Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 25, 2020 – Talented riders from up and down the east coast gathered in Wellington, Florida Saturday, January 25, for the third day of the USHJA Gold Star Clinic – East Coast at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. professional grand prix athlete Todd Minikus continued the young athletes’ weekend of instruction with exercises over fences. The USHJA Gold Star Clinics are the pinnacle of the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Program, which identifies jumper riders who have the skill and desire to excel in the sport, while educating the riders to become well-rounded horsemen on their path to excellence.
The day began with the participants performing unassisted morning chores, followed by walking the gymnastics course with Minikus. When asked about what his main focus was for the three sessions, Minikus remarked, “The turn, the turn, the turn. The most important thing is the turn. If you don’t get the turn right, there is no way the jump is going to be right.”
Riders were split into three groups based on jump height, each executing three different exercises that help build a solid foundation for a good turn. The first exercise asked riders to jump a small vertical on the quarter line, followed by making a square turn back to the rail to then jump the vertical again. Minikus’ advice to riders for this exercise was, “Ride your horse parallel to the centerline, then ride through the turn to the jump. It’s all about controlling the shoulders.”
The second exercise featured a cloverleaf gymnastics pattern, with Minikus again emphasizing the importance of a tactful turn. The third exercise consisted of a hand gallop along the rail, followed by a tight roll back to a single oxer. Minikus asked riders halt and back up at the conclusion of each exercise, explaining to the group,“If you take anything home from today, take home the halt and back up as an important training tool.”
On Saturday’s sessions, Minikus noted, “I thought everyone did an outstanding job applying the flatwork that we did yesterday to today. They all have awesome horses and everybody gave 100% effort.”
Minikus added, “I think the Goldstar Clinics are a fantastic idea and it’s a great program. Hopefully, all of these riders can take something away from today for the rest of their riding careers. The things that I focused on during the clinics are the things that work for me, but they are just small fractions of what I work on in my riding. I hope that they can apply a little bit of it to their riding and that they can take tips away from other riders and trainers to develop their own way.”
The fourth and final day of the clinic will culminate Sunday, January 26, with a team competition. Based on the Nations Cup-style of competition, where riders will be able to put all they have learned throughout the weekend into practice.