Don’t miss Topsider Farm’s clinic with Whit Watkins, a USDF Gold Medalist with experience teaching a variety of students from newcomers to dressage to Grand Prix accomplished instructors in Texas.
Her supportive teaching style has been a huge hit at our barn and we are thrilled to host her again!
-McKenzie Mull, Topsider Farm
Sign up for the full weekend, or just one day. If you’re unable to participate as a rider in the clinic, check out the single and multi day auditing options! Lunch, snacks, and drinks are included in the auditing fee. Auditors should sign up online by the 21st.
If you are interested in riding in the clinic, please contact McKenzie directly for more information and to sign-up.
Debbie Bowman came to Sara Denim’s Denali for two days of lessons over the Memorial Day weekend. A nice breeze contributed to an already lovely site for a clinic with a covered arena with great footing in a peaceful, natural setting. Several members of BACH participated.
Thirteen people brought their lawn chairs and attended the saddle fitting lecture put on by Schleese Saddlery under the manicured and very cool, breezy covered arena at Topsider Farms. A big thanks to Schleese who are headquartered in Ontario, Topsider Farms owned by McKenzie Mull and Michelle Voorhees who was managing that day. Also to Charlie Sokolov, a Schleese Client Services Manager, and her mare Rosie who patiently permitted to be used as a demonstration horse.
Schleese prides itself on their ability to fit riders and horses comfortably. The difference between male and female anatomy as it relates to the position in the saddle were explained. Saddles that were invented for men (think cavalry) have not changed until relatively recently to accommodate the female anatomy (think wider hips, longer thighs). We learned that men can ride in anything but women need a different saddle to be comfortable.
Saddles that were much more thoughtful when horses were needed to make war and get from point A to point B became less thoughtful and more disposable with the advent of mass production. Some of the principles of saddle making that accommodate the horse’s motion were lost for a while. But Schleese is dedicated to bringing them back in the saddles that they make.
Rosie became a chalk board while the equine muscles that are supposed to support the saddle were traced out and the anatomical parts which are NOT supposed to be involved with the saddle were also pointed out.
Scheelse does like to custom fit each horse and rider if possible but will work with other makes of saddles if they are adjustable. Many saddles consist of foam panels and cannot be reflocked although some will allow you to change the tree at the withers. Schleese trees can be manipulated in an instrument that will spread or narrow the tree and contain wool flocking only.
We were able to see an actual saddle fitting while Rosie got her dressage and Western saddles re-fitted and Charlie rode after each adjustment. Charlie gave us her take on each adjustment and one could see that Rosie liked things better, more willing to go forward or easier in the canter transition.
And what about the pros who ride many different horses each day? Well, Schleese makes a saddle called “the Pro”, a saddle that averages the measurements of most horses (not shetlands to drafts, no) especially for that purpose.
We all might go home and take another look at our saddles after this. I do have a Schleese and I use mine on a daily basis and since I only have one horse to ride, I can fit it to him and I enjoy knowing that if he is not very cooperative that day, at least it is NOT the saddle.
BACH president and professional trainer, Jennifer Skinner, demonstrated the beginning elements of trailer loading to a small group of BACH members at Still Creek ranch on April 23rd. Her helpers were her daughter, Sarah, and Nitro, a very nice 4-yr-old warmblood with limited trailering experience.
To begin with, Jennifer had Nitro show us how he responded to her cues on the line, changing direction going to the right or left and easily staying with her on a light contact. I asked Jennifer how long it would take to get a horse to that stage. “Three or four days”, she answered. Having done some ground work myself, I would say that was very optimistic for most of us, but I digress.
Next, since Nitro easily responds to poll pressure, he led right into the trailer. “Well, there is another skill set that needs to be in place before you can begin this process”, I thought. If you already have to drag a horse around to get him close to the trailer, nothing good is going to happen.
However, most of the time Jennifer spent in teaching Nitro to come off the trailer, insisting that he come off step-by-step and teaching him to stop midway with his hind feet on the ground while his fronts were still in the trailer. She patiently loaded and unloaded him until he would stop at any moment, stepping off the trailer so that he went backwards in baby steps until he felt the step. Having seen horses come blowing out of a trailer, ramp or step-down and nearly slip or fall, I thought this was very smart. I think, in general, we spend too much time thinking about getting the horse on the trailer and no planning for getting off.
Also, how many of us practice loading and unloading our horses without going anywhere just as a training session?
Throughout the demo, Jennifer gave us a lot of tips and insights into her thoughts and methods on training horses from the ground. It was easy to see that Nitro came already with a lot of training and trust even though he was not that familiar with trailering. I was thinking to myself that we need another session or two about making sure our horses are ready for a successful trailering session. Standby.
Equally as important as your horse loading & unloading is the maintenance and attention to your trailer! Check out another post written by Julie Brown where she talks about “must haves” in her toolbox, checklists for before and during trips, and other helpful tips to keep in mind when on the road. Find that post here: Trailer Maintenance and Safety Preparation.
You can learn more about Jennifer on her Professional’s Corner page here: Jennifer Skinner.
On-The-Bit Farms has a nice open feel to it that my horse loves. How is it that horses can tell when they are at a place that is run by expert horsemen, where horses are the priority? The property is tree-lined and peaceful. There is a large open space for warming up and the full dressage arena that has the amazing Lightfoot footing.
