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GHM – Day 5 – Nations Cup Day

Day 5 Course

Riders will ride on teams of 3, with McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, Christine McCrea, and Kent Farrington as chef of a  team, as noted below.

Teams and info

Kent’s team came out on top, BZ’s in second, with McLain’s in a close third and Christine’s rounding it out.  Horses, riders, chefs all did a wonderful job.

Here are some more pics of the day.

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I’ll be back with captions.  Enjoy!

GHM – Day 4 – Session 1 & 2 with BZ and Dr. Ober

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GHM – Day 3 – Session 1 & 2 with McLain Ward

Day 3 brought great weather and a great clinician, McLain Ward.  I have uploaded the pics I took today, and will get notes added soon.  I have several memorable MW quotes on my facebook page already.

I’m trying to be disciplined get to bed at a decent hour as we have another big day tomorrow, BZ in morning, course building with Anthony D’Ambriosio, checking out consignment tack store and then hoping to see GHM during the evening session before our big night out at La Fogata with the crew!

To quickly sum it up, Ride WELL..every ride, every time, NO matter WHAT!  Enjoy!

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GHM – Day 2 – Session 1 & 2 Gymnastics

Gymnastics with Kent Farrington

Happy to report, the weather had improved overnight.  Still brisk especially by WEF standards, but much more bearable than yesterday, thank goodness.

Day 2 started promptly at 9am with Kent Farrington at the helm.   Group 2 was up first today to work over gymnastics, followed by Group 1 later in the morning.

Kent had them start at the trot.  He wanted them off the rail, to be sure the riders doesn’t get a false sense of security of straightness of their horse.  He mentioned he would use the ring for greener horses or when introducing a more difficult skill/exercise, at least initially.  He had the riders practice lengthening and shortening by changing their seat, not just hands.  He commented to several of the participants to shorten their reins, get their hands up in front of them above the withers and not to  drop their thumbs.  Hands in the piano position is a weak position.  On to the canter, lengthening and shortening as in the trot.  This time, being sure when the riders got light in their seat, to not get too forward with their shoulder, as this will translate over fences.  Next, was the same, but on the counter lead.  Very tricky and takes time for the horse to be able to do this as well as they do on the correct lead.  All gaits and exercises were performed at both directions.

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On to jumping one at a time…Kent had riders start off the right lead and canter over the cavaletti on the short side of ring nearest the spectators.  These cavaletti were set 15′ apart.  He encourage the riders to have an active canter but to be patient and wait out the distance and to stay quiet with upper body.    Once the horse was comfortable with the cavaletti, he would have them canter the crossrail off both leads, then canter down to the far end and over the crossrail at that end, off both leads.  Kent was patient with the riders and while educating to them the purpose of the exercise itself, he educated them on how to train a horse, know when to stick with it and how/when to change your approach the original task you had in mind based on how horse is reacting.  Having the horse do it more, putting in a simple change if horse is kicking up in the lead change, halting if horse is running thru the hand, etc.  Being sure the riders understood, this was training time, not a race to see who can get it done the quickest.

Course with distances

Once they had all done this, he had them start off the right lead over the crossrail, turn right to the lack and white triple of crossrails/verticals along the long side nearest the spectators, turn right over the crossrail, then turn left, back up over the triple turn left and finish over the cross rail.

He encouraged the riders to be patient, and not take the first distance they see, nor make any big movements with their shoulder when they do see it whether it be 6-9 strides out.  Though, was sure to correct them when they would “overcook it” and fit in a gazillion strides.

Once this was accomplished by each team, he switched it up and had them jump cross rail off left lead, turn right, down over triple turn right crossrail, turn left to triple turn left over crossrail turn left down over triple of oxers down the far side (ground lines present, no placement pole), turn left over crossrail, turn right up back over triple of oxers turn right and finish over crossrail.  A nice course that required a disciplined eye, patience and body awareness and control.  It may look simple, but wasn’t and you could see both horse and rider improve as it went along.  Kent would have each combo repeat it in whole or in part based on each needs.  Kent was very patient and had an easy way about him, but was persistent and consistent with his instruction, encouragement and compliments.

