesson, so that was great. My dressage lesson was good. Basically we worked on rythm and balance... nothing fancy, but... Andrew pointed out that Fleck could do all the movements once he was in "that place" but until he was in "that place" there wasn't much point in asking. Which is funny, cause Karen's always said that too. As a matter of fact... i heard a whole bunch of stuff that Karen's been preaching to me for ages! You'd think it have sunk in by now, but.... However, Andrew had me create much more inside bend and used that and a spiral in to help knock Fleck off balance a bit so he would have to rebalance himself. I was to let the outside shoulder pop out and not worry about the fishtailing at the beginning. And by the end of the ride I was able to take a bit more outside rein and keep the shoulder from popping out and keep him a bit straighter, but at this point.. it didn't hold fleck up cause he was balancing himself. And man!!! There was like..six or eight strides of AWESOMENESS!!! He got really up in his back and light in front and then...slowed down and i was able to put my leg on and BAM!!! AWESOMENESS!!! it was sooo cool. Oh, and we changed the direction alot to keep him thinking and on his toes, but also to reward him by letting him straighten out for a few strides. Same thing with the canter too! So it was a good lesson, even though we didn't work on any specifics! So... we'll keep working on that! So back to Karen's lesson... Omaha cracks me up! He would lock onto those fences and just TAKE OFF!! So it made for some excitement! But by the end he was listening better and wasn't quite as an overachiever! So..during and between the lessons we made friends with everyone else and caught up with our old friends. It was a blast! We met two girls that live just down the street from me and now have new friends to ride with. So...for dinner that night we got a big group together and went out to eat... Mexican again!! only this time strawberry daiquiries and margaritas were involved! It was fun! So... Sunday dawned awfully early... but the weather was great! It was almost chilly early in the morning and later it got hot, but then a storm covering blew in and cooled it off a bit again. We got to watch a lot more of the groups since we didn't have dressage lessons today and it was very entertaining and educational. Fleck was a good boy for XC day. The first jump he got mad at me and bulldozed through, but after that he was up and light and fluffy!! Or better than he has been anyways. We didn't do anything big at all... most of it was novice stuff, but we accomplished some specific goals and did a few training questions - like the jump in the water. Fleck was such a good boy and didn't even have a ditch issue!!! Even over the scary freaky ditch... which is a baby ditch, but it was scarier than the big ditch because of it's location. So anyways.. everyone did well. We went out for lunch again... you guessed it!! Arby's... but atleast we had a different sandwich this time... So Karen's group was later that afternoon and Omaha was a superstar too! He got much better at not launching at the jumps and was "better than average!" green bean! After my lessons I talked to Ralph a little bit.. and this is a total brag, but... i can't help it!! He said that Fleck was a character and a nice boy, and could definately go training and probably prelim. And he even sorta joked about one of the nice guys we met taking Fleck intermediate as his young rider horse!!! The other shining moment is when Ralph said that fleck was a character and a firecracker and if we were to put an amateur on him fleck would rip them apart and have them off, but...when you put "someone like you or me" on him.... WOW!!! Me and Ralph in the same sentence!! I know... i know... but it totally made my day! We also talked about showing at the Chatt Hills schooling show and Ralph thought it would be a good one for Fleck and agreed to school me :) yay!!! So the weekend was a grand success. It was impressive to see the difference and improvement in both the riders and the horses at the end of the weekend. Andrew and Ralph are amazing in that they can change something for the better after only spending a short time with the team. You could tell that Ralph really is glad to be back into it and really really loves the horses. The way he taught by watching the horses and figuring out what they were telling him and then he would translate that into teaching us how to ride differently to get the desired effect was just really cool! His enthusiasm was catching and made for a very happy friendly fun weekend. Andrew was also great and made it easy on the horse and rider. He showed us how changing slight things made it easier on everyone and correct and beautiful dressage. Both were fantastically nice and wonderful coaches. And as always Pine Top Farm was fantastic! The weather cooperated, the scenery was breathtaking, and the farm was great. Glenn had the water filled, the jumps up and the golf carts at the ready. I'm grateful to Robin and Area 3 for organizing this and can't wait for the next one. You can see pics here...

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