Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lilo Fore Clinic

Since today I didn't get to ride, I thought I'd write up a post about the clinic I audited on Sunday. I really enjoyed it - it was with Lilo Fore, whom I had heard of but didn't know very much about. Here's something I found on the USDF website about her:

"Lilo Fore: A name synonymous with dressage in the US, Lilo Fore is an FEI “I” Judge and has been a member of the ground jury for numerous USET selection trials for the Pan American Games, the World Equestrian Games and The Olympics. She is also an FEI “C” Judge for Para-Equestrian and a USEF “R” judge for Sport Horse.
She is a founding member of the USDF Instructor Certification Program and is currently an examiner. She has chaired or been a member of numerous committees for the USDF and USEF as well as being a successful rider, trainer and coach. Many of the horses she trained won national and international competitions.
A breeder of sport horses, Ms. Fore stood up to six stallions at stud and earned numerous awards with
her horses in breed shows in the USA and Canada from her own breeding program. She prepared her
stallions for 100 day stallion testing and all passed and were licensed.
She owns and operates Sporthorse America; a dressage training facility started 1989 and located in Sana Rosa, CA."

The clinic was about an hour and a half away so I woke up way, way too early (5:30 am - such an awful time of morning) to shower and get ready. We left at 6:30 and managed not to get lost, which is always a plus when I'm driving. JT came with me, who is the vice president of the dressage team and she's a fun person so at least we were able to keep eachother awake talking on the drive.

The first horse up was a four year old warmblood. She was stunning - such a pretty girl with near perfect conformation and nice gaits. The theme for the day through all of the horses was getting their hind end engaged, lift through their shoulders and absolutely no leaning on the bit allowed.

I really liked Lilo's training methods and teaching style and I wouldn't hesitate to ride with her, though sometimes her accent was hard for me to understand, especially with the echoing through the huge, beautiful arena. She used a lot of haunches in to get the horse to step deeper under themselves, thus become more engaged. A lot of shoulders in, travers and renvers as well. She explained most things in easy to understand terms and there was a couple "light bulb moments". Some of her most common/entertaining phrases:

"Why aren't you kicking? Your legs are flailing!!!" (That one had JT and I giggling, where's your pony club kick when you need one?)
"Trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot..." To help rider's keep a rhythm
"Half pass is just travers on a diagonal"
"The bit is for communication, not for leaning"
"Why the hell are you so far off the rail?"

Whenever the dressage team goes to a clinic we always pick our favorite horses, the ones we would smuggle home with us if we could. For JT, it was the pretty young black WB mare that we saw first. I'll admit she was stunning, but my favorite was a little welsh cob that was schooling fourth level. Can you say adorable!! He was so nice.

We also got to watch a trainer that we're going to be taking some lessons with in the future. She was riding a client's horse that she has trained - a 13.3 hand Morgan that has to be one of the cutest things I've ever seen. He's like an itty-bitty warmblood with a full-sized attitude. This was a two day clinic so I guess by the second day he'd just had it with schooling pirouettes and he wasn't about to go forward so there were quite a few interesting moments, but he is successfully showing fourth level and will be moving up to PSG/I2 this next year. It was really neat to see the trainer ride though, I feel like oftentimes you don't get to see that as much when you go to take a lesson with someone.

So cute.
Overall, a great experience and we might go back to audit another of her clinics the first weekend of December. Ended the day with a visit to the very large and amazing tack shop - can't drive all the way there and not take a tiny detour to go to a tack store right?

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