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Denya Massey


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Clinic Recap: Two-Day Teaching Masterclass with Carl Hester

Carl Hester with Megan Lane, Intermediare II, on Denver. Photo by Karie Alderman.

I confess, that when my non-horsey husband gave me a two day pass to audit Carl Hester’s Oct. 21-22 Masterclass in Palgrave, Ontario, I was amazed (how on earth did he come up with that!) and a tad concerned …. I’m not an active eventer, coming from the long format era, but still ride, currently a lovely but occasionally naughty OTTB. What would I get from such a high level of dressage? How could it possibly be relevant to me?

Well, it was relevant, and I took away some very important basics. See my list of tips and quotes from Carl, listed below, but first and foremost in my mind were these two: the more the horse learns, the less you should be doing, and — transitions. There are never too many! As he said a number of times over, the horse should be doing the work, not you, and transitions should be like pouring cream!

Photo by Karie Alderman.

Carl came to Palgrave to share his humour, insights and remarkable encyclopedia of dressage training. Presented by Equestrian Management Group (EMG), Carl won over his audience of 1,100+ each day in mere minutes, encouraging the audience to enjoy themselves as they learned. And the learning never stopped — Carl did each session for three hours at a time, two mornings and two afternoons — non-stop. Not a drink of water, no helpers, no leaning …. standing comfortably in the very centre of the ring, he created a small circle, and gestured eloquently when the visual would add to his commentary, usually eliciting laughter, often guilty laughter, from the crowd. Good humour, witty remarks, teasing comments, and serious instructions created a learning environment that kept the audience captivated from the opening moments on Saturday right through Sunday afternoon.

Each day was started with 4 year olds, then 5 year and 6 year olds as the next two sets. They were followed by a transition to 3rd level, Prix St Georges, Intermediare II and Grand Prix. His pupil from the UK, Rebecca Edwards, rode a demonstration each day, both times on a horse she had only ridden once before. Her comments were interesting because they were based on a fresh experience, and not a compilation of history with either horse.

Becky Edwards, Carl Hester’s long time student from the UK, doing a guest demonstration, depicting what it might be like to try a horse for sale. Photo by Karie Alderman.

Those riding in the clinic represented different horse and rider types, at different levels. The same principles were applied, with allowances for how each horse could learn. Riders too demonstrated differing abilities in translating instructions and information into practice. These differences encouraged each of us to understand that we all learn in different ways — horses as well as riders. In his yard, after 20 minutes of walking, 20 minutes of stretching, his horses work hard for roughly 20 to 25 minutes, no more. In the clinic, he adjusted his teaching to allow the horses some rest time over the hour in the ring.

Most impressive was how quickly Carl could pinpoint a weak point of the horse/rider, and find and describe the key to transform the horse and rider. Sometimes the problem was obvious — a horse anticipating the corner and falling into it — but other times it was almost invisible — creating a new balance for a sophisticated horse and rider to allow for more elegant engagement. In this case, he asked the rider to allow the horse to move forward when she asked for that, rather than contradicting her instructions by holding him as he tried to go more forward. Through that session, Carl had the horse moving more freely and then worked with the rider to ‘gather’ the forward movement, rather than restrict. Can’t you see how that would apply to any level of flat work or dressage?

Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu riding All In, Grand Prix. Photo by Karie Alderman.

I can’t encapsulate the entire clinic, but so much of what he taught was focused on the horse being forward, obedient, not rushed, and responsive. As a rider, you must be equally willing to let him go forward, be obedient, produce bigger tempo without speed, and expect him to be responsive. “If you want to be an elegant rider, the HORSE has to do the work. You can’t be shoving and pulling and steering and expect to get good marks.”

He was so thoughtful of the younger horses, reminding riders to pick up their reins, and then thanking them as the audience gently applauded! Tip of the Day: No matter what level you ride, if ever you have the opportunity to go to a Carl Hester clinic, buy your ticket right away!

Jacqueline Brooks, 3rd level, on her young horse Emmett Top, half brother to Valegro. Photo by Karie Alderman.

Quotes over his two days:
– “I do hundred of transitions, loads of them, so transitions become like ‘pouring cream.’”
– “You can’t do too many transitions.”
– “Don’t make a face – the worse the transition, the bigger my smile.”
– “Open your mouth and breathe!”
– “You are not supposed to be going back to the stable exhausted and red, the horse
should be doing the work, not you.”
– “Turn from the outside.”
– “Use lengthening and stretching to improve balance.”
– “When stretching for that swinging back, the tail should move and lift.”
– “Find the right swing speed, open your hands wide to encourage reaching for the bit, and close your hands when collecting – it brings the bit closer to the sides of the mouth.”
– “How you [the rider] stand IS balance – keep that balance on the horse.” (Carl criticized some riders for leaning back.)

Jaimey Irwin, Grand Prix, with Donegal V. Photo by Karie Alderman.

– “‘Unclench’ your toes”
– “When you click or touch, something must happen.”
– “Be black and white – you ask, you get.”
– “If you open your fingers, the horse falls through the bit.”
– “Don’t bend the horse like a bike and handle bars – you cannot push your inside hand
forward like you are holding handlebars.”
– “Get a light canter, most importantly, do not get obsessed about ‘is my horse on the bit?’”
– “Riders should do less and less, as the horse learns to do more and more.”
– “Is it a Canadian custom to ride the your whip way up in your hand?” (Oh, sorry … Canadians are famous for apologizing.)
– “Shoulders-in is JUST that, not quarters out. Come around and start a diagonal trot, use the outside leg.”
– “Early training – everything is a preparation; for instance, have to stand square, even when getting on and off. Don’t settle for halfway, be consistent.”
– “Stretching – the older the horse, the better at reaching.”
– “Find your horse’s ‘swing speed’ as the horse stretches.”

Tom Dvorak, PSG, on Cyrus. Photo by Karie Alderman.

– 20 minutes walk up and down hills, 20 minute stretching, 25 minutes of real work, then some more stretching
– He uses water, treadmill to help with fitness

– Carl and Charlotte ride four mornings a week and teach to make a living the rest of the time.

Rebecca (Becky) Edwards from UK:
– Started with Carl as a little kid, since he taught her mother.
– Becky rode a horse only once before riding for Carl in the clinic.
– To get a horse’s head up, Carl had Becky ride with her thumbs on top of the rein, so the rein came into her hand between the thumb and her first finger. She was ‘steering’ from her shoulders and elbows. It worked.

Kahla Ishoy, 3rd Level (Medium/Advanced Medium) on Sakima, an 8 year old Hanoverian. Kahla’s late father was the 3 day event rider Neil Ishoy, and her mother is the very successful international Dressage rider Cindy Ishoy. Carl told the audience that Kahla’s mother had asked him “to work Kahla and Sakima on their medium trot.” Kahla showed Carl their medium trot, and said he didn’t know why her mother was so concerned, “it is a very nice medium trot” (and then of course, helped Kahla make it even better!). Photo by Karie Alderman.

What to do when a horse is anticipating corners:
– Ride into the corner and stop. Let the horse stop, so you are not making him stop. Then turn on the forehand or turn in the original direction. Keep stopping in the corner from walk, trot and canter, until the horse listens. This really worked. The horse in this exercise was remarkably better staying balanced in corners, and the rider was complimented when she took the initiative to repeat the exercise when she felt the horse was beginning to lean.

Going forward:
– Click or use your leg, release, collect – repeat. Be careful not to block the horse as he’s responding with the forward action you asked for. Let the horse move forward. Be subtle.

Your balance on a half-pass:
– Look to the inside hind leg, to get a feel of freeing up the outside hind leg which is doing the hard work.

Young Rider Vanessa Creech-Terauds with her Hanoverian mare Fleur de Lis in the PSG; she was extraordinarily adept at taking Carl’s instructions and applying them, winning her a gasp from Carl at the end of her session, when he learned she was only 17 years old! Photo by Karie Alderman.

Words of wisdom:
– If you want to be an elegant rider, the HORSE has to do the work. You can’t be shoving and pulling and steering and get good marks.
– When doing serpentines with flying changes, do four strides and change, do not be looking for the line… know your horse. You shouldn’t have to count.
– “Give the horse the reins”…. “is that giving the horse the reins? You’re being a little bit Scottish, as we English say.” (A good laugh from the audience)
– “Do five flying changes”… rider does four … “Do you know where 5 is? It’s after 4 ….” (A guilty laugh from the crowd — we’ve all been there!)
– How do you teach a horse to halt? A small step or 2 or 3, to step up into the halt, and do NOT hold your horse in the halt. They must hold themselves until you give another instruction.
– If your horse won’t stay in the halt, do a very small circle back to the same point, and ask again. (Do not walk forward and try again, but go back to the same place, otherwise, the horse didn’t learn that his lack of halt is unacceptable.)
– Correct every single halt. Don’t let it slide. The horse should correct quickly, not so slowly as to get a mark off.
– Use the contents of your boots!
– Train light … if heavy, you can never develop those ‘invisible aids.’
– Enjoy what you do, or your horse won’t either.

