Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 6/5/98; 2:00:00PM.

All Breed Hunter - Western Clinic

Recently the Inland Empire Morgan Horse Club sponsored an all-breed riding clinic at Fairview Farm, Spokane, Washington. The clinic was put on by Chowning Stables, which is located in Arlington, Washington. The Chowning's specialize in Morgans as well as having a great deal of experience with Quarter Horses and Arabians. Their areas of expertise include Western Pleasure and Hunter Pleasure.

Since I am an active member of the club, I felt duty bound to support the event even though I am in the true sense of the word, a novice rider. I'd consider the clinic a success if I could make it through without falling off! When I read through the agenda and saw terms like suppling, counter bends and counter canters, I knew I was way over my head. Judy and Jennifer Chowning seemed so nice over the telephone that I decided to take them at their word and signed up. They assured me that they would take me through all the steps to make sure I understood what they wanted me to do. Saturday morning I showed up with riding helmet in hand (just in case) prepared to spend the day on my beloved Morgan gelding, Jazztime Brass Commander.

Judy started the clinic by giving us a little bit of their background and then we got right to work. We broke into two smaller groups and started with the basics, doing circles at a walk, then a trot, and finally a canter, using only one rein. After we had practiced this for a while, they made us do it one at a time in front of the rest of the riders and the spectators (I didn't hear anyone laughing!) Brassy and I made it through this part and a lady in the stands said "I really like your horse. He really wants to please you." After that I felt much more at ease and moved on to the next challenge. Before long, Judy and Jennifer introduced us to the concept of counter bends. This took us a little longer to pick up, as neither Brassy nor I got the idea of going one way while being bent the other. After a few tries and a lot of encouragement from Judy, we started to get the point. The more advanced group (not mine) moved into counter canters while I was still struggling to understand counter bends.

The Chownings had us spend very little time working "on the rail." Most of the exercises were accomplished in a circle (some riders' circles were better than others - mine were kind of square). The basic idea is, if your horse can perform all of his gaits correctly in a circle, he can easily do it on the rail. This was a new concept for me, but after a while it sure began to make a lot of sense.

About this time Brassy's tongue was hanging out of his mouth and my butt hurt. The rest of the group must have looked the same as they were kind enough to give us a break for lunch. After we had rested just long enough to get stiff, we got back to work. Judy and Jennifer started us off slowly after lunch giving us a lesson on how to choose the proper bit for your horse.

The afternoon was spent practicing what we had learned in the morning and putting all the pieces together. Finally, toward the end of the day we did a little work on the rail. The Chownings took a lot of time working with each individual letting each of us know what we needed to work on. As you can imagine, my list was pretty long.

It has been about a month since the clinic and I have continued to work on what I learned. Brassy and I are making some real headway and we are communicating much better. I wish I could have spent more time with the Chownings as they are great teachers as well as being very nice people. Hopefully, our club can invite them to come back again. If they do, I would certainly encourage everyone that can to attend, either as a participant or spectator. Thanks also goes out to the folks at Fairview Farm for their hospitality. They have a great facility with a terrific staff. Oh! By the way, I didn't fall off!

Jim LaShell

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