Friday, August 7, 2015

The Kottas Experience: Preliminary Thoughts

Only one word can properly describe riding with Arthur Kottas: Intense. It's been three days, and I'm still wrapping my brain around it. This may end up as a multiple-post series, because I'm not sure I can write the whole experience in one post.

It took me about three days to recover, and also to catch up on my own neglected farm and house work. Note to self: Do not ever try to ride and organize a three day Arthur Kottas clinic ever again.  I'll definitely organize another one, but I won't ride all three days. It's just too much.

Arthur (Yes, I can call him "Arthur" now. Be jealous.) does not pull any punches. He is brutally honest, but not in a mean way. When Arthur says, "Your riding is bad.", it's not condescending or rude. It is a simple statement of fact and he just expects you to fix it. And, yes, he really says that.... I think he said it to me at least 20 times in three days (more on that later).  He holds the rider responsible for every single fault, and praises the horse when things go right.

His teaching style is to call off exercises and critique as you ride them. Nothing is drilled, even if you do the exercise completely wrong and never get it right he will move on to another exercise after only a couple of tries. He expects you to fix them later, he calls this, "homework".  I have lots of "homework", only some of which I remember. I highly recommend that anyone riding with Arthur drag along a friend to audit and take notes on your ride. Being in the lesson is pretty overwhelming, and you're going to forget or not even hear at least half of what he says.

Auditing is really the way to go, although I'd obviously prefer people ride because I need to fill clinics. You learn a lot auditing, because you can sit on the sidelines watching multiple rides at many varying levels and you can scribble down notes and absorb it all without the distraction of having to actually ride. And don't just watch the Grand Prix rides, watch all the rides. You're going to learn a lot more watching the AA on the 15 year old QH or even the Pro on the 4 year old green bean struggle through 1st Level than you are watching the BNT float through Grand Prix on The Perfect Horse.

I took a lot of time to write up bios of rider and horse so the auditors would have background information and I scheduled rides so that there were various levels, breeds and ages represented each day. I wanted auditors to be able to take something home from their day watching Arthur and apply it to their own riding and training. Yet, I heard several complaints that there weren't enough "experienced" riders and higher levels. Seriously, if you're riding Training Level at home, you do not need to see Arthur Kottas teaching a Pro rider at GP. You need to be there for the 1st and 2nd Level rides so you can learn something you can use. (Whoops, that got ranty..... let's move on)



My three days of riding can be summed up as follows: Trainwreck, Redemption, Too Tired To Even Give A Shit.

But, I'll have to leave that for another post before I end up with a novel. Stay tuned......







6 comments:

  1. yea that sounds super intense (and also, who are these ppl complaining about not enough 'high level' riders? isn't the whole point of a clinic to learn tips and tricks for your own level??) anyway i'm super curious to hear about your specific rides!!

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  2. Omg. I agree so hard with your rant. I learn so much watching people of my level struggle with my exact problems. I learn a lot from upper level riders too, but it's often too nuanced for my level. You know?

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  3. Sounds fascinating and can't wait to hear more. I learn a lot from watching lower level riders and their horses - getting the basics right is harder, and so much more important, than what comes later.

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  4. Love trainers who do not try to cater to riders by grooming their egos. I know it can be harsh,but I'd rather be told I did something wrong than be allowed to simply ride on oblivious to my own faults.

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  5. These are pretty much exactly my thoughts from riding with him! Loved it, but whew!

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