Michel Assouline Clinic at Vinceremos and AGDF 1

We enjoyed the Para Dressage clinic with US Para Coach Michel Assouline at the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center the past couple of days For some reason I was lucky enough to ride both days; it was mostly about coaching in general, not para-specific, and for part of the clinic my regular coach Michelle taught me while he shadowed her and made suggestions.

He also gave some some great lectures about coaching style. When I was a resident way back when, maybe forty years ago, the teaching style was for people to scream and yell at you – but now the focus is on developing a rapport with your student. He said he thinks the program the USEF has for instructor certification is too technique-dependent, so he’s trying to introduce the other part of it about how to be a good teacher, translate what you’re trying to say…sometimes if someone says the same thing a different way, it clicks.

Also, he said that in England and Europe you can’t just hang up a shingle, you have to get some credentials, and he’s trying to make that the same in this country, but I think it’s an uphill battle to make people invest the time and money to get certified.

The clinic was really worth-while, and his wife is just wonderful too, she was here for a few days and helped me a lot too. They’re the ones who found my horse in Denmark and things are going well with her. She hasn’t gotten the memo yet that ‘pretty is as pretty does’, and she is as good under saddle as she is in the barn.

I did the AGDF 1 as a warm-up for the first CPEDI this weekend and our high score was 71.7 and our low was 68.00, which isn’t bad. Natalie Lamping and Marilyn Payne were judging. They want you to halt with all four feet exactly square and if you’re one foot off it lowers your score – so before our next show we’re working on the little details, as well as how to increase her energy and stride length of stride without making her rush. Like every horse she’s stiffer to one side, and I’m right-side dominant neurologically, and my left side is more spastic than my right. I always carry a whip on my right side, no matter which direction I’m going, since I can’t use it with my left hand.

Today is our day off since we did the show and clinic back to back. The barn we’re staying at, Excelsior Dressage, is brand new. The barn is 10 minutes from the show grounds and the house is 5 minutes away, so it’s very convenient. There’s also a clubhouse with a workout room, so I can stay fit without having to join the gym. It’s all very convenient and we’re really enjoying our time here. I’m not getting any younger, and I want to make the most of the trip to Florida so I will be competing at several more AGDF shows as well, through March.

Michelle brought five horses down here so she’s really busy. I’ve just kept my mare at the Global show grounds this week since the CPEDI is starting up soon. Tomorrow we have “observation” with all the team selectors watching – no pressure! We’ll school tomorrow and compete Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Team, Individual and Freestyle tests.