It’s hard to actually count the first Clinician as a trainer because the circumstances for that lesson were not of the regular sign-up-for-a-spot variety. You see, the local Arabian club, of which I was a part, wanted to bring in a dressage clinician. Although to this day I’m not really sure why as only three or four of the members even participate in dressage. Anyhow, I am a good sport and knew that spots needed filling so I offered to bring my endurance horses for lessons. I paid for two spots even though I didn’t know the first thing about dressage. I figured a lesson would be fun and who knew, I might even learn something. So, I saddled Speedy G in my full endurance tack and entered at I don’t know where as I’d never been in a dressage court before. We may have actually stepped over the rail to enter, good trail practice and all that. What must the clinician have thought?
That was actually my first formal lesson outside of the handful that I received from my grandma when I was a little girl. She had a small farm where she boarded horses and gave jumping lessons. Those lessons didn’t last long although I have a few memories of learned skills. That’s where I learned to pick hooves although it was a scary lesson as I watched someone cut out too much frog and to my young eyes at least, it looked as though the horse had been hurt. I also learned to open a horse’s mouth in order to ease in the bit. That was also scary as I was quite leery of the many teeth I saw. No one showed me that there were no teeth on the horse’s bars. You can read more about my experiences with my grandma here.
Anyway, my first “real” lesson came from that LA Trainer who had to school a woman on a young Arabian decked out in endurance gear. That was in September of 2008. The thing about that lesson though was that it opened my eyes to a whole different way of using my horse. I was genuinely intrigued with the concepts of dressage and knew that real lessons could help me become a better rider. I called Trainer #1, and while I didn’t yet aspire to become a dressage rider per se, I did commit to lessons once a month. Six months after the clinic, I bought a Wintec dressage saddle, and a year later, a better Wintec dressage saddle. Twenty-one months after the clinic, I rode my last endurance ride, and then I bought an even better dressage saddle. I was all in!
Somehow, through a spur-of-the-moment offer to fill up a dressage clinic, I left one discipline where I was competing successfully to begin a new one that I knew nothing about. Life sure does take us funny places, doesn’t it? And who knows? Someday I may write about taking my thoroughbred to a barrel racing clinic to help fill up a spot!
Click photos for captions and larger view.