The World of Living with Horses

Training: Take Your Right Lead and Show It

MADDIE EASILY JUMPING THE 3' AND SQUARING UP AS SHE PREPARES TO LAND RIGHT. PHOOTO BY BRENDA TERR

MADDIE EASILY JUMPING THE 3′ AND SQUARING UP AS SHE PREPARES TO LAND RIGHT. PHOTO BY BRENDA TERR

by Stephanie von Bidder

Over the past three weeks Maddie learned how to use her right lead competently when cued; what impressed me more was that sometimes she chose to use it naturally, without prompting. I added our right-lead exercise into her sessions regularly and rarely did she err.

I challenged her by varying the jumps used and their placement, then randomly asking her to land left or right. I cued Maddie by slightly lifting the hand of the lead I desired on the approach to the jump. Sensitive as she is, the aid didn’t disrupt her and she was keen to it. With newfound dexterity, Maddie’s knees squared in the air when jumping and her form improved dramatically.

We were scheduled to show in Tryon, NC. As expected, Maddie was ready to go and the suspense was killing me. I wondered, hoped, she would use her lessons in practice. When we arrived I was delighted, concerned, to see a barrage of bending lines going every which way. The horse show was going to be great or disastrous. We had been practicing diligently over small jumps. The exercises at home were simpler than what this 3-foot course would demand.

During our warm-up, I followed our regular routine, plus I cued her to land right a few times. Now it was up to her. On course, Maddie jumped the first jump beautifully, then easily the left bending line. When we jumped into the right bending line, I cued her. It seemed like minutes before I felt her land right. I was so shocked I almost forgot to find the next jump. I thought it might have been a fluke. But no, she did it again and again, stronger, more confident each time.

Maddie finished champion winning all her classes over fences and finished third in the $2,500 Hunter Derby, so I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when she picked up her right lead, at the wrong time, and blew her flat class.

Training Challenge: Trusting Maddie to put her training to good use. Knowing it is as important to laugh off her mistakes, as it is to celebrate her successes.

Next: Maddie is driven to distraction when she runs into an old friend.

Stephanie von Bidder

Stephanie von Bidder grew up in New York’s Westchester County, where she had the opportunity to learn from Patricia Neff, Jerry Carollo, Joe Fargis and Darren Graziano. She now lives in Aiken, South Carolina at her own Daybreak Farm, a full-service hunter and equitation show stable. She trains riders of all ages and abilities in addition to their four-legged counterparts. Von Bidder holds her SCHJA judge’s card and is applying for her USEF license. In 2010, she completed her USHJA Trainer’s Certification.

Share your horse training stories or ask Stephanie about your horse training challenges by commenting on her articles.

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