It has been a great start with Double Dan! After a flight from Greensboro to Chicago and an hour drive, I met up with the Dan and Donal in Maple Park, Illinois where KYB Dressage operates on June 3rd. The next evening we made our way north to Milton, Wisconsin for a 3 day Body Control Under Saddle clinic followed by a 6 day Liberty Clinic.
Dan had me participate with his horse, Apollo, in the Body Control Under Saddle clinic, which was a great way to start learning the program. Each day got better as I settled in to this new position. However, there were some funny slip-ups that did happen...
On the first day during the warm up Dan instructed to check our horses out at the back up from the ground. Needless to say Apollo thought the sand looked way more appealing to lie down in than the idea of backing up. The spectators got a real good laugh out of this seeing it happened right in front of the bleachers. Then on Day #2 I quickly learned during the warm up of the various ‘buttons’ on Apollo’s front quarters. While working on backing up with only using my seat and leg position, it became evident as our momentum went downwards, to lie down, rather than backwards that my leg had only extended to his mid-shoulder rather than the point of his shoulder. So needless to say the slip-ups were minor, humorous and educational for all!
After wrapping up the Body Control clinic, we kicked off the Liberty Clinic the very next day. Over the course of the 6 days the participants and their horses worked on ‘mark training’ as well as working their horses while at liberty. For those unfamiliar with ‘mark training’ it is best related to movie horses that work ‘on the mark’. Think of the recent ‘Puppy Love’ Super Bowl Budweiser commercial when the Clydesdales are running down the drive way and jumping over fences to catch up with the pup. Well in order to get those horses to do those incredible things; they’ve been taught to work on the mark. So throughout the week we were helping the participants and their horses build their foundation on mark training. Additionally with a lot of hard work and learning for both humans and the horses and great instruction, all participants had their horses working at liberty by the end of the clinic (working around the handler without any physical connection to the handler).
Throughout both clinics I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time behind the camera filming. With the goal of providing material to both participants and spectators (regardless of location) who want to become better horsemen and women, sometimes the best material can be learning from others who are going through the same tough spots you are.
Aside from the horse work though, we had some great times grilling out, gaining inspiration from watching Dan, Apollo and Swampy put on demonstrations, participating in an awesome Double Dan Talent Show and getting to meet some great individuals!
I want to thank everyone who has reached out and showed support for this journey and next step in my career as well as a huge thanks to Dan James, Donal Hancock and everyone else who has made the start of this adventure a great one!
This week we’re in Maple Park, IL at KYB Dressage working on several projects so stay tuned!
Hope everyone has had a great horse filled weekend!