This is the closest you can get to a lesson with top U.S. event rider Buck Davidson without having to get out your checkbook or leave your couch.
Katie Bornholdt-Peery was kind enough to send us a clinic report from the Area VII Adult Riders hosted Buck Davidson clinic at Jump for Joy Farm. I have never taken a lesson from Buck, but his students always seem to do well. My feeling is that this has a lot to do with the program that Buck plugs his students into as much as his coaching. The one quality I respect most about Buck is his ability to ride any horse, which is something that provides the groundwork for a great training program. With that quick introduction and many thanks for the clinic report I’ll turn things over to Katie. –John
We were lucky enough to have Buck Davidson come to the Great (cold, wet and windy) Northwest home to Area VII the weekend of January 22-23rd! He was our guest speaker at our annual meeting and also agreed to teach a clinic for the next two days at Jump For Joy Farm in Oregon City (just outside of Portland, Oregon) hosted by the Area VII Adult Riders.
The week leading up to the clinic was fraught with crazy weather with large amounts of snow and ice in the Seattle area and in the Portland area, snow, then rain followed by flooding!! The terrible weather caused several people who were still snowed in to have to cancel their clinic plans but we did end up with 5 groups of riders from young green horses to lovely advanced horses. Despite the weather, we had a great showing of over 50 auditors who enjoyed the clinic both in the arena and from our heated clubhouse with live streaming of the clinic to the flatscreen t.v. (thanks to a techie Pony Club dad!) and great food provided by Clackamas River Pony Club.
The first day of the clinic Buck had all the groups start with work on the flat, lengthening and shortening of strides, working on control, collection and keeping the horses forward and on the aids. Once thoroughly warmed up, we started some serious gymnastic work including several verticals with step poles, up the center line 30ft apart where we were expected to keep the forward canter through the turn and all the way through the line. We progressed to oxers, bending lines, angled fences and more. For my group (experienced riders on green horses), we focused alot on holding the canter through turns, getting our horses to stop at specific points after a fence going towards the wall or a post and not worrying so much about strides in between fences but more about getting the horses to the fences correctly. There was no, ‘go trot the x,’ to start our rides, we got right to work on the exercises and the horses got better and better each time!
The second day was focused on coursework, continuing keeping the horse forward through the turns and straight to the fences. We started with a shorter warmup and went right to jumping a square oxer with step poles. In order for the horses to get the correct strides to the oxer, Buck placed 2 poles on the ground (about 6-8in apart) about a stride away from the fence instead of the classic 1 pole because the horses always jumped the two poles in the canter and couldn’t mess up the stride to the oxer. Following the oxer, we had to stay straight with a forward canter towards the crowd of auditors going between 2 folding chairs that were placed about 15 ft from the crowd!! We could not turn until we went through the chairs. It forced us to make the turns correctly and backed our horses off enough so the turns were made smoothly and in balance.
The course progressed into some 2 strides on the diagonal, 1 strides on the long side, lots of precise turns, bending lines, plenty of square oxers (which were growing regularly!), rollbacks to a vertical on the short side then down to the 1 stride on the long side and more! Challenging and super educational! Buck made a great point that schooling lines, courses and questions way more difficult at home then you would ever see at an event would make your horse much more rideable on the courses in competition. Our green horse group finished with everyone having a beautiful final round finishing with a 3’6-3’9 oxer that all of ours horses jumped beautifully!
Buck Davidson was a fantastic clinician and really enjoyed watching the changes he made in every pair. He knew exactly when to push each horse and rider to improve them each round. On day 2, I was sitting on my horse thinking of ways to afford to go to Florida to ride with Buck 🙂
I came away from the clinic feeling more confident in both myself and my horse and I know that the feeling is shared with many of the other riders. I also have some valuable tools to share with my students!
Thank you to Area VII Adult Riders for bringing Buck to the Northwest!!
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