My clinics are a combination of teaching both horsemanship ideals and technical skills to help riders truly connect with their horses. I want my students to understand how a horse thinks and how he feels on the inside, with better awareness of what’s important to the horse. Riders must remember that every reaction a horse has is triggered by his survival instincts. He is wired to act as if his life depends on it.
I teach my riders to do simple exercises on the ground before they mount to connect with their horse and gain his trust and confidence. These exercises can then be applied once the rider is on their horse’s back and integrated into their ride, feeling the connection and connecting the feel.
I focus on flatwork for the first part of each session to prepare the horses both physically and mentally for the jumping exercises. We may then work over poles on the ground or advance to gymnastics depending on the level of horse and rider. I will work on riding lines or complete courses focusing on precision and the horse’s willingness to adjust his stride in a calm and relaxed way.
No matter what exercises we are working on, the horse’s well being is foremost in our thoughts. I am constantly aware of his inner peace and comfort and what I need to do to maximize his athletic ability without causing tension or concern.
In addition to the previously described clinics, I have started teaching clinics with my associate Robyn Miller. 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.
Wildwood Horsemanship Short Courses are focused on developing a better partnership with your horse through proper preparation. We will help you work through any issues by connecting the groundwork, flatwork, and jumping exercises as applicable. Bring your horse and stay with us for a week of total immersion in the basics of groundwork and flatwork and how it relates to everything you do with your horse! Enjoy developing a more willing and confident connection with your mount because you will be working together in better balance.
Riders will have opportunities to work one on one with Robyn Miller and Steve Thaemert with their own horse plus horses of ours. Everyone will be doing groundwork, riding, observing and involved in all aspects of daily horsemanship. Melanie will teach jumping sessions if desired and when available but the focus is on the groundwork, flatwork, and horsemanship.
Week long sessions are 5 1/2 days (Monday- Saturday) with Sunday as a travel day. Days are full from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a lunch break. We try to end by noon on Saturday. We will accept a minimum of two and maximum of four students per session. Locals or out-of-towners are all welcome.
Fee includes pasture or stall for your horse(s). Riders are encouraged to bring their horse but price is the same with or without a horse. Participants are responsible for taking care of their own horse and must bring their own grain/hay/shavings or buy from local feed store upon arrival if preferring a stall. We will provide paddocks and our grass is free!
A fully-equipped guest cottage with two bedrooms and two baths on Wildwood is available for participants to rent at a reasonable rate. Participants must provide own transportation and meals. Dates to be offered throughout the year. For more information please contact either Melanie Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Robyn Miller (email@example.com)
Melanie Smith Taylor
Melanie Smith Taylor became one of only two riders to ever win the Triple Crown of Show Jumping—the American Invitational, the International Jumping Derby, and the American Gold Cup—and the only person to win all three on the same horse. After winning the World Cup Final in 1982, she was named the US Olympic Committee Sportswoman of the Year and inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Two years later, she capped off her show-jumping career with a team gold medal in the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Today Melanie serves the horse world as a clinician, a television broadcaster for major events, including the Olympics and World Championships, and a recognized judge for hunter/jumpers and hunter seat equitation.
Robyn was introduced to horses at the age of four when her family moved to a small dairy farm in Pennsylvania. A Shetland pony became her obsession and there was no turning back. At the age of six, Robyn began taking lessons at a hunter/jumper barn where she spent every spare minute. She participated in their working student program as well as local 4-H and horse shows until age 19.
After relocating to the Mid-South in 2000, Robyn attended a clinic that introduced her to the Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman. styles of horsemanship that she currently continues to practice and teach. Not having many opportunities to travel, she watched what videos and books she could get her hands on to learn this fascinating approach to working with horses in such a way that builds relationships, trust and peace. After some time she started many colts and worked with several horses that were considered “problem” horses earning a reputation as the “boot camp” trainer that was good at helping troubled horses.
Through one of her clients, Robyn met Melanie Smith Taylor who recognized her natural riding and horsemanship skills. Melanie has become a mentor for Robyn and subsequently invited Robyn to become an associate in 2018. Melanie has afforded Robyn the opportunity to work with many top horsemen including Buck Brannaman on many occasions in the past few years. Robyn teaches weekly horsemanship workshops at Melanie’s Wildwood Farm in Germantown, Tennessee. Melanie and Robyn also give clinics together around the country incorporating the important principles that connect the groundwork, flatwork and jumping.
Originally from Minnesota, Steve started riding at the age of 20 on a green broke two-year-old he purchased for himself. The hard knocks school of horsemanship taught Steve a lot before he eventually answered an ad to work with polo ponies in Florida. This job led him to other horse opportunities in Alabama and eventually Wildwood Farm in Germantown, Tennessee in1989. As farm manager, Steve was responsible for training and playing the polo ponies along with preparing all the young horses for the colt starting clinics with Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman. Thirty years later, Steve has retired as farm manager and from riding and playing polo, but still enjoys doing ground work with the horses on the farm and assisting Robyn Miller with her horsemanship workshops and short courses.