June 7, 2008

HorseMasters Clinic

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I went to my first HorseMasters’ clinic on May 24th. It was a clinic designed to teach horses and riders about schooling over fences, from using ground poles to start a horse over fences to more advanced jumps and gymkhana. It was the exact level that Isis and I could have used. I missed my girl!

Because Isis is still in Tennessee, I volunteered to help — maybe six hours in all? I got to attend all of the sessions for free so long as I helped set up jumps and move things around as needed.

The people with HorseMasters are awesome. I have never met such a supportive bunch of people who smile and don’t glaze over when I tell “horse tales.” Maybe because we patiently listen to each other and enjoy hearing stories as much as telling them?

The first morning session was for starting young horses over trotting poles and then moving up to cross rails. Trotting poles are poles placed on the ground about 9 feet apart. Trotting the horse over the poles teaches the horse to pick up his/her feet and to be aware of his/her hooves. This translates into picking up their feet over a jump later on. They also used combinations of trotting poles and low cross rails. (The poles in the cross rails are crossed so the center of the jump is lower than either end.) The latter sessions progressed the trotting poles and cross rails sitting on the lowest hole up to 18 inches and then 24 inches.

The neatest thing about watching theses sessions are seeing the horses and riders progress from rushing to careful collection. My favorite moment was when one of the ladies rode her big draft over a fence and whooping in delight.

That’s what it’s all about.

I took tons of pictures. I’ll be posting them as soon as I download them from the camera.

What a great day!

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