Five BACH members participated in a Ride-A-Test there with Donna Meyer on April 2, 2022. One thing that we did not have to worry about was the weather, which was perfect. Each rider performed two tests with 30 minutes in-between rides for comments and help by Donna.
After each ride, Donna picked out the fundamentals of the tests that needed the most attention and spent the next 30 minutes with the horse and rider giving them the profit of her years of experience as a judge and a trainer and an instructor. She gave them the perspective of the judge, helped them to understand the whys of the movements, got down to some of the underlying problems and also suggested exercises to help with each of these. It was a very productive day. Donna has so much experience riding and judging (she holds an “r” for dressage and an “R” for Western dressage). She is always engaged and nothing escapes her eye.
Karin Loftin brought her leased mare, Faith, who was completely unfazed about hauling in to a new property to perform two Training Level tests.
They were followed by Kelli Johnson and her very tall horse, Banker, who is breaking into First Level.
Then Rita Nedrow, an Aggie eventer who is going to Nationals this spring, brought her 5-year-old, self-started, TB mare, Rory.
And finally, Amy Raines rode her 20-year-old horse, Max.
Jinny Johnson scribed in the morning and one of the Aggie Eventers, Katy Vasquez, scribed in the afternoon. Katy will also be going to Nationals. We wish Rita and Katy the best in their endeavors!
So you are trotting up the center line, wearing your nice dressage apparel and on your well-groomed horse. And just as you get to X, your horse does his version of a capriole and dumps you in the dirt. What set him off?
Let’s start with “the obvious suspects”—people trying to take the perfect close-up photo and hanging over the railing, small running children in the arena, flapping things (flags, blankets, papers on clipboards), and other people’s horses acting up. Now let’s get to others: remember the pigeons in the old arena at Cedar Trace? How about the blood from de-horned cattle at Freeman Arena? (You couldn’t smell it but your horse sure could!) There are some memorable ones: hot air balloons going overhead (Wuff! Chuff!), pigs next door, and the night-time lesson when the barn cat let a live rat loose in the arena and both the cat and a dog chased it under the horse’s feet (oh, please, please halt!) .
So what can you do? At a show, the management can insist that spectators keep their distance and warn people with small children to stay away from the horses. But what can you do otherwise? Start by acclimating your horse to areas outside of your covered arena. Is there a pasture where you can ride? Can you ride with somebody whose horse is a wise old-timer who will not react? If all you do is practice inside an arena (same test, same time of day, etc.,) you are setting yourself up for trouble. So do something different! Are there some trees, bushes, or maybe some jumps in your field? Do some figure S’s or pole-bending around them at your gait of choice. Will your horse hop over a tiny ditch or a mud puddle? Can you lean away from your horse to open a gate or grab something? How does your horse react to a flag, a blanket over his head, or you putting on a flappy jacket or raincoat? Can your horse back up? If you need inspiration, look up some training exercises for the western trail class. No, you do not need to ride through a pen of armadillos or a cloud from a fog machine, nor do you need to pick up a raw animal hide or shoot a pistol.
It’s a good idea to get out of a rut no matter what level you ride.
April 23, 2022 – Still Creek Ranch Our new president Jennifer Skinner will be leading an informational clinic on trailer loading, safety, and problem solving. Useful for all disciplines, ages, and experience levels!
Teaching to Load
Preventing aversions to loading
Fix the problem loader
“In my decades in the horse world one of the most common and frustrating issues I’ve seen people face is horses with anxiety over trailer loading. I have studied the horse and how they communicate with each other and I’ve spent hours upon hours working with hall of fame horseman forming an ability to communicate trust and respect with our equine partners. This clear cut communication has enabled me to help train young horses to be confide loaders and help older horses overcome their trailer loading difficulties. Come join us to learn valuable tools to help you and your horse be able to confidently load in and out of any trailer.” -Jennifer
This event will be open to the community at no charge! We encourage everyone to attend to learn what BACH is all about and join a community of like-minded horse enthusiasts. We will have membership forms available at the clinic, or you can download one here to send in: Membership Form.
Landsafe: The Most Important Clinic Ever February 26-27, 2022 – Southwind Meadows Farm in Brenham, TX
For our February Member activity, BACH will cover $10 of the Auditing Fee for current members who want to audit or attend the Landsafe clinic. Auditing Fees: $25 for one day of auditing. $40 for two days
LANDSAFE HAS 3 MAIN GOALS:
1. Save lives
2. Reduce injuries
3. Increase safety education of parents and riders
For more information about the Landsafe clinic, check out the information and links in the section below or call/text/email Julie Brown. 979.220.3175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: Anchor Equestrian at SouthWind Meadows 3300 Farm to Market 390 E Brenham, TX 77833
For more information please contact: Keli Warrington Keli@landsafeequestrian.com 484-459-4974 (text or call) or visit: Landsafe Website.
To Officially Register for Clinic: Please click on the following link to register – LandSafe Clinic- Texas A&M Eventing Team at Anchor Equestrian (striderpro.com) The link will direct you to the Strider website to sign up. To register please follow the prompts through the required fields, then use your credit card or pay pal to check out. You will receive a payment confirmation when complete.
AUDITING IS WELCOME! $25 for one day of auditing. $40 for two days No charge for parents to audit who have a child in the clinic