By Julie Preble, Assistant Editor
In preparation for my upcoming trip to Pomona, I'm speaking with some of the clinicians who?ll be presenting there.
The first clinician I had the pleasure to interview was Jonathan Field. Here's what he had to say about Pomona.
H&R: How many clinics will you be presenting?
JF: There are three clinics with people and their horses, and then there's likely going to be seminar talks or question-and-answer periods. I'm always hanging out at my booth, too, to help people; answer questions; and talk bits, saddles, and various issues.
H&R: What topics will you be covering?
JF: The first clinic is a ground-handling clinic. It's called ?Develop a Great Riding Horse from the Ground.?
Everything we can do while we ride that people have challenges with?maybe canter departures, stopping a horse, getting a safer horse?a lot of that can be developed on the ground with specific pre-ride training techniques.
I use those every time before I go ride. It helps my ride, it helps get my horse ready, and if you do things that are very linked to what you do on the ground that is great. So that's what the first day is.
I like to have riders who go through the whole weekend with me. Pomona is really two-fold: helping both the riders who are coming and also the people in the stands. I?d like them to be able to take these skills home.
I like to have the same group of riders go through so that the people in the stands can see the progress and see the horse and rider make an improvement.
The next two are riding clinics.
The second clinic is on active neutral and body control. So the idea is learning how to get a really relaxed horse and a horse that is at-ease in movement?what I call active neutral?in the arena. He?s really soft, really willing. These are strategies for the arena and the trail.
It's really about tension; there can be tension coming in to a horse in two ways. One is the horse is too worked up and has tension. He?s too excitable. The other way is that the horse is just so dull that he's just thick with tension?you can't get him to move.
One of the challenges is figuring out how to get a horse to be sensitive but not scared and relaxed but not dull. That's really a balancing act for all horsemen and women. We have to figure out how to get that balance.
The third day is ?Develop a Comfy Canter??using bend and balance in the horse and rider, lead departures, and smooth transitions.
Lots of times, people?s lead departures in Western and English are like a jackhammer or the horse is out of balance. So with this clinic, they?ll learn how to do nice lead departures, smooth transitions in and out of the canter, and bend and balance. The bend and balance ultimately create a nice canter.
H&R: What are some of the major challenges the riders you're working with are having?
JF: One of the horses in the clinic, his owner says she's very defensive: kicks at the farrier, kicks while being groomed; defensive on the ground; unsure and defensive under saddle. That's a 5-year-old Thoroughbred mare.
Another one has had six months of riding that's going to be a reined cow horse. His owner is just looking to work on general horsemanship. She's had a few issues, but nothing specific. He looks like a nice horse, but is just pretty green.
There's a 14-year-old Paint horse that's generally mild mannered, but he's is worried about small streams and plastic bags. He?s mild mannered until he sees anything like that. So I might bring a tarp out for him.
There's another horse who?s owner just wants to move up in dressage and learn more about what I do, and continue her horsemanship journey. Her horse is a Percheron 9-year-old gelding. He?s a big, gorgeous horse. I?ve actually seen him before at a horse expo in Sacramento. He was with me in June. He?s 17-hands; he's a big, beautiful black Percheron. He?s a neat horse.
I like to have a big variety because it relates to more people in the audience. Ultimately, we want to help the people who bring their horses, but I really want to transmit that to those who watch as well. That's what the show?s about.
H&R: Have you done the Pomona Expo before?
JF: I was there one time before when it was Equine Affaire, the last year they did it. So I?ve been to Pomona, but not with the horse expo.
H&R: What do you like about Pomona?
JF: The grounds?the Los Angeles country fairgrounds?the intimacy of that place is just fantastic. It's a very nice fairgrounds, and a very nice venue. The arena is nice; the seating is nice. Plus, it's warm. I'm from Canada?going to southern California, I'll take it any day of the week!
H&R: What is it you're looking forward to the most?
JF: The thing at the expo is that some of the people I?ve seen before because I?ve toured California. There's lots of new faces, reconnecting with people, and meeting new people and helping people getting kicked off for a nice riding year. That's the main thing: Meet some people, share some ideas, and have some fun.
At these expos, I love walking around the trade show and taking in some of the clinics myself. I get quite excited about getting out there and helping these people, interacting with the crowd, and finding out what we can do to get the most out of the time we have.
H&R:What are you looking forward to seeing the most at the trade show?
JF: Last time I was in southern California, it was all the unbelievable rawhide braiding. I bought a bosalito, a set of reins, a romal while I was there. There's some beautiful braided tack. I can't wait to see some of that and the bits. There's amazing work that they?ve brought in to that show, and we just don't get it up here.
After speaking with Jonathan, I'm very excited to get to Pomona and sit-in on his clinics. I'm also hoping to chat with a few of the participants to see how they?ve improved throughout the expo.
Stay tuned for that on our Facebook (/HorseandRider), Twitter (@Horse_and_Rider), and Instagram (/HorseandRiderMag) pages.
If you could ask Jonathan about a particular problem you're having with your horse, what would you ask?