Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The holiday season is the most un-inspiring season for my blog, I think.  I'm not working on anything new because of time constraints.  The winter holidays are the one time during the year I make an attempt to be social.  Social with other human adults, that is.  My everyday life is filled with socialization: two young children, three horses and twenty or so ducks and chickens... how is that not social?  But, during the holidays I do try to actually do things with other grown-up human beings.  Which is taxing, mostly because it leaves me little time to play with my horse.

However, in one of my off-farm ventures, I had the opportunity to audit a Lendon Gray clinic.  Lendon is a superb clinician, particularly for those riding the so called "off breeds" (aka: non-Warmbloods).  She made a name for herself riding Thoroughbreds and ponies and is a great supporter of the idea that dressage is for every horse. 

I suppose I could have ridden in the clinic, but I already have a trainer that I like.  He knows me and my horse, he knows our story together.  Besides, auditing really provides more bang for your buck.  I was able to watch Lendon Gray, an Olympian, train ten different riders and horses for thirty bucks.  Not bad! 
I think, really, no trainer or clinician is re-inventing the wheel.  We are all working on the basic ideas that were set down by our earliest ancestors.  I read Xenophon's work, written down around 400 BC, and I see in it the same ideas we adhere to now.  And Xenophon even quotes an earlier influence in horsemanship, Simon, whose works are lost to history.  We are just not working with new ideas, here.

Every trainer should really have the same thing to say: the basic tenants of horsemanship are not really that different regardless of discipline.  The main difference between the trainer you love and the trainer you don't use is in how they communicate with you, the rider. 

And that is why I'm such a huge fan of auditing clinics.  All these trainers are saying the same thing, and I have already found the trainer who speaks to me best.  But, for a fraction of the cost, I can sit and listen to these phenomenally educated people train other horses and riders.  And, in watching them do this, I develop my eye for a horse and rider.  That "eye" can only help me become a better rider.

And, even if the trainer in question turns out to be a total nutter, you still get a valuable lesson.  And, believe me, I've been to see some nutters, but I still was able to watch a number of horses and riders do their thing.  I was able to see their reaction to the instruction and formulated my own opinions on what should be done.  Sometimes, the most valuable lessons are the lessons in "what not to do"!  And, now I know to never ride with that clinician.  Priceless!

Of course, Lendon Gray is not someone I would count as a nutter.  She's tough, that's for sure!  But, also fair and well-rounded.  She understands horses and horsemanship, embraces other disciplines and does not discriminate against horse or rider.  She is also excellent at speaking to the audience, which makes auditing her clinics a real treat. 

I did not take home any huge revelations from auditing the clinic.  I did not expect to.  What I got was a chance to observe ten horse and rider pairs with the commentary of someone who is not only an Olympian, but also the trainer of National Champions and Olympians.  I watched the horses go, thought about what I would do with that situation, then listened to what Lendon had to say.  What Lendon said and what I would have done weren't always the same thing, and I gained some perspective and some new exercises to try.

I kind of feel bad.  I only paid 30 bucks.  Poor Lendon got cheated.  ;)


  1. Nah, Lendon's dedication to training and horses made your presence a plus. That's one more horse benefiting from her expertise. I think she'd be quite pleased.

  2. What an wonderful opportunity. I love your perspective on auditing. I am attending a dressage clinic as an auditor this weekend.

  3. I am GREEN with envvy O_o not a very good start of the year ^-^

    You are right nobody is re-inventing the wheel regarding horsemanship. However most reiner wannabe in my part of teh world think they re-inventing the wheel ... poor horses.

    I wish more people were like you!!!

  4. I love auditing clinics! I'm still new enough that I always learn a LOT. :D And I'm lucky because the stable where I used to work holds clinics that are free to auditors. :)


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