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‘Do Your Job!’ An Interview With Richard Lamb

Richard Lamb and the USPC Pony Jumper Team at the 2014 USEF National Pony Jumper Championships, where they won gold in both the team and individual competitions. Photo courtesy of Richard Lamb. Richard Lamb and the USPC Pony Jumper Team at the 2014 USEF National Pony Jumper Championships, where they won gold in both the team and individual competitions. Photo courtesy of Richard Lamb.

Bill Belichick, successful head coach of the New England Patriots, gets his players to the Super Bowl time after time with a clear and distinct mantra: “Do your job.” Every individual on the field has his own set of responsibilities. If everyone does their job, the team will succeed as a unit.

USPC coach, U.S. Modern Pentathlon Team coach, USEA ICP Level III Instructor and respected show jumping course designer Richard Lamb applies the same philosophy to his riding students. If the rider does their job, the horse can do theirs.

Richard emphasizes that the rider has two responsibilities. The first is to maintain balance, which then allows the horse to be balanced.

“I focus initially on the rider — their balance and alignment,” he explains. “When riders have more self carriage, the horses’ self carriage is much more consistent on the flat and over fences.”

We must take care of our “job” so that our horses are able to work independently to do their job. Horses do not want to be out of balance any more than — and probably less than — we do.”

After balance, the rider’s next responsibility is communication. The rider must ask the question in terms his or her mount can process.

“I think riders and horses must figure each other out to develop a better relationship, with respectful two-way communication,” Richard says. “I don’t believe any rider — or horse for that matter — wakes up and says, ‘I want to ride badly, or be bad, today.’”

When he teaches, Richard tries to improve communication between horse and rider. He frequently sees himself as the interpreter, helping to create the understanding that makes for successful partnerships.

“In a successful lesson, the translation process helps the horse and rider to develop a common language. When we listen with our bodies, as much as with our ears, our horses can hear us more clearly.”

Richard enjoys the clinic setting because it encourages riders to be open to new techniques and tackle more challenging questions.

“The best thing about teaching clinics is that most everyone wants to be there — they are ‘invested’ in the process. Clinic riders typically want to be challenged to take the next step in this ‘dance’ we perform with our horses,” he says.

Richard’s teaching style applies to riders across all levels and disciplines. He served as the coach for the U.S. Modern Pentathlon Team at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, for example, at at the 2012 Olympic Games in Rio. His extensive involvement with the USPC includes coaching the 2014 USPC Pony Jumper Team to win both team and individual gold medals at the USEF National Pony Jumper Championships and serving as the 2002 USPC Chef D’Equipe.

“As a trainer, clinician and instructor, my favorite moments are when I see a rider and their horse merge together, even if only temporarily,” he says. “I consider it my job to have the riders I teach take away at least one ‘aha’ moment or exercise to help get them to a new awareness level …something they can to hold onto until the next time.”

Learn more about Richard at his website, Riding In Balance. Upcoming opportunities to ride with Richard Lamb can be found at eventclinics.com. Find your inspiration and dream big!

 

Clark Montgomery Is Back!

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen in Rio. Photo by Jenni Autry. Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen in Rio. Photo by Jenni Autry.

After several years living and competing across the pond in England, international eventer and Olympian Clark Montgomery and his wife Jess have been back Stateside since last September. Based now in Ocala, Jess tells EN that they are “enjoying the sunshine” and gearing up for a great season.

Clark’s top horse and Rio Olympics partner Loughan Glen won an Intermediate division this weekend at Ocala Winter II presented by Brian Cox Farm Team. Clark and 14-year-old Glen, owned by Jess, Kathryn Kraft, Holly and William Becker, are a sight to behold in the sandbox and typically score extremely well. Their last outing was no different as they posted a 22.9 to take an early lead which they held throughout, adding only one second of time on cross country.

Clark said Glen is feeling really good and confident now after a rough Olympic Games and subsequent surgery to remove a bone chip in his knee. Having made a full recovery, Clark and Glen are aiming for the upcoming Pine Top CIC3*, the Carolina International 2* or 3* and a return to the CCI4* level at Rolex Kentucky.

Clark Montgomery and Universe at HITS. Photo courtesy of Jess Montgomery.

Clark Montgomery and Universe at HITS. Photo courtesy of Jess Montgomery.

Universe, a 16-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Jess and Carol Montgomery, Elizabeth Smith and Janet Higgins, hasn’t been eventing recently, but he’s enjoying jumping around in the 1.3 and 1.4 meter classes at HITS this winter. “We’re so happy to have the little fella back and using his springs so well!” Jess said.

Clark also has a couple of nice youngsters coming up the ranks. Engapore is an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Linda Gunderson and came back with Clark from England. Engapore won his most recent Training level competition at Three Lakes on his dressage score of 18.3, and followed that up with a third place finish at his first Preliminary competition this weekend.

