Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mario Bosijoli Clinic - Transitions and Other Pesky Details!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to ride Grace in a clinic with Mario Bosijoli. I had audited one of his reining clinics in the spring and was impressed by his series of exercises that cross over well to any discipline.  For those who don’t know Mario here is an excerpt from his current bio: Chairman of NRHA’s Animal Welfare/Stewards Committee. Over the last thirty years Mario has officiated at horse shows on five different continents. His judging assignments have included the US Arabian Nationals, the AQHA World, Amateur World, Select World and Youth World, NRHA Futurity and Derby, All American Quarter Horse Congress, International Quarter Horse Championships, Italian Reining Derby, European Reined Cow Horse Derby, and Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.
Mario is an AQHA, APHA, NRHA, NRCHA, NSBA, PtHA, POAC, ApHC, ApHCC, ABRA, USEF Western & Reining, FEI and EQUINE CANADA, approved Judge, and AQHA and NRHA approved Steward.
It doesn’t mention his years as a trainer, many NHRA and AQHA championships along with trips to the World show. One of the reasons I so enjoy working with him is that I get the view of a top notch trainer along with the added benefit of a many carded breed show judge. My favorite part of any time I’ve spent around Mario is when he shares stories from his years of judging, it’s a real treat to hear what it is like from the other side of the show pen. I also takes away some of the fear of showing for me, it turns out that judges really are just people too; it is not their goal in life to chew me up and spit me out!

There were 7 horses and riders in the clinic including Nina and Milo. Mario spent the day working us through his series of exercises which focused on rein control, lope transitions, stops, roll backs, spins and counter lope. The exercises were great, but the real gems in the clinic were the little nuggets of information delivered in between. Mario got on everyone about having too long of a rein length, he pointed out that the sport is called “Reining” so yes, you can use your reins and have some contact. As a judge he actually wants to see how your horse will react when you pick up on the rein. He wasn’t a fan of the Texas drape often seen now in horsemanship classes.  One word that we all heard during the day was “Forward” Mario talked about tempo and how there was an optimal speed to begin a maneuver.  A horse that was going too slow could be just a sloppy as one going too fast. I watched a 3 year old clean up its lope considerably just by asking it to go forward.

One of the biggest light bulb moments for me was when we were walking a circle to set up a turnaround exercise. The idea was to stop in the corner about ten feet off the wall and then turn a 180 towards the wall. Later we would turn a 360 away from the wall – a spin. The wall would do most of the work. What I missed was the importance of the circle. I was using it as a way to get to the wall and not actually riding the the steps to get me there. My horse was drifting to the right so Mario got on me about actually riding each step of that circle. I took a feel of my outside rein and pushed Grace up into it with my leg, immediately felt her step up from behind and lift her shoulder. When I then arrived at the corner for the 360 she was much better prepared and gave me an actual spin. Sarah is always telling me to ride each stride, but that moment really drove the idea home. Mario reminded us many times during the day that everything we do while sitting on our horse’s back counts.

The one thing that became crystal clear for me was that I need to work on my transitions every time I get on my horse. One of the first exercises was picking up the lope transition while walking at the wall at a 45 degree angle. He talked again about riding each step to that transition, loading the spring for takeoff. This made so much more sense than sneaking the transition in out of nowhere like I often do. Mario said he likes to know that the answer is going to be there before he asks the question. He also pointed out that the lope transition is a scored maneuver in Western Riding and it sets the tone for the quality of your lope. If we were loping an exercise and he wanted us to walk so we could talk about it he would say “trot, then walk”. The idea was to ride each step of the downward transition and not just fall into the walk. Turns out that is a terrible habit of mine, I tend to just let my horse fall into the walk and I found that in the snaffle yesterday I don’t have much of a downward transition.

I have a ton of homework do to and I am once again looking forward to working in the arena. I know I can also work on my transitions out on the trail and I need to since everything I do in the saddle counts. I can see now that many of the little details I overlook are where the polish in the show ring comes from. I called Sarah after the clinic to fill her on how the day went and to tell her that I now have a new appreciation for her. Many of Mario’s words where what I have already been told by Sarah, just said in a different way. We are making plans to haul out to ride with Mario this winter, in the meantime I have plenty of homework to do!

1 comment:

  1. Being in the middle of a little transition hell right now, I must admit I'm a little jealous!