On March 8th our Weenie Eventers Team hosted our first clinic together - as a fundraiser for our trip to Hagyard Midsouth Three Day Team Challenge. It was a dressage clinic with up and coming rider and trainer Duncan Wood. I've known Duncan for some time, from Pony Club way back, and also through eventing. He recently stepped out on his own and trains out of Porcupine Hill Farm. My mom has her new young guy in training with Duncan and he is coming along superbly. We filled the clinic within a week or so - and were very excited with all the interest we had. My mom generously donated us her arena and stalls for the day also, so thank you mom!
Jessica and I both signed up, her in a private and myself in a semi-private with Dana. Since Penny has been out of work for most of the winter, I just planned a 1/2 hour of walk and trot only. We trailered Ellie and Penny over to my moms place and they both settled into their stalls well. We had a yummy canteen set up for spectators and participants, as well as collecting bottles for a bottle drive, and goods to donate to the local animal rescue. We were very pleased that lots of people brought us their donations, and empty bottles. We figured if we are trying to fund our trip by donations, we should also do something to give back to the community. It will be a great day when we can drop off all the animal goodies to the rescue.
Penny was quite up when we entered the arena so I opted to let her go for a rip on the lunge. She zoomed around a few times each direction and then settled and was stretching down nice and freely. This was a surprise to me since she has never done that on the lunge. A good sign for sure! Onto the lesson, we worked mostly at the walk. The biggest hurdle with Penny is her unsteadiness in the contact. After having the tooth issue, I have been waiting to see if there is a difference now that the tooth is gone. At first she was worried and flipping her head a bit. Duncan had me concentrate on rhythm and relaxation, before thinking about the contact. We worked at the walk, trying to establish rhythm, then added in leg yields from the quarter line to the wall. This helped Penny settled into a nice rhythm and she then dropped into the bridle nicely.
We continued with this exercise, then added a trot transition at the wall, trot around to the opposite end, circle and walk again. Penny was quickly relaxing more and keeping a nice steady contact into my hand. From here we practiced trot walk transitions on a 20m circle. Slowly and quietly asking her to walk staying steady until she accepted the walk. At first Penny would evade the bit and raise her head but keeping with the steady rhythm in mind, she started to stay in the contact through the transition and then relaxed right away in both the upward and downward transitions.
We finished with some trot large around the arena and adding leg yields down the quarter line and shallow loops. For the first time since I have owned Penny, she was steady and consistent in the bridle throughout our exercise. I am confident she is feeling like a different horse since having her tooth removed. I am really excited to see where our dressage goes this year. Coupled up with Duncans quiet and methodical teaching, I really enjoyed the clinic, and Penny went fabulously. Duncan commented that he thought she was a really nice mare, with very nice movement for a Thoroughbred. It is great to work with a dressage instructor who understands eventing. He asked if we wanted to work on the canter but I decided to end it there on a good note. No need to push her, especially since she was such a good girl.
We surpassed our fundraising goal for the day, and had great feedback from the clinic. It was such a success that we are hosting another one on April 18th, and it is pretty much full already! Looking forward to a fun summer with lots happening for the Weenie Eventers.