On Saturday I gave my first clinic! Let's just say Friday night was spent doing some furious planning and serious freaking out! I agreed to do clinics on both general English riding and showmanship for a local(ish) 4-H club. I was in 4-H when I was younger, so I know that it's an awesome program and I was definitely interested in giving back (not to mention it will look great on my vet school application).
Sorry, I have no video or pictures, so this is one super long, text-filled post! I apologize in advance!
Friday night I was feeling much more nervous about the riding portion than the showmanship, but in the end it was the opposite!
To make sure everything started off on the right foot, I got a flat tire while driving down the MAJOR 4-lane highway on my way to the clinic. Talk about a great start! I know how to change a tire, but that highway is so busy and there was hardly any shoulder, so there was no way I was going to try it! I called roadside assistance to request a tow-truck to come do it and they said it would be 40 minutes. 5 minutes later, as I was dialing the number of the 4-H leader to say I'd be late, a SUV pulled over and a man and his son got out and offered to change my tire. Oh my gosh, things like this never happen anymore. I've changed my tire twice in the city (once in the Mr. Lube parking lot) and no EVER stops to help. But these 2 awesome guys stopped and changed my tire right there, despite the cars whizzing by at 120 km/h (70 mph) non-stop. Seriously, these guys made my week. Possibly month!
So once I finally made it to the clinic (only 10 minutes late), I started my first clinic! It's a pretty small club and a lot of the riders were gone and/or only ride western, so I only had 2 girls in my clinic, 10 and about 12. One girl is what I would call an 'advanced beginner'. She had obviously been taking additional lessons and was pretty solid in the trot. Her canter gave her more trouble though; she had trouble picking up the right lead and she tended to pump with her upper body. Oh my goodness though, her lower leg was absolutely gorgeous! Natural talent there and a ton of focus already.
The other girl was green as grass! I think she had only ridden English a handful of times before and her horse was a lazy old ranch horse. She sure was a cutie though! She had so much trouble keeping an even trot and she was a bit weak, so it was often tough to tell what diagonal she was on, especially when she could only keep a trot for a relative short time. Plus, when it came to the canter, her horse was so lazy she would kick and kiss and either be lucky and get a canter for a quarter of the arena or have to stop because she was so out of breath. But in the end she got a half loop around the arena and we were both very happy!
I tried to keep things interesting by doing lots of different things with the girls. They trotted circles, trotted around the arena, worked on the canter in a large circle, worked on the canter in the full arena, trotted a circuit through some cones and even practiced the two-point at the trot. I also had them do some equitation patterns, which I think taught them a lot about straight lines and even circles. All-in-all, I think it went pretty well for my first time! The leader said she saw a definite improvement over the clinic.
Next was showmanship, which turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. I had 4 kids for this one and 2 of them were brand new and had no clue of what showmanship was about. It was really difficult to try to teach them how to do showmanship at the same time as they need to train their horse to do showmanship, since none of the horses had any clue about showmanship either. I swear I must have said "this will come, you just need to practice at home" a hundred times. I saw some improvement and I drilled all of them on their quarters and reminded them "The judge is always watching. Don't stop showing until the judge hands in their card!" and "Smile!!"
I felt pretty bad because one boy had a pretty green horse and the horse kept spooking and moving away when I would walk around it to do the inspection. He was pretty upset after, so I told him it has happened to me in a show (true story) and that he just needs to get the horse used to it. But it's hard when you're only 12 or so!
But it made me feel pretty good when one of the girls I had for both clinics practically begged me to come back the next day and teach her more! I told her there were other people coming to teach and she replied "yeah, but you're better." Can't get a much bigger complement than that!