Clark is a fierce competitor, consistently finishing in the top spot at some of the biggest events in the world. For him, every day is about improving. As an instructor, he is passionate about helping horses and riders reach their full potential. “When I teach, it’s the same thing for me with my students. I enjoy seeing people improve throughout their lesson and then ultimately see that progress transfer to their results in competitions.”

When it comes to teaching, Clark’s style is a direct and honest approach, but he emphasizes that improvements in riding don’t always come in leaps and bounds. “I’m not one to tell you that something is good or correct if it isn’t!” he said. “I tend to try to celebrate the baby steps along the way–believe me, there’s a lot of those.”

With years of experience as a rider and as a teacher, Clark really enjoys the opportunity to impact each horse and rider he works with. “Over the years, I have gotten away from teaching the big groups and the broad theory lessons and instead prefer to teach people on a more individual basis. I just ask that people arrive with an open mind and be willing to participate when challenged.

“My clinics offer riders some very specific tips to lower their dressage scores and communicate better in their jumping. If the rider is willing to put themselves into a place of learning for a couple of days, that’s exactly what they will see happen.”

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen at Bramham. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen at Bramham. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

Riders looking to hone their skills with this top rider and instructor will have the exciting opportunity to learn from Clark when he heads to Loch Moy Farm, home of the Maryland Horse Trials, for a dressage and cross country clinic March 3-5. Riders will have the opportunity to receive individualized learning experiences with private dressage lessons and semi-private jumping sets.

“At Loch Moy Farm, I’ll have the time to work with everyone independently and can really focus on being able to improve each horse and rider,” Clark said.

Clinic participants will enjoy Loch Moy Farm’s eight acres of all-weather rings, complete with show-jumps, 100 cross-country fences, water complex, banks and ditches. Lessons can be customized for each horse and rider’s needs. Cross-country sets will be on the all weather and schooling course.

Online registration to ride or audit the March 3-5 Clark Montgomery Eventing Clinic at Loch Moy Farm is available via Event Clinics HERE. The clinic closes TODAY with late entries allowed until February 21. Sign up now and look for additional upcoming clinic dates with Clark.

Kicking Off 2017 at Loch Moy Farm

The fun continues at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown, Maryland with the first event of 2017. Nearly 100 riders jumped through the three rings, tackling show jumps, cross country fences, ditches and banks at the Winter Cross Derby on Jan. 21. Read on for a few of the many highlights from the day.

Maryland eventer Monica Fiss of Windswept Stables ran the course on three horses. She picked up an exciting win with newly minted training horse Old Fashioned Love Song, better known as “Tractor.”

According to Monica, “’Tractor is an oversized Thoroughbred who would rather be a lawn mower than a racehorse.” He seems to have found his calling as an event horse!

Monica Fiss and Old Fashioned Love Song. Photo courtesy of Angela Gross.

Monica Fiss and Old Fashioned Love Song. Photo courtesy of Angela Gross.

Chakra De La Née, a 6-year-old Zweibrucker, cruised around the Preliminary, finishing in first place with Aurelie Vilmer. Later in the afternoon, Aurelie’s husband Thomas took the reins and piloted Chakra De La Née through the Beginner Novice.

After picking a stop at the Weldon wall, Thomas noted, “My wife makes it look so easy!”

Auralie

Aurelie Vilmer tacking the Preliminary with Chakra De La Née. Photo courtesy of Foxtography.

Thomas Vilmer and Chakra De La Née over the BN corner. Photo courtesy of Angela Gross.

Thomas Vilmer and Chakra De La Née over the BN corner. Photo courtesy of Angela Gross.

With the option to school the course before competing, the Loch Moy Farm Cross Derbies are opportunities for horses and riders to tackle new levels.

One such pair was Katherine Acosta riding Harley Davidson, an 8-year-old Halflinger owned by Destination Eventing. The sight of the Haflinger schooling the fences prior to his round made all spectators smile. At just 13.2 hands with short legs, Harley Davidson proved that size does not matter by charging around his first Beginner Novice with ease.

harley

Katherine Acosta and Harley Davidson making quick work of the BN. Photo courtesy of Event Clinics.

In addition to competing, the Vilmers and Katherine are dedicated volunteers at the Maryland Horse Trials. Volunteers make eventing possible, and signing up have never been easier. Pick assignments and track hours at eventingvolunteers.com!

The all-weather rings will remain open for schooling through March.

Due to popular demand, Loch Moy Farm has added a two-day Spring Derby Cross on March 11 and 12. This event will be an excellent outing for those gearing up for the season with the addition of dressage Tests and fix-a-tests. Online entry available via EventClinics.com.

