Showing posts with label clinic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clinic. Show all posts

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Siegfried Winkler Clinic

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.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Piss Off

No, this post isn't based on an angry rant. At least not one coming from me. Indy, on the other hand, decided to dub "Piss Off" as her own personal anthem for the Tracey Lert clinic this weekend. 


Saturday went fairly decent. Indy was a little fussy and distracted. It wasn't horrible though and I wouldn't want her to be perfect because it's the times that her attitude pops out that I need the most help. Some days she's very good. Others, not so much. Some are in the middle. Yes, this is pretty much typical of all horses, I fully understand that. However, Indy is much more extreme. One day she is a cute and furry little Mogwai that is oh, so lovable and the next I'm wondering what asshole decided to feed her after midnight (these are references from the book and movie Gremlins in case you weren't born between the 40s when the book was written and the 80s when the movie was made). Some days it's like someone threw water on my little darling and all her alter egos morph from her.

Oh yeah, back to the clinic.

Anyway, Sunday, was not a pleasant experience, which made it a very good learning experience. It was pretty obvious from the beginning that Indy wasn't in the mood to play. Everything I asked was answered with a huge "GO AWAY!" followed by grabbing the bit and pulling it in directions that I'm still a little surprised a horse's head can go. At least she's flexible. 

This is pretty much how it went:

I put my leg on.

Indy- "Take that leg and shove it. I don't want to go forward. I think I prefer shuffling. Actually, maybe any lateral direction sounds more fun."

I pick up the contact. 

Indy- "OH HELL NO! You did not just touch the reins that touch the bit that is in my mouth! How's my head feel in your face?!" *flips me off*

Tracey tells me to halt.

Indy-"You can't make me! Haha!" *flips me off again*

Tracey has me try a turn on the forehand.

Indy-"HORSE ABUSE! CRUELTY TO ELEPHANTS! I will not stand for this! I shall fight until it stops by moving my body in every other direction than the one you want. Backwards and upwards or stomping/kicking sounds like a good defense to ward off this evil attack from your leg." *flip off number three*

We eventually get to trot.

"Look at me, I'm going so pretty! JUST KIDDING!!! Since you want me to bend left, I'm just going to lean against all things left and start head banging!" *insert the double bird*

I wish that this conversation was a dramatized version of the story, but it's really pretty accurate.

That moment when she finally started thinking things through.

 I like riding with Tracey. She's fair and she's not mean, but she also isn't going to take "almost there" as being good enough. Once you get one thing fixed she will immediately go to the next thing (and you're doing well if it is only one thing instead of two or three or ten) that isn't correct. She will push hard. She will call it like it is and draw attention to every mistake you're making in the present, but also the ones that you probably made in the past that have led to the issues now. She will adjust every flaw in your position, you will learn to post perfectly, the basics will be hammered into your brain until you get it. She will not baby you. 

It's worth it though. If you can handle all that she throws at you, you WILL come out better. So far it seems like I did. I tried hard, I drew a line, I didn't lose my composure during the lesson. I learned to be tougher, to disconnect from the personal aspect (she's a horse being a horse, her problem, not mine, etc.), to make sure that I didn't go away no matter what fuss Indy put up. 

We made it through alive. I was actually happy with what I learned. I didn't mind Tracey pushing for more or calling me on everything that I was doing wrong. It would have been way more insulting to have her think that my horse and I aren't capable of more. 

That didn't keep me from leading Indy out of the barn and bursting into tears. I don't know why. Mental and physical exhaustion? Release of tension? I can't remember the last time Indy made me cry. I vowed a long time ago not to, no matter what, because owning and riding her is an opportunity and that's enough to be grateful for, I'm not entitled to have good rides every time. We'll just call Sunday an exception and move on.

I gave Indy Monday off, we both needed it. After having a day to process everything I learned, I was able to apply it better. We've had nothing but good rides since and my lesson today was full of very excellent quality work from Indy.

