The Jim Wofford clinic at CBF last weekend was a great success. Much like the Pony Express of old, Laura and Erika braved pouring rain and scorching heat to put together a fantastic two-day clinic and they have the soggy socks and bizarre tan lines to prove it.
From the novice riders to the training/prelim group, Jim focused on the basics. He emphasized that, especially at the lower levels, inexperienced horses and riders should not expect to see distances accurately. Rather than ride for a distance, he advised everyone to ride a rhythm, and to be helpful to your horse by staying out of his way and letting him do his job with as little interference as possible. He talked about the three or four stride moment, or the point in front of a jump where—with adjustment—three or four strides could produce an acceptable jump. If the rider isn’t seeing a distance, he advised they half-halt, rebalance, and add up, rather than pushing for the long spot, and getting what Jim called a “lawn dart” style jump (an image I think we all recognize with a cringe). The balanced approach is the safer approach until horse and rider become experienced enough to ride different distances accurately and safely.
Jim also had a little recommended reading for the riders: Training Hunters, Jumpers, and Hacks by Brig. Gen. Harry Chamberlain (available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Training-Hunters-Jumpers-Hacks-Second/dp/B000USUNPO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1280249725&sr=8-1). A book that Jim said George Morris keeps under his pillow, it’s a must-read for anyone—event rider or otherwise—who wants to improve the technical quality of their jumping. I, for one, will be ordering it shortly (and will be happy to lend!).
True to his reputation, Jim was humorous and direct in his approach, making the concepts sound simple enough, until it came time to implement them. As the wise sages of horsemanship say, often times doing less is much more difficult than doing more, especially when it comes to jumping, and I can say from personal experience that correcting habits and impulses is one of the most challenging aspects of eventing. Jim’s calm manner did much to put horses and riders at ease, and I think everyone came away feeling educated and inspired.
Not to shift gears too quickly, but I can’t resist mentioning another major event that occurred over the weekend: CBF boarder Phoebe’s (aka Likely’s Mom) wedding! She earns extra points for coming out to ride Likely early Monday morning, as usual. Congratulations, Phoebe!
One final note on hellos and goodbyes. We’re really pleased to welcome Ari (short for Armando), a German import who has come to CBF as a school horse. Laura is half-leasing him, but we’ll be looking for someone who would be interested in leasing the other half of this lovely horse. He’s had tons of training and experience in dressage and jumping, and I can attest first-hand that he’s fantastic to ride. If you’re interested, get in touch with Laura at email@example.com.
A goodbye for now to Heather Maytham, who just graduated from Boston College and left for Ireland on Monday. She’ll be working until October with top eventer Eric Smiley, and although we’ll miss her around the farm, we know she’ll have an amazing time and come back with lots of cool training tips, and maybe a fake Irish accent. We’re glad she’ll be back just in time for our recognized horse trails on October 9, but until then we’ll have to settle for e-mail updates. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on her adventures.