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I have a video of Lillie over the last course, but it is taking forever to load, so will upload it later.

Please see for Dr. Tim Ober’s session.  It was stellar.  He nicely reviewed how to observe a horse for lameness and common findings that may be slightly counter intuitive or different than you have learned in the past.  It was very informative.

KMP’s session in the afternoon was on how to select a jumper.  The qualities she looks for are [in order of importance] carefulness, bravery/courage, scope, a good brain, rideability and soundness.   She commented that there are different types of careful, freaky, normal, and careful enough.  Where most horses we see at the show, in the ribbons, fall in the middle category, where they jump 9 of 10 fences w/o hitting a rail or making a major mistake.  A freaky careful horse isn’t for just anyone, as they are spooky, not necessarily courageous, needs a strong and accurate ride, though this would be ideal for a rider such as BZ but not for a junior or adult amateur.  You have to know the client or rider in order to find the proper match.  KMP said that you have to test a horse’s bravery so you know if it is there.  You can take your coat and throw it over a jump, be sure to jump a skinny, water, etc depending on level of competition you are selecting the horse.  KMP defines scope as the horse’s ability to jump big & wide.  She typically will test this with a double oxer combo, set a little long, put them in short and see how well they can get out.  She wants a horse with a good brain, as they often “have heart as well”.  This means they accept training and want to please the rider.  Rounding out this list is rideability and soundness.  Both of these are flexible, as you and train rideability, and there are many grey shades of soundness.  She works with a veterinarian she trusts and respects and shares what she sees or feels when riding the horse and has the vet not pass or fail the horse, just tell her what he/she finds and they discuss what is manageable, as good stable management can go a long way to keeping horses sound and healthy.

Got a little more to add but got to run…can ‘t keep Mclain waiting! ;) I got a late start last night as we had a lovely dinner out with good friends and played a little bingo before heading out.

Thanks for reading!


GHM – Day 1 – Basics with Beezie

Man, what a treat this afternoon session was.  Beezie Madden was riding Vanilla, a 9 yr old mare and daughter of her Pan AM horse, Coral Reef Via Volo, whom she has only had for 6 weeks.  Three of which they spent showing her in the 1.5M classes, though admittedly she is green for her age and not well schooled on the flat but jumps easily.

BZ introducing Vanilla

Beezie had prepared the ring with 5 cavaletti, 3 set slight slight off the quarter line at approximately 45′ apart and two others off set on a diagonal.  This is an exercise she uses at home to help educate a horse’s mouth and responsiveness to her leg.  BZ commented that Vanilla had not done this exercise yet so she was eager to see how she did.

After letting Vanilla free walk briefly, she put her to a working walk and began introducing her inside leg to produce a shoulder in.  It is imperative a horse accept your inside leg, then you can start introducing diagonal aids such as haunches in and/or half pass.  Vanilla was resistant, but BZ made the point she could “wait her out.”  No rushing, no punishment, no frustration, just keep asking and be patient.

Many rush this point, when a horse is resistant to their leg and raise their head above the bit, by see-sawing on the horse’s mouth which BZ commented that GHM has gotten on her about previously, so she recommends bridging your reins, which doesn’t allow you to see-saw and make is almost impossible to overuse your inside rein and encourages use of your outside rein.  She rides like this often, as it is hard to break bad habits.  Love this trick!!!  Thanks BZ!

Vanilla would occasionally break into the canter while working shoulder in at the trot.  Beezie was clear to state that when this occurs, do NOT take your leg OFF, just increase your contact, otherwise, it is your horse training you on how to get you to take off your leg.  Excellent point and a rider error I see so often.

Intermittently, Beezie would take Vanilla thru the cavaletti set on a line as well as ask for the halt.  Vanilla let out a nice sigh, which BZ appreciates as a sign of relaxation and acceptance by the horse.  She pointed out that if a horse is frustrated, go back to something else and come back at a later time or another day depending on your horse.