Back when I played basketball my friend would always say, "You're the only person I know that can be upside down, backwards, and surrounded by players and you'll usually make the shot, but when you're open and in the clear, you miss it almost every time." The fact is that this really relates to my riding. I needed to be pushed, to get knocked around, to have to perform better. I needed the extra pressure that day. It might not have come easily, but what I learned in that clinic will stick with me always. Like The Fiancé said, it needed to happen. It did and Indy and I are that much better because of it.

That being said, that's what clinicians are paid for. They come, they push, they leave. I sure as hell wouldn't want that type of intensity every single lesson, just like I wouldn't have  wanted that kind of pressure every time I shot a basketball in practice. Getting back to the normal grind with my trainer in my lesson today was a very refreshing experience. She still pushes me, but I get a little more time to take all that she is telling me in. Riding with her is very calming, yet still challenging, to me and that is more what I need on a regular basis. Especially with Indy. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Claes Clinic

I love clinics! As much as I love showing, I may actually love clinics even more.

My friend at the barn was kind enough to come out and snap some pics of Indy and I towards the end of our ride on the second day of the Garitt-Claes Bierenbroodspot clinic. If you ever get the opportunity to ride with him, I would highly recommend it. He's tough, but fair. He works you and your horse hard, but not past the limit and personally, I felt like I got more than my money's worth out of it.

The first day of the clinic, Claes came up to introduce himself and ask about Indy. I'm not much to go into detail about my horse, they don't need a life story, so I basically told him that she's still pretty green and that our warm-up was probably not going to be very pretty, that it takes her a little while to get into working mode. He told me to just start warming up like I normally would.

Indy kind of did her thing, going a little hollow, gawking at stuff here and there. It's just her and I have to work into things somewhat gradually. If I try to force it, our rides can go south pretty fast. I decide where we want to get to, but I do better if I don't try to rush her into it. Claes was very patient while we warmed up, having me send her more forward when she would get fussy or try to come above the bit and then asking even more as she warmed up.The basic theme of both lessons was to pretty much be very aggressive about pushing her really forward and through into a steady contact (my weakness). I mean REALLY forward and through. 

Spastic left wrist.

I realize that this seems like an easy/obvious solution, but it's not that easy. When you try to push a young/green horse really forward and through, they're going to get to that point of "running" (in the gate) and our first instinct is to slow them down, damned what the results may be. To continue to ask for more forward and more through from there until they actually start using themselves, taking slower/longer strides, and going into a correct contact is extremely difficult and not something that is easy for most of us to push ourselves into doing. Combine that with trying to fix your positional flaws, that I have WAY too many of, at the same time along with several other details and it gets really tough. It also gets results.

Anyway, instead of boring you with every detail of my ride and the fact that the left side of my body is seriously not cooperating with me *Oh, hello left leg! You DO serve a purpose!*, I figured you guys might enjoy some quotes (along with hashtags because I was just in that type of mood while writing this) that may or may not be useful to you:

Spastic left leg and needing to sit back more. I'm not going to beat myself up too much.

"You know what you need to do, you just need to trust yourself."
I think he said this within the first fifteen minutes of my ride. Yeah, he had me summed up pretty quick. For example, I'm still not sure I know what I should do, I just know what I FEEL I should do. I guess that's probably the same? #trustyourselfyouidiot #confidenceiseverything

"It's okay if she makes mistakes."
This should be pretty obvious, but the type of people that ride dressage tend to be perfectionists (it's one of the few things in life that I am a perfectionist about) and our horses can easily fall victims to our anal-retentive tendencies. I need to let her make mistakes. As much as I would like Indy to be this mature epitome of professionalism, she isn't yet. That will come, but I can't force it to happen without being unfair to her and probably ending up with a bitter horse that hates her job. #dontbesuchahardass

"It HAS to make sense! If it doesn't make sense there is no point in doing it!"
I have to laugh about this one a bit. I was originally taught by a Swiss guy that you didn't really say much to unless you were asked. You were always welcome to ask questions, but his way of teaching was so clear that there was rarely a need to. So, I pretty much just shut up and rode and that's how I've been since. Anyway, Claes had just finished explaining something to me and then looked at me expectantly after I only responded with nodding. So, I expanded on that with the uber intelligent remark "That makes sense." I don't regret saying it, because he's right. Riders often do things because it was what they were told to do, but they don't understand exactly why or how it helps them get what they are looking for. They don't know the feel that they are aiming towards. It's something worth remembering. #knowledgeiseverything

Note to self: never wear this sweater with a polo under it again. It isn't flattering.

