I am lucky to get to ride with such a wonderful instructor 2 to 3 times a year. So even though none of my horses were able to go, I got to borrow Darby from Susan Peacocks barn. He has been schooling I-1 and was looking for that brilliance factor Conrad brings to all the horses he teaches.
The trip to Clovis was uneventful and upon arrival the horses settled right in to their dinner. My student Cindy generously lent us her kitchen to make dinner. One barn check later and some sleep and we were back at the barn for the first ride of the day at 8am.
Every lesson is a different set of exercises. I take copious notes on the patterns and Conrad's comments. I can always use the same exercises for my horses at home, or modify them to be more or less difficult. My lesson is great. We use multiple combinations of lateral movements to get control of Darby's neck and increase his throughness. Using shoulderfore with flexion and counter flexion at the canter we free up his shoulder and get his neck feeling like butter in my hands. By the end of day one my brain is so full of new and old ideas I fall immediately to sleep as my head hits the pillow.
On the second day lunch is not ready on time so I end up riding 3 hours early. I am thrilled to be riding before lunch and happy I don't have to wait to ride till 3. So Rachel helps me get Darby tacked and ready. Susie reminds me how to count my tempi changes since yesterday my brain completely forgot it knew how to do that. I warm up and then Conrad has me ride a line of 4's that is so good, we immediately move on to another exercise. Part of me is elated the line was so good and another says "Can't I just do it one more time?". I take a breath and concentrate on the new exercise. Half-steps and pirouettes are the plan for today. We make good progress although it is clear our school canter needs a bit of work. By the end we have a medium trot that feels like we are flying and his neck feels like it is adjustable to the millimeter. I finish my ride feeling like I am on top of the world.
The final day of our trip dawns early as we check out and hit up the obligatory Starbucks before making it to the barn for Susie to start her ride at 7:15am. It is cold and a little windy but all the rides go well. It is hard to believe I can still absorb anything after 2 days of sponging up information. My ride is great. We work more complex lateral work at the trot and canter. Using the half-steps to make him quick behind and then working on school canter to improve the pirouettes continued to make Darby elastic and expressive in his movement. As I finish my ride and walk out of the arena, I thank Conrad and realize why I love clinics so much. That feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction and pride in a truly productive and good ride is why I am a horse trainer.
Check out video clips of my rides with Conrad at