Lucinda Green - eventing exercises | An Eventful Life

Lucinda Green - eventing exercises

Lucinda Green

It is so difficult to try and encapsulate two very full hours of knowledge and a lifetime’s experience being passed on by one of the best cross country riders in the world so I won’t even try. Obviously the best way to experience Lucinda Green’s clinic is to attend one with your horse and get the full monty. However for those who couldn’t be there I’ll try to highlight the points that really struck home with me but it certainly won’t compare with the real thing.

Let’s start with the concept of what Lucinda is trying to teach. As she says in our video interview with her after clinic

“I think it’s very important that riders are taught the right thing but it’s terribly important that they’re taught the reactive, instinctive riding as well. There are so many facets and assets of riding there’s no way I can get through more than just a small area in a couple of days and the one I go for is the one that is least taught, which is, just ride by the seat of your pants, react and feel what you have to react to and practice reacting to it”

Lucinda Green

That may sound like it’s all a bit scary and out of control; far from it. Each lesson is structured to get the most out of the time available and Lucinda’s approach is friendly but professional (she maintains that she worries about teaching ‘younger people’ as they seem to be intimidated by her but that certainly didn’t seem to be the case here – they were lapping it up).

She starts a class with a group discussion about each horse/rider and I love the fact that she takes notes so that she can refer back the next day. The riders are asked to have their horses warmed up on the flat before the class then, after the preliminary discussion, they are sent out to jump at random all of the fences, which includes lots of spooky barrels on their side and small skinny fences,  on the (wonderful) arena with specific instructions;

  • Trot in to each fence, land and trot away
  • No canter (“Teach them in the air to land at trot and listen to you”)
  • No running out
  • If they stop, fine but then back them up a long way and then jump it. If you happen to stop at least you have kept them straight and there is still a fence in front of you  - so at this height don't turn away, no running out sideways or circling (“Go over, under or through or I’ll drop the pole if you have a real problem but get to the other side”)
  • While going around, think of how to get your horse to focus and which two bits of a rider’s body are required to achieve it

Actually, it’s not that easy; lots of horses struggle the trot only bit and there are plenty of “Nope, I don’t want to jump that” reactions!

Lucinda calls the riders in, makes a few adjustments to tack based on what she has seen and asks for the answers the questions she has set. It turns out there are three parts of the rider’s body which are required and Lucinda uses a triangle analogy; your eyes are on the top of the triangle and your legs and hands at each corner of the base.

Now comes a phrase which Lucinda is to use repeatedly during the class “Use your legs as a tube to steer your horse and your hands to guide”.  Whenever there are sticky moments or tricky lines to be negotiated during the day, Lucinda simply reminds riders to “use the tube”. Some other phrases from the classes that really stuck with me include;

“Your legs are a mobile receiver to your horse. Develop brains in your legs”

“Your legs should develop a brain each of their own and deal with the horse's questions leaving your real brain free to attend to all the other things it has to think about”

Lucinda Green

“Oil the reaction time between you and your horse”

“I want your horse’s legs to be like a 4WD in diff-lock where each wheel moves independently of the others”

“Your horse needs to learn to dance in front of the fence”

“Every horse is different and it’s up to you to work out what your horse needs from you”

“Imagine your horse is a see-saw. Keep your weight on the back of the seesaw and this will have the same mechanical effect that it does on a seesaw- the other end will spring up”

Working in the arena on the first day, Lucinda used some interesting lines, lots of skinny fences and a complete disregard for strides to sharpen up the horse’s and rider’s reaction times and get them used to the feel of riding ‘a little bit more by the seat of your pants’. The idea is not to jump the perfect show jumping round but to hone instinctive riding skills in a more controlled environment

Cooper Oborn

       Cooper Oborn tackles an interesting line ( the corner of the orange block is the next fence)

“Don’t worry about it being ugly” says Lucinda and, without a hint of irony, “The distances certainly won’t be perfect unless I’ve done something wrong”

Off the riders went, certainly not perfectly at first but after lots of attempts, a few ugly leaps and bounds, they all overcame their problems on various tricky lines by ‘using their tube’

Here are a few examples of the exercises being successfully negotiated and would certainly be great exercises to try at home

 

 

Some tricky lines and unusual striding negotiated in the small courses above and below ..................

 

......... while bounces on a curve (below) test agility and reaction times ...........

 

............ both ways of course!

Many thanks to the riders in Lucinda's clinic for allowing us to photograph and film them

In the next article Lucinda tests the horses' (and riders') reaction to unusual objects

CLICK HERE for our interview with Cooper Oborn at Lucinda's clinic