Or should I say, the Janet Foy and Chris Hickey Clinic. Unbeknownst to us, Debbie experienced severe vertigo before getting on the plane and was banned from flying, so Chris Hickey (formerly of Hilltop Farm – a la Riverman, Don Principe etc) filled in for her. Certainly it was a dissapointment that Debbie could not be there, but that didn’t mean the day wasn’t exceptionally informational nonetheless.
The clinic was structured around each level, progressing from Training level to Grand Prix with two riders demoing part of their level’s test or movements. Janet spoke mostly from a judge’s point of view, providing scores and their justification as the riders went through the test elements, followed by Chris working on each pair’s weaknesses for a short time.
Because the clinic was so darn long (8:30am – 4pm) there was just too much to capture in one post. So today, let’s look at the more general feedback and Training and First level demos.
- Janet describes a “red line” for her, where at scores of 5 and 6 there are more problems than good, and where that starts to affect the overall scores of submission, gaits, etc.
- Horses tend to like the right leg better than the left, and therefore be more submissive in that direction
- Watch out for “jelly belly”, or the rider absorbing too much of the motion of the horse in their torso
- The horse MUST be in front of the leg
- Send the horse forward and back to confirm being in front of the leg
- Also test how quickly the horse responds to the forward request (sounds familiar to me!)
- For the horse that evades a more forward trot by cantering, don’t bring them back to the trot, instead send them forward at the canter, so the horse does not learn the escape being forward
- True dressage is when things look easy, and the relationship is symbiotic
- Stretchy trot: The nose should be between the shoulder and the knee, but not any lower, else the horse be on the forehand
- Use the geometry of the tests to fix the horse’s problems, often being accurate allows the horse to better be on the aids
- Even at this level, corners should be obvious, not part of the 20m circles
- Straightness down the long sides is really represented by shoulder-fore (so the shoulders are in front of the hips)
- Even in the working trot, a lengthening should always be accessible at any moment
- Don’t bother lengthening the frame in a trot lengthening until the weight is properly on the hind end
- The canter is truly balanced when it is “10 meter circle-able”, or that the rider could complete a 10 meter circle at any time without the horse losing balance
- The canter should be 50% pushing power and 50% carrying
Tomorrow, Second thru Fourth level and my overall impressions from the day!
That’s a bummer about Debbie, but still sounds awesome!
I love the general notes. I like when forward is stressed when I see so many horses at my barn being ridden front to back. Ugh.
It’s definitely tempting to ride front-to-back since visually that’s what we see as a rider. Something I try very hard not to do, and seeing Janet and Chris really emphasizing it was great. The comment about the horse escaping a forward trot by cantering really hit home for me!
I agree. It’s so easy to get caught up in the neck because it’s easier to see it than feel it!
Great summary so far! I will definitely be taking these concepts with me in my rides this week. Bummer that Debbie wasn’t able to teach, but Chris is pretty great too!
Thanks! Though I had heard of Hilltop Farm I wasn’t so familiar with Chris, but he ended up being a great clinician who really made improvements with each pair he worked with.
Thanks for the summary! My brain would be mush after such a long day.
Seriously- my brain was leaking out of my ears at the end of it all. Cue the caffeine!
Love that 10-m-circle-able test.
That and the ‘lengthening available at any time during trot’ really resonated with me. A feeling I will be aiming for, for sure!
love the point about letting the geometry help bring the horse back into balance. so often when i start losing it in a test i kinda just abandon ship lol… i’ll have to remember that! glad you enjoyed the clinic, even tho Debbie had to cancel
My horse certainly prefers tracking right! Great notes.
Mine too for sure- I hadn’t heard it ever put that way, so it was an interesting observation!
This is an awesome summary!
Definitely one for the bookmarks. I like that big bay checking out the crowd!
That big bay was hands down one of the nicest horses there. Green, but put together like Valegro. Gorgeous.
This sounds like an amazing clinic! I am so jealous!!
There is so much to get out of just auditing sometimes!
Great notes! Definitely some stuff I can use!
Awesome! Glad you find them handy! 😀
Super info from the clinic – thank you! Would love to attend a clinic like this.
If you have a chance to audit a clinic I highly recommend it! 🙂
Those are some gorgeous horses. Also loved your summary. I get all fried out, and usually don’t remember anything to recap on. Great job!