Ashley Adams Clinic – Day 2 and 3

For Day 2 and 3 of the clinic, Trainer was riding Henry. She’s just getting back into her normal riding routine post-baby, and really only has young horses at the moment, so she hasn’t jumped anything of much size or technicality for like… a year. Henry is kind of perfect for helping a rider knock the rust off, because he’s got a high tolerance for mistakes, but at the same time he’s a HUGE tattletale. If you do something even slightly wrong, you’ll know it. Basically they got a little bit of a teacher-student role reversal this weekend, and Henry got to return the favor to someone who has really been so instrumental in bringing him (and me!) along over these past couple years.

Her stadium lesson on Saturday went a lot like mine. Lots of working on rocking the canter back onto the hind end and lifting his ribcage UP to his withers, and lots of working on her own body control. Henry seemed kind of pissed about stadium 2 days in a row when there were a bunch of lovely XC fences just outside of the arena, but he tolerated his torture with nothing more than large amounts of Resting Mare Face. It was pretty fun to watch the lesson progress and see Trainer finding her “sea legs” again as things went along.

this horse though, y’all ❤

The weather was quite miserable, so freaking humid in the morning that everything had a layer of wetness to it. The day ended up being 92 degrees with 60% humidity by the afternoon. Seems pretty excessive for mid-October, Texas. Henry had to spend a while under the hose to get cooled down when he was done. I was glad that I had clipped him the day before the clinic, although I’m not sure how helpful it really was considering the humidity.

Sunday was cross country day, finally something Henry was happy about. They started with little exercises, eventually stringing together some courses and then some harder combinations. A lot of the focus was on the ability to quickly bring the horse back from an open XC canter to rebalance for more of the shorter bouncier stadium canter that is required for combinations… a little bit of a struggle in the beginning with Henry, but eventually she got it done. He was pretty pumped to be out and jumped everything she pointed him at, regardless of mistakes. The first time he leaped into the water I’m pretty sure he was screaming “CANNONBALL” as she had to quickly gather her reins back up to make the turn for the jump out.

loping out of the coffin like NBD

Really cross country day heard a lot of the same concepts repeated from stadium day… especially “put him up into your outside rein”. Like if I had a dollar for every time I heard outside rein all weekend from Ashley, for real. She ain’t wrong, though. Another thing she really stressed was that it was important to keep a conversation going with your horse all the way around, instead of just sitting up there like a bump on a log (“bumps on a log don’t go cross country”) or setting your pace and then just kind of expecting the horse to gallop along on autopilot. It was important to continually check in with them, make sure they were with you, make sure they understood what you wanted, make sure the balance was always there and ready, etc. It really helped the horses not just perform better, but they seemed more confident in the exercises.

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At the end, Ashley’s main takeaway for Henry (both for me and Trainer) was that either we could let him go around and be an average cute little horse, or we could really ride every step, create the powerful canter, improve the balance, and then suddenly he was a machine. Or more accurately, she said it like “MA-CHEEEEN”. He performs to whatever level he’s ridden, basically. Ride him averagely, and he’s an average horse. Ride him well and he’s a great horse. Which really is absolutely 100% accurate, so I need to make myself be a better rider so that he can be a better horse. What else is new?

But now I feel like I have a lot more specific tools in my toolbox to get that done. When we got home I unloaded Henry from the trailer and immediately drove out to my jump field to set up some exercises while everything was still fresh in my mind. I will be riding around thinking about straight bouncy canters, outside rein, my core, separating my hands from my body, quicker reaction times, and riding his girth uphill to the base. Maybe we’ll actually even succeed and get better.


Either way, I can’t recommend Ashley enough. She isn’t just a naturally talented rider, she’s also a really excellent teacher, and it’s hard to find both of those things together. She can very clearly get her points across and knows exactly when to push and what to say to get the results she’s looking for. It’s also really obvious that she cares a lot about what she does and she really gives it 110% of her effort and attention. I’ve been to a lot of clinics with a lot of people, some of them really big name riders, and none of them were as useful to me as she was. It wasn’t one of those “one size fits all” things where there’s one exercise set up and every horse does the exact same thing throughout the day.  Instead everyone got exactly what they needed, individual attention, and specific exercises to help them with their particular horse. Nothing cookie cutter about it. Those of you in Area 2, I’d definitely look her up and try to ride with her. But if any other folks out there are thinking of bringing someone into your area for a clinic, for sure look at Ashley! 10/10 would recommend.

10 thoughts on “Ashley Adams Clinic – Day 2 and 3

  1. Interesting visualization, probably something that would help me, but how exactly do you lift his ribcage up to his withers? Are you just lifting your hands and putting on leg?

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    1. Think about lifting with your inside leg INTO your outside rein contact. If you think about it that way, the aids just tend to happen… you use the correct part of your leg on the correct part of their barrel, and if you think about it as lifting, you tend to keep your shoulders up and out of the way.

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      1. And people ask why riding is considered exercise…. LOL. As hard as this is to describe – which you did very well, BTW, I think you need to be teaching people – I know darn well it’s even harder to actually DO!

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  2. Her advice and the wording and what not really sound just like my trainer. I think I have some similar weaknesses as my core needs to work harder, and I definitely need to push the canter uphill more to get a better horse under me. Jampy doesn’t let you forget the outside rein though. If you aren’t using it, he will literally just turn into the middle of the ring. It’s not normal.
    I’m glad you had such a fantastic experience at this clinic. I imagine it was pretty useful to get to watch Henry go with your trainer too. So nice of you to share him, but I bet it was beneficial too!

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  3. After a lifetime of H/J riding I’m currently taking beginner dressage lessons, and am getting talked to a LOT about the ‘ole outside rein. Apparently I really need to use that sucker a lot more than I’m accustomed to. 😉 It is really interesting, though, to (try to) put things into practice that I’ve been reading about for a long time. My new trainer is really good at explaining things and it’s fascinating to hear the “why” and “cause and affect” behind many things she’s asking me to do. I always prefer thorough explanations and that is not at all what I used to get most of the time in H/J lessons. It was more, “do this, do that.”

    Sounds like this clinic was fantastic and frankly I am in awe of EVERYONE’S stamina. I rode Saturday in unseasonably warm 90 degree temps here and I was DYING after only 45 minutes of WTC. You guys rock!

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