Lea Wilson organized a clinic with Tamie Smith at her own Chalice Farms in Port Orchard, Washington, this past weekend and very kindly sent in a clinic report and photos. Remember to send your own clinic reports to [email protected]!
Tamie Smith has quite the following in the Seattle area. She has trained many upper-level event riders from this area, including Mackenna Shea, Jordan Linstedt, Kevin Baumgardner, Anni Grandia and Barbara Flynn, all whom are riding at the top of their game these days. She is known for her compassion, toughness and technicality. And we were lucky to have her here in the Pacific Northwest this past weekend.
Being blessed by the sunshine and unseasonably warm 55-degree weather in mid-February was a big treat. At the last moment, we moved our clinic to Chalice Farms in Port Orchard, Washington, where we were able to jump outside and enjoy Mother Nature’s luxury.
Tamie worked with all group sizes, from a 2-foot class all the way through Intermediate/CCI4*, and from ages 14 through 50-something! She connected with each rider’s strengths and weaknesses and spent the time they all needed to feel successful.
I was trying to think of a list of Tamie-isms to offer to this audience, but realized in my list making that her style was more individually focused. While we were in intimate groups of three to four, each rider left the arena feeling as if they had just had private instruction. So there wasn’t a blanket phrase that she offered the group, but more concise and personal instruction that added priceless value.
On day one, we worked on course work. Her start-off speech for each group was to initiate all of the rides as if we were sitting in our dressage saddle. She encouraged us to think of our dressage principles with fences in our way. Familiar phrases such as half-halt, medium canter, transitions, connection and contact all flowed through to her warm-up and instruction over fences.
In the early groupsm she encouraged rhythm, tempo, forward and straightness. In the middle groups, she sought adjustability, compression, connection and roundness over the fence. And by the Intermediate group, she was adding technicality with precise take off and landing spots, active hind legs and adjustability within short distances.
Within each group she could pick out one or two things that each horse and rider pair needed to improve and would adjust her course work to hone in on those weaknesses. Some needed a more forward canter, others a refined half-halt. Her positive energy is infectious, and she has an innate way of creating an analogy that paints a picture we all can relate to. In the end, all pairs left their session with improvement and smiles.
Day two brought lots of grid work, with the emphasis on quickening the footwork and letting the horses figure out their own placement. For some of us who are control freaks and like to manage their horses, this comes as a challenge. Throughout the day, the common theme was adjustability from a gallop to a compression stride, as well as inside leg to outside rein. By the end of day two, smiles were abundant, and dates were already set for the next clinic in June.
“I love coming up to the northwest. Every time I come, the horses and riders are better and always strive to improve,” Tamie said. “This group is always enthusiastic to learn and improve, which is my focus!”