Sunday, March 30, 2014

Samantha St Jacques Clinic

It was cold and windy, and it had rained like crazy all day yesterday, but thanks to our super early ride time Bobby and I managed completely to miss the ice/rain/snow we're now getting. Bobby was feeling pretty confident that the chickens on the property were going to eat him, and he was slightly concerned that there weren't other horses in the ring with him, but despite his best efforts to rip my arms out of the sockets, he warmed up mostly in control.

bobby looking as klassy as ever while we get instructions.

I slathered on my Effax Leather Grip (which is why my leg stays locked in place, not some overnight miracle), and introduced myself to Samantha. I told her what our main issue was (stadium) and what I wanted to work on (course work). 

samantha: try not to look like the apocalypse is near when riding this line.
me: guarantees.

She had us warm up on a circle over an X with poles on either side. Bobby cantered awkwardly through the first time because OMG CHICKENS DEATH WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE HOLY SHIT I LOVE JUMPS WHERE ARE ALL THE OTHER HORSES?! 

It only took him one time through though before he was a respectable citizen and did what was asked:

After doing it once from the other direction, we switched back to the left and added in a small vertical that she wanted ridden in six strides which meant Bobby had to be quiet or he'd get five. He only got the five once and we moved on to the next.

Samantha wanted us to do the vertical to vertical line in six strides, come back around and do it in five, and then once more in six. Our first time wasn't too bad, but it quickly went downhill from there. As Samantha said, Bobby sees his distance and he moves up on his own to get it. He has to learn that there's more than one distance and he has to listen to see which one I want.

In fact, he has to listen to me period. If I make a correction, he has to respond to it. Otherwise we make a mistake at the fence, I try to correct it, he ignores me, I give up, and then it just spirals out of control from there. Sounds about right.

We were getting one awkward spot after another, and Samantha told me I have to move on to the next fence as soon as he lands. I can't just sit there and hope things magically work themselves out. I still have to get the strides and make it over the next jump. Hmm. Also sounds about right.

Once she got us sorted out and we'd accomplished our 6-5-6 exercise, she gave us a course.

It didn't go great the first time through. I had no plan coming into the first bending line and we got eight strides when she wanted six because we were wandering all over the place. The second line was even worse. I didn't make a plan for that line either and ran him head first into the oxer. He obviously stopped, and I immediately owned up to it being completely my fault.

Samantha told me I really need to sit down and think through literally every stride of my course, not just one jump to the next. Yep.

We tried again, this time breaking into the trot to try to get the correct lead through the second bending line. Apparently don't do that in a bending line. Whoops. We made it over the oxer anyway, but it didn't matter because he refused the first fence of the double.

He gave it a hard look when I brought him around again, but he did go three strides. We proceeded to have issues with that as he either got the three strides or went flying in flat and fast to get the two. And the last jump of the course right after the double? Yeah, we pretty much never even got there until Samantha made us circle around and do it again by itself. 

I was starting to get really frustrated with myself although she kept telling me not to beat myself up so much. After a long walk break where she talked me through some of my issues--like, don't half halt so hard with your hands and instead scoop with your pelvis to slow him in a line, and he won't throw his head and ignore you--she asked if I wanted to try again. I was like "No, I suck at everything" but only in my head because that would have been childish.

The whole ride we'd been working on a slower, more relaxed canter to try to get Bobby to listen to me, and while I kept the relaxation, I did let him out a little bit which seemed to make the whole course flow better. You can hear in the videos how she's constantly telling me to pull my shoulders back, open up my diaphragm, and lengthen my back. Yeah....I really, really need to work on that.

I was really happy with how the last time through course rode:

We finished by working through the two stride by itself. First she had me lengthen his canter, but when that didn't work she put out placement poles--two in front of the first jump, and then she added one in between the two fences. That made him slow it down and think it through, and we ended on a really good note.

I got a ton out of my private, and I'm so glad I was able to do this. We pretty much never get anyone out here that's close enough and cheap enough that I can work with. I wish there were more opportunities closer, but at least I received a lot of information to work with for now.

Samantha was really helpful, and she had no problem explaining things to me in a way that I understood immediately. She didn't get frustrated when I repeated mistakes, and she stayed positive as we worked through them. I'd definitely recommend anyone doing a clinic with her if she's ever in your area!

Also major props to the clinic organizer who kept everything running smoothly, and had little gift packs when we were done. I wish we could have stuck around longer to watch more rides, but the dogs were locked in at home and I didn't want to leave them in there for too long.


  1. Sounds like you learned a lot'

  2. Looks like you guys learned a lot. Man he really powered through the 2-stride. It's hard not to get defeated when riding, glad she gave you some good pointers and helped you two work through some stuff.

  3. Sounds like a super-productive clinic with lots of take-home. Those are the best!

  4. Ooooh Bobby! You guys looked great, and it is always nice to have new things to focus on!

  5. Really educational! Glad you got a lot out of it.

  6. Wow sounds like a fab clinician, hope she comes back and you can work with her again. :)

  7. The last course on video looked really good and much quieter for both of you. Sounds like it was a really good clinic!

  8. That 6-5-6 exercise is tricky with a horse like Bobby who just wants to do it himself! Sounds like she gave you some new tools for your toolbelt as well as some homework.

  9. Sounds like you guys got some good tidbits to go home with...that's excellent.

  10. I saw your video on facebook and was all, "what? lesson? what??"

    So glad you had the opportunity to get some outside help. :-)

  11. Amazeballs! Imagine what a badass you'd be with regular lessons. Why does everything have to cost so much!

    1. Forget the money, why does everything have to be so far away??


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