GO CANADA!!!! Photo by Karie Alderman.

He Came, He Saw, He Conquered: Jung Takes Top Honours at $20,000 Indoor Eventing Challenge

Michael Jung and Cruising Guy. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Michael Jung and Cruising Guy. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Riding Canadian Shawn Ferguson’s lovely Cruising Guy for only the third time, Michael Jung gave a master class in riding with rhythm, tact, and confidence at the $20,000 Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge at Toronto’s Royal Agriculture Winter Fair. You’d never have guessed their partnership was barely 31 hours old.

The more difficult second night course changed the scoreboard around, but for Michael it was just one simple step up to the win top honours with a 82.36 and no penalties, over four seconds faster than the round 2 score of Toronto’s own Rachel McDonough and her lovely Irish Rhythm. For last night’s leader, Karl Slezak, it was disappointment when he could not replicate his fluid, perfect round of the previous evening.

Michael Jung with Cruising Guy's owner Shawn Ferguson (left) and Kelly Nicholls of Horseware Products and his daughter. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Michael Jung with Cruising Guy’s owner Shawn Ferguson (left) and Kelly Nicholls of Horseware Products and his daughter. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

In only 31 hours, six different times zones, one schooling ride, and two competitive rounds on a horse he’d never ridden before, Michael proved why he’s called Ze Terminator, even indoors! As Michael said, he had a “good feeling about this horse,” and he was exactly right. (We can only guess that ‘Dexter’ was thinking “I’ve got a good feeling about this rider….”)

The Saturday night course of 18 obstacles was more demanding than Friday’s round one, but the dreaded ‘bounce bank’ caused no problems, strategically placed by savvy course designer Mark Phillips off a short corner to reduce the speed into it. The bogey fence on the course was the final fence – a show jumping oxer of birch rails – which took its toll on a number of riders who decided to ‘go for it’.

The course rode well each evening, with few refusals. The synthetic ‘log’ popped in half when a little equine pressure was applied during a refusal, and great cheers from the crowd erupted when the replacement ‘log’ was carried in on the shoulders of just one guy!

Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Michael’s dominance tends to overshadow the other riders’ accomplishments, but stepping up her performance and standing under pressure was Rachel McDonough on Irish Rhythm, with a clear round and a time of 86.56, putting her in second place.

Jessica Phoenix rode Charlotte Schickendanz’ Abbey GS, a veteran competitor at the Royal, whose one fault and round 2 time of 95.70 gave her the third place slot, followed by Diana Burnett on her Thoroughbred, Manny.

Jessica Phoenix and Abbey GS. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Jessica Phoenix and Abbey GS. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

It’s worth noting that Michael Jung’s twinkle, positive messages, and good nature are well known, but in the course of the many years of covering the Indoor Eventing at the Royal, it’s been my experience that all the eventers bring a positive energy and a sense of camaraderie to their sport. Good on all of them!

[12:54 update: The scores reflected in the image below and within this article are different than when it was first published this morning. The final score this year was determined not by combining the times for both rounds but instead by combining the round 2 time and any penalties incurred over the two nights of jumping. Regardless, the top six remain unchanged.]


Karl Slezak Edges Out Michael Jung in Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge Round 1

Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography. Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

The Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge at Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair has been highly anticipated by the Canadian eventing crowd this year because the celebrity competitor is Germany’s incomparable Michael Jung. Despite the crazy late hour the class started – 10:55 pm – the crowd stayed put for a great show, and they were well rewarded. You can’t imagine the racket – cheering, loud crazy music, whooping – that the horses have to ignore to do their job well!

Captain Mark Phillips said his course was designed to challenge the riders and horses but reward precise and forward riding. In last night’s first round, Karl Slezak on his and Kirk Hoppener’s lovely Fernhill Wishes did just that, throwing down a clean run nearly 5 seconds faster than the first four horses. The round was fast, crisp, rhythmical, and beautifully jumped. Karl said his horse’s big stride but careful jumping were perfect for this first round.

