Cross Country Clinic with Jim Wofford

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

BirdAOPF450This was a big day for me and I had (1) a plan and (2) a lot of butterflies. Go back and read about my first cross country clinic with Jimmy to understand why I brought so many butterflies. I wanted to get to An Otherwise Perfect Farm with enough time to tack up, stroll around in a power walk and then do the “show the Bird to the ground thing”. Cherie was on board with the plan and I was happy to have her there for support. She elected not to bring Katchi because of the upcoming ride at Waredaca. She insisted I bring my video camera so she could document my ride. I told her I didn’t want to see myself ride right now because I knew I looked like a pile of crap on a horse. I just wasn’t feeling tough enough to deal with it. So, I brought the video camera and Cherie documented my ride.

If you’ve never read the book Riding Logic, by W. Museler. Read it. Every day, my Bird is improving from the knowledge in this book. It was astounding the way this horse who has so much anxiety was stretching and reaching to the ground as I warmed him up. Cherie videoed this and it was the first time I was able to see it. It’s like – a miracle. Birdie is not only feeling better physically, but he’s happier. He did this with other horses warming up all around him. He relaxed. I am truly amazed. I was glad she made me bring that camera.

Jimmy always starts out by getting our names and he actually knows mine now and that’s neat. He also said we’d start in the arena so we could get our butterflies flying in formation. Works for me. We then went out to the cross country course and started with some stadium jumps on a hill. We then transitioned to the actual cross country jumps. Jimmy corrected me a lot. Particularly about posting at the canter, which I didn’t quite understand, but I do now. Also, soft hands, which are mandatory with Birdie. He is super sensitive to everything. I was holding my own and more stable than I had been in the past. Primarily due to my developing “Jimmy legs”.

Then he told us to jump this bench and then gallop a ways to what looked to me like a black ski ramp. GULP, this took me right back to Win Green and Birdie hanging over that ski ramp. Okay, self, this is how it’s going to be. You can do this, you know this horse can do this. This is your moment of truth. Look at these other people, they can do it. Thank God I wasn’t first. The first jump, piece of cake, although it was windy so I couldn’t hear what Jimmy was yelling even though he had a megaphone. I know he wasn’t yelling “Good job”. We were now approaching the black ski ramp, how appropriate the color. Wait, leg, look at the jump, wait, soft hands, grab mane, WE DID IT!! It felt like crap, but we did it. Now Birdie was rolling right along and that’s the fun part. He was happy, apparently I did a fairly decent job. Cherie later told me it looked good.

I’ve got to thank Jimmy Wofford for teaching me. I’m beginning to think this really is possible. At the end of the clinic he told me he wanted me to watch that video and I wouldn’t be happy. I knew that going in, but yet another sacrifice to learn. If you want to learn how to ride, you need to leave your ego in the house or the car. It’s just an obstacle when you bring it to your horse.

I watched the video. Cherie told me just watch one thing, your hands, or leg position. Well, my eye went right to my big bouncing butt. In racing we have a different name for posting at the canter. Monkey f**king a foot ball. There are a couple of amazing things about this. One is it was incredible how still I could keep my hands while my butt was going up and down that much, they really only moved when I was uptight. Two, I galloped at the track for 20+ years and never looked like that. The good news is this is going to be rather easy to fix. I think I’ve been way overthinking this two point thing. I’m trying to do everything but gallop the way I know how. I think I need to just gallop the horse. There is little difference between the way eventers and racetrackers gallop and I’ve been thinking they’re totally different positions. I’m sure I’ll still have to work on it, but the monkey thing, it’s got to go today.

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