So about 3 weeks ago trainer Sarah got an invite to attend a pro day jump clinic at a jumper barn about 2.5 hours away. The clinician was going to be a gentleman named Jay Duke. She asked if she could ride Georgie in the clinic as her one mare is preggers and the other, her baby, isn’t jumping yet. I was SO excited that she’d be riding Georgie in a jump clinic!!! And while neither of us had ridden with or audited with the clinician we figured it’d still be a good learning experience.
Sarah put three rides on Georgie pre clinic, one a week for three weeks. I watched two of the rides and was able to watch and learn as she worked my mare and insisted on Georgie giving her all. What I love about my mare is that she will put up a little fuss and then just be like “Fine. I will work harder and do it your way.” And it gets easier from there forward.
Ok, the clinic. To be honest, I know nothing, nada, about the h/j world. Sure, I know who George Morris is, but that’s about where it ends. So, I knew I’d be out of my element, and I had a feeling Georgie would be by far the least fancy horse there. (Hey, I don’t know much, but I have my pre conceived notions about the h/j world…)
Georgie was the least fancy horse there. But it didn’t matter one bit. Everyone was so nice and welcoming and I wore my gorgeous HKM boots and got lots of compliments. So, I was happy.
I acted as a groom for Sarah which was also fun, since I like getting Georgie ready and making sure she is well cared for. Also, it let Sarah have a groom, so she fit in more. 🙂
Ok, the clinic. Do any of you know of Jay Duke? I have only great things to say about this clinic, but don’t know how his teaching would differ if the riders were amateurs vs. pros. He didn’t spend a lot of time on position, and actually at one point made a comment that he doesn’t really mind if riders approach jumps in two point, three point or seated. If it works for them, and has been working for them, why try and change it now? I liked this attitude. He spent most of the clinic having riders work on straightness and adjustability. In warm up they worked on a bending line, three poles down center line and a fun flower box exercise on the quarter line. (Flower box, pole flowerbox) In warm up riders had to ride without stirrups, ride the sitting trot and also adjust strides in the exercises. It was fun to watch, but probably not that fun to ride.
Riders progressed to jumping these exercises. For me, my favorite part was watching Georgie make square corners (he commented that riders will never do anything but a straight corner here forward) and also be completely adjustable at the fences. It was quite amazing to watch Georgie handle every question asked easily and without a fight. Riders would ride the exercise down center line in whatever strides Jay asked. Sometimes it was a 3 to a 4, or a 4 to 4 and sometimes a 4 to a 3. He also had a lovely bending line set up and he raised the jumps to about 3’3 and asked riders to do the line in either 5 or 6 strides. Then change direction and ride it in 5 strides, then 6. I honestly had no idea Georgie was so adjustable. And the lines were not easy. He expected square corners and good approaches or he would have you start over.
Sarah gave Georgie an amazing ride and they both seemed incredibly happy throughout the clinic. Watching Georgie have fun and do so well only inspired me to be a better rider and ask the same of her that Sarah did. One of my big takeaways actually came from the warm up. Jay would have riders trot, then canter, then walk, then trot, then walk and on and on. Horses needed to me responsive to the leg and always on the ready for what would be asked. I decided to try this in my ride yesterday and loved it. Georgie loves to spook at one end of the indoor and instead of getting mad, or letting her be spooky and shorten, I just kept asking her for something. She didn’t have time to spook or be looky and it was a great way to warm her up and get her responding to my leg. I think I’ll always incorporate this into my warm up moving forward.
Here’s a video of the final course:
So, a super fun day, and the only bummer was my trailer lights stopped functioning so we had to leave earlier than planned so we wouldn’t be driving in the dark. I’m excited to keep working Georgie at the things I saw in the clinic and must say I was super impressed with Jay Duke’s teaching style.