clinic notes · cross-country · equine affaire · phillip dutton · video

Phillip Dutton at Equine Affaire

I kind of lost track of time while shopping and only saw the second half of Phillip Dutton’s clinic on using ringwork to prepare for cross country, but what I saw was really terrific.

I had sat through nearly all of Julie Goodnight’s clinic earlier that day on the canter, and was really disappointed at the amount of time she spent covering extreme basics (like…what a canter looks like, and how you have a right and left lead, and how to cue the canter. yeah. that was the first HOUR) so I was thrilled to see that Dutton had a group of extremely capable riders and was kicking their butts.

He worked with individual riders, setting up broad exercises but then addressing each horse and rider pair’s challenges as they worked through it. These were NOT easy exercises – think one stride extreme slices, and one stride right angles, and big wide corners. He had them up and out of their saddles and in a true cross-country gallop to approach some jumps. It was really cool to see, and to see the riders and the horses improve in just a few minutes.

Here are three of the exercises that I watched.

clinic notes · jumping

MLK Day Jump Clinic

I’m going to really try and make an effort to get more video of myself riding so that I can analyze what I’m doing right and wrong.

With that in mind, thanks to Hannah, here are two videos from a jump clinic at the barn on January 16, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.

This first video was our first real course of the day. We’d warmed up with some trotting figure-8s over the jumps in the right-hand side of the frame as crossrails, and I was pleased with the way we held our lines and the energy we carried forward.

Here are the things I liked about this round:
– good rhythm throughout
– my lower leg was generally pretty darn good
– for Tristan, this is REALLY supple and adjustable
– the overall picture: I haven’t watched video of us jumping in a long time and I was surprised by generally how businesslike and harmonious we were

Things I didn’t like about this round:
– losing the connection on the landing side, which usually meant that our lead changes through the trot were sticky and didn’t flow
– my upper body position: I was a bit too hunched over
– for a few of the jumps, I didn’t pick my line early enough

Second video is just two jumps, but they’re the tail end of a course I’d just flubbed, and I asked to do these two jumps again. Landing off the center jump is sometimes tricky if you don’t have in your head where to go next. The first time, I didn’t until we landed, and lucky for me Tris was quick on his feet and followed me right when I realized. This second video was my requested re-do.

Things I liked:
– our turn off the center jump was much better this time around
– that last jump was actually rather nice
– my hands, actually: not the softest release ever but following

Things I didn’t like:
– we lost some steam going into that first jump coming around the turn for it, which meant that he put in the long spot and cracked the pole with a hind leg. A little more consistency of pace and a half-halt through the corner would have set us up much better.
– my upper body, again, in the flat portions.

Other things I need to keep in mind from the jump clinic:
– Landing, landing, landing! Always have something in mind, always stay focused, finish out the course with a canter circle even if it’s the last jump. It’s time for the habit of standing in the stirrups and loosening the reins immediately after the last jump to go. Stay down in my stirrups, keep him connected, and be ready.
– I mentioned my “slowing down the jumps” theory to Tom (in short: the better you get at jumping the more slowly the round goes for you which gives you more time to feel and correct each small piece) and he agreed, and added a piece. He said that rounds slow down because your flatwork keeps getting better, more organized, and more automatic, and so when you approach a jump with all of those things in line you can really work on all the small pieces of the jumping effort itself.
– Pay better attention to leads. I pulled back for a simple change a few times when I didn’t need to, just because I assumed that Tris had landed on the wrong lead and in the choppiness of my lack of connection on the landing I couldn’t tell immediately. Slow this down, pay attention for a stride, and then change the lead only if I NEED to.
– More jumping! If we’re going to get out this summer, jumping is our missing piece right now and I need to make a personal commitment to attend every jump clinic I possibly can, and seek out other opportunities as well.