Focusing on the Basics

Focusing on the Basics

By Rebecca Couret, SEDA Scholarship Recipient

Shoulders back, heels down, more rein, now inside leg…

Although I have been around horses since I could walk, I had taken a long break to raise my son and now that he is off at college, it was time for mom to get back in the saddle.  I had leased horses from friends off and on for a number of years, and then two years ago, Frosty Appeal fell in my lap.  She was a 4-year-old OTTB with no manners and in need of some weight. In the past two years, we have worked on gaining weight, learning manners, and this year I felt it might be time to trot down centerline again.

Earlier this year I sent in an application to SEDA on a whim for a scholarship to take a clinic. I was a bit shocked, but felt honored to receive the scholarship to take a clinic of my choice. I chose to work with Richard Howard for two days after the Adult Dressage show in August. Richard Howard has ridden, trained and judged dressage for over 40 years. Richard has competed through Intermediare II and has trained many horses and riders to successful Grand Prix competition. Surely, he would be a good choice for this adult amateur and her nutty OTTB, right?

I was nervous at the start of the clinic as our test at the show did not go well.  Richard has a firm, but calm demeanor and gives praise when praise is due. The first day we focused on the basics – walk-trot, circles, and moving forward. We also discussed using a different bit, and fortunately, I had the loose ring snaffle he recommended, this made a huge difference in Frosty. Frosty is evasive when it comes to contact on the bit. We’ve got some exercises we’re working on and she’s getting better. The second day I thought might be more of the same, but nope, Richard had us working on leg yields, something I had not done in a long time!  We worked in larger circles, at walk and trot, and many, many leg yields. Richard also gave instruction on how and when to properly use draw reins. By the end of the second day, we had made progress. 

I had gone into the clinic thinking I might be working on trot to canter transitions, however, since our walk-trot needs so much work, the focus remained on the basics.  I was also a little nervous, but if you ever have the opportunity to take a clinic with Richard Howard, I highly recommend it!

Thank you SEDA for the opportunity to take this clinic!

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