However, Michael Jung on Shawn Ferguson’s 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse Cruising Guy was still to come. On a horse he had ridden just once earlier in the afternoon, and only 10 hours off a plane, Michael seemed to effortlessly produce a lovely round in 69.77 seconds, marred only by a near miscommunication at a skinny. Without that bit of stutter step, he might have clipped Karl’s 69.92 seconds. EN was lucky enough to catch up with Michael for an interview before the start of the class.

Cruising Guy, whom Shawn Ferguson has produced to CIC3* level, was honest, calm, and certainly seemed more mature than his years, but then he had the top event rider in the world to give him the confidence to come so close to Karl’s time. Shawn was thrilled when Michael chose “Dexter” as the horse he’d ride at the Royal.

Michael Jung and Cruising Guy. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Michael Jung and Cruising Guy. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

The Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge has been won eight times by Waylon Roberts who is currently recovering from an injury, and his energy and high spirits are missed! Get well soon, Waylon!

Third through fifth place are separated by less than a second. Kendal Lehari and the love Dutch Warmblood mare RF D’Orbalia claimed third in the first round with a time of 73.55. Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm (74.03) just managed to pull ahead of Selena O’Hanlon and Linnea Given’s Uptown Girl (74.48).

Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Kendal Lehari and RF D’Orbalia. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Stay tuned for Round 2 of the Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge at The Royal!


Waylon Roberts Wins His Eighth Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge Title

Waylon Roberts and West River. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography. Waylon Roberts and West River. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

On L. Skye Levely’s lovely mare West River, Waylon had a cracking round to clinch this eighth win in ten years of indoor eventing at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. Capt. Mark Phillips described Saturday night’s course as more open, not as technical, and longer than the previous night’s course, which Waylon and West River ate up. They finished with an impressive two-night total lead of 16.4 seconds over a good challenge by second placed Buck Davidson.

Coming in the ring to a sold out crowd of excited fans, Waylon pumped up the energy level with his efficient and smartly ridden round. Just after his ride, he said West River was actually more rideable the first night when she was not as sure about the environment and what her job was. The second night, she walked into the ring on her toes, full of confidence and ready to blast out of the start box, so he needed a little more tact to achieve a perfect trip.

Before the class started, Mark Phillips commented that he felt Waylon’s round the night before was smoothest ride of the evening. Given the clean, quick and seamless performance in this final round from Waylon and West River, no doubt he’d repeat himself.

Buck Davidson on Sharon White’s adorable Wundermaske (especially cute in his orange face mask in the stables!) had an assured round, clean and consistent, with his total time of 16.4 seconds behind Waylon representing a very consistent showing over the two nights, especially considering it is Buck and Wundermaske’s first indoor event together.

Over the two nights, the order of placings didn’t change, perhaps demonstrating the horses adjusted to the pressure cooker of a small arena with a full house, music, and commentators egging the crowd to cheer throughout their rides. The atmosphere was fully charged and it was the first entertainment of the night – the crowds reacted like it was a hockey game!

Holly Jacks-Smither on Dynamo held third despite a couple of rails early last night, but they regrouped well, finishing only 2.65 seconds behind Buck, but with 10 penalty points.

Both Karl Slezak on Fernhill Wishes and Selena O’Hanlon on Uptown Girl carried in 10 penalties from night one, but had lovely quick and clean rounds last night, wrapping up 10.49 seconds and 15.56 seconds behind Holly.

Kendal Lehari on RF D’Orbalia carried in 15 faults but also rebounded with a neat, clean round in sixth place, demonstrating their successful learning curve. She was followed by Jessica Phoenix on Bentley’s Best, who received a huge roar from the crowd for a superb redeeming round after their stumble and Jess’ fall the first night. Tik Maynard elected to withdraw Donaghan, feeling the horse had an uncomfortable first night experience.

After the winning ceremonies, Waylon was called back to the arena to be awarded the Colonel Michael Gutowski Award for being the Highest Standing Canadian in FEI World Rankings for Eventing. Congratulations, Waylon!
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Back on Top: Waylon Roberts Wins First Night of Indoor Eventing at the Royal

Waylon Roberts and West River. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography. Waylon Roberts and West River. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

With Capt. Mark Phillips returning as course designer, an elite field of Canadian eventers and Buck Davidson as the star “guest” rider, the first night at the Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge at Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair was just as billed – thrills and chills.

