ALLOW YOUR HORSE TO ‘HEAR’ YOU
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.
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.