This has been an odd year for the horses. After working so hard all winter, it all seemed to be for nothing. Stromboli was difficult at our first event in March, and then every event I entered or thought about entering thereafter was sidelined by something.
My riding problems have been numerous, but the clinics and lessons and studying has finally enabled me to articulate some of them. The usual "bad dressage" with Stromboli, is really a lack of connection, ability to move his shoulders, and general tension/lack of submission/nervousness at shows. My jumping issues have been related to this "lack of connection" as well as the increased height and width of prelim fences. The size of these fences, the unstable horse in front of me, and the numerous publicized recent tragedies involving deaths of horses and and riders on XC, was making me scared. Scared riders pull. Everyone says, "kick on," but it's incredibly hard to kick at a massive 3'7" table that's over 4 feet wide while you are sliding down a hill nearly sideways.
I first heard about Lucinda Green nearly 20 years ago as she was a star in a computer game I had. She's now known as one of the world's best jumping/eventing clinicians. She is the 1982 World Champion and a two-time European Champion (1975–77). She also won World team Gold (1982), three European team golds (1977, 1985, 1987) and an Olympic silver medal in the team event in 1984. Between 1973 and 1984, she won a record six times at the Badminton Horse Trials (on six different horses). She also won the Burghley Horse Trials in 1977 and 1981.
Lucinda's clinic focused on training your horse to keep you safe. There were a lot of skinnies and odd distances. On the second day she had us jumping through/into/out of mud, a stream, a coop/skinny/ditch/skinny/coop gymnastic combination, and finally, designing our own XC course where she really got after me about my previously mentioned issues and fear of galloping large tables. Lucinda also switched Stromboli's bit after noticing a small injury on the right side of his mouth and how uncomfortable he seemed in the bridle. I'm supposed to spend two weeks riding him without a bit and then find something similar to the very gentle leather covered full-cheek bit that I borrowed from her during the clinic.
Lucinda was so encouraging while also being direct and critical of areas that needed improvement. Her jumping exercising on the first day gave me so many ideas for helping my students and working with the young horses.
I left this clinic knowing Stromboli and I have made tremendous progress, and with a new confidence to gallop large tables! I absolutely can't wait to teach another lesson, work with the baby horses, and get Stromboli to an Event!