This weekend, DJ and I traveled down to the beloved Bear Spot Farm on our first outing of the season!! We had been accepted to participate as a rider in the first day (Saturday) of the NEDA Spring Symposium. Friday, we had ridden for Mr. van der Schaft in a separate clinic.
Mr. van der Schaft is now one of my favorite clinicians to date. Despite a thick German accent, he was sure to explain all of what he said with great detail. He was very patient and made sure I understood everything he said.
The theme of the weekend was riding forward into the connection. We had started to introduce this at home, but Mr. van der Schaft really pushed us in the right direction. He explained that people often think that riding on the hind leg is what causes suspensory injuries (which we have struggled with in the past), but that riding on the hind leg in a poor balance is what causes this. When the balance is not there, yet a horse is pushed forward, neither the balance nor the impulsion will improve.
My lesson on the first day with Mr. van der Schaft was amazing. DJ felt very good when we walked into the gorgeous arena, but my standards were certainly raised midway through the ride. As we worked, the frame and the balance of the gaits became better and better; the work actually got easier for the two of us! We were able to stay supple, forward, strong, and happy through the whole lesson- this was an amazing feeling. I must be the luckiest girl on the planet to have been able to ride such an incredible mare, at such an incredible venue, with such an incredible trainer; I hope I get to do it again someday SOON!
The second day is available to watch on YouTube. I was put more to my own devices on this day, as I had to share my lesson with another person. I will try to get the first day up soon!