Grand prix jumper rider Cal­lan Solem shares how to keep horses fo­cused on their jobs with a strong rider po­si­tion, clear aids and steady rhythm.

Practical Horseman - - The Ride of Your Life - By Abby Carter Pho­tos by Tara N. She­gogue

Lead­ing grand prix jumper rider Cal­lan Solem runs through the fol­low­ing check­list ev­ery day she rides with ev­ery horse she rides: Check your tack. Check your po­si­tion. Check your aids. Check your at­ti­tude and emo­tions. She shared this list with 18 clinic riders and de­scribed how each el­e­ment re­lates to safe and cor­rect rid­ing and horse­man­ship. The riders, from Serene Acres Rid­ing Cen­ter in Blue­mont, Vir­ginia, had earned the day’s worth of lessons from Cal­lan af­ter win­ning the 2016 Wash­ing­ton In­ter­na­tional Horse Show’s Barn Night Group Spirit Con­test.

Now based in Ch­ester Springs, Penn­syl­va­nia, Cal­lan brought a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence to the clinic: She has com­peted on the U.S. Na­tions Cup Team in Rio de Janeiro, Rot­ter­dam, Lum­men, Fal­sterbo and Rome. She and VDL Wiz­ard were the top-plac­ing Amer­i­cans at the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jump­ing Fi­nal in Gothen­burg, Swe­den, fin­ish­ing sev­enth, and she was on the short list of top-10 riders con­sid­ered for the 2016 Olympics.

At the WIHS clinic, the small­est of pony riders to adult am­a­teurs braved Mother Na­ture on a cool and rainy spring day. Cal­lan, how­ever, cre­ated a warm at­mos­phere and a struc­ture in each les­son that re­minded riders of the im­por­tance of the ba­sics no mat­ter the level of rid­ing—and to boot, she made them for­get about the weather.

As each group be­gan their rides, Cal­lan eval­u­ated the level of rid­ing and the horses’ tack. She made small ad­just­ments to the lat­ter to re­fine the fit and im­prove com­fort: She put the keep­ers of one horse’s bri­dle back in place, loos­ened an­other horse’s snug breast­plate and tucked away the ex­tra length of stir­rup leathers so they would not flap as the horses moved. She stressed the im­por­tance of ad­dress­ing these seem­ingly mi­nor de­tails. “It keeps them from be­com­ing ex­tra stim­uli that could

In­spect­ing tack is the first item on the check­list Cal­lan, work­ing with Gra­ham Ru­d­er­man and Pep­per, uses ev­ery day she rides with ev­ery horse.

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