Lessons Learned: Horsey Roadtrip

Roadtrip!! Ainsley Jacobs details a mini equestrian vacation including a dressage clinic with Jamie Stevenson.

Field trip! We took our dressage studies to Charleston for a change of scenery. Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

Adult amateur event blogger Ainsley Jacobs has been chronicling how she finds the takeaway lesson from the good, the bad and the ugly in her equestrian experience. Her horse JJ has been rehabbing from a ligament injury for a few months, so during his layoff time Ainsley is revisiting earlier lessons in her experience. Today’s tale is from December of 2015.

To say “thank you” to some of her most dedicated clients and students, my trainer, Halliea Milner, organized a horsey-vacation trip to Charleston, SC! We loaded 16 horses into 4 trailers in the pouring rain, and set out for several days of fun.

Our temporary home-base for the long weekend was the perfectly picturesque Middleton Riding Academy in Charleston, SC. Our host and former Go With It Farm rider, Meg Bowers, helped us settle the horses into their vacation pastures once we arrived, and we settled in for several days of riding.

One of the primary activities of the trip was a dressage mini-clinic with Horse Engineer Jamie Stevenson. We were separated into small groups of three or four riders, and had a session with Jamie. She strongly believes in the importance of bio-mechanics when it comes to riding effectively, and she definitely made a believer out of me.

While most of the clinic was spent conceptualizing and discussing, rather than riding, Jamie took time to work with each of us individually and fine-tuned our positions through some enlightening hands-on demonstrations.

Jamie discovered that I tend to put too much weight on the outsides of my stirrups, and helped me work through that. She also found that, due to the fact I fractured several vertebrae in a freak riding accident when I was 14 and cannot easily move my lower back, I have a very strong natural “neutral seat” position, which is actually great for dressage! Awesome! My accident, which is a hindrance for equitation riding, is actually very helpful for dressage!

We ended the lesson by testing out our new skills and putting the new concepts to work, and I saw an immediate improvement in JJ’s movements and gaits – all as a result of me improving my own body!

The world’s best horse husband, Erik, snuck out from behind his camera for a minute to pose with Jake and Clooney in the pasture. He also hauled one of the trailers, and had his “own” horse for the trip so that he could ride, too! Photo by Ride Heels Down


What you may view as a problem might actually work to your advantage – you just have to find the right place to let your situation shine.

Ainsley Jacobs is an adult amateur based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She started riding huntseat equitation when she was eight, and has tried practically every discipline since then. In 2014, Ainsley discovered eventing and it changed her life! She purchased her first horse, JJ Spot, in February 2016 and chronicles their successes (and struggles) of learning to overcome literal and figurative obstacles in her blog at www.RideHeelsDown.com.

Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

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