By Diann Landau
On June 1, 2019, I rode in my first-ever Fix-a-Test. I have audited many FATs in my time, always learning something that I can use at home. But since most of these clinics are geared for the upper level riders, and judged/coached by upper level judges & clinicians I felt too intimidated to ride in front of such esteemed people. There really haven’t been many opportunities for those of us who ride at the lower levels to get the same feedback without feeling that we’re not “worthy” of the expertise of these clinicians- despite being told otherwise.
So, after years of griping about this (and hearing similar gripes from others), VADA/Nova finally offered a clinic for us mortals! The judge/clinician was Phoebe Devoe-Moore. I had heard she was wonderful- and wonderful she was. After watching us ride our first-ever attempt at a First Level test (Test 1). I opted for a mini-lesson rather than re-riding it after some corrections. Phoebe nailed every problem that I had, and gave concise and doable corrections that resulted in almost instant changes in how my horse moved and reacted to my aids. She had a great eye for my horse’s capabilities, and helped us achieve these changes in a short amount of time. She gave us exercises to take home that will improve our scores, and make my mare a better ride.
Phoebe was incredibly positive and supportive. This is what every rider, no matter what their level, needs: positive but productive reinforcement, with “homework” to take home to continue improving ourselves and our mounts. We were both pleased that as soon as she gave me a directive I could implement it and get immediate results from my mare. These directives were basic but effective, a different way of problem solving that I could understand. And the fact that my Big Girl responded so well made it better!
I thank VADA/Nova for offering this opportunity to finally participate in such a clinic, and if another is offered again, I urge other lower level riders to avail themselves of a great training session with someone who looked at us with fresh eyes. I also thank Judy Grass for letting us use her wonderful facilities at Compass Rose. And thanks too to the United States Dressage Federation for awarding VADA/Nova a GMO Education Initiative grant, which allowed them to offer this clinic at such a reasonable fee. I am still in shock at the thought of moving up to First Level, and Phoebe gave me confidence that I can be successful in this new adventure.