Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dressage Clinics

I signed up to ride in a Henk van Bergen clinic on April 13-14th. I am very excited about it, because in my opinion he is one of the masters of dressage instruction. One of the first things I considered in deciding whether to fork over the money (and it is a LOT of money!) was, what are my goals for this clinic?

My horse is 25 years old, and is pretty sound in his training, but I really want an honest evaluation of what I can still expect from him (he is so happy to be ridden and give lessons to my students, and still does a good job in competitions, etc.) He gets great scores (65-70%) at training and first level in the shows, and at home we do the second level requirements and some of the third level requirements, but at home is different than the show ring.

At home, we can take breaks as frequently as he needs to, we can take smaller segments of true collection to perform say, a trot halfpass, and then some rising trot right away and let him return to a training/first level frame, and such.

Henk is really good at recognizing how far to push the envelope without pushing too far and risk hurting the horse (physically or mentally). I have a tendency to not push far enough and become complacent, and I do want Bogart to be the best he can be for as long as possible. I am hoping to determine a balance for Bogart.

I also want to get an evaluation of my current state of riding. One's riding has strong periods and weak periods--usually coinciding with the availability of regular riding and instruction. It has been a long time since I have had a proper dressage lesson, and I have fallen into some habits which I can't feel myself when I am on a horse.

It is nothing horrible, but I can feel that the efficiency of my riding needs a kick in the pants. And, I know I don't push myself hard enough, so I need eyes on the ground reminding me of how far I can be pushed--and maybe I will be able to maintain that level until he comes back next time.

I think those are specific enough goals, and not too ambitious for the clinic setting.
What are general goals that you set for yourself (and/or your horse) when you ride in a clinic?