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Mickey Rathbun

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High Praise for GMHA Clinic: ‘It’s Like Going Camping With My Horse’

Mickey Rathbun and Bramble in a gymnastic lesson with Sharon White. Photo by Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto.

GMHA’s annual Festival of Eventing kicked off this Monday with a three-day long eventing clinic in South Woodstock, Vermont. Thirty-three riders from Beginner Novice to Training level are working with four highly acclaimed and popular clinicians.

FEI dressage trainers Rebecca Vick and Pam Goodrich are giving semi-private dressage lessons, while veteran four-star event riders Bobby Costello and Sharon White teach gymnastics, show jumping and cross country. More than half of the participants will stay to compete in the horse trials this weekend.

Nancy Reale in a dressage session with Pam Goodrich. Photo by Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto.

Pam, who evented through Preliminary level in the 1970s, is new to the clinic this year. She appreciates the aim of the clinic to combine the three eventing disciplines. “This is a great opportunity to get well rounded and balanced in the three disciplines. Each one complements the others; they are not separate disciplines,” Pam said. “The basic training of dressage improves the show jumping as well as the cross country and helps the rider help the horse when necessary.”

Bobby Costello, chair of the selection committee for the U.S. eventing team, has taught at the clinic since its beginning six years ago. He said he has seen steady improvement in the quality of the horses: “People are doing a better job of finding horses that suit them.”

Bobby Costello warming up a group of riders before practicing show jump courses. Photo by Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto.

Bobby enjoys seeing the progress that people make from one year to the next. “Everybody has things they struggle with, but much more often I see riders take what they’ve learned, go home and improve on their work. They may need a refresher when they come back, but there’s definite improvement.”

The hot weather so far has not diminished the enthusiasm of the riders. Mickey Lorenzen of Connecticut is riding in the Festival of Eventing clinic for the first time on her 5-year-old Thoroughbred-cross mare. “For a young horse, this is boot camp,” she said. “It’s one of the best exposures for her I can imagine. She’s settled in quite well, taking in all the excitement.”

Another new rider this year is Rachel Medbery, also from Connecticut. “It’s great to be able to work with four really knowledgeable trainers,” she said. “I appreciate hearing what each of them has to say.”

Becca Vick working with Carolyn Charnley in a dressage session. Photo by Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto.

Carolyn Charnley of Maine is a long-time participant in the clinic. For her, the excellent riding instruction is one reason she keeping coming back. “I board my horse out, so it’s fun just to hang out with him. It’s like going camping with my horse. I also come because of the close friends I’ve made here. It’s always good!”

Bobby admires the work that GMHA puts into its programs. “It says a lot for these GMHA clinics and camps that they have so many repeat customers,” he said. “GMHA is a really strong organization and its programs are well run.”

Many thanks to Joan Davis of Flatlandsfoto for providing beautiful images from the clinic. Click here to learn more about the Green Mountain Horse Association.

‘A Golden Opportunity’ to Learn from Top Eventers at GMHA Festival

Tom Davis in a dressage lesson with Allison Springer. Photo by Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto.

Green Mountain Horse Association’s Festival of Eventing opened Monday, August 6 with a three-day long event clinic. Forty amateur and professional riders have come to do twice daily lessons with four internationally known clinicians: Bobby Costello, Rebecca Vick, Allison Springer and Sharon White.

John Burgess, a return camper, is here this year with a new horse, Butch Cassidy, that he’s had for only six weeks. He sees the clinic as the perfect environment for developing their partnership. “You’re here just to ride and take care of your horse. You spend all day with him. You’re building a relationship with him.”

John Burgess in a dressage lesson with Becca Vick. Photo by Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto.

The camp is scheduled so that the riders work with each of the clinicians. “This clinic is really great because you get four different sets of eyes watching you and seeing different things,” John said. “This is a golden opportunity to accelerate the learning curve.”

Diane Johnson, another camp veteran who rides at Preliminary level, praised the quality of teaching. “These clinicians have not only competed at the highest level of the sport, but they are able to communicate their knowledge so effectively. It’s an amazing gift to be able to do both.”

John Roach doing foot work drills with Bobby Costello. Photo by Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto.

Although GMHA offers other eventing clinics, this one is unique because it leads up to the weekend’s horse trials. The clinicians direct some of their attention specifically to preparation for the event.

Bobby Costello enjoys working with riders who are in “competition mode.” “It’s fun to work with riders when they have that goal at the end of the week. Everybody’s looking forward to the competition.”

Cindy Welch cantering a gymnastic exercise with Sharon White. Photo by Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto.

“GMHA is a such special place,” said Sharon White, who came from her base West Virginia with four working students and 12 horses who will compete this weekend. “We love it here!”

Stay tuned for more more GMHA! Thank you to Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto for providing photos from the first day of the clinic. Click here to visit the GMHA website.

Lindsay Briggs in a show jumping lesson with Bobby Costello. Photo by Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto.