Happy Thanksgiving holidays to everyone! I apologize for getting behind on my blogs but we have been busy launching our Horsemanship program at Wildwood with Robyn Miller and Steve Thaemert. Robyn and Steve have been teaching workshops once a week on the farm while Robyn and I have taken our program on the road this year. We are trying out ways to merge the groundwork, flat and jumping exercises into every group at our clinics. I believe we have come up with a good system to help people connect the dots on the importance of doing groundwork and how it relates to any and everything you do with your horse on or off his back. The groundwork helps you check your horse for soundness and readiness to ride, keeping you in a safer position before putting a foot in the stirrup. The groundwork develops a willing partnership with your horse as they can better understand your body language and presence, pressure and release of pressure as it relates to your aids on their back. Riders thus learn to speak the horse’s language.
Robyn and I have been giving three day clinics with Day 1 being groundwork and flatwork only. Robyn leads the first day with my assistance to try and help everyone individually. Robyn will use different horses in each session to personally demonstrate what she is expecting to accomplish and to help horses that are especially stiff and braced up.
On Days 2 and 3, Robyn will begin each session with a review of the groundwork and then I take over and teach the flat and jumping exercises. I have found that after everyone has their horses prepared through the groundwork, they are always in a much better place mentally and physically and more rideable for the jumping .
We are working on developing a program where riders can spend one or two weeks with us to totally immerse themselves in this approach to improve their horsemanship. They will have a chance to work with many different horses in this format. It is so gratifying to see the changes horses make when asked to do things with clarity, quality and consistency, and when they know there will always be a reward (the promise of a release of pressure) when they come up with the right answer.
You can follow us on Instagram @wildwoodhorsemanship.
Below are a few snapshots from our recent clinics in Tryon, NC, Omaha, NE, Buffalo, NY, and here at Wildwood….