These Hardworking Area 3 Volunteers Were Rewarded with a Special Clinic at Barnstaple South

Audrey Bennett on Bones. Photo by Jaci Bennett.

Have you ever said the “Please let me not have a rail today prayer?” If so, you are not alone! How decisive is the show jumping phase in eventing competitions? Just ask a rider who has seen their lead in dressage evaporate after the stadium phase. With that in mind, Barnstaple South in Ocala, Fl. hosted a Stadium Jumping Clinic just for Area 3 volunteers on Saturday, March 13th.

The clinic was funded by a USEA Foundation Le Samurai Grant submitted by Krista Wilson of Tampa, Fl. The USEA Foundation allocates a total of $10,000 annually from the Le Samurai Fund for adult amateur education programs to support USEA Area activities. This clinic was designed to reward Area 3 volunteers and encourage people to volunteer at local horse trials. To participate in the clinic, each participant had to volunteer for at least ten hours at Area 3 events in 2021. Seventeen horse and rider combinations heeded the call, logged their hours and came to hone their skills with three different exceptional clinicians.

Divided into three parts, the clinic mirrored all of the elements from the show jumping phase. Part one covered learning how to walk the course to proactively plan a successful ride. Part two included warming up for the stadium round to generate the positive momentum needed for a focused rider and horse. Part three provided the finale: riding the course with the pressure to impress, candid feedback, and the opportunity to ride the entire course or parts of it again in order to bring it all together for ongoing success.

Kristen Clark-Sealy and Mossy. Photo by Donna Burch.

Joachim Englert, a Grand Prix rider and trainer from Germany who trained many riders up to the grand prix level, is the course designer for Majestic Oaks in Reddick, Fl. He set up the 9 jump/10 effort course on the rolling grass terrain. He walked the course with each group, pointing out how to correctly walk strides and how the uphill or downhill slope of the course would affect the rounds.

“You need to be able to do the number of strides YOU want to do”, he explained of the two bending lines on course. When asked was was the most important thing to do as a rider before a course, he said, “before approaching the first jump, take the time to establish the canter based on YOUR horse so that you have the correct pace and rhythm to feel the distance between jumps.”

“Jo was absolutely fantastic with the course walk,” clinic participant Heather Wools said. “He clearly explained the various aspects of the course to consider, especially with the terrain variations on grass, how and when to adjust strides based on if you came into a line too hot, or where the focus of the line should be, based on course design and terrain. It was an absolutely fantastic experience!”

Hilda Donahue, a well-known eventing and endurance rider and trainer who always finds a way to inject confidence through her positive approach, was in charge of warming up the participants. Audrey Bennett, who rode in the clinic with her pony, Bad to The Bone, commented, “It was a great learning experience for me and Bones. Hilda taught us things during the warm up we didn’t even realize we had to fix. But once we did, we saw immediate improvement, came off our warm up and put it all together for a solid clean round.”

Joachim with Amy Allmond, Lee Fairchild and Audrey Bennett. Photo by Jaci Bennett.

Lori Rice, riding her horse Cas, said this was Cas’ first clinic and that he was quite tense. She said Hilda patiently helped her work through it and also helped her position herself better on the horse to land on a specific lead to leave on a confident note to ride the course. Keegan Oswald rode her horse Bones and said working with Hilda was a big eye-opener. “She didn’t try to change what works for my horse, but as she watched our routine, she picked up on minor things I could improve to get a better warmup out of my horse,” she said. “She really helped boost my confidence going into my first training level stadium round. It ended up being the best warm-up I have had since I have owned my horse!”

Carol Ogden, a USEA Technical Delegate and a leader on the Florida eventing scene as President of the Florida Horse Trials Association, had the job of judging the stadium phase, talking to the variety of riders immediately following their course ride. To recreate the pressure felt at shows, riders came from warm-up and were given a whistle as they would at an event. Carol was able to quickly spot where the riders needed to improve, gave each specific feedback and sent them back out to do it again.

Jaci Bennett, one of the volunteers for the clinic, commented, “Carol quizzed each rider about the key stadium round regulations and when ready blew the whistle to start. With her stop watch, judging sheet and experienced view, she created that familiar show jump round pressure to give the riders and their horses an authentic experience.”

“My green horse was very distracted and did not handle the environment well!” Heather Wools said. “Carol was excellent in discussing the areas we needed to work on to grow to the level we need.”

The day would not have run so smoothly without the support of Derek Strine, owner of Barnstaple. He provided the gorgeous venue and provided a delicious lunch for lots of hungry participants. We greatly appreciate his generous support of all the volunteers.

Many thanks to Ann Schielmann, MaryAnn Giandonato, Chris Aytug and Jaci Bennett for all of their help. Even at a clinic for volunteers, we needed volunteers! Krista Wilson, who seemed to be everywhere at once, wrote the grant responsible for the clinic and coordinated all of the details. In closing, everyone would like to offer their MANY THANKS to the USEA Foundation who made this day possible via the Le Samurai Grant.

Lori Rice on Cas. Photo by Donna Burch.

With the success of this clinic, there is definitely interest to hold another in the future to drive our USEA volunteer efforts. Krista would like to sincerely thank all of the clinicians, participants and volunteers who made this a very special and productive day. Everyone left with big smiles, bigger goals, tangible areas to improve and most of all a feeling of sincere appreciation for their volunteer efforts in 2021.

The Le Samurai Fund was established by Rebecca Broussard and Amy Tryon in memory of the great five-star horse Le Samurai. The USEA Foundation has allocated a total of $10,000 annually from the Le Samurai Fund for adult amateur education programs that are USEA Area activities. Grants from the fund are in addition to Area allotments and can be used for the same adult amateur education programs. The Area Chair should fill out one application form per year and have the principal organizer sign it and send it to the USEA. Grants will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Upon approval, the funds will be forwarded to the Area Treasurer. The maximum grant request is $1,000 per annum.