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.