BZ also encouraged the participants to evaluate other training techniques they may not be familiar with such as clicker training, that she used with Judgement to improve his success at open water.  She said that it worked for him, it may not for all, but that it helped educate her about how horses learn.

She began increasing the difficulty by increasing the pace, from walk to trot to canter, commenting while cantering, that increasing impulsion makes it harder as well.  Often seeing horses cantering around low, flat, and dull, this is not the way she would like to take a horse to a big jump.   At the canter, BZ had Vanilla executing shoulder in, haunches out, and counter canter, making sure to do these exercises BOTH directions.  Vanilla executed these exercise more easily to the right, so along with BZ’s desire to set the horse up for success, she was sure to start this direction.  Though, she was sure to make Vanilla wait for her aid, and not let her anticipate it.

One of my favorite comments of BZ’s today, is “It’s not a mistake, it is an opportunity [to train your horse].”  She demonstrated much like AK, patience and tact with this lovely yet green horse.  She stressed how important it was to set your horse up for success.  One time, Vanilla moved into BZ’s inside leg, and BZ quickly and tactfully corrected the mare with the spur here, as this is unacceptable.

Periodically, she would give Vanilla a rest, then start again.  It was time to canter the cavaletti, which were set for an easy 3 to 3, but then can be done 4 to 3, 3 to 4, 5 to 3, 3 to 5, etc.  After going straight over the cavaletti, she would half pass and half turn back the other direction.  Vanilla easily navigated the 3 to 3 as well as the 4 to 3 and 3 to 4, though BZ seemed slightly but happily surprised at the latter.  When going short to long, you want to come in a little shorter, so you can lengthen each stride once you jump in, so you don’t have to gun it over the second element.  When going long to short, which is harder than the previous, you do the same in reverse, start bigger, so each stride can be a wee shorter than the previous.

BZ stressed not overdoing anything and to allow the horse to finish on something simpler.  She explained on Joe Fargis will build a gymnastic one element at a time, and once done whether it be 3 elements or 9 elements, he will then reverse it, but taking one down at a time, having the horse finish over just a “X” or possibly a cavaletti.

She finished working at the trot with contact, putting Vanilla on a circle to help her maintain her own rhythm without her hand, as well as keeping her post steady, as Vanilla wanted to rush a bit with the recent galloping work.  Slowly Vanilla was keeping her rhythm and BZ would easy up on the contact and Vanilla would stretch down, her head getting lower and lower.

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Man, I can’t wait to see BZ show this mare!!

Much gratitude and appreciation to GHM, AK, BZ and all involved in making today possible.

NOTE: Thanks Glenda Groome for the pictures of BZ and Vanilla.

GHM – Day 1 Session 1 & 2 – Flatwork

I’m sad to report that the George Morris Horsemastership Clinic did not get off  on right hooves so to speak.  GHM is under the weather so substitutions were necessary, though the organizers knocked it out of the ballpark by enlisting the great Anne Kursinski.  The clinic is also battling a wicked cold front that blew in overnight, but again, the organizers were quick on their feet and pushed back the start time to try and give it time for the sun to come out.  Not that it helped much, the wind was relentless.

Much like GM, Anne was there promptly at 835-840am and got things rolling about 5-8min til 9am.  As in their books, though sch’d to start at 9am, if you arrive at 9am, you are LATE.

Group 1 – Lillie, Sam, Taylor, Meg, Michael, and Katie

Put them on a circle, encouraging to them to stay evenly spaced, an exercise for the eyes.  Encouraging riders to consider it single file despite being on a circle.  They rode at the walk, posting trot, halt and sitting trot.  Getting horses on the aids and reviewing each rider and improving their basic position and making them more effective in their aids to get this accomplished.

Moving on to the deceptively difficult task of leg yielding up the long side from the quarter line.  As many over bend their horses with the inside rein and lose them to the outside, or lose impulsion and forward movement.

AK quickly sought out Lillie’s horse for her to demonstrate the basics of legs, base and hands, as he was very resistant, stiff and above the bit.  It was an excellent lesson in patience and tact.  AK encouragingly applied her leg and gingerly waited for him realize he could do what she is asking, as he swore he couldn’t in the beginning.  She had “elastic resist[ance]” to give him the opportunity to succeed at the task at hand.  He began to accept her aids and framed up nicely.

