The clinician turned out to be Sher Gillespie, a H/J rider and head trainer at SGA South. She started riding with BO before moving to NC and she comes up once or twice a year to do a two hour clinic at a ridiculously discounted cost.
We started off with the usual introductions of horse and rider and what our goal for the clinic was. She looked a little taken aback when I said I was an eventer. She had a look on her face that was either, "What are you doing here?" (good question) or "Oh, great. One of those." It's all about overcoming adversity though, right? My goal was to have a smooth round over a course as things fall apart quickly if we have a bad fence and I can't get my shiz together to finish like a decent rider. Sher nodded thoughtfully then poked at my bridle a bit before calling it ugly and moving on to the next rider.
|bobby was happy to tool along aimlessly.|
Our instructions for warm up were to not worry about headset at all and instead focus on keeping an equal distance between the rider in front of you at all times. No circling allowed, just adjusting the stride as needed. With nine riders in the arena this was tricky but managable, especially with a horse that has a naturally big stride when called upon but who likes to go slow. We alternated between half seat and full seat at the w/t/c and worked on extending and collecting the gaits.
|trying to collect the giant beast.|
We did flying changes across the diagnol a couple times each way. I told her that Bobby didn't know his flying changes yet, but she said we'd get them anyway. The first two times we didn't. Sher said that he wasn't paying any attention to me going across and only switched in front when he was about to fall over. So we got to go twice more and she told me to let him go and stop protecting him by letting him do a simple change. We got it once with zero effort from me which I didn't count as a success because I have no idea what the change was that got him to do it.
|thank goodness for release boot camp.|
We split into two groups and started off trotting in two point over a tiny oxer. Sher told me to keep my hands low and quiet as I approach the fence as I want to lift them up and that makes Bobby get a little quick. After trotting and cantering over that a couple of times, she rolled out a ground pole and had us repeat the exercise.
We watched the second group go, and then did a line of a vertical to the barrels before halting in the corner, turn on the forehand, canter off, circle over two ground poles to make ten strides, and halt at the gate.
|that's not pretty.|
|i love this pic. kidd tried to canter mid-air over this and killed the jump.|
olivia took it with good humor and got it right the next time.
The next exercise was a big xrail to the other straw bales then turn left and go over the tiny vertical.
The line rode well for us, but Bobby almost always lands on his right lead no matter what direction we're headed. He swapped in the front when I turned him left. Sher had told another rider and a green horse very similar to Bobby that she should let him go on just a front change because that was better than nothing for now, so I did the same and didn't get a correction or comment on it.
The other group went and then we strung all the jumps together for a course. On the left lead come up to the tires, go down to the barrels to straw bale line, turn right and come up to the oxer, xrail to straw bale line, turn left to the vertical. It was flowing pretty well for us because I gave Bobby a lot of room to get going. He chipped in to the xrail, but I put my leg on and kept him moving and we finished so-so. He gets better as he goes along because as long as I leave him alone he picks up steam and obviously jumps better going forward. Feed back? "That was good. You thought he was going to chip into that X so he did. I bet he jumps a lot better xcountry, doesn't he?" Bingo! No advice though.
|pm bm and her very green but very game pony pebbles.|
|bennie the bully wanted nothing to do with this jump so sher|
dropped half the rail and chased him over with a big growl.
|jen, who i took up to the xcountry field awhile ago, and her|
|katie's big tb mare threw a shoe so she rode dreamer.|
|please land on your left lead....|
|bobby's girlfriend tasha was rather enthusiastic to the jumps.|
I don't want to sound ungrateful, or like I didn't enjoy myself--because I did--but I don't feel I got anything out of the clinic at all. I liked her teaching style and I liked how encouraging yet no-nonsense she was, but it was geared for the hunter and eq riders and I was just kind of there taking my turn around the jumps.
Something that bothered me was that Hubby started off sitting in the bleachers with BO and a couple of moms and she was giving a running commentary the whole time; I could hear her a few times too for the other riders. Hubby said it was like an episode of Dance Moms. Her comments for me? "She doesn't have enough money to take regular lessons with me so she's doing such-and-such wrong."
|bo's star rider: i don't want to ride like this.|
Honestly, I made the decision pretty much as soon as I moved into the barn that I was never going to take a jumping lesson from BO. I don't like the way her riders jump and I don't think she has anything to offer me for a jumper round which is essentially what a stadium course is. Not to mention the fact that she teaches from her booth or the bleachers and if you knock a rail, you have to get off your horse and reset it yourself. After that comment, I'm even more solidified in not taking any more lessons with her, period. I don't want a trainer that thinks her way is the only way and you're not a good rider if you don't take twice a week lessons with her.
So while it bothers me, I'm going to shrug it off and be secure in the knowledge that I somehow keep coming home with top-three ribbons and high dressage scores, don't I?