Laura, Domino and Brad Cutshall

There is something about learning that is so anticipatory, so exciting, so rewarding. I can’t quit put my finger on the right words to express what I’m feeling, but I feel it.

Now that winter has finally broke and spring is quickly approaching summer Carter and I are on full-speed ahead because we get to ride in the outdoor arena. There is something so gratifying to be able to ride and see the world around you.

Yes, it’s also spooky at times – especially when the sun starts to set and the shadows from the bushes become the abominable monster, or the box at B or F or pick a letter surely have something inside waiting to pop out and eat us. Don’t forget the bunnies that decide to watch from time to time (thankfully my trainer and I saw those, I think they eluded the beast’s attention… or so I think). Spring also means the beginning of show season. We’re still working on our transition, collection, and consistency so we’re holding off to make our entrance into recognized events until the beginning of June.

That also means lots of time to continue learning between training lessons and show time. Luckily, there are a variety of clinics in the area. This weekend was another Brad Cutshall clinic. This is my third one, and the old adage three times is a charm must be true. I am at a point in my training that I comprehend and can visualize what he is saying (well, it doesn’t hurt that there is a horse and rider in front of me…duh) but I mean on my horse, with me riding.

Of course each ride is specific to that horse, that rider, that pair. But each suggestion can apply to any pair and a few things that really resonated with me as I was watching my trainer, Laura of Shadowood Farm, were

  • “Treat each step as an individual.” Especially when schooling. If you’re in a half pass – was this step in it as good or better than the last, was this one…when you get a “no” shoulder in or circle.
  • If you are riding at the upper levels and go into a diagonal; narrow the choices for your horse to avoid confusion. In Prix St George there are really 10 combinations you can do on the diagonal. If you’re preparing to do tempi changes or medium, ride the corner straight without bend to let the horse figure out that you aren’t doing a lateral movement.
  • Use the short side to prepare, don’t fall asleep and use it to rest, use it to prepare for your long side or diagonal work. Ask the horse if he’s ready to shoulder in or give you more bend. The short side is your friend.

Day Two was filled with more tempi change work (see short clip from tempi change work Day ) and pirouette work which was fascinating to watch and interesting to learn.

Auditing a clinic is a great way to see and learn theory put to practice. If only one or two key points stick with me, I know that I will continue to become a better rider.  Laura also mentioned that we should consider bringing Carter sometime. Whoa! Really?! Maybe post show season I’ll take that on to continue our learning for next show season. Listen to me… we haven’t even started this show season and I’m already talking about next. I think I have a horse junkie problem!

Read all my blog posts here.