Clinics are a great way to experience a new type of riding. By experimenting with many clinicians you develop a style of riding that best suits you and your horse. The Gillian Watson
clinic did just this.
I had previously practiced balancing my horse and then perfecting my own position, but, Gillian proposed balancing yourself first. This really improved my horses performance! Through repetition of rising
out of the saddle as far as possible and then lowering yourself back down everyone quickly gained a sense of self awareness, and self control.
After mastering our balance at the walk, trot, and canter, Gillian allowed us to jump.
By situating the jumps on diagonals, and turns we were forced tocarry our balance throughout the duration of the course. After completion wewould discuss or triumphs and downfalls with the group members, and decide were we needed
the most improvement.
A common problem which occurred throughout many rides, in the early stages of our jumping, was lack of balance, and suppleness through our turns. But, not surprisingly, Gillian had everyone rolling around
the course in perfect rhythm and balance by the end of day one. Before leaving our first session we were all given homework.
That night we would have to see how long we could stay in our riding position while unmounted. (No
wonder we were all sore the next day!)
Our second session also started by focusing on the riders balance and the 2-point position. Gillian must have suspected our legs were aching because we only briefly worked on the flat,
before preparing for cross country. We worked the important part of cross country first - Galloping. Byusing the rolling hills at Dreamcrest Equestrian Center we once again becameaware of rhythm and balance, riding on up the hills
and steadying on the waydown. The actual jumping was merely a continuation of the rhythmical gallop that we had all eventually obtained.
The most important lesson that I learned from the Gillian Watson clinic was that
"cross country is not always going to be perfect." Not every jump will be met on a perfect stride, but, we must always school for excellence.