*I can't remember the exact word-for-word quote on this one, so this is the general drift of it
If she breaks gate, send her forward in the gate she chooses. Breaking gate is her way of avoiding work and connection. She needs to know that she is going to keep working no matter what gate she is in.
How many times has your horse broken into the trot when you are trying to get them to walk correctly? And how many times have you asked them to go back down to a half-assed walk only for them to do it again? It doesn't matter if it's breaking from a walk to a trot, trot to canter, or canter down to a trot, the reason for doing this is is most likely going to be the same. I know that I'm super guilty of this. And how often in these instances of breaking gate does your horse stop stepping through, get behind your leg, and lose the contact? Probably a large amount of the time because if they are doing this they are probably green and their whole purpose of doing it is to avoid coming through in that gate. It's not that they are being bad, they're just being horses. This isn't a punishment, just a part of their training that they need to go through.  #younghorseproblems

While Claes pushed us hard, he also gave us lots of walk breaks. There's a difference between avoidance and being too exhausted to do what the rider is asking. I think this area can get very touchy because you have to be fair about it. 

"Did you ride jumpers? Because most dressage people don't know when to send a horse forward like that."
I took this as a compliment. I did get to ride/groom for a large jumper barn a long time ago, but I wasn't a real "rider" (or even close) as in showing at HITS or WEF. I didn't tell him all of this, once again he doesn't need my whole life story, but just said "A long time ago". I'm pretty sure he could tell that I was never a super star in the jumping world. Mostly I rode young horses on the flat and didn't jump anything but smaller stuff or take them through the jumping chute. I didn't really care about jumping that much, dressage was my true love. I loved riding the young horses. One of the "real" riders, who was ABSOLUTLEY amazing, taught me a ton about flat work. He was insistent that I carry my hands and send the horses forward into the contact. Over the years, I've picked up bad habits of trying to get the connection (usually by my hands getting too low) without enough forward, even if I wasn't necessarily heavy handed. This got even worse after I hurt my neck. It was good for me to ride with Claes and get that timing and feel back. Now, I just have to focus on keeping it.  I've always liked taking basic flat lessons from a good jumper trainer and think that they can be very beneficial to all dressage riders. #credittoallyoushowjumpers

"It doesn't matter. If it was too much, you just have to adjust next time."
He said that after I over-corrected Indy and said "Oops. That was probably too much." Just like my horse, I'm allowed to make mistakes. No big deal, learn from it and move on. #learningprocess

"You wouldn't want to push her like this every ride. Some days you have to take less, you have to know when to stop and try again the next day."
It is really easy to have a great ride in a clinic or lesson and then push too hard to try to get the same results again. Trust me, I definitely know. It's hard to recreate that kind of quality when you're by yourself. When you take a lesson or clinic, you're paying to be pushed. You don't have to do it every single ride. What you do have to do is know is your horse's limit for that day. #thegoodridecurse

Collapsing through my left side her. My back felt fantastic the Saturday, but Sunday I woke up with my neck out again. Don't get me wrong, I have a a tendency to make these mistakes in my position anyway, but when my neck goes, it's almost impossible to fix them. I spend so much time, effort, and money into making sure my horses are feeling good, I need to do the same for myself.

After my ride on the first day, Claes had told me "good job" and was walking away when he turned around and said "Nice horse." That may not seem like a big deal, but he isn't the type to say something he doesn't mean just to be nice. He knows his horses (google him if you don't already know of him) and if he says I have I nice horse, I must. Indy was really good for the clinic and handled the larger amount of pressure very well. I was SO proud of her!

I was able to enjoy and learn a lot at this clinic due to Lisa at Diamond L Equine Therapy incredible efforts of getting Indy feeling fantastic and J using the lesson before to prepare Indy and I for what our rides with Claes would be like.

