Area VI Adult Eventing Camp – Nilla Stadium

The stadium part of the clinic was with Alexis Helffrich. I was scheduled for 11am and my husband for 12:30. I’m going to split this post into two.

My group started with a little vertical to a cavelletti that was jumped on an angle. We started with a trot pole and trotting the vertical then advanced to a canter pole and cantering the vertical. There were two verticals set at an angle to each other so we could do one to a cavalletti and then circle around and do the other to another cavalletti.

Nilla didn’t care about the vertical or the cavalletti, but she did care about this tractor:

Most of the time we landed and turned left after this angle, but one time we had to turn right and she was pretty sure I was riding her straight into a horse-shredding machining.

Alexis really wanted everyone to be sitting in their saddles and riding to the jumps – no half seat or jumping ahead. I had a really hard time with this. Not because I don’t think he’s right, but because I have a lot of bad habits and sitting out of the saddle for jump work with Nilla is a big one. Right up there with my insistence on keeping my hands up. To be fair, the mule continues to “play” after jumps, but I really shouldn’t have my hands quite so high.

After a few rounds of vertical to cavalletti, we added a turn through the bounce. Nilla was a bit sticky about the bounce and I’m not sure why. She’s normally great for grid work.

She was also being a complete ass about the other end of the arena. I don’t know why as there weren’t any freaking tractors there. As we came out of that corner to do an oxer, I was staring at the jump trying to figure out what the cut out beneath it was. I wonder if this is how horses who spook at jumps feel (I just wanna look at it).  Obviously I should not be staring down at the jump because I’m pretty sure I convinced Nilla it was scary too. Picture is super far away, but you can see her eyeing it suspiciously. I’m pretty sure we knocked it down the first time. My fault. I know better than to look at jumps, I just wasn’t thinking about it like “omg how scary,” but rather “is that Eeyore and Pooh?” But the mule doesn’t know why I’m staring daggers at it.

The nice thing about Nilla is that she does not want to touch jumps. We came back around and she made sure to clear that oxer. Alexis commented that she took it like it was 6″ bigger.

My husband eventually came closer to the jumps for better pictures. Alexis kept changing up the courses and doing a lot of 90° turns so it was pretty challenging. Some of the people in my group were having a hard time remembering a new course every time around and I found it hard too, but I appreciated getting more out of the lesson by doing more. If we really messed up a turn or a line, he would have us re-do that section, but for the most part it was all new courses every time.

Near the end, Alexis added a two-stride combo down at the scary end. We had a hard time with this because it was off a hard 90° from the scary oxer towards the part of the arena she had decided was terrifying.

We had to do this a few times to get her settled. The mule and I have a bit of a contentious relationship. Because she bucks after the jumps, I ride with my hands too high anticipating needing to get her head up afterwards.  I have tried jumping with my hands on the neck strap and not touching her at all. She still lands bucking so it’s not cyclical. But I really don’t need my hands up this high while jumping (I just need to keep them up afterwards). However, it’s a defensive/subconscious move on my part so I’m having a hard time not doing it even when I think I am keeping my hands down. I need to practice more.

32 thoughts on “Area VI Adult Eventing Camp – Nilla Stadium

  1. Kaity

    Nilla has the cutest form over jumps! 😍 I’m glad that you guys had such a good lesson for this phase of the clinic, despite the scary tractor. Sounds like you got some good homework out of it.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Thankfully the tractor was off in a corner and not too close to anything pertinent or we wouldn’t have gotten anything done.

  2. martidoll123

    my guy hates tractors too so i feel you!! I love your position and love how she jumps (When she jumps and not coon hops)!! And i wish i would carry my hands higher. I know what you mean about not wanting them too high but mine are too low often! Great recap as usual! Thanks for sharing. Looks like it was a fun clinic.

  3. Megan

    ugh i do the same thing with my hands sometimes. not out of fear of bucking, but i try and ‘help’ them in the air. me lifting my hands is not gonna make me jump any better.

    but she really looks great though. she jumps so well!!

  4. Dom

    Sounds like there was a lot of learning in a short period of time. Grace agrees with Nilla about tractors being highly suspicious near the ring.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Tractors are suspicious everywhere for Nilla. I don’t know what was done to her in a previous life because she’s also terrified of pitchforks.

  5. Nicku

    Sounds like a great weekend for you and Nilla! EA is such a great place. Alexis was my trainer for years. I learned so much from him, he’s a great rider, instructor and cool guy. He will do anything for his students!

  6. Sarah (threechestnuts)

    I’ll trade you Batts fear of jumps for Nilla’s fear of tractors? We like tractors and machines? My friend once rode him in a ring with while it was being plowed by a tractor. He was entertained… On any other horse she’d have died by the snow pushing, horse eating tractor machine. Batty was just entertained… Tractors are fine, solid jumps eat horses… That said, this looked like an amazing clinic!

      1. Sarah (threechestnuts)

        Haha! don’t blame you! Seriously though, this looked amazing and your riding looked great. What a fabulous opportunity to ride with different clinicians over the weekend. Nilla looked great too.

    1. Olivia Post author

      The problem is, it’s not history. She spent this whole lesson landing bucking. I just need to learn to stop keeping my hands up over the jumps and it’s really hard for me to do. Sometimes knowing the problem isn’t enough to solve it. I haven’t figured out how to solve it yet, but we’ll work on it.

  7. Pingback: Area VI Adult Eventing Camp – Levi Stadium – DIY Horse Ownership

  8. Emily

    You guys look great! The hands habit is so hard, and it’s like the more you think about it sometimes the worst it gets. Hopefully you can find a solutions that keeps your hands low without inviting Nilla to buck on the back end!

  9. Stacie Seidman

    Wow, this clinic was really great! I love that you had different people teaching each phase. It sounds like you learned quite a lot throughout. Nilla looks fantastic!
    Totally get you on the old habits… I love to lock my elbows on my way to the jumps. And no matter how much I think about it, it still happens.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I really liked getting to ride with so many different clinicians in one weekend; it was really beneficial.

  10. Liz

    Subconscious position issues are the worst! I hope you’re able to find a fix. I haven’t figured out how to fix mine yet.

  11. Nicole Sharpe

    The pic of Nilla with one ear all the way forward and the other back listening to you is precious! I can definitely appreciate your desire to keep your hands up — you even said to use that it takes a lot to get her put together. You guys look great though, and it sounds like it was a ton of fun!

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