CJF Clinic: Day 2 Recap

If I learned the lesson and figured out some new tools on Day 1, Day 2 was the applied test.


Poll up, hind legs engaged in a short compact canter, light contact, and BONUS: my left leg is not a foot behind the girth!

We started out doing short trot-compact canter-short trot, as we did on day 1, but in big loops in the field.  She kept saying "Be firm and then release, firm and then light," as I brought him down to the trot, and I had a lightbulb moment: Yes, seat first, but if I need to sit him on his ass with a very firm half-halt, THAT'S OKAY.  But I have to immediately release and go back to light contact.  It seems so simple, but in practice, I had been riding him with more of an all-or-nothing approach to contact - I was either too strong, or being a doormat.

She also had me check to see whether he was balanced and carrying himself by using the short trot-
compact canter transitions, then letting go a little more to see if his poll stayed up.  Eventually, it did.

So compact!  I can hardly believe this is the same pony, and neither could Cathy.

"If his poll doesn't stay up, that's okay, it just means the transition didn't put him back as much as we needed, and you need to keep doing what you're doing."

Once I had the canter I needed to "solve our problems" jumping, we took some fences.  The first thing she said to me was that I need to give him more rein over fences - which was funny to me, because I have heard "your reins are too long" far more than the opposite.


Toward the end of the ride, after I was releasing better.  This was the first time he had jumped this log-on-a-platform, and he didn't even hesitate.

"It's okay to keep the reins short, but with his conformation especially, you need to make sure you're letting him use his neck over the fence.  I don't really know how to say this any other way: you're a little girl, and his neck is built in such a way that if you've got too much contact over the fence, he's going to use [that underneck muscle] against you and that's when the jump is uncomfortable.  I know that's hard especially when you don't always know what he's going to do over a fence, but 95% of horses will jump better with less contact."

So I'm not hauling on him, or catching him in the mouth, but I wasn't giving him enough latitude to use his long neck.  Valuable information.



Dat canter transition tho.

Toward the end we put some long courses together, and he started to get all "WHEE I LOVE CROSS-COUNTRY!!!!!!!!" on me, so it was a great opportunity to practice what I'd do in a show now that I have some new tools: big half halts, and insist on a compact gait.

Connor is thinking "CROSS-COUNTRY IS SO MUCH FUN AAHHHHH!" and I am applying a strong half-halt...

...before releasing.

And finally, my favorite part about this pony: going from safely riding the very fun "WHEE I LOVE CROSS-COUNTRY!!!!" mode where he can be head-tossingly sassy and hard to pull up:

Sassily cantering away from the liverpool he jumped like it was NBD, because he wants you to know he's a badass eventer over 1' fences.
...to putting his cheek piece back in its keeper from the saddle:


And hanging out with my feet out of my stirrups moments after an XC round:


Safe and fun, who could ask for more?  XC videos tomorrow!

26 comments:

  1. You guys look SO GOOD! It's amazing how much a balanced, compact canter can accomplish!

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, developing the canter has made the biggest difference over fences, more than anything else.

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  2. Woot woot! You guys look awesome :)

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  3. You can't ask for better than safe and fun!

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    1. That's the way I feel too - with a touch of 'athletic' thrown in for good measure.

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  4. he looks great! these are such great, functional tips - thanks for sharing!

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  5. Sounds like a wonderful clinic! You're both looking great!

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  6. You guys look great - I can't wait to see the video! You're a real inspiration to Gavin and I ;)

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    1. I'm so glad! It took so much to get just to this point, but it has been worth it all the way, so don't ever get discouraged!

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  7. Dat canter tho is right! Hot damn, you guys are looking beastly!

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    1. Beastly, haha! Thanks. At least now I can officially say he's too much of a badass to be named Teddy like my trainer wanted.

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  8. I love your detailed write ups, especially when I am working on the exact same thing! Ha. I'll be stealing that clock exercise and thinking about all those concepts. :-) Glad you had a great time and thanks for sharing!

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    1. I'm glad, and I think Cathy would be okay with it too, since you're located thousands of miles from her closest clinic. The most important and hardest thing was making sure that trot was IMMEDIATELY compact.

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  9. Sounds like a successful clinic! Also, would like you like Conner to feature in my horse breed school project? You can email me for more info. paola.pedranti@gmail.com

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    1. Sure, I will email you this morning!

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  10. I am the queen of long reins and HUGE releases. Like.. srsly I do not need my hands at my pony's ears over a 2' vertical. [Even tho sometimes it looks like a Grand Prix triple bar in my head]

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    1. Lol! I normally am too, I hear "shorten your reins!" way more often! Although this wasn't so much lengthen your reins as lengthen your arms.

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