Clinic Recap: Sally Collins @ Burkwood

Clinic Recap: Sally Collins @ Burkwood

Sally Collins is something of a local legend. She’s been a pro for over forty years, is a USEF licensed hunters/equitation judge, and previously held the position of president of the WSHJA. TrainerM, LJO, and InstructorA all lesson with her semi-regularly. The other day I was admiring a horse’s flying changesβ€”guess who put those on? And who judged the IHSA show back in February? And who was doling out advice on the sidelines at the hunter derby I photographed in June? That’s right, Sally Collins.

I’ve never taken a lesson with Sally Collins. She’s a serious, traditional lady, and I’m not a very serious, traditional rider. She’s got a good eye and a blunt way of doling out advice. She’s the type of person that once she starts to teach, the whole ring becomes her arenaβ€”high expectations, good work ethic required.

I’ve def been chewed out by Sally for my jerkwad horse interrupting one of her lessons with his antics πŸ™„

The first rider of the day was training for the Zone 9 Maclay Regionals. She was jumping big fences and Sally was really digging down into the nitty gritty of her performance. The second rider was a six year old that just wanted to have fun bombing around on her pony, Buzz Buzz. Talk about a big difference!


I’m not going to lie, Sally Collins is intimidating. I’ve only ever seen her teach incredibly talented, experienced riders, so a part of me just assumed that she always demanded excellence. When the kids started riding, though, an unexpectedly soft side of Sally Collins came out.

“Imagine yourself succeeding,” Sally told a very nervous young rider. “Picture yourself jumping over it. You’re much better at this than you think you are.”

My biggest takeaway from the clinic was actually something that InstructorA said (that she may or may not have heard from Sally Collins)! She used the phrase “rhythm is balance, pace is distance”β€”the idea that you can use the rhythm of the horse to help you balance, while the pace that you set helps you find your distance. Rhythm and balance working in harmony is what allows the horse and rider to work as a team.

By the end of the day, I was kicking myself for not taking InstructorA up on her offer to haul Raglan in for the clinic. I had this picture built up in my head that I wasn’t a good enough rider to lesson under Sally Collins, that she would make me feel out of shape and incompetent, but after watching her teach so many riders of differing skill levels, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to ride, too. You would think by now I’d have learned that it’s always better to say yes when opportunity strikes!

Lesson Recap: More Cow

Lesson Recap: More Cow

Two days before my lesson with TrainerM, this is what I posted on Instagram:

SHOULDERS BACK. In all caps. Needless to say, I wasn’t at all surprised when one of TrainerM’s first criticisms during my lesson was that I needed to stick my boobs out and push my shoulders back more.

“You know how in yoga there’s those two poses, the cat and the cow?” TrainerM said, arching her back in demonstration. “I need you to be less cat, more cow.”

One of the students had set up a small course. TrainerM had me stay in my two point (yaaaaay muscles) and come into all the fences at the trot (a good challenge for Raglan, since he has to work more to rock back and lift his front end up when he’s at a slower pace). I focused on staying forward, pushing my chest out, and keeping my leg on whenever he got distracted by the farm next door.

The first time we went through the outside line, he landed from the first element and went hard left. I pulled his nose back onto the track I wanted it and kicked him forward. He buckled down and got serious about his job, giving me a very nice jump over the second part of the line. Landing and going straight is so important. He made a couple more small mistakes, but I gave him the room to learn from them without letting him take advantage of me and I think he came away from it with a better understanding of his job.

It’s been hard to get back to work after having a few very chill weeks! I only had the endurance to jump for ~30 minutes. My cardio was okay, but my left leg started giving up after so much two point.

Good news, though: I’m officially back on the weekly lesson schedule! Raglan and I will be joining a Monday group jump session with TrainerM for the foreseeable future. It’s going to be nice to have an exercise set up for us every week. I think it’s going to give us something to work for everyday and keep us on track and progressing! I’ve really been missing that structure in my life.

Quarterly Goals: Autumn 2018

Quarterly Goals: Autumn 2018

════ SUMMER WRAP UP ════

Ride outside more often βœ“ Still not our favorite thing to do, but he’s definitely improved out there.
Raglan’s first trail ride βœ“ It was short, but thanks to InstructorA we did get a chance to go on a trail!
Sell Miley & pay off debt βœ“ All of my debt isn’t gone, but selling the Miley did pay off a chunk.
Buy a saddle that fits us βœ“ Still waiting for delivery, but I’m so excited for the Prestige!
Practice a dressage test βœ— We did some of the movements from a couple of tests, but no full run through.
Jump a full course βœ“ Can’t remember what day we did this, but I’m 95% sure that it happened.


════ AUTUMN GOALS ════

Improve his flying changes

Adjust to riding in the Prestige

Jump twice a week, every week

Clinic OR schooling show

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