The course was complicated, with 18 jumping efforts in a ring half the size of a show jumping ring at an event – a huge challenge for horses that like to gallop. Add to that the whooping crowds and loud music throughout the ride…the energy was super!

Indoor eventing was the last class of the night and riders didn’t even walk the course until 10:45 pm, yet a large number of the Toronto audience stayed, waiting through the course build and the walking, to see this event. Thank you, fans! The riders really appreciated it.

Last night's course, designed by Captain Mark Phillips.

Last night’s course, designed by Captain Mark Phillips.

This year the scoring was not based on time alone, adding penalties for stops and knockdowns and discouraging the flat out racing…to some degree! The videos will give you a good sense of the noise, the course, the energy and how the course rode.

After a streak as the only winner of the indoor eventing at the Royal, Waylon Roberts was pushed out last year by Tik Maynard, but Waylon was having none of that last night! He roared back on West River for the win, with his irrepressible grin, cheering as he stopped the clocks at 89.26, 7.62 seconds ahead of Buck Davidson on Sharon White’s adorable Wundermaske.

Holly Jacks-Smither, always a strong contender, was third on Dynamo, followed by Karl Slezak on Fernhill Wishes.

Selena O’Hanlon was on a catch ride, the small but mighty Uptown Girl, who objected to a brush fence, gave a little buck to make her point, then rolled around and continued on with her cheery and fan-appreciative round. Kendal Lehari on RF D’Orbalia had a solid round, but as a young horse, he might have found the environment a bit overwhelming. We hope it was a good school for tonight’s round!

Last year’s winner on Dutch Times, Tik Maynard, was not as fortunate this year, when Donaghan posed a couple of objections, resulting in his elimination, and Jessica Phoenix on Don Good’s lovely Bentley’s Best came a cropper at his second time through the owl hole, having had a really lovely round until then. The horse stumbled on landing, and Jess rolled up to her feet. Both Jess and Tik will be back tonight!

Horseware Ireland Indoor Eventing results night one

Enjoy the videos – the best way to see Horseware Ireland Indoor Eventing Challenge at the Royal. See you back here tonight!

Go Eventing. Go Indoor Eventing. Go Royal.

Clinic Report: Buck Davidson Comes to Ontario

EN's Canadian correspondent Denya Massey has compiled a fantastic report for us from Buck Davidson's two-day clinic at Pippa and Jay Hambly's Glenarden Farms in southern Ontario. Buck is in Canada to compete Wundermaske in the Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge at The Royal, which kicks off tonight, so stay tuned for much more action from Canada this weekend.

Holly Jacks-Smither rides in Buck's clinic. Photo by Ian Woodley. Holly Jacks-Smither rides in Buck's clinic. Photo by Ian Woodley.

November here can be wicked, but in a truly kindly fashion, Ontario saved some of its most beautiful fall weather for Buck Davidson’s two-day clinic at the Hamblys’ Glenarden Farms, near Fergus, in southern Ontario on Nov. 4 and 5. Pippa and Jay Hambly have been ardent supporters of eventing, and Jay Hambly is an FEI “I” course designer who in 2016 will design the Advanced course at Fresno County Horse Park.

With groups of five, the two days included indoor work on gymnastics and technical aspects of jumping, and the second day was held outside on the expansive jumping area well populated with a wide range of jumps, and a lovely water complex, including an island.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the clinic on day one, but had comments from the riders yesterday that it focused on the technical aspects of managing a course, using your leg in the turns, and engaging the horse through the sharper and more difficult turns to keep them collected and energetic.

Day 1 of Buck's clinic. Photo by Ian Woodley.

Day 1 of Buck’s clinic. Photo by Ian Woodley.

Both days the constant refrain was using the outside rein to create a balanced turn and to remember that the steering comes from the back end. Siobhain O’Connor said Buck specifically talked about teaching the horses to be quick with their feet by riding forward.

“The first day was using difficult turns to teach your horse to slow down from your leg and come underneath themselves, not just fall through the out side shoulder,” Siobhain said. “The exercises forced you to put your leg on and guide them through the turns. If you pulled back or took your leg off, then you would lose all energy through the turn. True to Buck, his courses challenged the riders to be quick thinking and effective riders. His courses open the rider’s mind to new possibilities in their skills they didn’t knew they had.”

Lots of activity at the clinic. Photo by Denya Massey.

Lots of activity at the clinic. Photo by Denya Massey.

