Jessica Agner: Sara Mittleider Comes to Montana

We love to receive clinic reports from around Eventing Nation. Jessica Agner sent in this report on a clinic she recently attended with Sara Mittleider, who won the Highest Placed Young Rider Award three times at Rolex Kentucky - the only rider to win the award three times. Many thanks to Jessica for sending in her clinic report. Do you have a clinic report or other submission you'd like to share? Send it to us at [email protected].

Sara Mittleider and Harry Houdini. Photo by Samantha Clark. Sara Mittleider and Harry Houdini. Photo by Samantha Clark.

On March 8th and 9th, 2014, Anne Ward and Jessica Agner, of Sapphire Shadows Farm, and Jennifer Corby, of Blue Horizon Training, were delighted to host Sara Mittleider in Corvallis, MT at C-Max Stables. Having such a successful and knowledgeable clinician was an awesome treat. Several riders had expressed their concern the week before because western Montana got over a foot of snow! However, the clinic went off without too many obstacles and was an overwhelming success.

Most riders chose to ride in semi-private or group lessons since it is early in the season and some horses (and riders) were not very fit yet. On Saturday, Sara had a gymnastic/bounce set at each end of the arena and a jump in the center. The goal was to achieve a balanced and impulsive approach and a fluid departure through the bounce, then a controlled turn to the center jump followed by a balanced corner to the opposite bounce. The exercise was very helpful and emphasized balance, accuracy and organization while allowing and insisting the horses be forward and fluid.

Sunday was a mix of flat work and some small cross rails. Sara helped the riders to recognize when their seat or hands were ineffective, when their leg needed corrected, two-point position flaws and the always needed “eyes up” reminder. Sara asked riders to continue through each movement until they rode it comfortably and confidently. It was exactly the repetition they needed to help both horse and rider feel the difference between how hard or easy the ride could be. Perhaps most endearing was how Sara would say “Good! Now pet him/her!” after every pair took their turns. She was firm and did not hand out flagrant compliments or praise, so when she announced a “good job,” it meant a lot.

The next clinics are scheduled for April 18th-20th and May 24-25.  Anne is hoping to continue hosting Sara through the summer whenever her schedule permits. The horsemen and women in the western Montana area are in for a treat if they ride with Sara, as the participants in the first clinic can tell you.

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