This weekend Tamra Smith's, Next Level Eventing benefited from riding in a clinic with Grand Prix Show Jumper Lane Clarke.
Lane brings a slightly different approach to his clinic than most. Firstly most of his lessons are private lessons specifically working on you and your individual horse. It's a great way to make huge improvements in just one weekend.
He also focuses greatly on the flat. Making sure that each horse is supple, relaxed, and in front of your leg.
These are key components to the success of creating a good jump from your horse.
Every time I start to feel my horses not jumping in great form I know it's time to have Lane out for a tune up.
The common denominator with each student was the quietness of your hand and body and to let your horse do his job. We would start out by trotting a vertical or oxer with placing poles on both sides of the jump. Lane carefully accessed each horse and it was remarkable his ability to pick out what each horses strengths and weaknesses were.
By the end of the first day each horse was jumping around their jumps and in great form.
I particularly love riding with Lane because he trains people the way we should train horses. Reward when it's good and be tough when it's bad. It's simple thinking and produces amazing results.
I am currently riding several young horses that I'm producing that are green however fairly broke for their respective levels. It was very educational to watch how Lane addressed straightness to the horses jumps by using placing poles and not having the rider fix the straightness issues with their hands. He focused on keeping the horses relaxed through their bodies and when riders would use there hands to fix the straightness so often the horses jump would become tight, flat, and without shape.
In addition to straightness Lane focused on how your body can help with helping your horse wait to the jump and therefore helping the arch of each jump. That leg doesn't always create a good jump and that sometimes too much leg can cause the horse to become tense. My horse Milton was especially effected by the amount of leg I did use. As the jumps got bigger and eventually to the top of the 6 ft standards Lane made it very clear that I was not to put too much leg on my horse, but I should just have a relaxed feel. Of course the first couple of times was strange for me and I did not benefit from the quality of jump that my horse produced after cantering down to this oxer with a relaxed and loopy canter.
The second day all of my horses went much better and each of them were light years better than the day before. It was great to feel them getting better each day.
I've known Lane for several years and have ridden with his father Allen Clarke who specializes in fixing and improving on horses with their performance, manners, connection issues, and ridability issues. Lane brings a wonderful mixture to the table by understanding the philosophy that his father trains with and his extensive experience and wins in the Grand Prix ring.
I feel very fortunate to have the people I have that help me with my dressage as well as my day to day training. I can feel my horses improving more than ever before and it has so much to with everything I have surrounding me.
I wanted to share how important it is to have trainers continue to receive training and to know that you can never stop learning. I think that is what sets the best apart from the rest.
Thanks for reading! Til next time.....keep enjoying the journey of what horses does for us all!