I am not an eventer at all, but I decided to audit a Boyd Martin clinic because I am actually interested in riding cross country. Not competitively, because I am a still a huge weenie, but it’d be fun to go schooling, or take on some jumps on trails or hunter paces. Why not get my introduction to it from an Olympic rider? Seems like the obvious thing to do! But I was not ready to ride in it yet. I like to put my toe in the pool before I jump in, check out the situation, see what happens at these types of things. I don’t even know what size the jumps are for beginner novice, but I feel like Berry should be consistent at 2’6″ before we do it.
*Note to self – find out heights of jumps as to not sound ignorant.
After a few days of lovely warm weather, the morning of the clinic was bitterly cold and windy. Winter had decided it didn’t make enough of an impact and decided to return. There was even a small bit of snow on the ground. For once, I took this at face value and actually bundled up. But unfortunately, it was still not enough and the cold was a definite deterrent to standing out in a field any longer than the two hours we were there.
The clinic took place at Hunt Club Farms, located in Berryville, Virginia. The facility is gorgeous, and had a lovely lounge where I hung out to get the feeling back in my legs.
We got goodie bags for auditing. That was a nice perk!
It came with a bunch of products from Effol for both horse and rider, none of which I’ve tried before, so I’m really excited about getting to try these out.
I planned my day to come see the beginner novice group go, which was the first group. Since I am basically an elderly woman at this point, and use mapquest/written directions/my memory of a map, I ended up getting lost on the way there and missed the introduction. But my friend who I convinced to come stand out in the cold with me filled me in. Boyd Martin was introducted, the riders and horses were introduced, and he had them start out in the main arena. They jumped a single, I think for him to get a feel of where they were, and then they moved out to the cross country field.
Hunt Club Farms cross country field is insane. I have never seen so many cross country jumps in the same field. It seemed as though they had at least one of every kind of obstacle, and in some/most cases, had many different sizes, options, and positions of them. It was quite impressive.
Unfortunately, a major downside to the clinic was the wind was so loud, we frequently couldn’t hear Boyd Martin talking. So much of it was watching the gorgeous horses and riders ride wonderfully, and talking with the other auditors. At one point, several of us hid behind a bush to block the wind, and just discussed the pretty horses.
We stayed for the entire beginner novice lesson, and part of the novice lesson. It seemed like Boyd Martin had a general plan he followed for both of the groups.
Introduction in the riding arena
Riders jumped a few jumps for Boyd Martin to get a feel for their riding.
Introduction to the cross country field
Riders started with a single log, and were then given a course that took them pretty far away from the group over several coops, and then came back around to jump a bench, and a brush jump. I heard him discussing striding with a rider, telling her to get a short 6, but unfortunately I did not understand the context of this.
We all moved over to a bank complex with a many different options. The group was started by approaching the bank at a walk or a trot and worked on just getting their horse to jump up it. The group did this all in a line, following each other over the jump. Boyd explained that this was the one jump you absolutely cannot be left behind on. It’s extremely important to stay with your horse, and he had them grab mane and hang on for dear life going up. They got one test of trotting up it, and then were told to approach at a slow canter.
Then it was time for the down jump. Boyd told everyone the horse is used to upward jumps, and needs to learn to jump downward. Therefore, everyone needed to keep their hands low to emphasize the downward jump.
Once they had done the down jump a few times, Boyd immediately added in other jumps and made a full course. They started with a nearby log, and then an upward bank on the opposite side, the down bank they’d been practicing on, circle back to a different option next to it, and then down the field for some coops/houses. Everyone did well, although a crowd favorite decided the additional jumps were not her thing, but Boyd told the rider to follow another horse and she did fine. Good to know that is an accepted method coming from an Olympic rider.
They moved over to a different section to began work on ditches. Everyone did really well on them though, with no visible issues. It was hard to tell though, because this is when we hid behind the bush.
Again, once the ditch element was introduced, Boyd had everyone add in other jumps to do a course.
Boyd said he likes to start all horses with just walking into the water, so they all went quietly in. Once they were in the water, he wasted no time in telling them to trot out over a small bank.
They all did the trot bank in a line, and then circled back for the return to the water. They all went through it a few times, and then he added in various jumps from the surrounding area. He gave them the option of doing the bigger banks, which several of them took.
After they had all done the course a couple of times, the lesson was over. The hour and a half went by in a flash.
Now I want to take one. I was talking to someone from Hunt Club Farms afterward, and I asked her if Boyd Martin would be back next year, because I think I’d be ready then. She told me he’d likely be back later this year, and also he really liked working with green horses, so she was sure I’d still get a great experience from it. I believe the gray was green, and she did great. That is reassuring. Still need to check the heights of BN though….
I really wish I had been able to hear though. It kind of stinks I only heard snippets from the lesson. But the riders all did great, so I think that speaks a lot for the level of instruction.
Gallery of pictures below!