Debbie McDonald Clinic

This past Monday, Debbie McDonald visited Somerset Farms in Longmont, Colorado, to give a one-day clinic. It was a great follow-up to lessons I had with her in Florida this past winter.
Debbie was, as always, kind, professional, and helpful to all. She improved every rider, focusing with many on developing self-carriage and not, as she put it “allowing the horse to fall forward like a snowball rolling downhill”.
Some riders were reminded to soften their arms and hands, and to not “hang” on the reins. All riders, regardless of level, were asked to practice transitions, both between gaits and within gaits, in order to improve “throughness” and balance. Debbie payed close attention to the quality of the walk, making sure the horses were relaxed while carrying themselves forward. She did not allow even the simplest upward transition to be performed until the rider had the horse balanced and “through” in the lower gait. The same was true for the downward transitions. Riders had to balance and prepare their horses using carefully ridden half halts before asking for these transitions. Rider’s positions were also corrected, to my delight, as I have always felt that a rider who is out of position/alignment or is out of balance can never fairly ask the horse to be in balance.
Overall, it was a wonderful clinic, filled with gems of wisdom and much encouragement. Thank-you, Debbie, for a great learning experience for all! S.H.

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