Monday, June 3, 2013

Kelly Eaton Clinic at Wishing Tree Farm

Beth coordinated a clinic with Kelly Eaton, her trainer, at Wishing Tree Farm. It was a fun day. I got there as early as I could to watch. I managed to catch some of Kathy's ride. It was very educational. She was telling Kathy how many riders want to lean forward during the upward transitions, especially to the canter. Duh! Weren't Peri and I just talking about this! She said to think about keeping the legs straight and down but to almost think of leaning back. I figured she was over exaggerating it a bit because most of us lean forward. I think she wants us to lift our sternum up and back. And maintain the forward. She had Kathy and Missy looking great. Then I got to watch Beth and Nike go. They were working on getting Nike more receptive to the leg and more rocked back and powerful. They got some nice work done! Then I had to go tack Fleck up for my lesson.

Beth was riding Giselle with me during my jump lesson because the weather was threatening to storm so we wanted to get everyone in. We warmed up and got to work. She started us out with a grid. She is funny!! She reminds me of Beth a bit with her sneaky challenging stuff. So we started off with two trot poles to a cross rail. Then it progressed to a vertical after and then with a placing pole in the middle. She purposely set it a bit tight so that we would have to keep them packaged. She was wanting us to envelope them in a envelope of aids. They had to stay within the aids. She sized us up right away and had me get Fleck short and bouncy but forward. Packaged if you will, and round. I needed to sit tall and give with my elbows but still keep him bouncy. And it worked. Well, ha! Most of the time. He "flantered" through the ground poles, tripping over them, one time and we managed to get out of the grid just fine. But it was ....pleasant. ;) So then we added more to the grid and he was jumping well. I was giving just a bit more with my elbows but not abandoning him. Then we added some additional jumps. She had me maintain the same canter around the hill and down to the skinny vertical down the hill. I tried to do what Beth had taught me the other day about half halting with alternating reins and.. it just didn't work so well. It felt like he was locking against me and just running at it. Kelly agreed. So I worked on getting him rounder around the turn and then keeping him soft and round and collected down the hill to the skinny. No counter flexing Kelly pointed out... all that accomplished was then throwing him onto his right shoulder instead. He went from hanging on the left rein to not being on any aids. The problem is that he's not bending around my right leg. (Shocking huh... cause where else does that show up?!). So to fix it... make him bend around my right leg and push him into my left rein. I can do it using leg yields. So we did that and it got a little better but he still felt like he was bracing. So then Kelly told me to sit and drive him forward with my seat. When he inverts and braces on me, the key is to leg him forward into the bridle. Leg him round. She said that to help accomplish that, to drive with my seat a bit. But not forget the leg. And to quote many famous upper level people "most riders see the distances with their seat". Or something to that effect. So.. I did, and it really helped! And then we went on to the oxer and while he got a little bit strung out, because I sat I could see that it was slightly long and I was able to wrap my legs around him and push and move him up to the bigger distance. Yay! So then we came downhill to a single barrel, made into a channel with wings. We trotted it and she explained that we had to really hold them to the base as the channel would make them want to take long. I had to work hard, but he listened. Then we made it more narrow and I was still able to keep him to the base. And straight! Whoo hoo.

So... nothing earth shattering and nothing real challenging, but.. it was fun. And helpful. I wasn't riding very well... and Fleck felt much more braced than usual, so it was good that we accomplished what we did. 

Then I got to watch Beth and Atlas and Stephanie and LC go. They had some good work too. It was neat to see how quickly and accurately Kelly sized up the horses. Lots of fun. I'm looking forward to the next one!

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