After her ride, AK got the group back out on the circle after having them knot their reins, to keep the proper rein length, as many participants let their reins get very long and to get them the feel of contact.  Moved on to sitting trot w/o stirrups to anchor their seat to the saddle, saying “get inside your horse, not on top of your horse”.  Then began adding in lateral work, starting with shoulder in.  Reminding riders to not over bend their horse to the inside, to use their inside leg to achieve the bend and to control the bend with the outside rein.

At this point, I popped out to get more layers of clothing as I literally found my brain freezing up and wasn’t able to take anything in, so didn’t get to see the end of this group.  All sessions [except todays] will be available live and then archived at

Group 2 – Sam, Sarah, Jacob, Natalie, Carly and Wilton

Started them tracking left at the walk, letting the horses get settled in their environment, and discussed fitness of horse and rider, awareness of self, horse and surroundings, and developing relationship with your horse.

They began similarly to previous group.  AK rode Sarah’s horse during this session.  His frame and response to aids improved under AK’s tutelage quickly.

Another exercise for a riders to develop feel of their horse’s mouths that AK recommends is to flip over one or both hands on the reins.  In this group, she had them only do this on the inside, it allows the riders to be more aware of their inside hand and its actions, whether voluntary or involuntary.

AK implored the riders to actively participate in the exercises she was requesting of them, not to just do them, as they are meant to teach/train them and ultimately, the horse.

During canter work, AK reiterated for the riders to pay attention to spacing while on the circle, an exercise for the eyes.  She had them cantering right, not over-bent inside, then downward transition to the sitting trot on a small circle while leg yielding left (spiraling out).  This exercise lifts the horses withers and encourages them to step up under themselves.  She encouraged the riders to look at their horse occasionally, to see what they look like.  Keeping the horse on the outside rein or “filling out the outside rein.”

Longitudinal and lateral movements are gymnastics without the jumps per AK, improving the horses shape.

She had the riders get up into 2pt to get off the horses back and allow them to gallop for a bit.  Then they went back to working canter with shoulder out as prep for counter canter which followed, then worked half pass at the canter, all very difficult flatwo.

As the riders cooled out their horses, AK reviewed the importance and purpose of flatwork besides getting horses obedient to the aids such as suppleness and elasticity.

She finished up the session by having each rider tell her something he/she had learned.

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Year in review…

2011 proved itself to be one of the most difficult years of my life, though it was intertwined with many blessings.  I clearly didn’t get the chance to sit down and update the blog, which got off to a fantastic start but want to wrap it up so I can give it a go again in 2012.

We had unfortunate and unlucky injuries to some of our horses and riders, so it kept showing on the low side.  This did give me the opportunity to educate my clients about rehabilitation of both horse and rider respectively.  It also allowed more time at home to focus on training which is always a positive thing.  With time and patience, I am very happy to report all horses and riders are recovered and happily back on the road to ribbons in 2012.

I did have a personal situation that arose that required much of my time and attention, but with the great support of my clients, it allowed me to do what I needed and ensure a positive outcome for my family.

I was able to continue a full judging schedule.  I had the pleasure of judging at some new locations as well as many repeats in Virginia and Pennsylvania.  I was more selective in my judging schedule to be sure to stay fresh and keen for the job at hand.

Life is full of lessons, some we wish we could just be told about but knowing that if we didn’t experience them, we won’t learn what life is teaching us.  I don’t want to forget 2011 but am looking forward to 2012 with great joy and excitement, especially since I’m starting it off in Wellington.

Many thanks to all my family, friends, clients and horses for your deep love and unconditional support.  I’m honored to have you all as part Team Brydelle!

