Jec Ballou clinic Day 1

I used to go to a lot of clinics, but I hadn’t gotten into a regular lesson routine. There was the whole resource issue (money & time) and as the anti-DQ I have been a bit of a resistant rider when it comes to discipline about things like forward, contact, submission, all those things that weren’t required as a nice trail rider or low-level jumper.

But, my first ever dressage clinic was with Jec’s mother, Sherry Ackerman. Sherry is fun, non-traditional, a bit whacky, a philosopher, and was not at all like any dressage lesson I’d ever had. I had fun, the barns these clinics were held at were generally full of nice ladies. I went once, or maybe twice a year. In 2006 I went on a trip to Amsterdam with Sherry and it was super fun, lots of riding lessons, and I came home with a goal…to make a goal! I settled on my riding an average of once a day, or 365 times for 2006. I was getting in a few lessons with Richard Williams when he came up to teach in MD, but not many, and I started taking more lessons, many of them hunter/jumper lessons, but dropped off most clinics.

About 9 years ago, Jec came and taught a clinic, and I took it, and I had a take-away “lock onto a lace”, which was basically she’d finally gotten me to shorten my reins, then busted me on moving my hands forward, and started to get through to me a glimmer of the concept of contact. So, when Tiffany sent out a clinic notice that Jec was going to be back, I thought about it. But, I’m not as quick to jump to clinics these days. I am making really good progress with my regular instructor and clinics are expensive…ultimately, I decided to do 2 days. And I’m glad I did.

Although, I think it was a slightly more advanced version of that same lesson from 9 years ago. Shorten your reins. I’ve started learning to ride in the double bridle now, so my reins are a bit shorter, just not there yet.

Here is a short bit of the lesson, some canter work.

I did my usual warm up, then came inside to start the lesson. We added some forward and back in trot. I’ve been doing a lot of that in canter, but not so much in trot, as I think Bali would get tight in the back, but she’s gotten much more through and so this seems like a good addition. Lots of work to get her quicker behind. Once I warm up and get her going into a more uphill carriage, I need to keep the stretches a bit more up.

By working to keep the shorter reins, I get a better connection. I tend to let the connection go at the end of every movement. Half pass from center line to rail, drop connection at rail, take 1/2 the short side to get it back…or longer. And that is fairly consistent, I’m so quick to want to release as a reward, I over do it. I don’t release, I drop her…I gotta work on that.

The more uphill canter and movement are starting to feel better now. For the longest time, I really liked a flat canter, possibly from years of bareback riding. I’m learning to feel the more uphill movement and like the power from behind.

I have a fair amount of video, thanks to Tiffany! I’ll try to get more of it processed and uploaded.

It was really fun to see a lot of the familiar faces from the last clinics. I hadn’t seen most of these people since 2006 or so!

Jec also wrote a book 101 Dressage Exercises and I have that book and have used it a bit.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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One Response to Jec Ballou clinic Day 1

  1. Net says:

    I love that book!
    Thanks for the clip – there’s definitely a difference happening there, and it’s neat to see the adjustability you’re getting from what she’s having you work on.

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