Sunday, 31 August 2014

Alhambra August Clinic

Over the long weekend in August, Koda and I with new Hubs and Shi in tow, headed down to Red Deer for a two day clinic at Alhambra Stables.  I went to the clinic for the first time last year and it was really beneficial, not too expensive, and we received a ton of instruction.  This year it was a bit of a different format since instead of having two lessons per day, they had two the first day, then one the second (stadium and dressage on the Saturday, XC on Sunday).

Stadium lesson
Koda and I had some good rides, although he's starting to get a bit "playful" after fences in stadium, rooting down and doing little crow hops or baby kick outs.  Nothing too unsettling, but it is new behaviour for him.  The clinician (and friend of mine!) are sure it's just him growing up into his new role and understanding his job, so he's playing at it now.  I know what I need to do to keep it under wraps (leg on, head up, soft hands forward) which is what I need to practice anyway, so there's more incentive now.

The stadium lesson was fairly simple, did a basic gymnastic, then worked on doing some lines in a small course.  We had some babies in the group (horses, not riders) so we took things slowly.  The focus was on striding and placing the horse exactly where you wanted them, riding your lines, and riding between your fences.

Simple gymnastic

Mini course with Koda being playful

The dressage lesson was a private one where you had to wear an ear piece so that you could hear the clinician.  A bit different for us (technology?  Whaaaat?) so that took a bit of getting used to, but man oh man did we take a lot away from that lesson!  One thing she really emphasized was to get the ribs moving, and that will cause the abdominal muscles to engaged, causing the back to lift, and all that good stuff.  To achieve this magical moment, all we had to do was an 'active' turn on the forehand.  It's all about getting the horse to continually move their feet while doing the turn, particularly the front legs being lifted up and down, but landing in the same place while moving the ribs around that point.  Don't muck around with your hands too much, it's all on seat, leg, leg, leg, and more LEG!

The family!
Another tip she had for us was when Koda isn't listening to the inside leg, do some counter bend to move his body INTO my inside leg so that there was something there to respond to.  It's a bit of a twist to think of it, but it got his abdominal muscles engaged and caused him to soften out whenever he got locked into a stiff position.  The key within all the tips she gave us was emphasis on riding the entire horse, don't fuss with the reins so much, and LEG!  Koda can be fancy when I ride him right, we just need to do more of it.

Finally figured out how to ride up banks!

Love his form in this shot
 Cross country was a fun day where we got to play around on some logs, did some baby ramps and table like things, and played on terrain.  Koda was a star for all of it, although he did catch me sleeping a couple of times and he decided that nope, he didn't want to go down the bank, and nope, that little house thing doesn't look that nice.  All in all we had a great weekend playing around down at Alhambra and I'm hoping that next year we'll be able to make it down for their summer horse trial.

Need to do this more... 


  1. Awesome photos - looks like you had some great rides :)

  2. You two look great! Sounds like some really informative rides!