Things I Learned With My SEDA Scholarship

Things I Learned With My SEDA Scholarship

By Meredith Hunter

I was lucky enough to be awarded a SEDA scholarship and recently used that scholarship to ride in a clinic with British eventing instructor and superstar, Lucinda Green.  For those who may not know who Lucinda is, a few highlights of her career include the Team Silver at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, six-time Badminton winner (on six different horses, the only person to achieve this) and too many World and European Championships to list.  

This clinic was located just outside Starkville, MS at Redbud Farm Equestrian, LLC, about 4.5 hours from Folsom.  Though the farm is only about 30 acres, Redbud is a full service eventing facility offering a dressage arena, a dedicated stadium jumping area, and a wide variety of cross country jumps ranging from amoeba through prelim. The two trainers, Betsy Ball and Jessie Shull, are extremely knowledgeable, experienced eventers, and two of the nicest people you could ever meet. As for Lucinda, she has that great British humor and a fondness for skinnies and corners. Her exercises are not designed to see how high you can jump but rather to get you thinking on your feet and reacting to what is happening in each moment. 

Below are some of the highlights I learned from Lucinda.

  • When warming up, two important things to pay attention to are:
    • How quickly is my horse seeing the jump? 
    • Is my horse taking me to the jump?
  • The horse’s brain is attached to the rider’s hands through the bit.
  • The horse’s eyes are attached to the rider’s calves.  
  • You must always be cuddling with your calves to “keep the horse in the tube” (I think this is her favorite saying as it was repeated over and over with each rider).
  • The horse’s left front leg is controlled by the rider’s left hand, the right front leg by the right hand.
  • Similarly, the rider’s legs control each of the horse’s back legs.
  • Imagine your butt is like an electric plug that is firmly plugged in to the seat of your saddle when coming to a jump.
  • By cuddling with your calves and staying plugged in to your saddle, you are ready for anything that may happen.
  • Horses need to lower their heads to see the jump (especially ditches and banks) – allow the horse to look by slipping the reins a bit through your fingers but maintain contact and “squeeze their eyeballs out” with your calves to be sure they jump!
  • In order to keep the contact after doing the above, you must widen your hands when the horse’s head comes back up until you can once again shorten your reins.
  • Your fingers need to be able to change instantly from concrete to feathers, especially if the horse takes off sooner than expected.
  • When the footing is a sloppy mess, make sure to use your outside rein (which remember controls the horse’s outside leg) in the turns to keep the horse balanced.  It is ok to cross it over the withers a bit (just a bit not way over!).
  • Also, when the footing is an absolute sloppy mess, shoe studs will do little good.
  • The only animals that are capable of reasoning are chimps and dolphins.  Horses are neither chimps nor dolphins.  (I find it amusing that humans aren’t mentioned here)

Unfortunately I learned some other lessons as well…

  • No matter how many layers you put on, when it is raining, windy and barely 30º, you will get cold to the bones standing around all day watching a clinic.
  • Being this cold makes it very difficult to save yourself when your horse jumps you out of the tack (apparently I missed the memo about staying plugged in to my saddle!).
  • Parker will not run off when I fall off of him. (It’s all good – no one was hurt)

I would highly recommend anyone who is (or would like to be) an eventer to attend a clinic with Lucinda. Hopefully it will be a little warmer next year!

Finally, I would like to thank SEDA for the scholarship that made it possible for me to ride in this amazing clinic. I encourage all SEDA members to look in to the many scholarship opportunities and apply!

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