Finally, it was the weekend. We left fairly early on Friday to catch the Jim Wofford clinic at Chilliwack’s Mane Event and boy, he did not disappoint!
Fresh off my lesson Thurs- quick recap, I can’t quite remember exactly what we did, but we did have a 2’3” oxer and it kind of scared me, we jumped it very nicely once, then I under-rode to a gentle stop by Oats, and then rode it well again…And a small bounce exercise, a green box skinny, and an x-rail on a circle that rode very nicely – historically a struggle point for me and Oats. Overall, quite nice, but I did have some nerves…
So, I was primed to learn something from the famous Jim Wofford himself. And what did I learn, from his gymnastic exercises with the upper-level group?
- Look at the top rail of the fence until it disappears under you. This includes parallel oxers too!
- For bounce exercises, ignore the placing rail. Focus on the top rail of the first jump.
- Don’t start looking ‘through’ the exercises. One jump at a time! Riders and horses get into trouble when they start ignoring the first jump and stare through the exercises.
- Let the horse make the mistake, you don’t need to make it for them.
- Hitting a rail generally punishes the horse, you don’t need to punish. Reward them for a good effort on the next go-around, you will find they have fixed it! (sidenote- I’m bad for rewarding in the moment, need to get better about this).
- He had a lot of riders riding with fairly loose contact, some with driving rein hands to correct hand use/placement. Let the horse be independent, thinking.
- For drifters- take off your left leg if he drifts right. Then make your right leg stronger. Doesn’t work? You can add in guide poles.
- The key is usually less is more. Ie- don’t use a martingale at home, fix what is wrong at home first. Don’t be the first to rush to more aids, artificial aids.
- Only the elbows move for bounces.
- Shoulders back, sitting up, no ‘posting’ at the canter.
- Hands lower.
We watched a lot of his sessions, and I came away slightly intimidated – these were seriously good riders- and inspired as well. I want to try some of those exercises with Oats, the corner jump (we have done this before and he was fine with it), the ‘squeeze’ jump- now that looks interesting, and maybe a mini triple-bar or hogsback? So many good options to make jumping exciting and challenging.
I also took the opportunity to do some shopping…Too much shopping! Highlights included getting Grand Prix Vegas breeches for $50, Spooks stretch jacket for $150, Tailored Sportsman ‘Anaconda’ belt for $5, and a Toggi Equestrian long-sleeved t-shirt for $5 too. A steal!
I also got a lot of samples for Oats for treats- nutritional supplements, alfalfa cubes, treats, and some hay for Buster Bunny in a freezer ziploc bag. Score!
We also enjoyed a dressage session taught by Kristen Wysocki, and the Trainer’s Challenge featuring Sonny Gargulio, David Simons, and Glen Stewart. Glen Stewart in particular was a real class act, lovely to watch and a true horseman. Not sure who ended up winning- we were at the Jim Wofford Q&A session- but it was a real treat to watch.
The ‘equine experience’ at night was stunning as always, with fabulous performances by the Coastal Cowgirls on Vancouver Island – maybe I am a bit biased but I think their drill team performances were the slickest! They even had spins, and everything! One accident happened- not like last year when horses collided, but this time a horse spooked, the rider fell off and dislodged the flag she was carrying. It got caught in the horse’s breastplate! We all gasped and held our breath…But it was ok, it got removed and the horse/rider were fine to mount and continue.
Guess it’s not the genuine experience if there isn’t at least one hair-raising moment! On that note there were these young girls- the ‘Young Gunz’ and their performances were genuinely terrifying but very well done. My heart was in my throat!
As always, Mane Event is something we look forward to every year. I’m inspired to go try some new fun things with Oats and I can’t wait to show off my new awesome riding gear!