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Auditing Anne Kursinski

December 15, 2009

On Saturday, November 21st, I audited the Anne Kursinski clinic that was held at the Elkhorn Equestrian Center near Omaha, Nebraska.  This was by far the best, most professional clinic that I have attended.  Not only was the facility perfect for this clinic, the audio was great and the vantage points from both the floor and up in the loft were very beneficial.  I think that I learned more by auditing this clinic than I would have, had I ridden in it.  The reason being, I was able to watch every rider while listening to Anne give specific instructions to each individual rider.  Had I been on my own horse, I think I would have been distracted from the entire ensemble of the clinic.

Listening To Anne

There were three levels of jumping and the same principles were applied to all three levels.  It seemed like the majority of riders had been focusing on the actual act of jumping and not on the preface to the jumping.

The preface was a series of dressage exercises which included proper body mechanics, lateral work, softening, bending, collecting and the whoa.  With a birds eye view on the straight, I was amazed to see obvious “s” curves in riders bodies, which in turn put unintended leg or seat pressure on their mounts causing a shoulder out or a haunches out, a crooked horse.  Also from this view, I noticed many “open hands”, hands resting on horses necks and thumbs in.  A common mistake many riders were making was not releasing the horse to jump, sitting too far back or landing on the horses neck after the jump.  Anne noticed these things too and helped every rider achieve a better foundation for a better jump.

Anne Demonstrating On A Student's Horse

During each session, Anne chose one horse to ride in order to demonstrate what she was teaching.  The horses that she chose were ones that appeared to be having some problems softening and collecting and by the time Anne was done demonstrating with each horse, they were performing very nicely.  It was a great example of how the rider affects the horse, causing either a wanted or unwanted response.  During the clinic, Anne said, “the horse is a direct reflection of the rider”.  I couldn’t agree more.  Like people, horses have personalities and matching the right horse with the right human is important.

After the horses and riders were warmed up and performing lateral work with ease, the jumping began.  With each jump, it was important for the rider to count out loud, the beats leading up to each jump, and be able to promptly whoa on a straight line.   There appeared to be much apprehension prior to the jumps, as many riders would not release their horse or allow the horse to gallop to the jump or use “wide hands”.  Even though I was auditing, I could feel the anxiety that some of the riders were expressing, not totally trusting in their mounts to safely clear the jumps and stop on command.  Some students were requested to repeat their turn until they performed correctly.  I can imagine that this exercise was no easy task for the riders while the horses seemed to know their jobs and were willing to perform them.

In review, the following points were expressed often:  Stay off the horses back, follow the horses mouth and not the ears, use wide hands and soft arms, count the beats on the way to each jump, stay off the neck, don’t be “behind” the horse, practice forward riding with an open gallop, whoa on a straight line and stand calmly.  With a winner in our midst, learning couldn’t have been any more rewarding!  Check out Anne winning the 2009 Monmouth Grand Prix.

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