Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Hi, everyone!

Today, on the first day of the clinic, after an introduction to the mentor grooms, and feeding, watering, bedding and tacking up the horses, the eight clinic participants were divided into two groups of four and rode in a flat work session with Mr. Morris at 9:00am and 11:15am, respectively. I was assigned Margie Engle as my mentor groom.

Mr. Morris' lesson began with a discussion and demonstration of working your horse on the flat using the four gaits; the walk, the trot, the canter and the gallop with an emphasis on the horse's gait being regular with rhythmic impulsion and pace. While the riders demonstrated the various gaits, he spoke of how flat work with repetition helped to condition the three areas of the horse's body in a very specific order: the hind quarters, then, the shoulders, and finally, the head and the neck. Mr. Morris asked the riders to demonstrate a half turn on the haunches, circles and figure eights while collecting and lengthening their horse's strides to allow the horse to become active from behind and soft in the front.

In the afternoon, the participants and spectators attended a presentation by Melanie Smith-Taylor about the importance of being a thinking rider. Ms. Smith-Taylor stressed the significance of educating oneself about riding by reading some of the classic riding books (one of my favorites was written by William Steinkraus) and by asking questions of your trainers and mentors. She stressed how trust, acceptance and awareness of your own judgement and thinking were key elements of success.

Catch up with me tomorrow for another snapshot of this very special clinic.
Thanks for your continued support!
Talk to you tomorrow,
Maria Schaub


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