Lucinda Green Clinic 2013
Clinic Report: Lucinda Green Cross Country Clinic
By Annette Kuhnley
(Annette’s participation in this clinic was funded by a CSDEA Scholarship and she wrote this article for the Fall 2013 issue of Cross Country).
My horse and I were excited to return to Wake Robin Farm in Mayer, Minn., to attend the Lucinda Green Cross Country Clinic hosted by venue owner Sue Slocum. Lucinda Green became an international eventing star riding for the British Equestrian Team. She has won Badminton a record six times on six different horses and has also won Britain’s prestigious Tony Collins Trophy a record seven times. She currently travels the world teaching clinics, is a member of the Board of Directors of the British Horse Trials Association, and a British Equestrian Team selector.
On June 6 and 7, the Seattle-like weather we had been experiencing miraculously held off; both days were overcast and cool, but no rain fell. The footing was surprising good, considering all the moisture that the ground had to absorb.
Lucinda is an engaging instructor, focused less on perfect turnout and equitation than on safe, calm, effective riding. Each day before class started, she checked every rider’s tack adjustment and safety, and made tactful changes where she thought necessary.
The first day, Thursday, Lucinda had our group of Novice level horses warm up over some stadium fences. She then quickly increased the concentration and skill required of both horse and rider by composing courses with angled lines and difficult, short approaches. She stressed that the rider’s legs should be connected to the horse’s eyes, forming a “tube” steering him/her to the next obstacle and maintaining the necessary amount of impulsion. After each course, the rider was required to stop and settle his/her horse in a straight line, Lucinda stressing balance, calmness, control, and reward.
My horse has struggled with my too-forward position, which I have strived to adjust. For some reason, I have it in my head that I can help him jump by climbing up his neck. He’s an athletic, forgiving guy and can usually deal with even my worst offences.
That day, I tumbled over an oxer that he sensibly refused as I didn’t develop the necessary impulsion when I had the opportunity to do so, and my position was particularly egregious.
Lucinda’s comment was that a horse is like a teeter-totter: if the rider is too far forward, the horse cannot be in front of the leg. Watching the other riders cope with the courses Lucinda dreamed up helped to illustrate to me that, whether the horse reaches a good spot or not, if the rider can stay back and use the “tube” to coil the spring, her horse can jump that question safely and successfully.
On Friday, Lucinda began with a demanding exercise set up lengthwise on the Irish bank: barrels on both ramped approaches with a skinny bounce up top.
Again, she emphasized creating the tube with your legs to communicate effectively with your horse where he was to go next. As the group progressed throughout the day, Lucinda stressed that when a rider presents the horse to a fence, the horse will do one of two things: he will either ask a question or make a statement. The rider should answer the horse’s question or respond to his statement with the leg. If the rider presents the horse to a fence and he says nothing – he hasn’t seen it yet, meaning the rider hasn’t been communicating with the tube soon enough before the fence.
In her wonderful British accent, she emphasized again that the horse’s eyes are connected to the rider’s legs. The group then negotiated the double banks and the Irish bank on our way to the ditch complex.
At the end of day on Friday, Lucinda sent us out on courses of our own design, over the entire field. It was exciting to watch the other horses and riders jumping all of the opportunities (water, steeplechase, banks, ditches) safely and successfully, and to experience that myself with my partner.
I had first read of Lucinda’s accomplishments in a book called Women and Horses, by Gillian Newsom. I brought my copy of the book to the clinic and at the wonderful dinner Thursday night, it was a treat to listen to the memories it sparked as Lucinda paged through it. Women and Horses is a great read about the relationship between us ladies and horses throughout history. Thanks, Lucinda, for signing my copy; I will need all the “good luck” I can get!
I’m looking forward to riding with Lucinda Green again, and riding at Wake Robin Farm.