Eric Smiley was coming to town. He’s a very sought after clinician and also an Olympian. I just missed him last spring when he was teaching in this area and really none of my horses would have been prepared for a clinic at that level last spring anyways. I personally think its important to be prepared. To make sure your not wasting anyones time (your instructor) or your hard earned money as these clinics are not exactly cheap. Sammy decided to ride Jezebel both days in two jump lessons. One was private the other was a semi private.
Being as the clinics were being held at my farm i had the opportunity to audit sans big piles of cash both flat and jumping lessons. It was really great to see riding at that level. I saw a 3 star horse and rider working on their canter half pass, (amazing) a Jr rider at training level with her new horse working on the flat and i even saw one person make a total ass out of themselves by showing up with a horse that clearly wasn’t ready to work at that level. It was a really fascinating couple of days with both inspiration and cautionary tales.
Day one with Jezebel is was raining in the morning but right before the lesson the skies were miraculously clear. Jezebel was ready to work and both her and Sammy had their game faces on. Eric has a keen way of keying into the team before him and giving them the direction they need, all with a very positive outlook and he’s very encouraging and positive. They worked on ride-a-bility to the fences. Eric would give them direction, they would make whatever adjustments he asked for and then they would do the exercise correctly. Jez has the tendency to rush fences, she gets very excited and they worked on exercises to help correct that. One being a canter circle where the fence just happened to be there and it was no big deal to jump it. Lots of emphasis on the trade of responsibility riding fences between rider and horse. Where the rider was responsible and where the horse was responsible. It was great stuff and both my horse and my trainer did a really great job. In fact they were rewarded with the compliment that Jez was very business like. Ha! She really is blossoming into quite the show pony.
Day two the Jez and Sammy team shared the ring with a women and her beautiful, huge, chestnut, warm blood mare. This horse made my 16H Jezebel look like a pony. The rider was a jumper so it was a good mix since thats the direction we are headed in. It was the novice level lesson but they were jumping a 3 foot oxer at one point (go Jez!). Again Jez did pretty much whatever was asked of her with only a little rushing. Sammy’s job was to keep her mind quiet and focused and when they were in lock step it was really beautiful to watch. Jezebel is a very brave girl. Lots of great direction and lots of great exercises. I could see the improvement happen before my eyes. Sammy and Jez are really coming together as a team, its lovely to see.
Eric comes back in the Spring and i’m hoping he will see lots of improvement next time as we spend the fall and winter working on the things he outlined. Hes got a great manor and so much knowledge to share. I can really see why he’s so popular to clinic with.