Stiffness? Loss of balance? Reactivity? Emily Beshear has an exercise for that, and she unpacked many of these from her toolbox to share with twelve eager riders selected to participate in the 2022 USEA Emerging Athlete 21 (EA21) Program.
The EA21 Program was created with the goal of developing young talent and curating a pipeline to get these up-and-coming riders on the world stage representing the United States one day. Stable View is hosting one of the first regional clinics of this exciting series at their Aiken, S.C. venue July 25-26, 2022.
These riders were hand selected based not only on their competition record, but also their willingness to learn, love of the sport, and work ethic, and it was Beshear’s task this weekend to fine-tune each student’s riding philosophy by polishing their horsemanship in a way that can be transferred to a variety of horses.
The first of the two-day clinic focused on flatwork, and Beshear made sure this group would not suffer from circle boredom. The USEA ICP Level 4 coach, unlocked an arsenal of exercises – printed on her own flashcards and drawn out on a ringside whiteboard for all the visual learners – with tips and tricks to tackle any type of ride.
“I think it’s really important for riders to have a set exercise that they’re trying to accomplish so they can focus on how the horse is feeling, and I can add in the little details along the way,” Beshear said. “That way they learn how to figure out what’s going on beneath them, rather than me riding every step for them. I feel like it goes a long way with the riders to teach them more independence.”
Beshear let the riders direct their lessons by selecting exercises based on each participant’s goals for the two days.
Some wanted to work on taking their dressage to the next level and needed the tools to achieve more brilliant movement. This starts with the walk, where Beshear encouraged riders to go with the movement – almost thinking of rocking their hips so that a bigger, more swinging step could be encouraged.
On any type of circle, Beshear also had these riders push their horse's rib cage out to improve the step and achieve true bend. “If you want them supple and swinging, think about the head and the tail on the same track of the circle, and the rib cage being on a slightly larger, outside track,” Beshear said. This, too, can translate to the competition ring, and Beshear encouraged riders to take a step or two in the corner to recreate the same feeling.
Another major theme was finding moments to reorganize and find balance. For this, Beshear had riders work through transitions on a marked circle. She used cones to help orient riders to specific places to ask for the changes of gaits. After any upward transition, riders would stay in that gait for three-quarters of the circle and after any downward transitions, they would maintain that gait for a quarter of the circle. This gave riders a set plan for exactly where they would ask for their transitions.
For Beshear, a clinic like this, with participants in a group, not individual, setting, helps riders install a variety of tools that they can lean into going forward in their riding career.
“I grew up in Michigan, so as a young rider I didn’t have access to a lot of consistent upper-level help, and I throughout my career found my way by going to a lot of clinics and just taking whatever nuggets I could and going home and making it work for whatever horses I had,” she said.
“I feel like this program, because it directly deals with young riders and they come all over the place and from different scenarios in terms of how much help they're getting, was my way of taking all those pieces that I wish I would’ve known then. I saw this as a good format to give them as many tools to take home and play with. I love the one-on-one stuff at home with the regular students, but this allowed me to think of all those things that I wish I had known when I was young.”
Here’s a smattering of wisdoms that Beshear left riders thinking about:
The EA21 clinic at Stable View continues tomorrow with show jumping lessons.
The remaining EA21 Regional Clinics are scheduled as follows:
Central – Holly Hill Farm (Benton, La.) | August 1-2, 2022 | Coached by Rebecca Braitling.
West Coast I – Aspen Farms (Yelm, Wash.) | August 15-16, 2022 | Coached by Rebecca Brown.
West Coast II – Twin Rivers Ranch (Paso Robles, Calif.) | August 17-18, 2022 | Coached by Rebecca Brown.
For more information on the EA21 Regional Clinics, click here.
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