Last weekend I participated in a Molly Sue Kinnamon clinic at local dressage/eventing barn Greystone Equestrian Center. Although I had seen this clinic being offered I had originally passed for another lesson elsewhere, but when that lesson didn't work out I figured, what the heck!
Why not take a lesson with someone totally new?
I've been trying to push my buttons and get Stella out to other locations in an effort to become better partners, explore new places, meet new people, and generally work on my anxiety issues.
I'd seen a few FB posts of people visiting Molly Sue at her home barn MK Equestrian in Pennsylvania and they all came back alive so I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea. From the clinic entry form, here's Molly's history.
Molly competed at the 3*/Advanced level aboard Havarah's Charley and was named to the Developing Rider List, where she had the opportunity to work with Mark Phillips, Boyd Martin, and Phillip Dutton, who remains her coach to this day. Molly has finsihed in the top 10 at CC1* events in the last several years, and aboard Diesel Boy finished at the top 25% at Fair Hill International CCI2*. Just last week she finished in the top 5 at the Virginia Horse Trials CC1* event in that horse's first ever 1* event. She participated in Pony Club Championships, earned her Pony Club "A" rating, and was a working student for Olympian Jil Walton. During her tenure with Jil, Molly competed on the 1998 NAYRC 2* Team. She then attended Fresno State University where she was a NCAA Varsity Equestrian Team member and received a BS in Animal Sciences.
Stella had been to Greystone once before, but only in their indoor, and this clinic took place in their outdoor arenas.
Here's their outdoor dressage arena, with the barns and indoor in the background
The warm up was over three cavelleti placed down centerline of the dressage arena.
After completing this exercise we were ready to jump. What I liked was that Molly Sue moved the fences around almost constantly. Each group started with the same exercise but she wasn't afraid of modifying the exercise to suit each horse in each group and if an exercise didn't work for one horse she was quick to change it to something that did, modify the distance, lower the rails, or add guide poles in an effort to do what was best for each horse.
In this exercise we are trotting into our first one stride!!!! Then coming around over a simple line using placing poles in front of and behind the oxer to make the distance more accurate.
Molly focused on accuracy and taking things back two steps before going forward one step. She wanted the horse to understand the exercise in a calm manner so even with a horse that was capable of jumping much higher she kept the fences small and focused on details.
Did the horse understand the exercise? If not, was it the fault of the rider for not making things more clear? What helped the rider modify their riding to help the horse understand what was being asked of it?
This helped with the greener horses because they were asked to slow their brains down and think about the exercise, and it helped with the experienced horses because they worked on refining their response to the aids. The experienced horses were required to be more accurate with the obedience, where they put their feet, how many strides they fit down the lines.
She was able to deal with a wide range of rider/horse combinations from professionals on their project horses, to ammys on school horses or their green projects. I think she's an excellent instructor for someone looking to learn some new skills with their green horse, learn how to ride their schoolmaster, A pro who has been out of competition for awhile or has a greener horse, or for someone to refine some rusty skills.
What I found difficult was getting out of my head when Stella had a bad start to the clinic. Stella needed my support in a new location while I was busy being concerned about looking like a moron to the large group of spectators. Molly was an excellent clinician for both someone like me, and for a couple professionals looking for some new ideas for their competition mounts.
Overall I'd definitely come back for another clinic with her, and I'm happy I was able to add another notch to my "clinic" belt.