Loch Moy’s Donation Derby Raises $1,000 for Therapeutic Program

Olivia Ziegler and Mighty Mouse in full holiday attire tackle the Novice Coop. Photo via Event Clinics. Olivia Ziegler and Mighty Mouse in full holiday attire tackle the Novice Coop. Photo via Event Clinics.

Elves on ponies and snowflake-covered horses brought holiday spirit to the Highlands at Loch Moy Farm for the annual Donation Derby on December 3rd.

This year’s Donation Derby raised over $1,000 for the Frederick County 4H Therapeutic Riding Program. This non-profit organization aims to provide positive horseback riding experiences for members of the community with disabilities.

The holiday themed Derby took advantage of Loch Moy Farm’s all-weather schooling complex with an extensive array of portable cross-country fences and five acres of all-weather footing rings.

Feistily decorated riders and horses across the levels (Prelim-Elementary) began the course with several show-jumps before continuing onto the cross-country portion. The course included a ditch option for most levels and double banks for Preliminary and Training. Riders were given an opportunity to school before their division.

The idea to create an all-weather cross-country schooling complex was launched by Carolyn Mackintosh, the owner of Loch Moy Farm, who saw a similar venue at Aston-le-Walls during a trip to England.

Each fall, at the conclusion of the competition season, Loch Moy Farm staff moves a range of portable cross-country fences onto the all-weather footing rings, where the jumps remain until the spring. Riders can then use the jumps to school or compete throughout the winter. Smaller single banks are currently under construction with plans for a water feature in the future.

“Riders and coaches throughout Area II are thrilled to have this course open for schooling through the winter,” commented Natalie Hollis, an Advanced level eventer and coach. Natalie was placed in the top three of Loch Moy Farm’s Instructor Incentive Program for 2016.

“It allows riders to keep their horses fit and prepare for the spring season without heading south. It’s amazing!”

The next Cross Derby at Loch Moy Farm will be held on Jan. 7, 2017. Sign-up early, as this event fills quickly! For more information and easy online entry, head to Event Clinics.

Patricia McCaffery and "Winter is Coming"

Patricia McCaffery and Winter Is Coming. Photo via Event Clinics.

Zuzana Benicka and "Sesame Street"

Zuzana Benicka and Sesame Street. Photo via Event Clinics.

Debbie Smith and "Everlasting Light"

Debbie Smith and Everlasting Light. Photo via Event Clinics.

Cierra Miller and "Well Done Son" and Olivia Ziegler and "Mighty Mouse"

Cierra Miller and Well Done Son with Olivia Ziegler and Mighty Mouse. Photo via Event Clinics.

Santa over the coops

Santa over the coops. Photo via Event Clinics.

On Horse and Rider Development with Phyllis Dawson

Photo courtesy of Phyllis Dawson Photo courtesy of Phyllis Dawson

A wise student of Phyllis Dawson’s once said, “There’s a carved rock at the base of the Windchase driveway. If you choose upon arrival to leave your brain on top of that rock, Phyllis will have no patience for you. But if you’re focused and trying, she will do all she can to help you.”

Phyllis’s dedication to horse and rider advancement includes key roles in various programs such as the USEF Eventing Selection Committee, the USEA Instructor Certification Program and the USEA Future Event Horse program.

As a veteran of the U.S. Eventing Team, her list of accomplishments includes top placings at four-star events all over the globe, as well as the highest-placed U.S. rider at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, where she finished 10th. Today she runs an extensive training and boarding operation at Windchase, her farm in Purcellville, Virginia.

For Phyllis, riders who stand out are those who truly want to build and enhance their skills. She says, “I like most teaching those students who are really enthusiastic about learning, whatever their level.”

Not all training techniques work for all horses. Having developed hundreds of horses and riders, Phyllis knows every trick in the book. She notes, “I love the process of figuring out what approach is best for each individual horse in order to help the horse and rider form a great partnership.”

To accommodate busy schedules, horse and rider levels are often mixed at Windchase clinics. But don’t be intimidated by your groups! The goal at Phyllis’ clinics is always fun and education. She explains, “It’s important to watch the other horses and riders as well, because you can learn a lot that way.”

As a Beginner Novice rider, you might pick up techniques watching an upper level rider on a green horse tackle the same questions. “I adjust my teaching style somewhat depending on the student,” she says. “With the serious students who want to go to the upper levels I am more demanding, and for the less experienced or nervous rider I gear the lesson toward confidence building. My goal is to have the rider go away from the lesson realizing they could do more than they thought they could!”

Want to learn more? Sign-ups for clinics at Windchase are available exclusively on Event Clinics. Phyllis’s winter clinic series focuses on developing skills through an evolving set of jump exercises. Lessons evolve from grids and cavalettis to coursework through the winter. Heading into spring, clinics turn to cross-country questions in the indoor in preparation for competition season. If the weather cooperates, the final clinics are held on the Windchase cross-country course.