We have been in Steamboat Springs, CO, for a Centered Riding Clinic so that I could update my instructor certification. Now that I'm recertified and home again, it's time to indulge in some amazing images captured by Kimberly Hale Photography.
Each morning began with tasty breakfasts provided by our friend Regina. We would all gather in the back porch area of the barn and do some unmounted work as well as have discussions of teaching techniques. The level IV clinician overseeing this clinic was Susan Harris, a great woman who initially recruited me to the Centered Riding Instructor program after watching me teach back in 2012. The level IIIs assisting her were Regina Liberatore, our friend from Steamboat Springs, as well as Carol Wilson, a level IV apprentice. I did my first instructor clinic at Carol's place near Topeka, KS, and it was a very happy reunion to see her again!
I was fortunate to be able to bring not just a couple, but five students to this clinic to provide student riders. The instructors who were recertifiying this week had to demonstrate their teaching, as well as demonstrate their riding, so I brought a bunch of students to be the guinea pigs.
Sara brought Dewey, Joyce rode Khreed, Alice took Sloane, Carol rode Shambhu, and Kim H. rode Rain. Jasi also came with us to groom, and has decided she's going to college on a tack cleaning scholarship from all the equipment my friends and fellow instructors from Steamboat had her attend to.
We instructors were able to have a riding lesson each day as well. I really enjoyed my lessons! I had brought Highboy to the clinic, since he was finally physically and mentally ready for this kind of focused work. My lessons were immensely helpful in giving me some new ideas regarding how to get Highboy to cooperate without arguing with him. Carol helped us with leg yields and encouraging Highboy to round up in his frame, and Susan taught some fun jumping lessons for my friend Donna and me.
Highboy INSISTED that Carol greet him personally before the riding lesson started, and then he was careful to advise her in the process of grounding my feet.
This was a really useful exercise for me. Carol is holding my hand, and we are each taking turns being the horse. When I'm the "horse", Carol held my hand and progressively softened and strengthened her arm, shoulders, across her back, down her back, and deepened her center. As the horse, it felt very much to me like a more inviting way to create connection with her hand. We switched so I could try it. Then I rode Highboy and recreated this sensation in my own body. It really illustrated to me that Highboy is ready for this type of connection work, and he is looking for that contact with my hands through the reins. I have to make sure that I'm there when he goes looking for my hand.
We had two dressage lessons, and two lessons over fences. Highboy was pretty happy on the jumping days, and put on a good show for those watching. He did a little bucking and squirreling around, just enough for everyone to appreciate his athleticism and decide they were glad they weren't riding him. Susan had exemplary things to say about him though. As we worked through the various gymnastics she set for us, she was quick to notice when he got bored, or when he was feeling contempt for small fences.
All the instructors received riding lessons, and we got some fun photos. It was hard to make sure we had everyone because of our photographer also riding!
The student riders did a great job, too. It is always good to get instruction from other people, even if they are teaching you the same things you work on at home. Just hearing concepts taught in different ways often will make a person consider an idea differently.
Rox was our clinic organizer, and she really did an amazing job putting together a fun clinic for all of us in the Centered Riding Southwest Region. Vivian the corgi was the mascot.
A big thank you to the many people who worked together to pull of this clinic. Thank you to my wonderful husband for taking care of the horses and ranch while I was gone. Susan and Carol for coming such a long way to teach us, Kim H. for her photography, Roxanna for organizing this and putting in so much work to contact and collect information from each of the instructors in our vast area. Lore and Chad for hosting us at their gorgeous facility, my in-laws for loaning us their timeshare in Steamboat. Many thanks to the Bit of Honey Crew for all your help and for making me and Highboy look good! Another great clinic in the books.