Friday, January 20, 2012

February Susan Graham White Clinic Dates

Susan & Huey

  Susan Graham White will be returning to A Bit Better Farm (Brookeville, Maryland) for two days of lessons in February.  All lessons are 45-minute privates and cost $125.  Cash, check and credit cards accepted.  Auditing is always free and I generally have coffee and tea available.

Please e-mail me at to let me know if you'd like to ride on one or both days:
Saturday, February 4th
Monday, February 20th

Stay warm and I hope to see you all soon!

Note: Please let me know if you would like to be added to the SGW Clinics e-mail list.  OR if you'd like to be added to the Stephen Bradley Clinic e-mail list.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More lessons with Mr. Bradley

Yesterday was cold, windy, cold ... so the perfect day for lessons with Stephen Bradley!  We were back at A Bit Better Farm, and oh so thankful for their sturdy indoor arena.  :-)

I didn't get to ride until later in the afternoon, and Miss Lissell was perfect.  She came in from the field with mud caked to every exposed surface, including her forehead (not sure how she did that one, and not sure I want to know!).  My Aunt Susan came out to watch and stepped in as super groom. While Lissell loooooves to get muddy, she hates to be scrubbed clean.  Susan seemed to have the magic touch that kept Lissell happy and got her clean.  Even better, I think I now have a groom for the spring season.  Yay! 

I was a bit nervous when I first got on, as Lissell felt like a coiled spring and kept shaking her head (never a good sign for good behavior!).  I was pretty sure yesterday was going to be the day that my horse would jump me clear out of the saddle just because she thought it would be funny.  But then I remember that Lissell is perfect, and it was all just awesome.  Now that we're jumping bigger, I have to work on staying with her in the air.  Thankfully my body mostly cooperates with my efforts, I just have to make a concentrated effort to release more in the air, land with my weight in my stirrups and shoulders up, and so on and so forth.  Practice, practice, practice, and then it will all be natural.  I hope!

A few highlights of the day were Holly coming over with Mr. Moosetracks for a private lesson.  They've been on a bit of a roller coaster lately, but I think they're on their was up right now.  Moosetracks seemed quite pleased with his efforts after.

The last lesson of the evening was Mary and Kelley on their Intermediate (soon to be Advanced??) horses Beast and Bomber.  It's so fun to watch these two horses go because they're so different, but both get the job done.  Beast is the firecracker, and makes us all giggle with her insane jumping efforts that make you realize why Mary has a neck strap on.  And Bomber is the cool, casual one. I love them both.

Here are a few videos from their lessons, including the incredible skinny barrel exercise:

Kelley and Bomber through the grid.

Mary and Beast through the grid.

Kelley, Bomber and the skinny barrel.

Mary, Beast and the skinny barrel.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Clinic Weekend Re-cap

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.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mark Your Calendars for PRO DerbyCross!

January 20th  | 7pm
Palm Beach International Equestrian Center

General Admission is FREE
Patron Tickets are $125/each
Tables of 8 are $1,000

Contact Samantha Lendl at for more info!