I have a hard time turning down an opportunity to ride in a clinic. I LOVE them! As much as I enjoy showing, clinics are even more fun to me. So, when a friend in my barn was bringing in Siegfried Winkler and needed more spots filled, I decided to sign Summer and I up.
Watching us warm up.
I was worried how Siegfried would feel about a green OTTB, but was assured that he is very kind and gladly works with all levels of horses and riders. My main concern was over-facing Summer and everyone agreed that Siegfried would not do that. With that in mind, I figured that it was only money and my pride at risk, I might as well give it a try
Summer was really excited about it!
Six weeks after his last race, Summer and I participated in our first clinic. Siegfried was amazing! He is kind and patient. He pushes, but not past your and your horse's limits. He points out everything that needs to be fixed, yet let's you know every time you and your horse do something correctly. There were lots of walk breaks in which he made sure that I understood what he was saying and why it was important. One thing that I really loved about him is that he taught everyone with the same amount of enthusiasm, it didn't matter what kind of horse the rider's had or what level they were at. It's very obvious how much he loves horses and his job.
I had only signed up for two of the three days, figuring that three might be too much for where Summer is at mentally and physically. He's still only four and I do my best to remember that.
Working in the quality of the walk.
The first day of the clinic was fairly easy. We just walked and trotted, as I told Siegfried that we hadn't done a whole lot of canter work yet. Here was the focus on day one:
- Keeping my lower leg closer to the girth. I ride with my stirrups shorter on Summer, which jams my long legs up into my thigh blocks more, which causes my lower leg to come back too far. I can keep it where it needs to be, but it was something I wasn't even aware I was doing until Siegfried pointed it out. Keeping more weight in my heels and not letting them come up in the transitions was also part of this. He had me do this to help keep Summer more forward (especially when he tries to pull down) and to help with him wanting to drift over a shoulder.
- Play with the bit and supple, don't hold. Summer steers pretty well, but not great. Sometimes, I use the inside rein a bit too much to get him lined out since he doesn't quite understand the outside rein concept yet. We worked on this a lot with supplying to the left and right.
- Turning my shoulders to weight my inside seat bone to create bend. I was keeping my outside shoulder back too much, so when I was trying to get Summer to circle left or right, my shoulders were positioned as if we were going straight. #dumbass Between correcting this and the previous two issues, Summer's steering improved immensely.
- Keeping my shoulders back. I do this well in sitting trot, everything else, not so much. Especially, when I'm riding green horses.
- Downward transitions when Summer wants to start pulling down.
We worked on these things in the walk and trot, doing lots of transitions and introducing some leg yielding. I had a much improved horse by the end of my ride.
On day two, we worked on pretty much the same things, only we added canter work. Siegfried worked us both A LOT harder. Summer started out even better than he had ended up the day before. Having the time to process everything the evening after my ride really helped. We struggled with picking up the correct lead, especially to the right. Summer would pick it up when we were going to the left, but not when we were going to the right. Siegfried suggested that I should continue on and then change my direction to the right when he picks it up like that, just so Summer starts to associate going to the right with his right lead. I'm not too worried about it. At least he can canter on both leads, it's just a lack of understanding on something that we've barely worked on. My little guy is smart, I have no doubt he'll understand the concept soon. This is a short clip towards the end of our lesson on the second day:
This video makes me want to smack myself, but love Summer all that much more.
Summer was so good as far as behavior. He never set a foot out of place, even when a guy was cracking his whip while free-lunging his horse a hundred miles an hour in the pen next to the arena. He gave me 100% even when he was beginning to get tired on the second day. The improvement he made in two days was incredible.
I am definitely looking forward to riding with Siegfried again in Colorado. I was ecstatic to find a clinician that frequently goes to both cities that I bounce between throughout the year. Riding with him was one of the best investments I've made in my riding education.