Most recently known for his leadership of the Retired Racehorse Training Project, Maryland-based event rider Steuart Pittman is a popular clinician. Katie Passerotti explains why.
This past weekend, Bauer Equestrian Center in Brookfield, Ohio, hosted a Steuart Pittman Clinic on Saturday and Sunday. Despite the copious amount of rain that we received on Friday and the chilly temperatures (it was 50 degrees in the morning!) everyone had a great time came away with some new ideas and tools to help improve their riding. We had groups ranging from Starter to Preliminary. The weather forced us into the indoor on Saturday where Steuart set up a one-stride up the center to a three-stride on a bending line. The exercise made you have to think quickly about steering and forced the rider to make every stride count. It was also a bit of challenge because Stuart was asking us to have a nice, forward gallop to the fences which is always a bit more difficult to get when you’re in an indoor arena.
Steuart encouraged riders to let their horses go forward to the fences. One of the ways he helped the riders to do this was to get them up into two-point and find their balance. His explanation for being comfortable in this position was that most horses were more comfortable going forward when their backs were less restricted. Keeping a lighter seat also meant the rider had to ride more with their leg to aid with steering. Another of Steuart’s suggestions was to occasionally school dressage in two-point. He wanted the rider to be able to have the same control over the horse’s hips and shoulders and ability to open or collect the stride while jumping in two-point that they have in the dressage ring.
On Sunday the weather had improved enough that we were able to put up jumps in the outdoor and use some of the cross-country elements located on the property. Riders started off inside doing a similar exercise to Saturday to warm up and then headed outside to finish their jumping lesson. The riders rode the fences outside as if they were cross-country fences so they rode forward to them at a gallop and took them on the fly.
Everyone had a great time and improved both their horses and themselves as riders. Steuart Pittman has a wonderful way about him and is extremely personable. His style of teaching was quiet and straightforward and he was able to quickly pick up on the nuances of the horse and riders and offer suggestions to help them improve.
On Sunday, I decided to do a dressage lesson with him instead of jumping and it was wonderful! He was excited to be able to work on dressage and said he liked when clinics offered private dressage sessions in the morning and then group jumping session in the afternoon. (Definitely how we’ll set it up next time!) He had me working on keeping my contact steadier and keeping the energy in the sitting trot. He pushed us to keep straight on the quarter lines instead of using the wall for balance and had us do a lot of transitions within the gaits. By the end he had Bastian and I moving beautifully–it was such a good ride! Steuart even got on and rode Bastian a bit and had him doing canter half-pass and some pretty decent lengthening (my horse has practically no natural lengthening!). Watching Steuart ride was lovely. He has such an excellent position and there was no stiffness or restriction in his body; he allowed himself to follow the motion of the horse, making small corrections as needed without causing tenseness through the horse’s body.
It was a great weekend and all of the riders had a great time and are looking forward to riding with him again in the future! Thank you to everyone who rode and thank you to Steuart Pittman for sharing your knowledge and teaching with us!