The CDCTA never fails at hosting great events! On June 17, our members trucked up to Scarlett Hill in Groton MA for a cross country school with Alison Eastman-Lawler. It was a perfect day for galloping through rolling fields, as horses and riders alike learned a ton about maintaining confidence throughout a course.
Alison started off each group with a little pep talk, explaining how important it is to be the keeper of our own confidence. Each individual was encouraged to ride steady and stay in the moment. As a rider with a green horse, I quickly adapted to her idea of riding each fence as its own, rather than the concept of riding a course as one big question.
The sessions included a brief intro to different parts of a course; we schooled banks and water in addition to logs, coupes and ditches. Each session finished off with a course combining all of the jumps we schooled individually. Once we completed the course, we were to take a nice gallop up a hill lined with trees and fencing. It was absolutely priceless seeing everyone's smiling faces as they walked back down from their run.
I am so excited to have been able to work with Alison and I am looking forward to more cross country clinics in the future! Next on CDCTA calendar are the two schooling shows at Mystic Valley Hunt Club in July and at Westbrook Hunt Club in October. You can keep up with the schedule on cdctaonline.com or follow Connecticut Dressage & Combined Training Association on Facebook.
By: Cally Hencey
More Pictures here
To show or not to show
I go back and forth. To show or not to show. That is the question.
Why do I show when I often will say, when asked, that I don't like showing? I love riding. I love training my horse. I love learning about horses and their care and about my current obsession, Dressage. But I still struggle with showing. I have been stuck at a particular level with my horse trying to break through some training difficulties. Mostly bits and contact and connection. So now that I felt we had made some progress I decided to sign up for the Mother's Day Show with CDCTA at The Westbrook Hunt Club. . A check in if you will, to see if we had really made any "strides" in achieving our goals. I got the horse clean and braided, the tack cleaned and oiled and my show clothes? Well I squeezed into them after what was obviously a winter of too much fun.
Now I remember why I show...... The people. The chance to show off my horse in this community of people who understand me and my obsession. These folks who are also there to show off their beloved horses. This sport where we all work so hard. We put in so much dedication and time. Need I mention the cost?? As always, I watched the weather for this show. I have been part of this particular show since 2013. It has rained the night before or the day of for all five years. I have developed a sense of humor about it at this point. It is a great way to get used to showing in all conditions. The mud and puddles and the windy cool temps. The warm up next to I-95. I get myself up early and get the trailer loaded. l am up, dressed, and ready to show this magnificent creature that I feel so privileged to ride among these people who are my friends and competitors. They have won classes and ribbons and made the best of what started out as a messy day that turned into a beautiful Mother's Day after all! How did Hampton and I do? We decided we made the progress we had hoped and are on to the next show....... with mixed feelings, of course.
On Saturday July 2nd Daphne and I attended a two-day clinic taught by Lainey Ashker, 4* international event rider and FEI level dressage rider. We had done our homework at home, took some great lessons with Ann Bowie and had some “ah-ha” moments, and hoped it would be enough to be successful with the Training Level group.
Stadium and Gridwork Day
We arrived early at Weatogue Stables in Salisbury CT, went for a walk to stretch Daphne’s legs, and got her settled into her stall so I could go audit the earlier groups. Those who know us know that stadium is not our best phase, so we were ready to jump in with all six feet and make some major improvements. After about 10 minutes of watching riders ride the course that had been set up, I thought to myself- this is going to be a challenging day.
Lainey is one tough lady. She not only expected your best, but demanded it. She stood at the end of a set of 4 bounces to check your position and straightness. “You have to ride them to straightness with your LEGS, not your hands!” Lainey instructed some greener horse/rider combinations that struggled with riding from a triple bar to a skinny vertical in one stride. Details, details, details….. “The best riders take care of everything that goes on in between the jumps. We all know how to jump the jumps.” Sitting and watching rider after rider, and group after group made me quite excited! Every single participant made progress in their lesson. “We need to be quick to discipline [the horse], but even quicker to reward.” Some made it look easy, while others (including myself) had sections that needed to be repeated because it “could be better”. The smile across every rider’s face when they earned the coveted “YES MA’AM!” when they completed work up to Lainey’s standards was contagious. Lainey is a thorough instructor, she dissected every part of you and your position, asked for lots of repetition, and definitely got the best out of every horse and rider that walked into her ring on Saturday.
Buckle up- it is Cross Country Day!
If you weren’t ready to give 100%, staying at the trailer was probably the better option.
Daphne and I arrived a bit early again to watch some groups before us. Daphne, being her exuberant self, made waiting difficult as she was ready to go tackle the Cross Country course. While watching the lessons, my excitement built from seeing others have success, which made the entire group of riders challenge themselves.
We suited up with our cross country gear, and went out to the course to warm up. Lainey started us out with a course of 13 jumps that included jumps from Beginner Novice to Training Level; a Sunken Road (a down bank, two strides to an up bank), a 1/2 picture frame, and a half coffin (ditch to jump 3-4 strides away). After completion of the course, each rider then worked a modified course to focus on things that needed to be improved. Our modified course included a Preliminary Level cabin, the half coffin riding the other way (jump to ditch), then back around to a Trakehner (a ditch with a log on top). As you can imagine, any piece that wasn’t just right was repeated until Lainey was satisfied with the progress and effort. We then went across to another field that had some large Preliminary Level jumps, as well as a combination- down bank, two strides to a chevron. Daphne and I had many attempts at the combination, finally succeeding by tackling this question that neither Daphne or I had experience with.
