Anne Ward: Montana Clinic Report with Sara Mittleider

Anne Ward is a former eventer trying to get back into it after 11 years of not competing. She has been hosting Sara Mittleider in Montana for Eventing clinics, and kindly sent us a report from Sara’s most recent clinic.  Thanks to Anne for writing, and thank you for reading. 

Photo by Erin Corey.

Photo by Erin Corey.

The stars aligned producing beautiful April weather in Montana for the second Eventing clinic of the season with Sara Mittleider of Mittleider Eventing, Kuna, Idaho. The clinic was hosted by Anne Ward of Sapphire Shadows farm, outside of the town of Corvallis in the gorgeous Bitterroot Valley on April 18-20.

Stadium jumping and dressage lessons were on Friday afternoon and Saturday in the grass arena at the farm. Stadium jumping riders were presented with an exercise that appeared at first glance to be very easy, but turned out to be exceedingly challenging to ride correctly and smoothly. The exercise consisted of straight lines and angled lines over multiple jumps with small controlled, cadenced circles in between the jumps. Those riders lucky enough to ride two days of stadium lessons spent the first day mastering rhythm, control and the lines at a trot, then got to add some canter work to the pattern on the second day. It was a wonderful exercise that combined precision, control, and rhythm while also helping develop the rider’s eye for riding the lines in a course and illustrated the importance of using the entire arena to set your stadium jumping lines up properly. This exercise improved the skills of riders ranging from those going over ground poles to those who jump much higher fences.

On Sunday, riders traveled north to Missoula to practice cross country jumping at the Missoula Equestrian Park. These lessons began with Sara instructing riders on how to get into the correct galloping position, how to go from that position to the position that collects and slows the horse down in preparation for the obstacle, then returning to the jumping position with the rider back in the saddle.

Photo by Erin Corey.

Photo by Erin Corey.

Riders had to use these skills to effectively create the transitions within the canter needed to navigate a cross country course where the horse goes from galloping in between fences to the control and collection needed before a fence or series of fences. Next, this exercise was put to use on several fences jumped in succession where riders had to make these lengthening and shortening changes all happen before settling in before the jump 5 strides or so out. Instruction on how to correctly introduce a horse to jumping banks and ditches was also given as well as hints on how to correctly ride the water complex.

Sara is creating a devoted following in Montana, and we can hardly wait for the next clinic scheduled for May 24-25 with another clinic tentatively scheduled for June 21-22. To have the opportunity to train with someone as skilled, intuitive and educated as Sara is truly a wonderful opportunity and we Montana riders are feeling extremely lucky to have Sara share herself with us.

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