The cross country session on day two was on a huge field, of which Buck took fill advantage, sending horses to the far reaches over a wide variety of fences. Most fences were modest in size, working on mechanics and techniques. The message that resonated with all the horses, regardless of type or experience, was balance. It was in every sentence, and using the exercise of moving forward and then collecting every four strides at a canter/gallop in warm up and throughout the session. And: “Don’t let them hang on you!”

Buck insisted the four strides were counted from the moment you asked — “Not once you think you have it” — because, as he pointed out, the four strides come very quickly. This relates back to Siobhain’s comment that he wants the hind feet to be quick. Buck said that the more experienced horses could reach a bigger stride sooner and hold their balance longer than a less experienced horse, and the tempo will change but the rhythm should stay the same.

Once that warm up was done, the riders were sent over two single poles with a ground line, set to four or five strides. Each rider went through at four strides, looped around for five strides, and then for four strides again. When done smoothly, it looked easy, but for the five strides, Buck often called out, “Make him land close to the fence.”

Two comments stood out: If you are in a position to stop, you are in a position to jump, and don’t pull back. And after jumping, “I do not want to see your seat hit the saddle,” so riders were made to practice standing in the irons for four or five strides after the fence — to make sure the horse was moving up under you, going forward.

Buck Davidson demonstrates standing after a fence. Photo by Denya Massey.

Buck Davidson demonstrates standing after a fence. Photo by Denya Massey.

For the stronger horses, Buck was adamant that when you want a change, do something different, or how do they know they aren’t doing what you want? They gallop on, so you pull, but they keep galloping because you keep pulling. Buck got on a strong OTTB, whose owner, Feren, said it was his first cross country clinic, galloping around a new place.

In a matter of minutes, Buck had him galloping easily, and riding him with one hand, both of them looking quite relaxed. When she got back on, Feren tried what Buck had done, saying it took some faith, but she was really delighted with the results. She learned control does not come from your hands; be OK with giving away the reins; ride with your seat; and steer with your outside leg and reins, as the steering comes from behind. Real time, real results!

Photo by Denya Massey

Buck demonstrates how to calm a strong horse. Photo by Denya Massey.

One of the horses had a refusal and was seriously not going to jump a spooky fence. Buck had the rider come around at a small canter, stop the horse before the fence, then repeat in the same direction, then change direction and repeat twice. The stand is quiet, still, calm. This exercise means the rider is calling the shots. Then they came around for the fifth time and asked for the jump. It worked! I think even the mare was surprised!

Another key point: When you go into water, you must move your hips forward as you hold their head up — they can’t judge how deep the water is, and they need you for balance. This relates back to keeping them going uphill. With ditches — sit up!

Sue Cornwall rides through the water complex. Photo by Denya Massey.

Sue Cornwall rides through the water complex. Photo by Denya Massey.

Far away from us, Buck was riding a horse that was going nicely by then, and suddenly — a lot like Bambi on ice — horse and Buck slid around; the horse managed to stay up, but no hope, even for Buck, and he was pitched off. The horse kindly stopped, Buck popped up, climbed back on, and cantered on back to the group — big smile, laughing, and said — with such grace and with generosity to the horse — that it was his fault for putting the horse in a place where he might be at risk of not being able to keep his footing. I think all of us wanted to hug him for being so generous, positive and still sharing his impressive bank of knowledge.

No wonder everyone wants him to come back!

Take aways: Balance. Speed. Keep their heads up. Balance. Get out of the saddle after a fence. Outside leg and rein. Balance. Be calm. Go Forward. Balance.

From Sue Cornwall, a rider in the clinic:

Buck is such a positive clinician! His constructive criticism was always helpful and supportive. He always took the time to explain why something went wrong and how it could be fixed/prevented. The theme of the two days was to ride from the seat and legs and not solely from the hands.

The first day he had a jumping course set up with grid work in the middle, with jumps set up on angles at each end of the arena. He put us all through a series of jumping and turning exercises that required us to ride from the inside leg to an outside supporting and balancing, half halt, rein, while using the inside rein for direction only.

After jumping the angled jumps, he had us turn immediately left or right on landing. As well as having to use the above mentioned aids, this exercise really taught the value of the rider leaning to the left or right over the fence from the hips, so that it was clear to the horse which direction it was to go.

