By: Cally Hencey
The CDCTA had nothing short of a wonderful day at Windham Hill Farm with Trainer/Judge Holly Whitney at the beginning of April. This clinic was unique and HELPFUL! We spent our afternoon learning how to properly scribe for a judge. Personally, this was an awesome thing to learn, as I avoided the judge’s table when volunteering specifically because I had no idea how!
Holly was an incredible teacher, as she explained her experiences of scribing when applying for her judge’s certification. Right then and there we learned that this is not an easy task to perform! As expected, a scribe’s job is to relay the judge’s verbal criticism to a written critique on our tests. The key to this duty is to be as quick, legible, and accurate as possible… Easier said than done!
We all started out going over some of the tests that would be performed that day: Training Level First Level, and Second Level. Looking over the movements, I was extremely excited to watch these rides. Little did I know that I wouldn’t have a moment to even look away from the test! We all sat in a row at C as Holly judged the ride aloud in the middle of us. As the rider went through the first two or three movements, most of us were thinking we had this job in the bag. We drifted our eyes from paper to rider, back to paper again, jotting down each word that Holly communicated. About halfway through the test, we found ourselves scribbling down instances of words, muttering to each other trying to figure out which box we were at, and finally figured it out when the rider saluted. Holly giggled and reassured us that practice makes perfect! If I was the rider getting the test I just wrote on, I would’ve screamed! By the third or fourth test, we all got the hang of it. Movements came just as quickly as the first time, but we seemed to have found a rhythm which worked.
I know I am not alone when I say that I would have been a mess scribing if it weren’t for this clinic. I look forward to volunteering as a scribe this season as some local shows. Scribing is a fantastic way to learn from many different judges as well as participate in some of the action! It is always fun to sit in the bleachers and watch, but most times its much more fun to be involved in the show. Holly also made a great point when stating that scribes are helpful to the riders, as we are the ones who provide the constructive criticism for them to better themselves and assist in their training. If it weren’t for scribes, how would we know what the judges are thinking when we look at those numbers?
The CDCTA is always planning fun! If you have ideas on clinics/seminars, or would like to get in on the action, visit us at cdctaonline.com or find us on Facebook!
I can do this!!
On February 25, the CDCTA stepped inside for some pressure proof training with Liz Piacentini. Liz is a Certified Equestrian Sport Psychology Presenter through Daniel Stewart’s Pressure Proof program. Her vibrant personality makes her a perfect candidate for hosting these seminars, as helping riders conquer show jitters is not an easy task! Many of us spend the majority of our show days worrying about all of the ‘what ifs’. The workshops that Liz has put on with CDCTA for the last two years is wonderful in helping promote confidence and a positive attitude, even in those “Oh, Crap!” moments.
The best part about attending the workshop is learning that maintaining a positive mindset is not as hard as you would think. Little tools can be used to simmer a stressful situation easily, such as changing simple thoughts to something inspiring. Liz brought music into our thoughts as she explained how helpful our favorite song could be. Within every song, there is a line which we can relate to and be inspired by. We can then transform our favorite lyrics into our motivating motto. Another awesome tip is to keep things short and sweet. Rather than trying to remember all of the techniques that your trainer goes over in schooling, it can become more efficient if you take a few key tips and create an amusing acronym with them! I came up with RIDE- Ride with Dressage Etiquette- This way I can tell myself to just RIDE instead of telling myself to, ya know: sit up tall, use my leg, keep my thumbs up, ride straight and forward, etc, etc, etc……
Another tool I really enjoyed was the stress stopper! This tool is something that can be used to get you focused and relaxed. Liz related it to the ritual that some basketball players do at the foul line. Some could even user a superstition as a stress stopper. A cute example is the story of a young girl who rubs the shoe of her pony named Lucky as a stress stopper.
One important tool that I learned in this workshop is one that I will use in all aspects of my life when stress occurs. Liz had us draw two circles like a donut on our paper. Within the outer circle, we listed stressful situations or things that are outside of our control. On the inside smaller circle we listed situations or things that we COULD control. It really makes you sit back and think about the stress that we put on ourselves over details that are beyond our control.
It was extremely fun to work with the other riders and share our thoughts and experiences with each other. I look forward to attending more seminars with Liz to strengthen my ability to focus and maintain positivity in a high stress circumstances.
CDCTA has a busy schedule this year and we are all looking forward to seeing new and familiar faces. If you would like to check in on the club, please visit cdctaonline.com or visit our Facebook page for more info!
Pictures courtesy of Ann Bowie
By: Cally Hencey
The CDCTA has once again outdone themselves at our annual Awards Luncheon. The day consisted of great people, fantastic awards, a HUGE raffle, and delicious food! The Holiday Inn in East Hartford has taken wonderful care of us the last few years, and continues to provide a lovely destination to celebrate a fun filled year with dedicated horse people.
