Giving a Leg Up

July 15, 2016

By Nichole Chirico

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At a young age my horse trainers expressed the importance of attending different clinics that were offered at horse shows and at the end I always walked away realizing there was so much more to learn about riding and showing. Even after years of riding and showing I enjoy any opportunity I get to listen to what different judges or trainers have to say. 

So when my editor asked if I wanted to attend NSBA's Boot Camp taking place at The Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, I knew I had to go. Thanks to Stephanie Lynn and the National Snaffle Bit Association there were three boot camps held throughout the country. They took place in North Carolina, Illinois, and Colorado, and each location offered different clinicians that specialize in a variety of events.  

While the boot camp took place for two days, I was only able to attend the day that held the Western events. This included trail with Tommy Sheets, horsemanship with Sara Simons, and Western rail-work with Suzy Jeane. Each event was split into sections, giving riders with similar riding experience the chance to work with each other. The theme for the day kept going back to something that is extremely important, but often overlooked, and that is 'go back to the basics!' It doesn't matter if you've been riding for years, or just started a year ago, everyone can use a reminder that sometimes the answer to your problem is going back to the basics. 

As I spoke with different riders that were participating in the clinics I kept hearing how much everyone loved opportunity to work with such well-respected trainers and clinicians. It also helped them face some of their riding fears, giving them the confidence they once lacked. Some people were even staying for the horse show that they thought they weren't ready for prior to the clinics taking place. I think my favorite part about this boot camp was how it brought people of all riding levels together. I talked with riders who have competed at world championship competitions, while others had only competed at local open shows. There was something to learn no matter what your riding, or showing, experience was. 

Suzy Jeane put it perfectly when she said, "You've just got to be one percent better than what you were yesterday." That quote reminded me of the many years, hours, and minutes that I've spent in the saddle. I left the boot camp that night realizing how much I missed showing all-arounders, and what a great opportunity it was for me to be able to sit and continue to learn more about riding, even though I don't currently have a horse.

The horse show that is taking place this weekend is the Mid-Summer Classic. This show is an NSBA event that offers points for APHA and ApHC horses, giving riders of all ages the opportunity to apply what they learned during the clinics toward a horse show. If you are close to Loveland, Colorado I recommend taking a day out of your weekend to see this new horse show in action.