July 2015 - Common Ground, Common Goal
Written by Andie Radsliff
Wednesday, 01 July 2015 23:56
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San Marcos clinic offers education to all.

by Andie Radsliff

The fourth annual Common Ground Clinic hosted by the Twin Oaks Valley Equestrian Association on May 17 was an opportunity for riders of all ages and styles to share their love and knowledge of horses. It was held at Walnut Grove Horse Park in San Diego County’s San Marcos.

Author, Andie Radsliff driving at the clinic.

As a 13-year-old western rider, I was intrigued about learning new things and enjoying interesting sessions. The first was saddle seat equitation and driving. The second session focused on reining and working with your individual horse. During the third session, a veterinarian explained how conformation affects the health of our horses. Finally, riders and auditors were able to experience cross-country jumping.

Anne Speck of Rancho Del Mar Riding Academy started the stunning day off with some driving.  She shared with us how to drive a horse. The horse that she demonstrated with was a beautiful 15-year-old Morgan she uses for lessons. I had the opportunity to try driving. I had never done that before, so it was such a wonderful opportunity to try something different. Ann taught us that you must be strong and bold with your horse in order to guide them correctly. The second thing she taught us was saddleseat. As she explained proper technique, it was fun to watch two young ladies demonstrate the proper way to ride saddleseat.

Clinic trainers, from left to right: Olivia Loiacono, Anne Speck, Dr. Paul McClellan, Bill Norwood and Quinberry, AQHA ROM Champion.

The second session was taught by Bill Norwood and his horse, Quinberry, AQHA ROM Champion. He taught a lesson on reining. He showed us how to be a champion rider by first explaining to us the importance of respecting the horse’s individuality before anything else. He demonstrated spinning, which is when the horse moves his front end around his back end. When the horse is spinning you should see the horse’s back inside foot make a small triangle. The outside foot is pushing around and his front feet are crossing over. When you do it correctly, he said, “You see it and feel it.” Two other students were with him in the arena, and you could see how much fun they were having learning about this event.

The third session was led by Paul McClellan, a veterinarian from San Dieguito Equine Group. He taught us about conformation and how to keep our horses healthy. Some weaknesses of the horse’s conformation are mismatched feet, angular deviations of the back legs, or weakness in the back, head, neck, throatlatch or tendons. He demonstrated how to look for these issues on three different horse breeds.  We also learned that the conformation of the horse changes when it gets older. You can’t stop changes from happening but you can prevent them from getting worse.

The final session was taught by Olivia Loiacono, a top finisher in advanced level international eventing. Olivia taught us about the world of cross-country jumping. She taught us the five important things about riding. First is responsibility, second is speed and direction, third is rhythm, fourth is balance and fifth is timing. During this session, she focused on speed and direction. She had four great riders in the arena with her. She challenged the riders to change the number of strides between the jumps to better prepare for the next jump. She also told them to collect their horses. Some horses had trouble with the jumps but it was all fun in the end. It was so great to see those amazing riders fly over the jumps.

The Common Ground Clinic is a safe and enjoyable place for riders from all disciplines to get together, enjoy a wonderful day and learn about things they have never tried before. Most of all, I learned that no matter what kind of riding you do, the joy is in the journey, not the ribbon.


Author Andie Radsliff lives in Escondido and rides with Rockin’ L & D Ranch, where she and the Mustang Rose Cloud compete on trainer Lori Hall-McNary’s gymkhana show team.