Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We Love Jimmy!

Yay for Jimmy! We love Jimmy! We want more!

Thank you so much to Jim Wofford and to everyone who came out to play today - what a fantastic time we had!!! Jim is always so wonderful, but today especially, he did not disappoint. He had the whole arena laughing over and over again - and oh did he have the horses on their toes! Starting with just a pole on the ground, Jim would say to rider after rider "oh, stick around"... and sure enough, the transformation in the horses was fantastic.

The first group - gymnastics beginners - gave Jim a full range of horses to mold into perfection. The crazy one. The lazy one. The 'I so scared' one. And the two - who said, bring it on, Mr. Wofford. Jim explained that from America to New Zealand and back to Ireland - 9 feet is 2 steps. Not one step. Not four steps. 2 steps. And achieving a proper two steps is critical to set you up for success through everything else.

Jim claimed to be channelling Linda Zang when he started the exercises with one goal: forward. He'd compress them later, but first the horses must learn to be in front of the leg.

Quite a few folks were subjected to Jim's tricks of the trade - the ol' bicycle grip and the bat under the chin. Those of us who have, ourselves, been subjected to these had a good chuckle at the looks of horror as they exclaimed in disbelief, "you want me to jump like this?!" - and we loved when the horses miraculously changed for the better - we knew it would happen, but that didn't make it any less miraculous!

I especially enjoyed listening to Jim speak about some differences between teaching eventers versus hunters, which I haven't heard him explain before. For one, Jim said an eventer can never be punished for punching forward and leaving long at a fence. Eventers must learn that no matter how they get to a fence, they must jump. Their life may depend on it some day. Whereas hunters must be told, oh no, no, you do not punch out in that last step because everything for them is about not ever disturbing that perfect approach.

If you want to know what a "low-wide oxer" is to Jim Wofford - this is it. The Prelim group got up to 4'6" wide, and maybe 10" high. The Novice/Training group got up to about 3'6" wide. One of my favorite moments in the clinic was when there was a little mis-communication with the jump crew and they began to set the "low-wide oxer" at 3'6" high. It was about 3' wide at the time, and just 18' (one stride) from a small bounce. As the jump crew was working behind Jim to set the oxer to 3'6" high, Jim was having a talk with the riders (who were watching the oxer go up to what seemed an incredible height so close to the tiny bounce). When Jim turned around and saw the mistake, he realized while all 6 riders had turned white as ghosts while he was talking! Oh the relief when he said, "no no - 10" high, 3'6" wide!" I thought a couple riders might just pass out right there, overcome by relief!


While every rider was a super star today, I have to say that I was extra proud of my students who rode today - Kerry, Debi, Holly, and Jenna. As an instructor, it's fantastic to see these guys work hard, improve, and get to have FUN in clinics like this. It's also a tremendous learning opportunity for me to get feedback from a keen eye like Jimmy - are we on track? are we working on the right things? have we assessed the horse/rider right? where do we go from here? I read something a while ago by, I think, Courtney King-Dye, who said Lendon Gray didn't have her teach the younger more inexperienced riders. Nope! She had to teach the riders who were older and better and more experienced! JEEZE - what a concept! Learn to teach by teaching someone who actually knows if you're right or wrong! For me, watching my students ride with a master like Jimmy is a little bit of that kind of teaching practice.

But the hero of the day goes to my Baywood friend and hunter rider, Jessica. I wouldn't want to embarrass her by telling the whole sequence of events, but lets just say that it ended with THE Jim Wofford exclaiming that she could give many of his event riders a real lesson in stickability! No matter what Jessica ever does or doesn't do for the rest of her life, the girl has got some serious street cred with me for surviving over not one, not two, but three oxers while things were going horribly wrong! Now... to begin making my plots to convert her to eventing!!

I took quite a bit of video, but it's going to take me a couple of days to get everything edited and posted - check back soon!

Thank you so much to Sharon Boyle who took almost all the awesome photos in this post! Check out more of them at the Baywood Facebook page!

1 comment:

  1. please explain crop under the chin, I am really intrigued!