Clinic Held at Equestrian Center
McLendon Hills Equestrian Center hosted a Sport Horse Versatility (SHV) clinic given by Linda Hoover May 18. Seventeen riders took part in the Sport Horse Versatility clinic, drawing from the Sandhills area, the Triangle area and from as far away as Virginia.
Sport Horse Versatility is a new sport developed by Hoover that emphasizes the partnership between horse and rider, the single most important component in any riding endeavor. SHV debuted its first competition this year at the Dressage Schooling Show series in Pinehurst and followed up with another competition at the Dressage in the Sandhills show earlier in May.
Depending upon the skill level of the horses and of the riders, riders were asked to negotiate a series of obstacles with their horses. The riders negotiated the obstacles unmounted, while Hoover instructed the riders on the importance of knowing the placement of a horse's feet as well as on how to support their horses as they were learning how to cope with strange and unfamiliar objects. When the horses were comfortable with the obstacles, the riders were then instructed to mount their horses and negotiate the obstacles under saddle with greater emphasis now being placed on "feeling" the placement of the horse's feet, feeling any tension in the horse's body and responding appropriately with the correct set of aids to support the horse as it went through the learning process. This approach of feeling your horse, directing your horse and responding in a way that supports your horse, forms the basis of a willing partnership between horse and rider, one that is applicable to winning a ribbon in the show ring or crossing a creek on the trail.
Despite the threat of rain and the very windy conditions throughout the day, all participants successfully negotiated the obstacles and left the clinic with more insight into the horse/human relationship.
Amie Racine, McLendon Hills resident, was pleasantly surprised by what she and her two horses were able to accomplish. "I would never have thought that either of my horses could go through half the obstacles, or that I would have the nerve to actually ride over them. It taught me a great deal about the reciprocity of trust in a partnership with my horses."
Becky Armfield, from Jamestown, offered the following comment regarding her experience. "I think what I was most impressed by is how much my horse was listening to me, even with all the 'scary' obstacles and the wind whipping things around. I truly felt like her trust in me, and her respect for me, was greatly enhanced," she said.
The importance of tailoring your training techniques to the horse's perspective was further emphasized by another clinic participant Liz Holden from Carthage, said, "It is an enlightening experience to be able to communicate with your horse and work through a problem without its turning it into a fight. The horse and rider become one at that point and the experience is positive for both."
"What is of critical importance is not necessarily how you view your horse, but how your horse views you," said clinician Linda Hoover. For information on SHV, contact Linda Hoover at 910-639-9910 or www.SportHorseVersatility
McLendon Hills Equestrian Center events planned for the remainder of 2008 include a saddle-fitting clinic, a clinic on the biomechanics of the rider's seat, a June horse show and a Judged Pleasure Ride later in the year. For information on McLendon Hills Equestrian events, contact Mary Wright at 910-673-3476.
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