clinic · lesson

Winter Blahs & Good Lessons

I am ready for the winter to be done.  I don’t even care if it means mud.  Just be done with the cold.  Please.  Right now, its been too cold this week for me to ride.  When the temps don’t rise above 20, I simply don’t ride.  Both my mares sweat a LOT.  Jewel is clipped, but Deb is not.  There is just no sense in getting them all hot and sweaty when its so cold.

Jewel has also pulled a front shoe.  Unfortunately, the farrier has not been able to get out this week due to the frigid temps and her backlog of work from having to reschedule due to those temps.  The good news is that she is scheduled to come out on Tuesday.  However, we are forecasted to get ice on Tuesday.  Yuck.  At that point, Jewel will have been at least 10 days without a front left shoe.  Boo.  That’s two weekends in a row that haven’t been able to ride her.  Double boo.

Now…for a couple fun things… 

Number 1:
I have a clip of a lesson from Feb 9 (my last lesson) where we worked on being really straight to improve transitions, specifically canter transitions.  Turn up the volume because you’ll be able to hear my instructor talking to me.   This is the last 6 minutes or so.  Its the really good stuff. 🙂

Number 2:
I had an opportunity today to audit a day of lessons with trainer Robert Mendoza, the head trainer of Bannockburn Farm in SE Indiana.  Robert specializes in hunter/jumper, but also uses a lot of dressage principles to train his own horses.  My friend Liz has raved about him for quite some time, and I’ve watched her rides improve a lot in the last year, so today I got to have a horsey day.  There was a great group of riders that braved the chilly temps to take lessons through the day.  I watched 5 rides, including Liz’s.  I was impressed.  Not only does Robert know his stuff, but he’s able to communicate it to the rider in a way that is kind, supportive and helpful.  He set up exercises to achieve specific goals, and was able to give each rider tools and homework to work on.  It wasn’t just schooling, it was “here is what you need to do in order to achieve x, y and z.”  In other words, he could actually help you train your horse.

The final ride I watched was a young woman who brought a very green OTTB. The horse was a bay mare, none the less.  So of course, despite my frozen toes, I had to stay and watch.  Like most OTTBs I know who are fresh from the track or haven’t had anything done with them since racing, this mare was essentially misunderstood.  This mare is lucky though, because she has a person (her rider) who loves her desperately.  I immediately empathized with the owner’s situation.  I have been there.  I was excited to see them make big strides over the course of the lesson — and to see hope, excitement and pride in the owner’s face at the end of their lesson.  I shared my contact info with them.  If they aren’t able to take regular lessons with Robert, then at least I can offer some eyes on the ground.  Lord knows I’ve been exactly where they are now.

Overall, the entire day was inspiring.  It was fun to see young riders on adorable ponies.  It was awesome to see Liz doing so well on her big gelding.  And, of course, it was fabulous to see such a transformation of the rider (an the mare).  Robert’s ability to see what is needed and offer tools in an effective way was definitely worth my time today.  I hope more people take advantage of his knowledge either by auditing or riding.  And yes, I do plan to ride with him in the future.  Perhaps a dressage lesson, or maybe we’ll dabble in jumping.  It could be fun. 😀

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