Our barn hosted another Gary Mittleider clinic this weekend and I was super excited to sign up. Macy and I haven’t done much jumping lately, but we did have a great lesson where we worked on bounces (I worked on it, Macy knew what she was doing), and I felt ready for a Gary Mittleider clinic.
Here’s a short video of us hopping through the grid:
What I really like about Gary, is that he doesn’t overwhelm you in his clinics. He has pointers, for sure, but he doesn’t throw a brand new idea at you and then another brand new idea. Instead, he has you work on one thing, and for us, I felt that was rhythm. He really wanted Macy and I to keep the same rythym no matter where we were in the exercise. And this may sound simple, but we were doing an exercise that involved tight turns, jumping out of the trot, jumping out of the canter, and doing a 7 stride. So, there was a lot going on. But it didn’t matter if I was jumping out of the trot or canter, Macy and I had to keep a consistently calm rhythm.
At first I was like “well Macy knows best” and just let her do what she wanted. He gave me simple pointers, such as “look where you want to go after the 7 stride,” “actually get 7 strides, not 6,” and my favorite “chin up.”
Just flying over this jump out of the trot
So, Macy wanted to land and GO ON, dragging me down the 7 strides in 6. But it never jumped well when we did that, so I remembered that I could, in fact, apply a half halt, and not let Macy have her way, and it rode much better. In fact, once I started to put things together, everything went really well.
Here’s a video if us putting it together and me actually riding instead of letting Macy have her way:
Sarah has ridden with Gary for years. He was her trainer when she was riding Macy competitively and she has always told me stories about how, when he whistles after your ride, watch out. He is not happy. So, I’m always nervous about a whistle after my ride.
But Gary knows Macy, and he knows I am not a super talented pro looking to take this horse up through the levels, and there was no whistling.
But what I forgot was, that Sarah also told me, if Gary is really, really, happy about something, he’ll clap after your ride.
It wasn’t until the last time we went through the exercise, jumping a 3’6 vertical out of the trot, turning left, then cantering through the 7 stride, looking left, trotting the 3’6 vertical again and then cantering the 7 stride once more, looking right, and trotting, that I heard the clap.
Both Sarah and my friend Haley yelled out “You got a clap!!”
It’s kinda like the highest compliment, and I was pretty proud. Jumping Macy was super fun, at 17.5 years old, mare still has hops and makes things like getting the correct lead, or jumping 3’6 out of the trot super easy. I just need to remember that sometimes dragging me to the fences isn’t ok, and we need to think “consistent rhythm” no matter what we’re doing. So lucky to have this mare to learn from!