Riding with ‘The Man’

Riding with ‘The Man’

The Tale of How Morgan Vaughn Used Her SEDA Scholarship Money

By Morgan Vaughn
There is nothing that I am more interested in than Eventing. So when the opportunity to ride with Jimmy Wofford presented itself, how could I resist? Thanks to the SEDA scholarship, I never had to be put to that test.

MorganTapKrackleFor those of you who are new to the sport of Eventing, or just don’t know, Jimmy Wofford is considered one of the greatest coaches of Event Riders of all time, and rightfully so. He is like the Phil Jackson of basketball, many of his students are athletes at the top of their game and at the top of the sport. He, in my ever so humble opinion, is the Man and I totally wanted to ride with the Man. Luckily, I had the perfect steed for this clinic, Tap N’Krackle, a 5 year old 15.2 h Thoroughbred mare. We have been to two Baby Novice Events and at both had some green moments. Throughout the Fall I have been getting her out and about to new experiences and this clinic couldn’t have come at a better time.

Both mornings the clinic began at 8 am with an hour long Q & A; this provided a good avenue for Wofford to discuss points that would be later be brought up while mounted.

The arena was set with three different gymnastic lines and a single fence on each of the diagonal lines. Post warm-up he asked us all to halt and he inspected where our foot was in the stirrup. From the foot positions, he predicted issues for those with incorrect positions. As the clinic went on, his predications came true…

After the brief getting to know you, he had us begin by trotting the centerline grid with poles on the ground.  After we went both directions through the grid, he raised the front fence to a vertical.  And that is where I’ll stop giving you the blow-by-blow and share with you the top 5 the pearls of wisdom with which I walked away.

Get out of the Comfort Zone and into the Achievement Zone

On the first day, after my last turn through the exercises, he walked over to me and told me that I needed to push for more, that she and I were both ready to take the next step, I just had to ask for it.

Train the horse to be better so that the rider doesn’t have to always be perfect

This one is pretty awesome. Wofford believes that we shouldn’t always be the one to take care of our horse when we get in too close or leave too long, but rather the horse needs to learn to handle it and take care of us.

Don’t just be content with what the horse gives you, press for more

This is akin to the first one and was specific to a moment during the clinic where he caught me being content with a dinky trot. He wanted me to not just be happy with the trot just because she was behaving, but rather to ask for more!

Keep your heels soft

This comment goes back to the beginning of the stadium session when he inspected everyone’s stirrup position. The riders that had their feet braced in the stirrup tended to be catapulted off of their horses back over the fences, because their angles were stiff rather than soft. Soft heels allow the rider to absorb the impact from the push off and landing of a fence. Soft heels also allows for the horse not to feel chased to the jump.

Ride the same rhythm to the fence as away from the fence

Wofford counts aloud, in the same rhythm, before, over and after the jump.  It is tremendously helpful, helps the rider not to override and the horse to keep the same pace, balance and power coming into the fence as going away from it.

Jimmy Wofford is an excellent clinician; he is known for saying about riding that “it’s simple; it’s just not easy” and it is evident that his training methods can be described in the exact same manner.  Simple, but not easy. Thank you SEDA for this amazing opportunity and I URGE everyone to apply for the SEDA Scholarship!

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