Day two was outside on the cross country course. Again the theme was to have the horse in front of the leg. He had us working on lengthening and shortening our strides by the use of our seat and legs while half halting with the outside rein. He stressed the importance of not constantly pulling on the horses mouth, thereby creating a “nagging” situation, but to give and release as soon as the horse slows down, thus creating a positive situation.

He also had us stand straight up in our stirrups and out of the saddle while landing after some of the fences. This exercise helped to keep us in the perfect rider position with shoulders back, prevented behinds from hitting the saddle upon landing, and taught us how to keep our horses in front of us after the fence by allowing the horse to gallop away from the fence freely without rider interference.

It was an amazing two days chalked full of many “AH HA” moments for me! This was a check mark on my bucket list. Next on my list is to do ANOTHER clinic with Buck Davidson!

Tik Maynard Triumphs in Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge

Tik Maynard gives Dutch Times big pats after his final round last night. Photo by Denya Massey. Tik Maynard gives Dutch Times big pats after his final round last night. Photo by Denya Massey.

Set in downtown Toronto, this historic 91-year-old horse show is readily accessible to all horse fans and lovers, and last night a sold out house literally screamed their appreciation for every rider at every fence during the very popular Horseware Ireland Indoor Eventing class.

The first night was impressive for the size of audience that stayed to the end, and last night’s enthusiastic audience continued to demonstrate the popularity of a class that illustrates a few of the challenges of eventing in a tightly packaged format.

After a lovely and winning first round, the pressure was really on Tik Maynard riding Dutch Times to produce another bold round to hold off the other competitors, which Tik did with the same long-rein, trusting ride he used so successfully the first night.

He was fast, but not clean – one rail down on the last fence, causing a tense silence while the judges tallied his time tonight, added the time faults for the knockdown, then added it to last evening’s time, and announced 117.81 seconds – the overall winner for the two nights. Tik won this evening’s round as well, just sneaking in front of Holly Jacks-Smither with a .28 margin.

Tik explained the extreme atmosphere saying he “thought it was going to ride a lot smoother than last night, more like a little hunter round. But once you get in there, and the crowd is bigger and the lights are dimmed and they’re playing the music but you can’t even hear the music.” And, he proudly observes, the first and second and placed riders are both British Columbia natives!

Producing another thrilling round on More Inspiration, Holly Jacks-Smither had the only clear round for a total of 122.30 seconds. She was elated, stressing how last year’s competition was his first opportunity to learn about a big, loud, close-up arena full of screaming fans (think boy band audience). This year, he stepped up to deliver two back-to-back clear rounds.

She cheered and celebrated with her good friend and fellow competitor Kendal Lehari, who, on a catch ride, finished the second round in third place, and a very credible sixth place overall. Kendal had ridden Rachel Johnson’s Just By Chance only twice before entering the ring last night, making tonight only their fourth ride together.

Kendal Lehari and Holly Jacks-Smither celebrate a successful night. Photo by Denya Massey.

Kendal Lehari and Holly Jacks-Smither celebrate a successful night. Photo by Denya Massey.

Waylon Roberts, the Royal champion for seven years running should win an award for The Most Determined/Athletic/Gutsy Rider, finishing in fifth place. While Waylon was standing in the chute, on deck, watching his father’s ride, a rough jumping effort by Copper Cove pitched Ian off, landing Ian not 40 feet from Waylon. Watching intently as his father got to his feet and walked out, Waylon then had to go right into the ring to ride his own round.

Despite that, he put in a strong ride, although narrowly – landing after the Pig Fence, fence 12, it appeared the two were going to go in separate directions, but Waylon is one sticky and determined rider, and not only recovered but also went on to finish with at least one blue stirrup still loose, if not two.

Canadian WEG rider Jessica Phoenix on Abbey GS narrowly beat her WEG teammate, Peter Barry on Kilrodan Abbott by less than a second overall, placing third and fourth in the combined scores.

Sinead Halpin and Forrest Nymph finished seventh, but Farrah seemed more settled to the intense atmosphere this evening, putting in a great effort but for a couple of show jump fence rails.

It was a tough night for Ian Roberts and for Colleen Loach, who had a really thrilling round going after a second place finish last night on the nifty Free Spirit, bred and owned by Peter Barry. Sadly they bobbled coming up on the bank, but Free Spirit uncorked a heroic effort to get over the back logs, unfortunately unseating Colleen as a result, who got up quickly.

Ian Roberts and Star Power. Photo by Denya Massey.