Our guest speaker was an extraordinary addition to the day. Andrea Waldo is a dynamic woman whose life as an eventer, author, and psychotherapist shape her into a knowledgeable and reputable being. She uses her experiences and training to aid her students and enthusiasts in both the equestrian world as well as in everyday life actions. It is very easy to become engrossed in her wise words that are tickled with humor, as she fills the room with a vibe which is both comforting and stimulating. Waldo’s closing words consisted of an exercise that the crowd participated. We all sat in a banquet hall, yet visualized our favorite moment on our horse. I instantly found myself posting at the trot on my new friend Perkins: feeling the contact in my reigns, watching his head ease nicely into my hand, rising with his back as he engages his hind end, feeling a beautiful warm winter breeze across my face. It was in that moment, all in the room pulled a smile across our faces and agreed with Andrea as she stated, “This is why we do this.”
Ann Bowie has done a marvelous job running the club this past year. With the help of the board and volunteers, the CDCTA successfully ran three shows as well as multiple clinics and events which our members thoroughly enjoyed and learned from! 2017 is already off to an awesome start with events lined up into summer, where show season comes into full motion. To keep up to date with our club’s agenda, check out our website, www.cdctaonline.com or find us on Facebook!
Follow Up Report on Use of CDCTA Scholarship Awarded to Kacey Buckley
I had the wonderful opportunity to receive a CDCTA scholarship to assist me with my now 5 year old German Riding Pony, Jack. He was 4 when I purchased him and, while I have ridden for years, I knew I would need help to correctly bring along a young horse. The scholarship was used to attend a series of six talks and training sessions with Dressage Trainer Alison Johnson “To prepare you and your horse for the 2016 season”. I submitted a report on the first three sessions previously and now would like to follow-up with a report on the final three sessions.
During the fourth session with Alison we focused on the basics of understanding the importance of pieces that go into completing a successful test. Jack tends to get behind the leg so we broke down and focused on one key component of the training level test which is to have a steady rhythm. Ali told me to visualize a forward free trot and keep that in mind and not deviate from that image. I also tried to be effective and clear with my aids so as not to confuse Jack. Focusing on a forward rhythmic trot helped improve Jack’s gait quality in all gaits because he began to develop an understanding of my goal to have him in front of my leg. In addition his overall quality including stride length, impulsion and connection from his hind legs up through his body to the bit began to improve.
At our fifth session we began to practice specific pieces of the dressage test including centerline, circles, transitions, free walk and stretchy circle. I tried to keep in mind, lessons from previous sessions such as effectiveness of my aids and his steady rhythm and tempo. We did multiple transitions of walk to trot, trot to canter and transitions within each gait. We worked on making those transitions clear and crisp and practiced them as they would be during the test. We also worked on the geometry accuracy of the 20 meter circles and straightness of the centerline. I found that an exercise of establishing a 20m circle and transitioning form a working frame at the trot to a stretchy trot really helped open up his stride and engage and relax his topline. Then when we went back to a working frame he was more relaxed and supple. The centerline was a challenge with keeping him straight, especially into the halt and going towards something that was frightening to him – such as a judge’s booth. I continued to keep him forward and channeled between my legs and hands. I realized that the more forward moving Jack was going down the centerline, the straighter the geometry was so this was another reason to focus on keeping him in front of my leg. This lesson was very helpful in focusing on the pieces of a test separately to ride each movement to its fullest without being overwhelmed by the whole test.
During our final lesson we planned to do a format of riding the dressage test, getting input on how it was from Ali, and then ride it again improved from the first ride. We rode Training Test 2. During the first test the main things that needed improvement was the first centerline – staying straight into the halt. Also during our free walk he got distracted and started looking around instead of staying focused. The second half of the test was improved in the canter work since he was becoming more relaxed and the stretchy circle seemed to help soften his back. It was helpful to get Ali’s input after the test and then try again with her comments in mind. The second test ride was improved from the first. All of the lessons leading up to this final session of the series helped prepare us as an improved team both for riding tests for shows as well as a closer partnership.
My original goal with Jack for the 2016 season was to work with instructors, attend clinics, compete at Training level at schooling shows and end the season with a recognized show. In addition to working with Alison Johnson and Ann Guptil for lessons, we also attended the CDCTA Ride Critique Ride clinic and had a successful experience. We also participated in a total of 4 Schooling Shows and some did very well and some not so well, especially later in the season. We had a problem develop as the season went on with sensitivity in Jack’s back which was having an impact on his ability to move forward freely. Even though I had him fit with a saddle fitter, it appeared the saddle I was using was a little too long for his short frame and was creating a pressure point. I decided to back off on lessons and competition to work out this problem. Over the past couple months we have worked with various traditional and non-traditional practitioners and treatments and his back has appeared to be slowly getting better. We were also able to locate a wonderful new saddle fitter who has extensive experience with smaller, short backed horses and we are hopeful that she has worked out a saddle solution.
Because of the issues with Jack’s back we did not meet our goal of participating in a recognized show this season but that is fine. Jack is only 5 years old and we have many more years together to build on what we have learned this past year and attain many other future goals. It was much more important that I listen to him telling me about a problem, find a solution and adjust as necessary. I will always be grateful to the opportunity provided by a CDCTA to put a great base of training on my young talented horse. After our break to find a solution to his back soreness, we have begun working again and it is obvious he has remembered everything we learned through our 6 session series and we plan to continue to build on this base and look forward to 2017.
Clinic and Event Participants.