That’s right, not only was I in Kauai for a holiday, but I had to rush back to attend the William Fox-Pitt clinic in Chilliwack the next weekend! (I am a hunter rider who dabbles in bad dressage, but hey, you can ALWAYS learn from an Olympian!).
See a bit about his story here.
I literally did rush back, took the red-eye flight from Kauai, hopped on the Skytrain, went to the station and got on the Greyhound. Rode the Greyhound into Chilliwack, called a cab, and cabbed to the Heritage Centre.
The first day- the day I missed the majority of- was dressage, and as much as I hate to say it, dressage in my view is more of a personal victory type of riding. Not so flashy, not so thrilling and difficult to describe to other people why you’re so excited about it…
So, the first day I got there around 2 p.m. and watched the upper-level riders work on their dressage and it was a bit boring. We left around 6 p.m. to head out for dinner – I was hungry- it was a LONG DAY and I needed a bellini or something to clear my head, haha.
The next day we got up super early (for me, ugh was still tired) despite my protests that I was SURE we didn’t have to get up to go that early…We didn’t, by the way. HAH!
Jumping was much more interesting. So interesting…Here’s what I picked up.
- Horses need to ‘lock in’ to a jump. Ears pricked, looking interested.
- By keeping them on their toes, they learn to anticipate the jump. This means doing warm up jumps at a trot and walk (eek), and doing strange things like all skinnies, and bounce skinnies!
- Reins are pretty much always too long.
- Rider bodies need to stay back. The bigger risk is jumping ahead or leaning up the neck. If in doubt, wait it out. Be still.
- Hands mostly need to come down. I’m bad for this one jumping too, my hands raise up really high.
- Watch the track- you mostly always have time in a line to turn, so don’t swivel your body to turn too early. Riders mostly turn too early than too late.
- Jumping one handed-particularly on a tough track with tons of inside turns- REALLY makes you keep your body back!
- Dressage is so important (I know I just said it was boring, yeah to watch, but the flexibility and bend developed there helps with the aforementioned inside jumping one-handed..)
- People who look very impressive online seem to ride totally psycho horses that look extremely unpleasant to handle and ride. That was a real surprise.
- A lot of horses in the clinic were pro rides and very tough looking to ride. There is a good reason I am an amateur!
If you’re interested in more clinic recaps by the riders, be sure to check out Eventing Nation’s article on it.