I was lucky to get picked to represent the Foothills CDS chapter in the Northern California Amateur Clinic! I have participated in my share of clinics, but I was not sure what to expect for this one.
The first evening we all met up at the beautiful Star Vaughn facility for an introduction and update of ride times. Melissa Creswick, our clinician for the weekend, gave a brief introduction then each rider shared a little bit about themselves. It was very interesting to hear every rider had different goals… some just wanted to improve their riding skills, some wanted to experience the outing with their horse, and some are very competitive show riders. One common thread that ran throughout the evening was we all loved our horses. It was a great time meeting the other participant and their grooms, all of us from different areas in Northern California. A special thank you to Lynn McEnespy for supplying the pizza! Melissa emphasized the importance of coming the next day with an open mind and a smile on our face.
I usually do not have the time to sit and watch, so it was a great pleasure to watch most of the rides on Saturday. I rode last in the day but Melissa did not lack energy, she was quick to correct but also a great cheering section when you got it right. My mare chose Saturday to be especially challenging, but Melissa gave me some great insights on how to ride through some difficult moments.
Saturday night dinner at the Slough House Inn, after my rides, was the best part of the weekend. I had a great time sharing horse stories (good and bad) with the other riders, and getting to know other amateurs and the challenges we all face.
Sunday I also ended up riding late in the day since I live nearby, and the riders that lived the furthest away rode first, so they could get on the road before the heat of the day. My mare and I had a great ride with several “light bulb” moments. Melissa gave me some great exercises to keep her straight, also worked on collection. I gained some great insight on how to keep my mare correct and still ask for more.
Some of Melissa’s wisdoms that stuck with me: be greedy -ask for more when you can, push your “belly wall” out in the half halt (hard to get used to, but it works and keeps your seat soft), keep the neck in front of you (oh yes, heard this a lot), turn on the forehand to get horse on the aids, do not change the warm-up when the horse is rattled- just change the tempo, don’t wait for perfection, the horse has to be responsible, and of course another wisdom I heard a lot-straight first! And many more…
I am so thankful for this educational and fun clinic, and the great people I met at the clinic. I look forward to seeing them in the future. Special THANK YOU to Tracy Underwood for organizing and keeping us all together - she was amazing, and Melissa Creswick for her quick wit and great training, and to CDS for supporting me in my endeavors to become an educated rider.
Off to ride now,
Joanne Baum and Cadence