Horse owners will be able to learn solutions to frustrating horse training and handling situations at a troubleshooting and obstacle course training clinic. Kristin Hodge of Sobieski is offering the clinic at her Crossing Timbers Equine LLC stable.
Hodge offers various clinics throughout the year and will be holding her next clinic, troubleshooting and obstacle course, Saturday, Sept. 21, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The clinic is designed to address problems such spooking and resistance to cues and aids. The troubleshooting clinic will also address any gaps in communication between horse and rider.
Hodge’s clinics are designed as no-pressure learning sessions, and by limiting the number of registrations, participants can receive individualized attention.
Riders can participate in a 30-minute, one-on-one session from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., riders will either be placed in a group or receive another one-on-one session, depending on the riders’ needs.
In the obstacle course section of the clinic, horse owners can introduce their horses to various obstacles such as bridges, flapping cloth, narrow pathways and others. Novice and veteran obstacle course horses can benefit from the sessions.
Clinic participants will be able to work with their horses in the outdoor obstacle course, weather permitting. In the event of inclement weather, an obstacle course will be set up in the indoor arena.
The clinics are an outgrowth of Hodge’s long-time attraction to horses.
“Horseback riding has been my passion since I was a child, so when deciding for my future, I knew I wanted to make it not only my passion but also my career,” Hodge said.
Hodge attended William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, where she received instruction in hunt seat, western, dressage and saddle seat riding styles through the school’s equestrian science program.
After graduation, she returned to the Green Bay area to fulfill her dream of running a training facility, opening Crossing Timbers Equine, LLC. For more than 15 years, Hodge has been teaching riders of all levels as well as training horses.
From her experience and education, Hodge has developed a teaching approach that instructs horse owners to work with their horses by building on the basics.
“Basic building blocks need to be in place before further learning can take place,” Hodge said. “For example, if you teach a student simple math, such as three plus two, and then immediately transition to calculus, you would expect to see frustration, confusion and ultimately, failure. Now, apply that to your horse. If horses are unsure or uncomfortable with the foundational blocks, like leading or groundwork, I work with the horse until that block is solid. Then, we progress from there, at the horse’s pace, to the next block. Just as students learn math at different paces, horses train at different paces, too.”
When working with riders, from beginners to professionals, Hodge uses the same philosophy. Because correct equitation is the base from where all riding can progress, all her students learn equitation, advancing at a pace comfortable for them.
Hodge understands the horse as well as its owner can become frustrated when pushed to perform advanced maneuvers before they have mastered the fundamentals.
“Horses feel this pressure, too,” Hodge said. “One minute we ask our horse for a turn on the haunches and the next ask for a spin. Then, we get frustrated when the spin falls apart. It seems that, especially in today’s fast-paced world, time is our most diminished resource. By taking things slower, our horses can calm down, learn and perform better.”
A technique Hodge uses to further develop confidence in horse and rider is the use of consistency.
“Horses love patterns,” Hodge said. “They love knowing what is coming next and what is expected of them. As a rider, by being clear, concise and consistent in our cues and actions, our horses can relax and feel more comfortable. By making cues in a systematic way, the rider and the horse will know what is coming next, together. This allows horses and their riders to train as a unit.”
Another aspect of training a horse is giving cues in proper sequence. This became evident to a participant during the Silent Signals component of a clinic. Hodge worked with the rider on pre-cues and cues to help her resistant horse respond softly when it was asked to back.
“She’d (the horse) pop her head up, back very quickly and without much balance,” Hodge said. “The rider and I worked through the progression and timing of her cues. First, shoulders back; second, hold with the thighs; and third, bringing the reins back towards her (rider’s) pockets.”
The owner was also rushing through her cues, Hodge noted, giving all three cues almost simultaneously. Through instruction, discussion with the rider and concentration toward giving each cue its place in the process, the owner and horse became more comfortable and relaxed. By the end of the session, the horse backed with its head down and was supple through its hind quarters.
Registration for the Sept. 21 troubleshooting clinic and obstacle course will be accepted until Wednesday, Sept. 18. Payment is needed to reserve a place in the sessions and is nonrefundable, unless the spot can be filled.
Photographs of the outdoor obstacle course can be viewed on the stable’s webpage at https://www.crossingtimbersequine.com/photos-of-facility. For more information, visit the stable’s website at https://www.crossingtimbersequine.com/clinics or the stable’s Facebook page.