I took the day off on Friday to attend the Kendal Lehari clinic at our local schooling and ex Horse Trial facility, Canterdown Farms. Kendal is young adult rider who has brought up an OTTB from the track to ride around Rolex sucessfully. Since watching her ride around Rolex I have wanted to catch a lesson with her. As this clinic was just 20 minutes from my house - it was the perfect opportunity!
Since William has been going really well, and Penny is not quite fit enough, I thought it a great chance for Parker to go off property again and I could use an expert opinion on how his training is going and what her thoughts are on him as an event horse.
We started the lesson after introductions working at the trot. Kendal told me that although Parker is green he is strong enough that I can start to ask him to work into a deeper frame and to lift his shoulders and himself into the contact. She encouraged me to use lots of leg and a little counter flexing to help with his racehorse crookedness. Once we were warmed up we did some lengthening and shortening exercises. 5 strides of lengthen and then 5 strides of shorten, repeated many times. I was happy with Parker on this as he did exactly as I asked and we have not worked on adjustability at all yet.
Again we asked for him to come deeper onto the bridle and by the end of the flat work he was feeling very under himself and supple into the contact. We started over some canter poles which Parker did easily. We always do lots of pole work at home and it pays off at times like this. Next she put a cross rail, then a vertical in, with a placing pole in front. We were to canter in and count the strides to the fence concentrating on staying as straight as possible. She had us sit the canter to these fences which is different from my usual style as I have a really bad habit of getting left behind - but it seemed to work well for Parker.
Some horses in the group were jumping hard to the side and not wanting to jump straight. Kendal set up a "V" on the front facing side of the jump to encourage horses to jump straight and up and over the fence. The first time through Parker hit his stride perfectly and had a nice lofty round jump over the vertical. We moved from a vertical to an oxer, then she closed the V tighter and moved the oxer up to about 3'3. This was a big jump for Parkie who has only schooled about 2'6 at home but he attacked it like an ol pro!
|forgot my gloves :(|
After working through the single fences we did a serpentine exercise. It consisted of a vertical with placing poles on either side, then a pole in the middle, then another jump set up as the first. We were to canter through on a Serpentine and work on being straight over the fence and getting our lead in the air. I wasn't sure how Parker would be in this as our steering is a still bit rusty. He really surprised me though, turned off my outside aids and got all his leads each time. This horse is really clever with his legs and the more I do with him the more he impresses me.
We then headed out to cross where we started on some little logs and moved up from there. My group was mostly riders who are competing at the PT level (Novice in US) so Kendal told me to jump what I felt comfortable with as we went along. Parker was being amazing - ridiculously brave and quiet to the fences. He was a tad strong after the fences but I was riding in a little snaffle - and I will take that any day over not being forward!
We tackled most of the Pre Training fences - along with the water and two big ditches. After we jumped the first ditch (a training/Prelim ditch) she asked if he had ever jumped one before to which I replied - nope! laughing. It was really quite something to be on this horse who is still so green and yet he takes to jumping so naturally. Kendal complimented me on Parker and said she couldn't get over how brave he was and that he was a special horse and will take me far. Not sure what more you hope to hear from a clinic but needless to say I was pretty thrilled.
I was completely impressed by Parker. He was cool, calm, and showed some major talent sparks. I got a few ideas on where to go next with him and a lot of encouragement from Kendal and spectators that he is the nice boy I have always thought and hoped him to be. So very proud of my big bay boy right now. :)