Still reeling from last week’s shoot in Phoenix, it seems like ages since we filmed the show in Martha’s Vineyard, but those are the episodes that are playing now. Even though my mind is still processing the episodes we shot last week, I still remember the MVY shows well, especially this week’s episode.
It features Katelyn, a very young and very talented rider—at the tender age of 8, she is already an accomplished equestrian—showing hunter, pony club and dressage. Her goals are to ride in the Olympics one day and I have no doubt that she has the talent. I told her parents to forget saving for college—the horse she’ll need to take her to the Olympics will cost way more than four years of college!
But now she is riding a very nice, right-sized pony who, remarkably, is very sweet and dependable. They are just cute as a button together and at a level where she is primarily working on refinement. One thing I noticed was that Katelyn had to look down to see if she was on the correct diagonal—so that’s what we made the episode about—teaching her to FEEL her diagonals instead of looking (see my Training Library for more info on this topic).
Katelyn is showing primarily in equitation—as young riders should. And while you can get away with looking down for your diagonals in schooling shows, to make it in the highest levels, you need to feel them. Surprisingly, they are not hard to feel but sadly, most people are taught from the beginning to look. And looking always interferes with your feel because your mind will over-ride what you feel.
I’ve taught a lot of people to feel their diagonals and some of them get it right off the bat, while others have to practice for a while. What’s difficult is not feeling them, but rather posting at a given point. Most people just begin posting, then look to see if they are on the correct diagonal—so they are not posting at a certain time. These people have the most difficulty getting their diagonals by feel—they can feel the right time, but they have trouble posting at a given time. But all it takes is some dedicated practice. Katelyn had to practice but got it eventually.
One funny side note to this episode… Katelyn had a total melt-down right before we started filming her—tears and frustration and nothing could console her. That was not entirely unusual—especially with kids—because the pressure seems like a lot, but Katelyn is typically a very happy and cheery little girl. We have since learned that our “cast members” are feeling a lot of pressure at the beginning of their show. The first thing we do is film their “before” footage—where everyone on the set is watching them perform-- and then we go straight to the interview—which is just them staring at the camera and telling their story. It’s a really hard beginning. In fact, the rest of it is pretty easy because once I come in and take over, they only have to follow directions and I do most of the talking.
It didn’t take us long to get Katelyn straightened out, especially with the help of my multi-talented crew who soon had her laughing and chanting, “I’m cool, I’m cute, my horse does not need bute.” And it was on with the show!
I am on my way now to sunny CA for Equine Affaire. It’ll be a fun but hectic weekend and I look forward to seeing lots of familiar faces there, doing my presentations and judging the Extreme Cowboy Race on Sunday. Leaving single-digit temperatures behind this morning and arriving to 75degrees has its own appeal as well.
Enjoy the ride!
For training tips from Julie, visit the Training Library at http://juliegoodnight.com/q&a.php and check out her online store--full of training tools and DVDs-- at http://juliegoodnight.com/products.html