Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lesson with my favorite Olympian - Heath Ryan

Last Saturday the 20th my mom, Vicki, headed to the airport to pick up my favorite clinician. Heath Ryan! The most special part of this trip is, Heath is staying at our farm (Flying Chesterfield Farm) for the majority of his 2 week trip to the states. With his busy schedule Heath usually only has time once a year for clinics in the US.
On Sunday and Monday Heath taught at Playland Farm in Union Bridge, Md. Located only minutes from FCF. I was lucky enough to snag one of the ever popular lessons with Heath on Sunday evening. I rode our 4 y/o sport pony Whisper to Heaven in a group jump lesson with 2 others. It turned out to be the most well matched group lesson of the day. The three of us kept Heath on his toes, going round after round through the grid with near perfection. I was on the smallest horse in the group at only 13.2 1/2HH. When he sent me around for my first go to the grid with all the rails up and at a canter he said “Now Nicki, you may have to have a little MORE canter than these other guys.” HA! Whisper the wonder pony strikes! I was met with a "WHOA! Not what I was expecting!" Whisper LOVES to jump and attacked the grid with maybe a little too much GO. "She would jump through the roof if we let her" Heath said. "It's great to have that talent but, now she needs to learn how to go quietly to her fences."
Which I spent the rest of the lesson trying to tell her was a better idea. Heath is always teaching the little technical details that matter the most. Always pushing you to be the best you can be that day with that horse. He always wants you to be accountable for whats happening during the exercises. So you are better prepared when he leaves and you try the exercises again. As usual after a lesson with Heath I felt inspired and confident about Whisper and her talents that I believed were there all along.

One of the advantages to Heath staying at our farm is the special one on one time we've had to pick his brain about breeding, training and competition. My dream has always been to become an upper level rider with the ultimate goal being the Olympics. I figured since I had an Olympian sitting across the table from me I better speak up with any questions I had. What steps I needed to take to even start seeing that dream become any sort of reality. Heath has always told me I am a talented rider and that still stands.YAY! He gave the advice that if I don't try at all to make my goals that I will undoubtedly regret it later on. He reassured me that you don't have to have the most money or the fanciest horse to make it. So, another of our 4 y/o homebreds owned by a dear friend of mine better be ready to work! Heath agreed that she is a great place to start. Next step is finding a regular trainer to work with that has
successfully competed at or is competing at Grand Prix. I have some guidelines to work on from there and I cant wait to get started.

WHY OH WHY must Heath be in Australia?! Until the next time, I will be working hard to show off my new accomplishments when he returns!

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