In preparation for the 2017 competitive season, three ACPS Region 8 eventers – and their Connemara mounts – attended a fall clinic with three-time Olympic medalist and four-time national champion Jimmy Wofford.
Each rider gained priceless individual instruction and encouragement from this highly respected clinician and coach at the mid-September Mile High Horse Ranch event in Parker, Colorado.
Attending were: Michelle Bennett riding the 2001 Connemara x Thoroughbred gelding Caledonia Lucky Top out of Hideaway Smithereens Girl; Brittany Foust mounted on her 2006 homebred Connemara x Arabian gelding Elm Spring Acacia by Aladdin’s Denver; and Coralee Richardson riding the 2009 purebred gelding Tuckaway Thunder (Folklore James McNicholas x Tre Awain Muffits Light).
Here are just a few timeless gold nuggets from Michelle Bennett about the clinic.
“One thing we learned on show jumping day is to always be prepared for the next obstacle. We also learned the importance of rhythm and to ride the rhythm and not look for a stride, and most importantly to go with whatever stride you do get. That was a big lesson for our group. We really saw the difference between a long spot that someone resists and a long spot the rider just goes with; it doesn’t even look awkward.
“On cross country day I learned to move as little as possible as a rider. My horse has a spooky side so I tend to get extra defensive riding to weird looking cross country fences, and Jimmy instantly corrected me on this. He said, ‘I don’t want my riders to move unless they have to,’ and I did feel more effective and more elegant as I tried to embody that for the rest of the lesson.”
Julie Richardson chronicled the Connemaras and their riders at the clinic with her photographs.