As promised, here is a re-cap of this weekend's clinics with Susan Graham White and Stephen Bradley. I meant to write last night while everything was still fresh in my mind, but I arrived home brain dead and ready to fall over. So better late than never!
We started things off on Saturday with Susan Graham White
at A Bit Better Farm
. MLE Account Manager Nicki Carson
brought two of her homebreds for lessons. Whisper to Heaven has always had a special place in my heart as her mother was my sister's mare "Heaven." Heaven was just about the sweetest mare ever, and we all miss her terribly. "Whis" is uber fancy and just about the most athletic pony I've ever seen. Susan was quite impressed with her. Nicki's next horse was DeLiza, owned by Brett Schrack. "Lizzie" is another homebred, and is going to go far in the dressage world.
I got to ride two horses with Susan, Princess Lissell and then Pat Mansfield's Comet. My lessons with Susan often start with me telling Susan about my latest obsession(s). We started with my stress over Lissell's weight, and then moved on to my latest idea that I can train Lissell to relax. Dressage is not Lissell's favorite activity and tension tends to be an underlying theme in our flat rides. So I've spent the past two weeks teaching Lissell how to stretch, really really stretch. Each ride starts with 15-20 minutes of stretching at the walk, trot and canter. Things seem to be going in the right direction, and a few items just really came together with Susan. I told Susan that I've been able to get Lissell to stretch down to about chest level, but I want her nose by her knees. So Susan gave me some great tools for encouraging Lissell to reach that next level. I had also asked Susan to help me with our lengthenings. I had started to introduce these into our rides and wanted to make sure I was doing everything right. She explained that I needed to ask for lengthenings in gears. If Lissell was going at a 7, ask for a 7 1/2, then an 8, and so on. I think we started at around a 6 1/2 and moved up to a 7 1/2 with a few steps of an 8. God I love this mare. We had a few steps of that toe flicking extension and I couldn't stop smiling.
Everyone else had really great lessons. Comet was a blast, and he's such a fun horse for Pat to have right now. It was fun to watch Julia Wendell and her Advanced horse Calvin. And then Katie Murphy had one of those tear jerk lessons with Grantley. Katie absolutely loves that horse, and it really shows. Katie Cummings and Ringo were adorable, and I'm not sure who worked harder, Katie or Ringo. Finally, Barbara Miller and her new horse Mighty had a great lesson. It's always a process to get to know a new horse, and I think Barbara is having fun learning all the buttons on Mighty.
Thankfully, Nicki and her awesome fiance Dave set up the grids for the Stephen Bradley
clinic at Playland (they live less than 10 minutes from Playland Farm
). So I got to go home, eat leftover chinese food and go to bed. Up at 6am the next morning, finished packing for the day, and off I went.
If you haven't been to Playland Farm yet, you really should go for one of their many activities. The farm is just gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. I was quite excited for the clinic, and was not disappointed.
We had 20 riders join us throughout the day, and everyone was treated to one of Stephen's signature great lessons. Glenda Player
rode her stallion PL Diamond Hill
, and boy can that guy jump! Mary Macklin
had her "new" horse Beast, and it was so fun to watch that mare power over the fences. Equally entertaining was Mary's reaction to this new and improved horse of hers. Glenda had 3 students riding (Hailey, Maya and Annablake), two on her school ponies. I think both ponies are worth their weight in gold. Queenie in particular is such fun to watch ... you can see her count her strides to the fences. Mary brought 3 of her students (Allison, Kari and Hunter) and they were such a pleasure to watch. It was especially fun to watch Mary's old Intermediate horse, Knickerbocker, having so much fun jumping the big fences.
The day ended with me stuffing the 6 standards that Flying Chesterfield Farm
let us borrow for the day in the back of my Cobalt, and dropping those off before collapsing in a heap into my bed. Thank goodness I have Scott. There was no, "I told you not to do 2 clinics in 1 weekend." Instead, he ordered pizza for us, got me Vitamin C, ibuprofen and eventually NyQuil, and didn't judge when I fell asleep at 8:30pm. And did I mention that he was doing laundry all day!? To say I'm a lucky lady is an understatement.