Way to leave people in suspense, right?
OK, so honestly, there wasn't much said in this Masterclass that had me reconsidering my life's direction. I'm an avid stalker online and well, much of what she covered is available online with other masterclass things from over the years. This was nice because it was live and well, I got to say I audited CD, but in reality, I didn't get too much from this except a boost of confidence in what I do with my horses (more on that later). I won't go into huge details about the clinic and a transcription of what CD said because well, it's much the same as what she's said before as well as Carl.
The first pair to go was the youngest horse and then she worked her way up through the horses. The main emphasis in my mind was quality of transitions and not just the "tricks." Well, as someone that is retraining a "trick trained" upper level horse, I get this. I so get this. The ability to adjust and change things during any point of any ride is paramount to getting the "tricks" right.
Watching the 5 and 6 year old horses go, I felt good about how I've restarted Jade and where we are right now. When I look at where "it" says we should be with her, I'm a little disheartened in the 6 year old test (although we'd rock her FHANA IBOP sooo...) at times so it was nice to see someone that produces upper level horses say not to worry and take your time to develop the gaits and transitions. For the young horses, transitions are mainly going to be between gaits (like we normally think of when someone says transitions) but also transitions within the gait. Develop that collected, working, and lengthened gaits within as able and make it fun. Also, "yeehaw" to get them forward. Again, the "yeehaw" is covered extensively in other online clinics with her but basically, push the horse to GO. I like to use the "yeehaw" to "reward" horses too when we've done something really hard for them, really collected, etc so there's a release from that pressure as well as keeping the "forward" in the movement.
So yeah, transitions and transitions. I felt good about where my young horse was after this so that was probably worth the price of admission.
Now we moved onward to the upper level horses slowly but surely and man, the yeehaw made it's appearance. She also dinged the riders for being a little "T-Rexy" in their arms (especially to the left with most everyone interestingly enough) and how that affected things. Most of the riders were not comfortable "yeehawing" so that was interesting to see. One poor open rider really got a tough go of it as he was pushed WAY out of his comfort zone and made plenty of mistakes but his horse improved a lot despite him being mentally pushed. I saw a lot of what I'm trying to fix in Nirvana, but well, I got the impression that I'm running out of time as I saw how long these things took to actually fix.
Riding an older horse is hard without a crystal ball :/
I felt this feeling of dread and began contemplating the time frame I may or may not have to work on Vana to get him ready for GP as the next rider went. Once we started with the final rider, Grand Prix, level, I knew I was going to be backing Vana down to PSG/I1 and just calling it a career. Funny thing though, the GP horse was like watching Vana. He was hot, fun, wobbly back and forth in his balance and well, I could relate to him so well. I enjoyed this ride the most and came away with some good exercises that I've enjoyed trying out (zig zag on the wall rather than always in the center) and how to keep playing with the horses as well as pushing them even when they're being sassy (hai, practically an expert on that).
So at the end of it, I realized that Jade was bang on for being an upper level horse, but behind in being a "young horse champion." I didn't really care about that so it was nice. Vana I had feelings up and down all night until the GP rider went and it made me feel good and a reminder to enjoy the journey. I've done a pretty good job of this but it was reassuring to see someone with a sense of humor riding their GP horse and "putting it out there."
I originally applied to ride in this clinic and while I would have loved to be selected, this was NOT your usual "be selected and look pretty" clinic. The riders worked HARD and were pushed HARD in their sessions in front of 1000 people. They made mistakes and were called on them. Everyone had issues with basic transitions and earned "that is disgusting" comments all night from CD. The GP rider had to work HARD on her canter-walk transitions and everyone was reprimanded for failing at these basic transitions (CD was looking for a forward movement into the downward transitions and most of the rider/horses just fell into it).
Everyone was reminded to push the boundaries all the time, make it enjoyable and fair for the horses, and reward the horses even during the tests. Just remember that it's hard to pat or praise in front of 7 FEI judges in competition. luls.
I definitely enjoyed attending this clinic and felt reassured more than inspired with what we do at the farm. It'll all work out someday if we keep doing what's best for the horses and pushing ourselves to always be better in a predictable and consistent way.