By Jessica Roberts
This November I had the privilege of riding in a clinic at Glen Arden farm in Fergus, ON with one of the masters of our sport thanks to the support of Foshay International. A man that teaches Olympians and many team riders, Buck Davidson.
With a few weeks to prepare before the clinic, I had to quickly brush some off some of the cobwebs that had gathered since our last outing. When the clinic finally rolled around, I was admittedly a little nervous to ride with such a renowned coach, but also very excited to see what he could help us with.
Day one of the clinic – Go forward!
Entering the arena at Glen Arden on day one, we took notice of some rather ‘simple’ looking lines that were set up. Having never ridden with Buck before, little did I know that these simple looking lines would prove to be much more difficult than meets the eye. I’m sure any of you reading this who have ridden with Buck probably had a chuckle reading that.
Buck asked us to ride the lines as simple as the jumps looked. He said “Get your jumping canter, ride an accurate line and the jumps should just flow as part of your rhythm”- Simple right? Many of us (myself included) quickly realized just how under paced we were riding. When we started allowing the horse more forward and into our hands it became easier to ride the lines and keep a good rhythm. Then indeed we began to understand this ‘flow’ he was speaking of, and no it did not involve holding any yoga poses.
Day two – Seeing is believing.
Now that we have a better feeling of the “going somewhere” canter we needed, it’s time to add in lines-bending lines & broken lines. Now we’re talking corner to corner bending lines and seemingly impossible skinny to skinny broken lines. You know, the kind that he says ride that line, and you stand there for 5 minutes with your head sideways thinking “there’s a line where?”.
At first this was a struggle. Instinctually, when trying to make these lines happen, it’s hard to stop your hands and arms from pulling on the reins to say “go here!”. What we didn’t realize we were doing by pulling on the reins was making it very difficult for the horses to see where they were going, and allow them to get on the line to the next jump.
Buck, put a short knot in our reins which kept them connected and took away the temptation (and ability) to pull left and right. This made us rely on our seat and legs for guidance to steer the horse. Instead of steering the horse like a car with just a steering wheel and no tires. Suddenly the seemingly impossible lines, became more than something of myths and legends and we were able to ride them. Wow, the horses jumped so much better this way!
There we many lessons learned from Buck during the clinic. Not only in terms of riding better, but being a better rider. Which included everything from preparing your horse to do the job, and yourself both physically and mentally, I think we all left feeling motivated and inspired. What a great way to kick off our #RoadToFoshay!
Only 7 hours from Boston and nestled on the river’s edge in beautiful Jemseg New Brunswick, Foshay International is one of a kind- come see for yourself!
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