by Peyton Dvorak
It was early Friday morning, and anticipation and excitement lingered on the brisk fall air as the tires of my car crunched down the driveway of Lorrie Canady’s very own Galway Farm. The venue was decorated to the nines, and riders and spectators’ bustled to-and-fro, preparing for the day’s events. To my left, I saw clinician Diane Carney setting course, tape measure in hand and crew of helpers running every which way. She made it seem as if she was conducting a perfect symphony, and her masterpiece of a course was already in the works. On the edge of the ring, I spotted the Hunter Holloway, a demonstrator for the day, and upon seeing one of my biggest idols, I grabbed my camera and sprang out of the car, ready to begin the next three days of the annual Galway Farm Equitation Classic.
Once the course for the first of the two clinic groups was set, I took my seat to watch the sessions begin with light flat work. Right off the bat, clinician Carney had participants practicing with riding forward, using diagonal and lateral aids, and going through ground pole courses that included turning in reverse and bending lines. All of those methods Carney repeatedly used to help improve riders in different areas throughout the day in both of her groups. I wasn’t surprised when the “Five Key Components of Jumping”– pace, line, distance, impulsion, and balance, were eventually referenced, as that method helped riders to prepare for the over fences portion of the clinic that took place shortly after the flat. When riders finished their courses, professional Hunter Holloway jumped up to 1.50m on two participant’s horses as a demonstration, which was incredible to see!
Following the clinic sessions and wrapping up the first day, those who rode and attended, including myself, were welcomed to a wonderful Italian feast and a special question and answer session with Carney and Holloway. Everyone was encouraged to seek advice and ask questions, and during that short session, I learned so much as a rider and person from both speakers. It was such a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere after such a long day, and it gave me lots of time to reflect on all of the day’s teachings. I left Galway Farms anticipating the next day’s clinic and getting excited for Sunday’s competition day.
Saturday morning began the second day of the Galway Farm Equitation Classic, and I was up bright and early to see the day start out seamlessly, with another clinic by Diane Carney; who had groups of riders this time jumping heights of 2’6”, 3’, and 3’6”. The clinic began with a light session of flatwork which benefited both the horse and rider before the jumping portion of the class. Carney started the participants with shoulder in exercises, voltes (twenty-meter circles that are not as easy as they look), and plenty of turns in reverse. Riders also demonstrated the using of an “english bridge”, a style of holding the reins which generally helps a rider keep better control. Carney partnered this method with exercises centered towards the rider’s balance at the posting trot, having them put one arm out, one hand on their heads, and placing an arm behind their backs, all while holding their reins in a secure fashion with their other hand. I’m very familiar with those methods personally, as they appear in George Morris’ classic “Hunter Seat Equitation”, and I practice with them tons at home.
Clinic members then worked on a number of varying exercises over fences and seeing the variety of riders and how they handled everything Carney threw at them was by far the most interesting part of my day. As I watched participants navigate the tricky courses, I also noticed how Carney molded every mistake a single rider made into a learning opportunity for the whole group. This is certainly my most favorite aspect of her training, and her phrase “I teach one of you, I teach all of you” will be engrained in my mind during future clinics or group lessons I may be apart of.
Participants jumped multiple courses going into the afternoon, with all three groups benefiting from her presence and expertise. Also in attendance was experienced amateur rider Catherine Tyree, who helped riders set and walk out Sunday’s competition courses in preparation for the show the next day.
After completing the organization of the next day’s course, clinic goers were once again invited to a fabulous dinner with another question and answer session, which this time included special guest and 2010 Hunterdon Cup winner, Tyree, as well as the day’s clinician, Diane Carney. Attendees were again given the opportunity to ask questions, and I nervously asked a few of my own, which took up too much courage than I care to admit.
Sunday morning rolled around and I arrived to the grounds eager to see what was in store. Attendees like myself were treated with an exquisite brunch and the opportunity to enter in some very generous raffles. As soon as those events concluded, the show day begun.
The competition included the High Galway Equitation Classic, the Low Galway Equitation Classic, the High Galway Hunter Derby, and the Low Galway Hunter Derby, as classes. Each of the courses collectively included concepts that were focused on during the clinic days, which helped riders to gain perspective and more experience with the weekend’s educational aspects. During the break between the Equitation Classics and the Hunter Derbies, judge Diane Carney sat down with competitors after placings had been given to discuss scores, techniques, and improvements, which I though was an intriguing concept compared to traditional showing.
Taking the top prizes of the show day were Skyler Hendricks in the High Galway Equitation Classic, Lisa Campbell in the Low Galway Equitation Classic, Cassie Jarchow in the High Galway Hunter Derby and Pauline Schultz in the Low Galway Hunter Derby. It was so amazing to see all of the rider’s hard work during the clinics pay off in their final rounds.
Once the show events had ended, special awards were given, with highlights being the judge’s choice award, presented to Erica O’Neil; best turned out horse and rider, as well as the highest scoring handy round were both won by Casino RSS and Cassie Jarchow. Highest scoring amateur was won by Lisa Campbell, and the sportsmanship award was won by Pauline Schultz. After the awards ceremony, the last meal of the weekend, a delicious lunch, was enjoyed by attendees, and an interesting and informative closing discussion with Diane Carney and Lorrie Canady, the owner of Galway Farm, occurred.
All in all, my experience at my first Galway Farm Equitation Classic was incredible, and I’ve already had a discussion with my trainer about riding in it next year. Getting to experience and capture the event through my camera was even more exciting, as I got to view everything as an auditor and as a photographer. The classic will most likely become something I will attend every year from this point on, as I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. For now, I’m going to be practicing at home, using everything I learned from this weekend to help advance myself for my own clinic with Diane Carney, which is coming up soon!