Thoroughbred Theatrics, Rodney at the Ellen Beard Clinic


Awareness of the outside world. First Contact Day. TV Tropes: First Contact.

Ellen Beard
Success in the Saddles
Multi-Disciplinary Clinic
Stepping Stone Farm
Chelsea AL, USA
Friday 1 April & Saturday 2 April 2022

Second day. You will note that Rodney is NOT in the ring with the rest of the class, explained below, Unfortunately, no media from our good day.

As always, I present what I heard, which may or may not be what the clinician said.

Day One, Private

Introductory discussion.

Demo walk, trot, canter.

Her verdict: Rodney needs guidance. I’ve heard this before.

Her twist: Soft. Soft. Soft.

Not as strong lower leg.


Get a good walk before asking for a clear trot transition. Keep his head in place. Not locking his head down but preventing him for being sloppy with it.

Guidance, but gently.

My synthesis is that when I was providing guidance I was too heavy. Unsubtle, moi? When I was light, I was not sufficiently authoritative.

I think of it has having two sliders: laissez-faire/authority & light/loud. Either I had both sliders to the left: light & laissez-faire. Or I had both sliders to the right: authoritative & loud. I need to have one of the sliders to the right and the other to the left: authoritative & light.

This is 110% telling him what to do. Go at this pace. Go on this line. You will pick up trot without flinging your head about.


Light. Light. Light. Opening my fingers instead of opening my elbows. Steer with my body. (This one I already did, kinda.) Strong eyes.

Rodney was excellent. Walk. Trot. Extended trot. Stretching forward. Listening.

For most of the lesson, Milton had been grazing next to the ring. They had to leave to get ready. Rodney noticed. He would get distracted. Look over. I’d tell him to No, look this way. It happened several times but that was all. No ‘tude about it.

There’s nothing I would change about how he went. Possibly the best he’s ever gone.

Ms. Best was taking about keeping him in a frame. (She may have used different words, that was the gist.) I said I like giving the horse freedom to decide. She offered a compromise (or I was confused) strong guidance through the transitions, ease up within the gaits. I can work with that. [Fifth Leg]

Day Two, Group

Horse fretful. Tired from yesterday. Don’t often do two travel days in a row.

Rider concerned over so many other horses in the ring. We had only ever done a group class once before, in this ring. A horse ran up his tail & he got upset. [Getting Our Hunter On]

Not set-up for success.

Then, out of the not-so-clear-not-so-blue-sky, Milton started screaming and rearing. Greg had brought Milton over to graze, which had worked the day before. Greg thinks it was when it started to rain. I thought it was when everyone started trotting to warm up. It’s a bit blurry.

Whatever the exact sequence, it blew everyone’s fuse.

We didn’t even make it one lap. We “started the class” by passing a certain point in the ring, made two corners, came down the long side, and Rodney threw his toys out of the pram. (Read that somewhere. So evocative.)

He hopped. He jumped forward. He slung his face about. Typical Rodney maneuvers. It is always concerning when he flings his head about to the extent that I can see his tongue flapping.

Wrestled to a stop. Got off. Asked to be excused.

A small incident that I could have worked through? Or, an incipient meltdown?

Was I being a weenie? Or was I advocating for my horse?

Meh. I didn’t sweat the question.

Subjective group classes are not an important life skill for us.

Went into the round pen. Walk, trot, canter both ways. Built on what we learned yesterday. I’ll take it.

Day Zero, Getting Ready

We delivered Rodney to the start of session one as tuned as he’s ever been: feet, tum, tack, warm-up routine. He was 100% rideable. She asked me to walk, trot, canter right off the bat and we did.

On day one there was some shrimping (curling neck down) and some pretzeling (curling neck to the side). Didn’t last. Even the fuss on day two was an opinionated fuss, i.e. ‘I do not like this.’ With a less difficult history between us, I might have reacted differently. Didn’t feel a moment of anxiety from him on either day.

The schedule worked out so that the blacksmith had to come the day before the clinic. Rodney’s feet felt so good that he was shod on Thursday and did the clinic on Friday. Riding that hard the day after shoeing? Riding at all the day after shoeing? For Rodney, this is huge.

Ditto fixing whatever was bothering his neck. [Routine]

The clinician was good. She also had good material.

Clinic Shine

Clinic reports, my own most definitely included, are often presented as if the ride was the most magical thing that ever happened on horseback.

Partly, reports are written in first flush of enthusiasm in the days after.

Partly, you so deeply, desperately what you learned to be the Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything. You want this to be the key you have been searching for.

Is the optimist tone merited or is it an an artifact of needing to get a blog post up by Tuesday?

Time will tell.

Is this the miracle cure to fix everything with Rodney?

Time will tell.

If it is a fix, better late than never or too little too late?

Time will tell.

The Terrible Twosome in time-out.

Tomorrow, the Saddlebred side.


%d bloggers like this: