Our new 5 Minute Clinic series focuses on some exercises a clinician has integrated into his or her teaching. We hope these tips will give you some material to work on in the coming months — or motivate you to sign up for a clinic near you! Do you have a 5 Minute Clinic tip to submit? Email [email protected].
Hawley Bennett-Awad recently stopped over in Kansas City for a three-day clinic including dressage lessons and jumping lessons out in a jump field at West End Farm. As usual, she brought a whole arsenal of tools to help the students achieve their goals throughout the weekend, and everyone left with a smile and a more confident horse.
One exercise Hawley used in her lessons on both jumping days was a small grid with three canter poles in front of a vertical, followed by one canter pole and an oxer, followed by a skinny set on a bending line to both the left and the right.
Riders were instructed to have a straight and steady horse coming into the gymnastic and to also have an up and alert eye to plan ahead for their bending turn to the skinny fence. It was a challenging question due to some terrain in the field as well as fresh horses and a new question for many in the shape of the skinny fence.
Straightness, holding your line and asking your horse to adjust with your body were key focal points of the exercise, which was quick to tattle on you if you did not have on of those three pieces.
The skinny was also a first for many of the horses and some of the riders, so Hawley introduced it individually, focusing on rider position and encouraging straightness to prevent runouts.
Gymnastic work is engaging for both horse and a rider and is the perfect way to work on your technique over the winter. We were privileged enough to have nice weather for this clinic, which allowed us to go out into the field and ride on some terrain, but these exercises could easily be moved indoors if needed.
Many thanks to Hawley for her time and to West End Farm for hosting a great clinic!