We recently hosted a wonderfully successful Hawley Bennett Clinic here at Dragonfire Farm in which I asked two of the participants to write about their personal experience. The first here for your reading pleasure is from Meghan Allen, a college student from Fresno who has just gotten into the great sport of Eventing. From Meghan:
I cannot even began to explain how excited I have been for this clinic. I had been waiting for this weekend for at least a month and finally it is here. I am also guilty of bragging about being able to have a lesson with Hawley Bennett!
When I arrived at Dragonfire on Saturday morning everything was set and the first group of girls were almost ready to ride. I still had last minute things to do like wash Oscar’s whites and clean tack. After the cleaning was done I sat on the berm to watch a few groups. One important aspect for me is watching others perform. You can learn a lot just by watching others ride. I stress that everyone takes time once and a while just to watch others.
|a view of day one|
Around 1:15 it was my group’s turn to have a lesson with Hawley. I felt really good about my warm up, my leg was feeling very secure and my horse was on the bit. However, once we started our lesson we had a minor mishap in the grid that left me eating a little dirt. After that I had one of the best rides I have ever had on Oscar. Hawley was extremely constructive in her feed back while staying positive. Her teaching style really helped me understand exactly what I was doing right and what I needed to change in my ride. My favorite part of the lesson was that Hawley kept the courses interesting and different. We never repeated a course more than once, we only repeated certain parts that needed fine tuning.
Saturday night we all went to dinner at Mikunis. Great fun was had but, of course we were all eager to learn about Hawley. We watched videos of her on her mare, Gin and Juice. I could not get over how big the fences were out on the cross country courses she was jumping! And to think she was jumping those fences on a small 15.3 mare!! One thing I learned is that size does not matter all that much if you have a horse that has clean footwork because footwork is key.
|dinner at Mikuni's|
Sunday’s focus point was a course based off cross country like aspects. Hawley set up things like a coffin, chevron, table and a house. She also incorporated a bounce, a tall vertical with tires under it and we even jumped the christmas tree! I found today’s lesson to be very beneficial since we took all our footwork exercises from Saturday and utilized them in a course. From the outside looking in it might have seemed like an easy course with lots of time in between fences. However, Hawley set it up so that after a long gallop we had to really collect our horses otherwise we were in jeopardy of pulling a rail.
|the coffin on day two|
Everyone put in beautiful rounds today and I believe this was all do to the footwork we did in our lessons yesterday. I had a great weekend at the clinic and it was definitely worth the long hours and lack of sleep. I want to thank Hawley Bennett for taking time out of her busy schedule and sacrificing 75 degree weather for a brisk 60 degrees. Also to Jen and Earl for supplying everything that was needed for this weekend and to Nancy Dein for taking pictures. The weekend went so smoothly and it could not have happened without everyone’s positive attitudes.