I love Mary’s Tack and Feed. They are a gorgeous store, have great staff members and are really involved in their community. One way they are involved is they have almost weekly contests for swag. Last week, their contest was for two VIP tickets to Laura Grave’s master class and the freestyle afterward at Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival at Del Mar.
I’m not a dressage person. I think its the best building blocks you can give a horse for strengthening and preparation for everything else but I’m not interested in showing. However, its gorgeous and I love watching it anyway. Freestyles are so fun and the horses at that level are so impressive. And I don’t get to have lessons very often. Going to audit clinics is something I’m going to try to do in order to gain more information that I could potentially use when riding as a cost-efficient method of learning.
I invited Holly from my barn to go with me and she was excited as well. We met at the fairgrounds at 4pm and talked to the people out front. They directed me to a table within the VIP lounge to find the lady Mary’s had provided with my tickets. We got wristbands and a voucher for champagne for each of us. We got our flutes and stood at one of the small tables near the inside ring to watch the rides go. It was fun chatting and watching rides. I’m used to going to shows on my own since I didn’t really have many friends who enjoyed horses until recently so it was a unique experience.
We got the full VIP treatment and could wander around the lounge. I’m terrible with horse people’s faces but we saw Robert Dover and Laura Graves there. L. was there as well so we met up with her and she took a picture of us in front of the sign before we headed off to the VIP tables.
That was the best part. We got a course meal and got to eat it with a front row seat to the arena.
I totally forgot to take pictures of the food but did get a picture of my dessert.
Laura instructed 3 rider pairs during dinner. There was a 6-year-old, a 14-year-old 4th level horse, and a 10-year-old that I can’t remember the level of. Prix-St-George or Grand Prix I think. I took notes and most of the notes come from the first horse as the rest were focused on pirouettes and such which Scarlet and I never will do.
Notes: (May or may not make sense without watching the master class. Be forewarned)
- Don’t stay where it’s safe, you’ll never improve
- Forward is always safe but you need to challenge with slow
- almost leg yield in a turn to help w/spook
- quick to make the correction, quicker to give the praise
- push him to create contact when he comes back too much
- you need both reins to work in each direction – helps with changes
- don’t run through changes
- exercise for pirouette: haunches in spiral in
- have to be detail oriented
- don’t be afraid of mistakes
- don’t ride to cover up mistakes
Most of what I thought was useful was Laura’s attitude. She stressed that she didn’t want to ride for no mistakes. In fact, you need to push into the mistake areas because the horse needs to learn how to do those things correctly and without you riding to cover up his weaknesses. I would love to have more opportunities to audit her clinics as I can imagine the things she says about mindset being extremely helpful for me.
It was a lovely evening and I had so much fun spending time as a VIP surrounded by horses and horse people.