Quarantine meant nothing happened and then suddenly… everything happened at once and now I have 32235 things to write about and catch up on? Two weeks after our Sharon White clinic, Tim Bourke was at our barn for a clinic. It filled basically the day it opened and I didn’t get my act together fast enough, but luckily he had a few spots for lessons on Monday morning before he left. I snagged one of those up real quick and took the morning off work for a XC lesson (best use of PTO).
I audited all weekend as well, so my notes from the clinic are in somewhat haphazard bullet points that are a mix of my own lesson and others, but the points are consistent.
I didn’t have a stadium lesson, so I’ll just throw all those notes in at once, because writing them down = helpful.
- Don’t jump your last fence like it’s your last fence: keep riding like you have to go jump something else
- If you don’t get the change, half halt/block the outside, teach them to do the one stride/skip change. If it takes you 3-4 strides to change every time, you’re costing yourself time and rhythm (hiiii it me!)
- Check all your gears and change them up before you get to the first fence – make sure you have forward, collected and can move between them. Obviously applies to XC too!
- He doesn’t mind a miss on the way into a line because that’s information you can use to adjust, but a miss on the way out means you didn’t listen or use the information you got on the way in
Tim is big on making sure you have your transitions within the gaits before you ever jump so much as a ground pole. Lengthen, shorten, lengthen, shorten. They all have to be available at the touch of a button (leg?) and that’s where you want to start. Iggy is decent, but we definitely have to remember to do this in warm-up every time because it’s not a given that he’s going to remember this is something he has to do every time. Like reminding men that dirty socks go in the hamper. They’ll do it, but they’re not going to remember…
I know he’s made the example before, but I always love coming back to his basketball example – if you bounce it softly and take your hand away, it just fizzles out. But if you bounce it hard, it bounces more frequently and if you remove you hand, it keeps bouncing (aka horse’s legs keep hitting the ground and you don’t miss).
He also talks a lot about making it subconscious – because if you have to remember to do it, when you get to a show, you’ll probably forget. What was fun to see, because we’ve talked about this concept for two years now, were the things I used to have to think about consciously that have evolved into subconscious. While my actual visual riding skill may not look a whole lot different now vs two years ago, my mental skills are totally different. Tim is also big on making a decision. Do something. Even if it’s wrong, you’ve learned something (like… don’t do that). If you don’t do anything, you can’t learn from it. Two years ago, I was the QUEEN of doing nothing. These days, I actually have the ability to think and make decisions on course (more on that soon!) now as opposed to just using all my mental capacity to make it around and not make any decisions at all.
We jumped a whole assortment of things, including the trio of banks/ditches/water. Iggs didn’t care about banks or water, per usual, but definitely wanted to stop and eyeball the ditch before jumping it. Funny enough, one of my prouder moments was when he stopped and I actually reacted the way I’m supposed to – make him move his feet, think about it, don’t just turn away. After that, he didn’t care and popped right over it like no thing. However, this ‘I want to look at ditches I have already jumped many times before’ should have been a lesson that stuck with me…
The other big theme of the day was timing. Knowing where to collect before a fence as to not slow the feet down too much and understanding where that sweet spot is on your horse. On a hot one with a big ass stride? A little earlier. On Iggy? A little later. We played with it and sure enough, the timing got better each time (no pun intended).
It was a fantastic lesson and I was so glad to ride with Tim on Iggy before camp starts in a few weeks. We left with some homework and some things we put into practice right off the bat.