Happy Days….

are here to stay, and we got the show season off to a fun, successful start.  We had the pleasure of spending one of the most gorgeous days yet in 2011 at River Birch Farm.  Simone showed Alley in Open Hunter to warm up for Children’s Hunter, it was a nice group of horses, and she got a nice ribbon in one of her courses.  She was Reserve Champion in the Children’s Hunter.  Alley is slightly unfit, coming out of his hideous winter, so she was tired, and Simone struggled to keep her in front of her leg, but she rode smartly and confidently, for which I’m HUGELY proud!!  Simone was really looking forward to the Eq, but a fumble at fence two, ended their day.  Both were OK, and schooled it easily afterward.  It is what we learn from our mistakes is what matters, not the mistake itself.

It was Glenda’s first show with her most handsome equine partner, Fletcher.  She handled the pressure and excitement very well.  She is a natural competitor and has been working very hard on her riding.  She showed in WT Eq and Beginner Pleasure, which ran at the very end of the day.  They ended up showing under the lights.  They did well, good ribbons in the Eq, and was Grand Champion (tied) in the pleasure.  Fletcher has the most perfect way of going, so gentle and a flowing, ground covering stride.

All in all, a very good day.  There is much excitement as we look forward to our next show.

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At home, the perfect practice continues.

An example of that, is the developing symbiotic relationship between Cheerie and Colby.  Colby is well trained and talented but doesn’t easily trust his rider.  Cheerie is a soft, compassionate rider which is a nice fit for him.  Each ride, he continues to try harder and harder for her.

Here are two quick videos to show their progress:

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More pics and video to come, off to watch WEF Grand Prix!

Riding Gods ….

Heavens shine down.

keep shining down upon Brydelle Farm.  A much needed blessing to keep spirits and energy up to press through this winter season.

Glenda and Fletcher sailed through a Sunday morning lesson.  Both were in tip top form.  After starting with some stretches, Glenda’s form was relaxed and functional.

Jump me, I double dog dare you!

More lessons this morning.  Everyone is taking advantage of this beautiful weather, including my sidekick, Bayard.  He knows that is all about location, location, location.

I played “herd toss up” this morning, and so far, so good.  All are playing nicely with others.  A true blessing after some of the surprises I have had recently.

Barn is spotless, resting a bit, and picking up hay later.  The circle of my life.

Ah-ha moments…

for riders and horses are what trainer’s dream of, or at least are what I dream of, and there were many today.  They don’t come along all the time, but when they do, they are memorable.  Perhaps it was the sunshine today, brightening the spirits of humans and equines alike, excitement about upcoming show season, something in the wind (it was really windy)….whatever it was, I’ll take it.

Sadly, I do not have pictures to share.  I was having too much fun and so preoccupied by watching myself.  Several times, I reached for my camera but couldn’t take my eyes off them long enough to actually take a shot.  Bad trainer!  Will try and get some this week.

Dreaming of palm trees

It has been a difficult winter to say the least.  But with each passing minute, we are getting closer to spring.  The daylight is hanging around longer and longer and the temperatures this next week are looking promising.  All good news as we hope to hit our first show of the 2011 season at the end of this month at River Birch Farm.  So these “Ah-ha” moments couldn’t have come at a better time.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

When I’m not physically riding, teaching, grooming, cleaning tack, barn, buckets, etc, I’m either thinking about it, reading up on it, or watching it.  All consumed with all things equine all the time.  It is my life’s blood.  Typing up my GM notes, reviewing footage from the USEFnetwork site, and reading others’ comments on one of the many equine related bulletin boards are great ways to continue my education when the weather isn’t cooperating.  (And by the way, more GM notes to come, I promise.)

Glenda, Cheerie and I took a trip to Dover in Charlottesville last weekend to stock up.  When one can’t ride, shopping is a good way to pass the time.   Cheerie picked up some schooling and show breeches, and tried on some tall boots for sizing.  I promise I wasn’t behind it, but they had the Ariat Monacos in her size, women’s 11, tall, regular calf.  It was meant to be and love at first step.  Glenda got a beautiful Grand Prix show jacket and some extras for her boy, Fletcher.  I was a good girl and got out of there spending very little.  I did pick up some beautiful note cards.  I’m a sucker for a good note card.

And on that note, I’m going to sign off.  Got some more reading to do….