Learning from Leslie Law

Helen Bouscaren at the Eventing 25 training sessions. Photo by Mia Farley. Helen Bouscaren at the Eventing 25 training sessions. Photo by Mia Farley.

Finally catching up at home and getting back into the routine of lessons, riding and lots of laundry after a great week down in Temecula working with Leslie Law and watching the High Performance riders with David O’Connor. I never really paid much attention to the Developing Riders program before I was lucky enough to be a part of it in 2014 with my horse, Ben.

Now this program has become a huge part of my year, my riding and my education in the sport. For me, aside from the top notch instruction, the best part about the training sessions is just slowing down for a week and really focusing on my goals, my knowledge and my relationship with my top horse.

At home, it’s easy to just go through the motions of riding the 20 something horses per day, teaching the regular lessons, paying the bills and not really paying close attention to the details that matter so much. Last January, I was fully planning on competing at Rolex 2014 before I went to the training sessions and was able to really examine myself as a rider and where I needed to improve before I took on such a huge competition.

I left last year’s clinic much more knowledgeable and mature about my competition goals and was able to be patient and really work to improve the little details that matter so immeasurably at the four-star level of competition.

This year’s clinic was phenomenal. Leslie did a fantastic job stepping in as both a coach and mentor and made it very clear that he was genuine about everything he was saying. His lectures were clear and always had a very down to earth feel as he would talk about the book work behind dressage but also what he has found in his own personal experience riding such a variety of horses at all different levels. He had some great stories and some funny jokes and made the clinic very enjoyable and comfortable.

We started the week with some drill riding, which I always find super helpful with my “onward bound” horse. It forces me to work on a system that I can use on a daily basis that doesn’t involve simply pulling his mouth off. There was a strong emphasis on geometry and rider position, which I always appreciate.

The jumping lesson was awesome. He gave us good exercises, and I was lucky enough to get kicked off my horse so he could give me a brief demonstration in order to help improve the way my horse approached the jumps. Although it was slightly annoying how easily Leslie fixed the horse’s eagerness to the jumps, it was really helpful to watch, and his explanation of what exactly he was doing was very helpful.

It was pretty entertaining to watch as he would put the horse in a perfect rhythm 10 strides out, then turn his head to the group and say “now you just stay here” as he came in on the perfect stride still looking at us over the fence!

The second to last day was cross country, and we were fortunate to get to use Galway Downs as our practice site thanks to Robert Kellerhouse and his team. We had a fantastic school there where again Lesile had some really great exercises and feedback about what he was looking to achieve with the horses and riders.

I really appreciated what he worked on, and although I was disappointed I couldn’t use Ben for the jumping due to his recovery schedule, I was actually happy to be on a greener horse since I ride mostly green horses at home and felt like the education I received on Elijah was really applicable to the horses I work with at home.

To me, that’s the sign of a great clinic: when I leave with homework that applies to every horse I ride and every student I teach, so I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this program and am excited and eager for the next lesson.