Also, thanks for the pictures Tammy! You may have single handedly saved this post :)

Friday, March 20, 2015


Yeah, life has been super busy. Again. Shocker, I know. Of course, this means I've fallen off of the blogger bandwagon. Again. As much as that fact annoys me, it's really probably a good thing. If you're not busy, you're not making cool dressage stuff money. Right?

Little Miss Blaze Face 
Anyway, I figured doing a quick catch up and, hopefully, a look into some future posts would be good. Even if it takes me a year, I will write these posts DAMN IT!

1. Garrit-Claes Bierenbroodspot clinic.

She can go so nice when she wants....
Loved it! Learned a lot! My friend took a few pictures and hasn't had time to edit them yet, but I will try to get a post up about the clinic soon.

2. Indy

She was absolutely awesome for the clinic and continued to be afterwards.

Getting driven on a day that I couldn't muster the energy to ride.
For a couple of weeks. Then, in typical Indy fashion, she decided that she really doesn't need to work that hard just because I ask her and turned to her efforts to pick a fight so that she has a legitimate excuse to act like a heifer. I've been really good about being patient and fair with any corrections, but I've also spent a lot of my rides with every cuss word in the book quietly coming out of my mouth. Hey, I need to vent and it's a lot better than losing it and going bat shit crazy on her. Whatever works. I have no problem getting after a horse when they need it, but doing it in a fit of rage isn't going to help.

On a good note, her ass is looking fantastic!
J is awesome and understands how frustrating it is. Her lessons help so much and she has been really good about helping me remember that I just have to keep riding Indy through it until the little brat figures that she is just making it harder on herself when she acts like a jack ass. I swear this horse is either going to make me or break me.

3. Winn

The rainbow after the storm. Let's hope it's symbolic.
His feet are still sore, but he is starting to get better and I think I can start riding him again soon. All I want is to be able to ride my sweet (and trained) boy.

4. Racing

We have gotten some new horses in and some of the ones that had a break are starting to get fit again. We've had to sell/are selling some of the lower level horses to have room for the new ones. We're actually down to fourteen horses right now, but have one more coming back in from being turned out along with three two year olds that should be making their way to us soon.

Yeah, my chances of getting a vacation in the near future are pretty much nonexistant. I'm certainly not complaining about the business, but I am so DAMN tired! Like the crawl out of bed and partially collapse a few times type of tired. It's not necessarily the physical work, but the mental aspect on top of it. Constantly thinking about what you need to do, what you need to remember, what you need to get, etc. 24/7 for a barn full of horses for years catches up with a person.  Rarely having more than a few hours away from the track can be brutal. There are no breaks, no vacations, not even a day off, to look forward to. Just more work. Every. Single. Day. For the rest of my life. At least, it is feeling that way right now.

At least Butters gets plenty of rest.

There should be a lull between Denver and Phoenix this year, assuming we don't go to Zia (please God, noooo!). Fingers crossed that we can turn all of the horses out for a couple of weeks and get some time off.

Oops! That one got longer than I intended. Apparently, I needed to rant a bit.

Hirsch knows that I'm a complete sucker for him. Even the fiancé admits how much this horse likes me. After we bathed him before his race, the fiancé was holding him out in the sun and Hirsch kept trying to drag him to me. Love this guy so much!

Anyway, I want to do a post about some of the new horses and the challenges they present. As much as I complain about being tired, I do love my job. It's interesting, challenging, and I love the horses.

5. Projects

Hopefully I don't need either trailer in the next couple of days.

I have been working on an art project and a craft project for a couple of friends. Sorry, Jess. I will get it done eventually :) They should be done and shipped soon. I'll post them when they are. Provided that they don't suck, of course.

6. New Blogger Series

I wouldn't forget about you guys :)
I haven't forgotten about all of you awesome newbies out there. I will be getting in touch soon.

Completely off subject here, but to the idiot that cut half of this horse's forelock off: I do not like you. At all. I've never even met you and you make me crazy. That is all.

That's pretty much the general gist of my life lately. Hopefully I can start finding the time to blog more soon.