First Clinic (for both of us)

It was so much fun! Honestly, I was in heaven. The facility was beautiful in a really welcoming, everything you could want in a facility without being ostentatious kind of way. It's off in the country, with trails, beautiful views, lots of big box stalls, friendly management, etc. As I mentioned we rented the big house there and people stayed over. We all ate together, had a talk on 'De-Mystifying Dressage' Sat. night, hung out under the canopy to audit when we weren't riding, and generally had as much or more fun socializing as learning.
The volunteers were incredible. Alison, who co-chairs the Board with me was the main organizer / manager and she never stopped running. Everything went so smoothly because of her. Sharon had organized the most amazing meals, i.e. made homemade muffins and jam for breakfast, and wonderful  lunches and dinners (the main one several of us cooked for). Mai and Barb scribed, Paula did some of everything - cooking, scribing, ring set up, horse help... You get the picture.
Here's a picture of the food:

Here's a picture of our Sat. night talk on De-Mystifying Dressage (accompanied by wine and double chocolate brownies):

And here are some of the rides:

I'll put some more of Rogo and I on my pictures page for future comparisons.
So the feedback from the clinic is decidedly mixed. It will entail me shamelessly bragging to you about Rogo, and then admitting to being shamed into action for me. We rode Training Level 2 and 3.  First the good part - the clinician loved Rogo. She told me what a high quality horse he is, that she could see how sweet,  kind and willing he is, and that the two things together make him the horse everyone wants. She also said I don't have any problems to work on with him. How is that for high praise? My heart was literally beating out of my chest as I sat on him and she said these things. I've always thought he was special :) but to have a very well respected and highly experienced judge come in from Ontario and say it was so validating. She gave us a 7 for harmony between horse and rider because she said it's very apparent to her that Rogo likes me. This brings me to the bad news - me. I didn't receive any startling news that I didn't know, but it really brought it into focus. I tired much too easily, and I don't have a good seat on him with independent hands. Of course being at the clinic made it a bit worse, but it's very true. I've never learned to sit into him and be as secure in my seat as I am with Savanah and Dan. She says it's his big movement and that it will come, but boy, it's taking a long time. She said I need to get him to round so he'll work over his back more, but that it will come as soon as I'm riding him better and that there's really nothing to fix with him, just me. I need to use my seat and legs more and not ride with my hands so much. Okay, I have my marching orders. Already I have a plan, thanks to the amazing Alison. We're going to go to a 5 day dressage camp at Fraser Equestrian Center. SUe Fraser is a level 3 dressage coach and a judge and she's a great teacher. Her sister Jane (riding the Intermediare 1 test above) teaches with her and is very good as well. I'm hoping that will give me the jump start to get fitness and equitation on track. Then I'll get Doug to lunge me, maybe have some lunge lessons with Megan and sooner or later Joan will be back. Please visualize me sitting quietly and deeply, riding Rogo with my seat and legs :)
Just so I don't get too down on myself, I do feel happy that after four years with me my horse is sane, sound and happy. I've seen a few bright stars with much better riders burn out in that time.
I had the saddle fitter come to the clinic Fri. night to adjust Rogo's saddle (it's been a year since he got it and he's filled out). She also liked what she saw and told me his back / topline and neck are developing nicely. She is from the UK and is accredited as a saddle fitter and worked for many years in horse rehabilitation, so I trust her with fitting.
My final note is that I'm really getting much more comfortable with Rogo at new locations. I was desperately hoping he'd like to compete, because if he didn't I wouldn't (it's just misery for both horse and rider). He was so well behaved that it's going to go a long way to making showing fun. He loaded and unloaded quietly and smoothly, stayed well behaved during his first warm ups, etc. No lunging required, no mischief. I'm really a lucky woman.


Karen said…
Those are some pretty awesome compliments you got there! :) I was beaming for you just reading it! And hey, we ALL have things to work on. Part of the journey!
Anonymous said…
He is a great horse, and the trust you've got is such an important foundation. The lunge lessons sound like a really good idea - they're one of the best ways to develop an independent seat and hands. It's nice to have a clear path forward!
Kelly said…
Gotta love high praise for your horse - take that any day! And if you were a perfect rider, what would you have to work on? :)
Sounds like a GREAT experience Carol!

You do have a wonderful relationship with a wonderful horse - how gratifying to get confirmation from a judge you respect. Improving your seat and hands just means practice. You have been training mostly on your own for a while - (I can relate!)

Don't be too hard on yourself and get that lunge line out ;)
Jan said…
Carol, What a wonderful time you had and congratulations on such awesome compliments!! How fabulous to hear such wonderful things about Rogo - and, as you said, by a respected person! And you have already got such good plans to work on your seat, I know that will come along. I'm so glad he was good there also, it helps a lot. Again, congratulations to both of you! Great work, Rogo!
Jeni said…
Great stuff Carol! PIctures are great. Rogo looks good =)
Oak Creek Ranch said…
How wonderful that Rogo is so perfect (we knew that, of course but it's always nice to hear). And wonderful that you have a harmonious happy partnership. We always need to work on ourselves. It's great that you have such a willing talented partner while you work on perfecting yourself. (and you know better than to expect you'll ever actually get there... it's a journey, remember?).
Cindy said…
It was an awesome weekend Carol and Rogo is such a good boy. You and he looked so steady in your tests. He was forward, obedient and your tests were nice to watch. So jealous of the FEC I can get up there to audit!
I have to compliment the RIDERS group for putting on a well organized and fun clinic! Good job!
Carol said…
Thanks everyone! I really enjoyed it and had a great experience in taking him off property.
Cindy I was very hesitant to go to the Fraser camp (intimidated and too broke is a better way to put it), but Doug and Alison convinced me it's important. I have to get some lessons.
juliette said…
What great news! Was there ever any doubt about the love, sweetness and devotion? Rogo is the very best of the best.
All in all it sounds like you had a great clinic and got some good advice. You and Rogo are a great combination and there is nothing but good things in the future for both of you. Lungeing is a great way to develop an independent seat.
Anonymous said…
What an awesome group you have - you're lucky to have such a close-knit, caring group of dressage riders. What your clinician said really resonated with me:

"She said I need to get him to round so he'll work over his back more, but that it will come as soon as I'm riding him better and that there's really nothing to fix with him, just me."

It's such a double edged sword, isn't it. And it's something I struggle with constantly on my horse. He has big Saddlebred movement, and it's hard for me to really unlock my seat bones and sink my weight into that movement. But Handsome also travels too much on his fore, and if I could get him to push more from behind, his movement would be easier to sit. But I have to sit it in order to get it - so tricky.

I think Calm, Forward, Straight is right and I need to get a friend to lunge me on my own horse.
Carol said…
You guys are the best. I'm so happy to share my good news and know I won't be chastised for the bad. Thanks for all of the kind comments.
He'll go better when I ride better, but I ride better when he's round. I have to get in front of this! :)
Anonymous said…
what a great thing to hear about your boy! we all have our things we need to work on, it will come with time.
Achieve1dream said…
You really are a lucky woman. :D This whole post brings happy tears to my eyes. Rogo is an amazing horse and you're doing an awesome job with him. Maybe if you're tiring too easily you can start a rider oriented work out program so you can strengthen the muscles you need to ride him correctly. Working out is making me feel so much better just in regular everyday tasks. :) Keep up the great work and I'm so happy the clinic went so well for you.