Emma Smith recently attended a Dressage4Kids TEAM Program Clinic at Rein Dance Equestrian in Delano, Minnesota and shares her experiences and photos with the YourDressage community.
By Emma Smith
“I had an amazing time at the Dressage4Kids TEAM Clinic in Delano, Minnesota hosted by Julia Hengel and Rein Dance Equestrian. I got to ride my horse, who is a donation horse with Dressage4Kids, with Lendon Gray as well as watch her teach some of my students, which was a very educational experience for me. It was very special for me to be able to ride my horse, Stedemann, with Lendon, as it has taken a long time to get him happy and healthy in his work. Lendon encouraged me to raise my standards which, as usual, was necessary and helpful. She questioned why things weren’t good the first time or why something, like my centerlines, weren’t perfect. Every time she says something like that, it reminds me of the focus I have to put into all of the small details of my riding and my tests. We had our Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championship competition three weeks later and Lendon helping me with my tests made a huge difference. Stedemann and I ended up getting Reserve Champion in the Prix St Georges Open Championship and got a 68% in our first I1!
It was also really cool for me to get to watch Lendon with my students. Seeing what someone with Lendon’s experience level and knowledge does with them is very helpful and has guided my teaching following the clinic. The clinic is also great because, for a couple months after Lendon comes, any time the kids make the same mistakes multiple times I can just ask them, “What would Lendon have said if you did that?”, and that gets them to pay more attention right away! I feel so lucky that Lendon comes out to Minnesota to work with us and that Julia Hengel provides such a great environment at her farm. It is the highlight of the year for many of my students. Every year, there is a moment during the planning phase when we are asking people to send in their paperwork for the 4th time, or people aren’t paying, or whatever else, when I question whether or not all the organizing is worth it. But watching my students have so much fun and learning so much myself makes it all worth it every time and I can’t wait for next year!”