My week with Beacon Hill at WEF was incredible! I learned so much! I learned how much a single experience can influence and teach one person so much in a short time. Instead of just learning in the saddle during my lesson or my show days, I was learning walking courses and listening to others be coached, and watching them incorporate Stacia’s instruction. So, it helped me to think about how I can keep learning in the future—I don’t need to be on a horse to be taking in valuable info. WEF is definitely a high level of competition and was so much bigger than past experiences I’ve had and what I expected. As the week progressed, I learned how to take my excitement and my overwhelmed feelings, and turn them into motivation and energy to try as hard as I could to give my riding my total focus. I tried my best to take in all of the information that was being given to me and apply it to making myself a better rider and student.
I learned a lot of little things about my riding that can make a big difference in the quality of my riding. One specific example of this is that Stacia worked with me to round my turns more, so that my horse doesn’t get stuck in them and lose the necessary pace or stride to have a good jump or get down a line. Another thing she helped me with is the amount of foot I carry in my stirrup. I tend to carry a small amount of my foot in my stirrup to gain leverage for my heels to go down, but in doing that, I lose my stirrups sometimes after a hard jump. Putting more foot in my stirrup and focusing more on having my toe up, as opposed to thinking solely about my weight in my heels, has helped my balance a lot. Stacia is technical in her guidance, and I was really able to soak that up.
I also learned a lot from different people. I had a lesson with Cynthia Hankins that was a great start to the week. I walked courses with Dominic, and I walked several courses for the 3’6” equitation with Stacia and her students, which was really helpful. I also helped set jumps for Dominic as he warmed up so I got to hear Katie Monaghan- Prudent school him. It was awesome to be able to show, but I learned a lot by being a part of other people’s show day, which was really great.
Something I was not expecting was being able to spend time at the Beacon Hill farm in Wellington at the beginning of the week, and getting to see all of the work that is done “behind the scenes” planning and preparing for a show week. It was helpful and also eye opening seeing how a different program is organized and how many trainers and grooms are working to keep everyone moving forward! Jordan was great at introducing me around the barn and helping me settle in. Stacia was the one primarily teaching me, but other trainers communicated with me about timing, equipment, and other details. It was also surprising to me (and so cool!) that Dominic was able to come and support me a few times throughout the week both at the farm and at the show. I assumed I would get to watch him, but having him carve out time to watch me was a really special part of the week for me.
For next year's recipient, I would say this: have fun and learn as much as you possibly can! And making mistakes is the only way we learn and improve, so don’t be afraid to try something new and learn how to fix it if it doesn’t work! Even though being perfect is very intriguing, make sure that you remember there is always more to learn, no matter who you’re learning from and at what level you ride at.