Great first day at the Conrad clinic here in Santa Rosa! Gorgeous weather at Lilo Fore's idyllic facility in the Northern California's wine country provided a beautiful backdrop for great horses and great rides. The drive on Wednesday was beautiful and uneventful, with weather in the 60s pretty much the entire way (although it hit 90 in Sacramento!!). Lana and I aren't much used to the warm weather over here, although it is a nice change from the cold nights in Boise. Thanks to Lana, the horses have been very well-cared for and everything ran very smoothly today.
First off was Majek, who impressed everyone with his flamboyant trot and easy progression towards the GP work. I typically start him out a little under-powered and on the snaffle, in addition he lost some weight on the trip, so he looks a little young and baby-like. He was also a little spunky first thing in the morning, as I had ridden him very lightly the day before. Conrad had an interesting exercise to get him more expressive in the shoulders (after getting him a little more supple in the back and longer in the neck), which was as simple as tapping him on the shoulder with the whip in the right moment. Then he trotted like an Olympic champion, and the half-steps were very active and expressive. I got several comments from spectators about what a change they had seen in him; he can go from looking nice to looking absolutely spectacular in a very short hurry.
Next was Victor, who has made much head-way since last fall. We have had difficulties with the one-times since February, but the piaffe/passage have come along very well. We've also gotten the pirouettes much more under control and much more ridable. He is also much more active on his own and stays rounded much more easily. The biggest task for the next couple days, according to Conrad, is to try and narrow his hind legs in piaffe (he tends to want to be wide and go balance' in piaffe), which he thinks will help everything else including the one-times. Additionally Victor had very good energy today, which was really nice as he can often be a little lazy.
I added Bolero to the clinic last minute, as there was a drop-out. Normally I like to wait until the horses are pretty solid 3rd level or above to ride with someone like Conrad, but decided it would be helpful and good experience for him. Yesterday Bolero was an absolute idiot, and acted like he had never been anywhere before in his life. I could barely hand-walk him around Lilo's arena while she was teaching; he was passaging sideways and leaping and bolting and almost rearing. Lilo called him a "3 year old 7 year old" LOL. He was absolutely wild on the lunge line and I was a little concerned that he was going to be a maniac today. Luckily he was more back to his normal self. Having never seen him, Conrad got acquainted with him today, we ran through all his lateral work and his canter work. I think he really liked him, but we can't really push him yet until he is more focused on the rider and less focused on spooking at his surroundings.
Looking forward to Day 2 and another beautiful day in California wine country!!