Ian Millar and Star Power. Photo by Denya Massey.

Meanwhile, I can’t help but give a huge shout out for our greatest jump rider ever — “Captain Canada” Ian Millar, who last night won the $100,000 Greenhawk Canadian Cup — at 67 years old, continuing to beat “the kids.” Ian has ridden in 10 Olympics, which would have been 11 but for the boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980, and is a strong candidate for the 2016 Rio Games.

Single round scores, 2nd night:

1. Dutch Times, Tik Maynard, 61.33
2. More Inspiration, Holly Jacks-Smither, 61.61
3. Just By Chance, Kendal Lehari, 63.08
4. Abbey GS, Jessica Phoenix, 64.95
5. Faolan, Waylon Roberts, 70.24
6. Kilrodan Abbott, Peter Barry, 71.09
7. Forrest Nymph, Sinead Halpin, 74.91
8. Copper Cove, Ian Roberts, E
9. Free Spirit, Colleen Loach, E

Final Scores:

1. Dutch Times, Tik Maynard, 117.81
2. More Inspiration, Holly Jacks-Smither, 122.30
3. Abbey GS, Jessica Phoenix, 132.02
4. Kilrodan Abbott, Peter Barry 132.87
5. Faolan, Waylon Roberts, 133.91
6. Just By Chance, Kendal Lehari, 134.71
7. Forrest Nymph, Sinead Halpin, 159.10

Tik Maynard On Top of Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge

Tik Maynard and Dutch Times. Photo courtesy of Ben Radvanyi. Tik Maynard and Dutch Times. Photo courtesy of Ben Radvanyi.

The husband-wife team of Tik Maynard and Sinead Halpin ended the evening at the opposite ends of the score board. Looking deceptively easy-going, Dutch Times and Tik Maynard glided around Clayton Fredericks’ 15 obstacle course, despite Tik’s later comments that the course looked “huge”.

Tik said he and Sinead Halpin arrived late Thursday night, but thinking his horse might be a bit “lookey”, he gamely got up four hours later to make the 5 a.m. slot Friday morning reserved for the eventers to ride in the arena. It paid off.

Narrowly beating Colleen Loach on Peter Barry’s Free Spirit, Tik was enthusiastic about two things – his horse’s generous, smooth go on a long rein and being Canadian!

Waiting to walk the course. Photo from Denya Massey.

Waiting to walk the course. Photo from Denya Massey.

Forrest Nymph and Sinead worked hard, but pulled two rails, and the much loved Kilrodan Abbott (Eddie) with Peter Barry put in a steady dependable round, staying in the mix at 61.88.

The first to go, Colleen Loach laid down a seemingly unbeatable time, until Tik and Dutch Chance, the 9th of 10 horses, finished with .4 seconds to spare. The seven time winner, Waylon Roberts, had a very unusual run out on Faolan, but even with that, he was fifth, so no one should count him out until the last horse runs tomorrow night and the cumulative scores are totaled.

The evening had its highs and lows – the Shetland Pony race had the crowd on their feet, and despite running late, the crowd stayed put for the Horseware class which was challenging but quite ridable and not too “gallopy” with the combination of the bounce/bank, brush fences, a skinny, a corner, and stadium fences. Waylon reported back to Clayton that it was of the top two courses that he’s jumped at the Royal.

Selena O’Hanlon had a rough tumble at the same fence on her mother’s A First Romance (Solo). Both Solo and Selena walked out of the arena, although Selena was a few minutes getting up and posted on her Facebook page this morning that she had a broken collarbone to tend to. We’re sending healing thoughts to Selena – get well soon!

Tomorrow night is round two. Will Waylon claw his way back up the leader board for Win #8, or will Tik and Dutch Chance hold on? Tune in Saturday night – late!

Photo from Denya Massey.

Photo from Denya Massey.

1. Dutch Times, Tik Maynard  56.48

2. Free Spirit, Colleen Loach, 56.88

3 More Inspiration, Holly Jacks-Smither 60.69

4. Kilrodan Abbott, Peter Barry 61.88

5. Faolan, Waylon Roberts, 63.67

6. Copper Cove, Ian Roberts, 66.71

7. Abbey GS, Jessica Phoenix, 67.07

8. Just By Chance, Kendal Lehari, 71.63

9. Forrest Nymph, Sinead Halpin, 74.19

10. A First Romance, Selena O’Hanlon, no score