A friend who works in the fashion industry once told me that there is rarely a focus on the present in her job, there is always next season to forecast and new patterns, colours and cuts to be chosen many months ahead. You plan summer stock in the winter and winter one in the summer.
When I plan the activities within the Academy, the conversation on the above pops into my head. The daily training is the only time I can walk into an arena and just work on here and now. Alongside of those in-the-presence moments, things take shape months before they actually happen and it’s the same with Aspire’s weekend clinics and camps.
We aren’t preparing a collection for Marks & Spencer or getting ready to ride for Rio but I find all the training much more rewarding if I try to run it to the best of my abilities.
Come along with me as I reflect a little on the 3 day intensive training weekend aka Aspire Grassroots Clinic, we have just finished near Warsaw, Poland!
Yard 1: Stajnia Sabat, Granica near Warsaw
Yard 2: Duchnice, Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki near Warsaw
Format of the clinic
For the Academy’s UK riders:
•in-hand and groundwork sessions to get to know the horses. The main task was to assess the horses, determine quality of their paces, guess how might they ride and what schooling challenges might they have.
•All riders also had a task to come up with a short training plan for “their” horse and try to improve upon what they found.
Saturday and Sunday:
•Morning flatwork and afternoon jumping sessions.
For the Polish riders:
Friday – re-assessment sessions to catch up on state of affairs since last clinic
Saturday and Sunday – sessions focused on particular goals for each pair.
Some people love the buzz of competing, I love the buzz of training. Figuring out the new horses and how to pair them up with the riders to test the right skills, finding ways to help riders who I only see twice a year – no show or event seems to match the challenge for me.
15 riders took part in the May clinic and they ranged from a beginner rider learning to canter to grassroots competition riders and trainers/instructors. It was a very good mix of experiences for me to work with and the whole weekend was much less tiring than my previous ones as I learnt on my mistakes and got some on-the-job help this time!
Gemma, the young instructor who teaches the Aspire Kids Academy programme in London, came along with me to take notes, photos, videos and help with the running of the days which let me just focus on the actual teaching.
My family’s involvement is the usual part of these clinics and as always their help behind the scenes had been invaluable yet again. That team work is what makes those weekends so special as most of the time I do everything by myself. Sharing both the workload and stress of organising a larger event but also the enjoyment of it all is on a different level of fun 🙂
Each day started about 5.30 – 6am for Gemma, me and my Dad who drove us in between the yards. The weather was kind to us and we had a beautifully sunny, warm weekend with plenty of opportunities for the oddest patterns of sun tan!
Seeing my UK riders on horses they have never met before was a great teaching treat as they did a fabulous job. The Polish riders always have a difficult task of connecting different training systems but everyone is very willing to give new ideas a go.
We received a very good feedback from everyone and hopefully we will be back on the road again in the autumn this year.
Although I only open these clinics to regular Aspire Academy riders I would encourage any “one horse rider” to find similar opportunities and ride an unknown horse in a structured training clinic. Such experience comes with a huge dose of learning experiences that can give you a plethora of new feels, reactions and ability to interpret your own horse’s schooling needs more accurately.
If you are a young instructor looking into improving your teaching, I would recommend taking on a challenge of running small clinics. There aren’t many more testing environments for a coach/instructor than to throw themselves into a 14h teaching day, dealing with unpredictability of the horses, riders’ moods, training issues that come fast one after another. You will challenge your own quickness of thought, resilience under pressure, patience and ability to stay calm when everything is “yes but…” 😉
You might just want to quit teaching altogether after your first day ever 😉 but if you keep on it, you will start seeing so many more details it will make you feel you have eyes at the back of your head!
I am already looking forward to my next challenge 🙂
Please visit our Facebook page for many more photos with short captions that can hopefully give you more of an idea of the content of the sessions.
Happy training 🙂