Last, but certainly not least, we went to the water complex. The course Lainey chose went into and out of the water a few times until we came to two combinations of roll-tops and banks down into the water. Well, a full day’s worth of horses going up and down the bank and in the water (along with my mistake of not being able to get Daphne’s balance back where it needed to be) led to me having my first fall off of Daphne- into the water. Unfortunately, it looked like there may have been a hole in the footing in the water jump, as Daphne tripped and went down with me. We got up right away and were OK- so I pulled off my air vest (that had done its job very well!), got back on, and came back at the combination again, and continued on with the course.
Upon completion, Lainey told me that “we need to become comfortable with the uncomfortable”. That line has really stuck with me as I believe it is something that we all need to strive for in our riding. We need to come to every ride, every lesson, and every clinic with 100% effort and attention. We need to trust our instructors/clinicians so they can help us progress and succeed. Their knowledge and skill will enable us to succeed in ways that maybe we did not even see in our futures. I cannot believe that Daphne and I conquered not only Training Level jumps, but some Preliminary Level jumps and questions as well. It is because I decided to ride at 100% of what I was capable of during this clinic that I have raised my own bar- not only in ability, but in confidence in myself and my horse. I could not be more proud of what we accomplished, but now have a new 100%.
Lainey saw the level that everyone arrived with, not as an end point, but as a beginning- whether it be the most beginner Beginner Novice horse and rider, to the most skilled horse and rider in attendance. We need to keep reaching and trying to climb our own mountains. We may slip and fall at times (which Daphne and I took quite literally), but it is only a small bump in our journey. To quote Lainey, “Reach your own “Rolex”, regardless of how many stars lie behind that very goal.” Lainey is-hands down- the most passionate, inspirational and tough (but in the absolute best ways possible) instructor I have ever ridden with. I can’t wait to ride with her again.
Photo Credits: ELG Photography by Eliza Goldberg
My name is Hannah Boucher. I’m 14 yrs old and am a Junior Member of CDCTA. Since Rhea (my 10 year old OTTB mare) and I have only been really consistently lessoning the past 4 months, my trainer suggested we attend the Don Devine Jumping Clinic at “Field of Dreams Farm” in Lebanon, CT. It was a gorgeous facility, owned by Liz Rogers.
This 2 day clinic was sponsored by CDCTA and had quite a few participants! The clinic provided a great opportunity to fix any jumping issues by using gymnastics.
I personally rode with one other girl and her mare on Sunday of the two-day clinic. We had a good full hour of excellent instruction given by Mr. Devine.
We started by warming up our horses both directions of the ring, walk, trot and canter. Mr. Devine then had us start with low jumps in a gymnastic line of 4. Once we had done well at a lower level, he increased the height with the end jump being a spread and larger. Rhea did fantastic!! I was very happy with her.
We then progressed to adding in a total of 3 more jumps to the gymnastic line. Mr. Devine was very kind, encouraging, informational and professional as well as funny at times! J His explanations were very clear and it was easy to comprehend what he wanted us to do.
What I learned from this wonderful experience was the following:
1) Keep my hands up and not resting my hands on Rhea’s neck.
2) Keep my horse at a consistent pace and not rushing to the jumps (which is what Rhea tends to do).
3) Keep my hands spread apart while jumping the jumps – and finally,
4) He told me to talk to her and constantly praise her.
I look forward to using these tips in my everyday riding and future events.
After the clinic and when I had finished taking care of Rhea, we were treated to drinks and food which made a nice ending to a great learning experience.
Thank you, CDCTA, Ann Bowie, Liz Rogers and of course, Mr. Don Devine for such a great day!
Hannah Boucher and Rhea
It’s been about eight months now that I have been working with my new Quarter Horse, Rudy. It’s been a long road, as he is an anxious horse who is extremely opinionated, to say the least. Originally, my thought process for the show season was to just take it day by day, as I didn’t think that we would get much further than an Intro C test this year. I spent every day walking and trotting in a 20 meter circle, being sure to keep both of our minds quiet and steady. Within time, our improvements were drastic. Soon enough, we were trotting 18” cross rails calm, cool and collected. He seemed to enjoy the process of becoming an event horse!
After a successful first show with cross rails, I sent an entry in for the elementary two phase that was put on by my club, the CDCTA. The show was held at Westbrook Hunt Club, one of my favorite grounds to compete at. The morning of, Rudy was sleepy and unbothered by the commotion of getting on and off the trailer. The rain had been spitting out of the sky all night, so the outdoor rings were quite soupy. Most horses were being pretty cooperative given the pond which decided to reside between A and K in the large arena. Our white horses were now brown from the hooves to the belly.
There was a fantastic turn out despite the weather, but a few of the scratches brought my dressage time up from where it was scheduled. I got on and proceeded to head to warm up, which was filled with puddles every few strides. Rudy was offended that I was making him so dirty-which resulted in beautiful extended trot work to stop the mud from splashing up his legs. I made my way over to the “bubble”, as I like to call it, which is an indoor round pen area which lead to the small dressage arena. Rudy stayed composed despite the echoes and rain drops on the roof.
I marched in and around the ring, and Rudy acted as if we had done it a million times before. My circles weren’t circular, my centerline was more like the quarter line, and my halt at ‘X’ was far from straight and square. BUT- my work was relaxed, there were no surprises, and I left the arena hugging my horse. The rain had stopped for a bit which allowed the stadium ring to solidify a tad. Rudy could tell that the footing wasn’t right so he took his sweet time and trotted most of the course. I won’t complain! We jumped clear and safe, making an incredible day for us.
Overall, we went home dry AND with a pretty red ribbon. The show staff was more than accommodating, and super friendly! I didn’t see one competitor on the grounds without a smile despite the rain and mud. I can’t wait to go to the next CDCTA show and compete with the same group of people. Check out www.cdctaonline.com for all the fun stuff CDCTA is doing!
Cally Hency & Rudy
Clinic and Event Participants.