Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cross Country Clinic with Tom Mulqueen

Photo by Dorothy Anderson/Peacock Photos
Sunday, Golly and I participated in a clinic with Tom Mulqueen that was hosted by the St. Mary's Riding Club and Claddagh Equestrian Center.  I am scheduled to have my knee replaced in a little over a week so I knew I most likely would not be able to complete the entire clinic but I wanted to do as much as we could as our last ride before the surgery.

While it was called a Cross Country clinic, the main purpose was to teach horse and rider in a progressive manner how to successfully participate in fox hunting.   While it would seem that fox hunting is just fast trail ride you do while dressed up, it is so much more!   Being able to ride your horse at pace across varied terrain, with other horses very close and being respectful of the protocol that dictates the order of riders is important.

The clinic was held at the lovely Sam Hill Farm on a crisp fall day with a backdrop of changing fall leaves.  

Photo by Claddagh Equestrian Center
We started out by riding our horses around the outdoor dressage ring and jump field until they all settled and were relaxed.  The horses ranged from big draft crosses to ponies to even a mule and riders ranged from children to the more mature, proving that the clinic really was for everyone! 
After they were all decently relaxed, Tom set us single file at a trot around the dressage ring leaving approximately a horse length between each of us.  Tom made it clear that if we didn't maintain the length then we weren't "riding our horse, our horse was telling us what to do".    After a bit he had us increase the length and change the line lead and direction.

After a break where we lined up for some words of wisdom, Tom had each of us canter individually around the dressage ring.

As each rider finished, he spent some time critiquing the ride and giving some tips on how we could improve.   He did a great job showing how the critique would apply to all the riders, so the individual rider didn't feel singled out.   I probably don't have these exact but some suggestions included:
  • your horse only has so many hours that you can spend on his back, so when you canter you need to get off of him
  • your stirrups need to be one to two holes shorter when going cross country
  • you need to trust your horse - just like a marriage, once you decide he's the one for you, you have to trust him
  • you can't push the gas and the brake at the same time - LET him canter  (this one was for me)
  • our job as a rider is to make the ride easy for the horse
Unfortunately that was as far as my knee allowed me participate but the rest of the riders went on for an additional hour that I watched from the trailer.  They worked on taking what we had learned thus far and took it to the next level.    They cantered up and down small hills, together, one at a time and in a line up.  They cantered away from the group and towards the group.

They also worked some on jumping.  After first introducing the horses to a new jump by jumping it individually, they jumped it lined up one behind the other.

Because Tom took the group through the exercices in a progressive manner, none of it was too difficult for either horse and rider.   And while he encouraged each rider to do their best, there was no pressure to do more than you felt comfortable.

The clinic was a great last ride before I hang up my spurs for a bit for my surgery and I can't wait until my knee is healed so I can do the clinic next time it is offered.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to get feedback and hear about your journey-- please share!