Here is the second of our Guest Bloggers, Makena Graber. Makena started her riding career here with Melissa in The Academy @ Dragonfire and took her very first "official clinic" on a brand new horse for her, a green OTTB, "Mr. Chew". This is what Makena had to say about her weekend with Hawley:
Let me just start off by saying, what an AMAZING weekend! The much anticipated Hawley Bennett Clinic was a great success thanks to the generosity of Jenny and Earl and the hard work of the riders and Hawley herself.
It wasn't until the first day of the clinic that I started to get nervous. And this being my first clinic ever, it was a new experience for me. I was very thankful that on the first day, I didn't ride until later in the afternoon, so I had time to watch the other riders and get a feel for what it was going to be like. Before I knew it, it was time to go fetch Mr. Chew from the pasture. Walking into the arena was like walking onto a stage, there's this superstar standing there and a bunch of people are watching everything. Once we started the lesson, my nerves went away and my adrenaline kicked in. The jumps weren't too high, but the exercises were tough and it made me realize how much I had to work on. One of the high points for me was Hawley's teaching style; very blunt and direct, yet positive and encouraging. We were all exhausted after the lesson was done, but we still had enough energy to head to Mikuni's just a few hours later.
At dinner, Hawley shared with us videos of her and her mare, Gin N' Juice, and her experiences on getting to work with such an incredible horse. Hearing Hawley's story inspired me a TON because it was so close to mine: both being in Pony Club at age 15, Hawley doing her first event at 16 and I'm hoping to have my first event this summer. It just went on to show me that you don't have to start riding when you're four years old to accomplish what Hawley has.
The second day of the clinic was probably my favorite day of the two. We worked on many things the day before, but now it was time to elaborate on those things and raise the bar, literally. The jumps were noticably bigger and much, much scarier. With tires, trees, and boxes underneath the jumps, the horses were definitely more looky. As for Mr. Chew, he LOVED it! The scarier and bigger, the better! As the lesson wore on, Hawley made me realize what an amazing horse I was sitting on. It was because of his willingness that the lesson went so smoothly. By the end of the day everyone was bushed, and ready to go home. It was an awesome weekend with barely any hiccups, and for that I am grateful.
|triple bar to vertical in six|
This was for sure the BEST first clinic a girl could have! I am truly blessed to be around such amazing people and talented horses. Being taught by Hawley was an experience in itself, and I hope to have the honor of being taught by her again someday. I am grateful to her for coming out and teaching us so many things, and to Jen and Earl for being hospitable to everyone and providing the space and resources to make the clinic a reality. It was quite an experience to be had and I'm sure that it's not going to be the last!
|what an experience!|