I am finally home from the long Aspen “weekend”. And what I learned is that I might be one of the most stupid people ever. I thought that I could coach at Aspen HT all weekend and come home and sleep in my own bed at night. But I brilliantly forgot that it is Labor Day weekend and I had at best, 2 hours to kill on I-5, 4 hours at tops. It was terrible! My girls, Kasey and Chase, did great however, so at least I arrived to cheery riders. But, note to self: Dont do that again. I am comparing the last 3 weeks to strip mining my soul: from the pre-Derby prep, Derby, Don clinic, Aspen HT and Scott clinic… its been rough on my humor and fingernails.
But I did have a fantastic time with Scott Keach. If you dont know him, he is a new US transplant from Oz, and living in NH/FL. He rode in Seoul Olys and competes at Grand Prix in show jumping. Knowing that he was obviously very good at arena work, I knew I needed his help with Taco. He gave me some very, very helpful tips to ride hot Taco and they really jive with my own views of riding.
Most clinics I go to (which are not all that frequent) I find it is important to take some aspects of what you were told to do and see how it integrates into your own way of riding. I am a soft rider by nature, and that has its pros and cons. Ive been yelled at plenty of times for not being strict enough with my horses, and I have also been praised for having a soft, instinctual feel of the horse.
All that being said, I found that I liked most everything that Scott told me, and also most everything that he told my comrade, Suzy Elliot. I feel like he took our riding and gave us some key hints that we could digest and integrate into our own way of going. He did not try to remake our approaches, rather he took what we had and gave us concise points to take the next step. Because he rides at GP for show jumping, he knows that us eventers tend to have our own unique style over fences, which is very different from the show jumpers. We ride in a very light seat (perhaps he means an American trend here) and there is a reason why the pure show jumpers sit the way they do… because it produces a better jump out of the horse. His point with Taco was that my half seat is causing me to overly use my hands to regulate my hot Taco. Where if I use my seat and cause Taco to maintain self-carriage all on his own…. well, then that will produce a quieter, softer ride. And it was true, it did. I need to practice it and own it myself, so that will take time. But I do know that the way I jumped Taco around Caber was NOT the ticket. He was blasting through the bridle with the slightest indication from me – causing me to tiptoe around him and then haul on him. Not good. I hope to show yall the improvements soon…. after hours of practice!
Suzy and I are joining powers for the trip south to Twin Rivers HT in a few weeks. I think that is going to be my last event of the year. Suzy is moving Uno up to Advanced and I will be affirming our intermediate skills. Should be a vacation for us, one horse a piece and no students?! amazing. Maybe we will go wine tasting and do stuff that I hear other people do when they travel.