This week I took a break from riding to watch Jen and Luc rock a clinic at their home stable. Trainer Melissandre Lincourt was in town for a two-day session that put their skills to the test. Not surprisingly, they rose to the challenge and impressed not only me, but Melissandre as well. Sometimes I forget how well this well-loved field pony can perform.
Day one started off the way it usually does with Luc. Slowly. In fact the mantra for Jen and Luc during the entire clinic was ‘more impulsion.’ I firmly believe that impulsion is Luc’s least favourite word. Anyone who has ever met him knows his preferred pace is the speed of thick molasses, but that wasn’t enough to keep them from strutting their stuff – with the help of a lot of leg from Jen.
The warmup consisted of a series of pole exercises designed to engage Luc and get him thinking. I’m pretty sure what he was thinking was that the little poles on the ground were of no consequence based on the fact that he pretty much stepped on all of them. After a few times through the exercise Jen had him actually picking up his feet and using himself a little more correctly. I foresee a lot of similar pole exercises in my future. Oh joy!
Then it was on to the good stuff – jumping! Luc was still a little on the sucked back side of things, but they managed to answer all the questions Melissandre asked of them. Luc was such a good boy and proved he’s worth his weight in gold with his honesty to the fences. By the end of the hour-long session Luc was dripping sweat, and Jen wasn’t much better. She looked like me after one of my rides – purple faced and huffing and puffing. She was even walking a little funny. I tried not to laugh, and failed miserably.
Jen’s assessment after day one was that it was great, but that her legs were dead. She had no idea how she was going to manage on day two. Melissandre kept telling her ‘more leg’ and Jen admitted that by the end all she could think was ‘there is no more leg!’.
Day two started with me painstakingly removing burrs from Luc’s forelock, tail and fetlocks. While Luc may be a field pony, we didn’t want him to look like one. Especially since several of the other horses were nicely clipped and turned out. By the time it was his turn to shine, we had him spruced up and looking the part of a show horse. We can call him that now since he’s actually been to a show!
The warmup once again consisted of more pole work, building on what they had learned the day before. Then it was time to get going with some grid work. After building up to a one-stride to a one-stride they added in a few more fences to make a course. Luc was a little more forward, thanks to the addition of some tiny spurs to Jen’s wardrobe. They managed all of the distances in the lines easily, and even did some tight turns and bending lines. Look out jumper ring, here they come!
Jen and Luc finished day two in about the same state as day one. Exhausted but happy. Melissandre had some great things to say about them, and praised Luc for being so genuine. She even mentioned he would be the perfect horse to build confidence on. Jen was thrilled with that as she did all of Luc’s training herself. It looks like I picked the right horse for my adventure of getting back in the saddle!