Robert Dover HorseMastership Week – Day 2. Blog by Kerrigan Gluch

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Robert Dover teaching at the Horsemastership Clinic.  2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Robert Dover teaching at the Horsemastership Clinic. 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Kerrigan Gluch, 19 years old, is participating in the fifth annual Robert Dover Horsemastership clinic at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Stadium complex that is the home of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, is writing a daily report for dressage-news.com. Kerrigan, from Mount Pleasant, Michigan but based at Hampton Green Farm in Wellington and Fruitport, Michigan for the past four years was the 2015 national Young Rider reserve champion on Vaquero HGF.

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The second day started with the riders and auditors participating in a morning workout.  The workouts take place every morning for the next four days.  Everyone that had participated in the clinic before were preparing for the worst. There is nothing better than working out every morning before an intense day of riding. At 7 a.m. we met our trainer for the week, Mike Barthowlemy.  He is a very fit, energetic, encouraging guy, but somehow is still slightly intimidating. Tuesday morning was a lot of introductions and different workout routines that are geared to improve the muscles that we use on a daily basis while riding. Stretching, core strengthening, along with some cardio were all a part of the morning routine.

Robert Dover officially welcomed us to the clinic.  He spoke about “The Basic Principles of Dressage.” He wanted to talk on this topic because he said we should all know what we are doing and learn the reason behind it. I thought that was a really great topic, because the more we know about the basics, the better we get as we move up the levels. Robert also talked about how dressage started and where the idea came from. Men and women had always seen horses out running and moving at liberty. They saw them do different movements with their bodies and figured they would try it while riding them. I feel like it would have to take a very creative and daring person to think of that.

I was up first to ride with Robert. Vaquero was pretty fresh starting out, due to the chill in the air. I personally find enjoyment from getting such a powerful feeling underneath me. I love to see his personality come out and notice how good he feels about himself. Robert wanted to see all the movements in each gait to gauge where we were at with our training. I felt like his main focus was to help me have a quiet, relaxed contact that was pushing from behind. Creating positive tension while having harmony was also a big key to Robert’s lesson. By doing that, I gained much more adjustability in all my movements. I had a good amount of success with my one-tempis.  Being completely straight and having a quick, active canter allowed me gain the correct feeling to be successful. I felt like I gained a good feel for what Robert wanted from me and Vaquero worked very well! I am looking forward to doing it again and continuing to think about Robert’s pointers.

The afternoon ended with an amazing discussion with Laura King. She talked to us about goal setting, and what it takes to be successful in the show ring from a physiological point of view. How the brain can cause a roadblock just based on your thoughts.

A study showed that the number one mistake all riders make is that they always imagine failure. I thought it was really interesting to learn that the brain really responds to positive words such as “correct” or right.” The more positivity and confidence the brain gains, the more successful you will be. I found Laura’s talk to be very helpful because I constantly think about what went wrong with my rides or what I could have done better. What I really should be focused on is what was successful and what worked well for the horse.

Looking forward to the lessons and lectures Wednesday.