Well, we just finished 6 straight days of clinics! Felt like a marathon!!! After Oregon, we flew to LA where we did a clinic at Archie Cox's place and then we did a clinic for Karen Healey!
The night we flew into LA, we stayed in West Hollywood. We did not get in until LATE Sunday night, so I was thankful for a nice bed to sleep in! Woke up and ate breakfast outside in a tshirt...enjoyed a lot of people watching and GREAT weather. The nice weather was a blessing after the cold days in Portland! George drove me down Sunset blvd and through the Hollywood Hills...it was fun to do some sightseeing...although it wasn't much, it was still a nice break!
The clinic at Archie's was another great one! It was more laid back then the previous clinics, but that was a welcome change! More laid back in the sense of less complicated. George was still George, but the courses were simpler and jump heights were smaller. He did something I had never seen him do before...we had the normal liverpool, then he used a rain sheet under two other jumps. one was folded up smaller than the other. This was his way of introducing water to the horses. The rain sheets and liverpool did not cause any issues in this clinic! George had a quadruple of sorts set up each day... a normal triple then a bending line of 2 strides or 1 stride to another fence. This line actually did cause some issues....it required steering and the use of a lot of leg! Everyone (both horse and rider) really improved during this clinic!
Side note from Archies: the first day, we had an attack of the birds!!! All of a sudden, it got VERY loud and TOOOOOONS of birds came...we were in a covered ring, and the birds were EVERYWHERE outside and you could hear a crazy amount of them all over the roof! If you have ever seen the movie "Birds", this was that sort of situation!
After the 3 day clinic at Archie's, we went directly to a BEAUTIFUL facility called El Campeon (google it and drool over it...because it is certainly drool worthy!) This clinic was very similar to the one at Diane Carney's in Chicago. The management of the clinic was outstanding, the quality of horses and riders was phenomenal, and as I said, the facility was spectacular!
The first group was the Grand Prix group, 2nd group was 4ft+ group, and the 3rd was the equitation group. All of the horses and riders were fabulous and progressed extremely fast! The courses here were quite tough, although all of the riders were up to the challenge! George continues to advocate the forward seat and riding from leg, not hands. LEG LEG LEG is what I have heard for almost 3 weeks now! Another thing he continues to talk about is GIVING in the corner before a jump. When a rider does this, the distance to the jump just shows up perfectly!! He said there are 2 big gives when jumping...giving in the corner and giving at the jump (Automatic release...he wants the release to soften down towards the mouth when you see the distance). George also said that he hates the word "flatwork" because it is really dressage, and we should call it dressage.
I rode a good amount of horses in this clinic as well (puts me up to 64 rides since I have been gone!!). One horse in particular really made me pull out some inner strength. The 2nd day of the clinic (Saturday...I have to keep posting the day of the week so I can remember for myself...because days have all blended together on this trip!) this super cute gray horse decided to be difficult. He started to spin a LONG way away from the jumps, stop, rear, etc. His rider did a spectacular job at staying calm and trying her best to get him to go forward and jump. George had me get on after the rider tried for awhile. Once I was on, I galloped him forward, and was relieved to be going in the correct direction. However, that didnt last long, we stopped about 10 strides away from an oxer, stopped again about 5 out, so we ended up just trotting a rather large oxer. But hey, we jumped it! So, go to head to another jump, and couldnt get him going forward, just kept stopping and rearing. So we decide to head to a jump he has jumped before and was more on the simple side...get him going forward then BAM a stop and spin on a dime! He ALMOST got me off with that spin. It happened so fast George did not even see it! He turned around to see me climbing back into the saddle after hanging off the side and simply said "What happened?!" then chuckled!! After that, I dug deep and pulled out all of my knowledge and finally got the horse jumping around nicely. It was probably one of the hardest rides I have had in quite awhile. This horse really taught me how to be VERY tough and tactful without being rough and getting mad/irritated. I had to stay calm in order to get the job done!
Here is a diagram of the course the final day:
The outside line (a to b) was done starting out as a 6, then working up to the 5. It was a simple oxer and plank vertical. Riders then did the oxer to oxer (a to c) in a direct but snug 7 strides. Riders then added in the 5 stirdes from vertical to oxer after the bending line. These lines both were designed to work on the tight distance and to not give up when it looked TOO tight. The open water to vertical line got quite tight, especially after the correct ride to the water. The most difficult portion of this course was the "S" line (i to h to f and backwards f to h to i). Each line was to be 6 strides, and 6 strides only. A lot of the riders did it beautifully the first time each direction...however, George had the riders do the line back and forth a few times. This is where it got difficult because the horses then knew the path and would cut in, making the distances difficult! The exercise really helped soften the riders as well!!
George used fence g in the 3rd group to develop a bold jump. He had riders hand gallop that fence, keep the pace, then shorten to fence h. Riders continued this figure of 8 pattern working on the bold gallop to the vertical then the shorten yet strong jump to the oxer with liverpool under it.
Here is a picture of some scenery at the facility:
The weather was BEAUTIFUL! I did get a bit too much sun, but hey, being tan in December really isn't a bad thing now is it? It did get a bit too hot on Sunday, but considering it is bitter cold back home, I won't complain! :)
I wish I had been able to blog sooner, as I have now forgotten many of the exercises, but as I remember them, I will blog again!
We are now east of San Diego where we will clinic at Julie Zumstein's farm all week. We have a 2 day clinic on her grass field starting tomorrow, an off day (who knows what is planned for that day though!) on Thursday, than a 3 day clinic on the same field starting on Friday. I am staying in the same hotel for 6 nights...thats the longest I have been in one place since I left home! I am excited to be unpacked and not have to pack again until Sunday morning!
I will blog again Thursday about the 2 day clinic, then again on Sunday when we are at a hotel near the San Diego airport where we leave EARLY monday morning! I am really anxious to get home (even though everyone asks WHY?! since it is so cold!) But I am ready to be home!!!