Lendon Gray instructs 17 year old Hannah Corjulo riding Essex, a 22 yr old Westphalian gelding given to her by Nancy Rosen (Photo: Betsy LaBelle)
During the first week of the Lendon Gray’s twelve week winter intensive program, we caught up with Hannah Corjulo as Lendon coached. She is one of fourteen young riders from across the country who have been selected by Lendon Gray to take part in the intensive riding instruction program in Wellington, Florida. Hannah Corjulo , a 17-year-old with her horse Essex, a 22-year-old Westphalian given to her by her dressage coach and mentor Nancy Rosen from Frog Hollow Farm in Esopus, NY,
builds onto her foundation with Lendon Gray in preparation for the Junior (Young Rider) level. Hannah said, “We want to do the Junior Level again this year and get better scores than last year. Hopefully, it will be easier (by going through this program). Lendon had me shorten my stirrups, and I have been focused on keeping my hands more forward and loosening my back while my hands are more forward, how to give my reins better. She puts me through a bunch of movements and then corrects me when I am wrong. We do a lot of transitions and that helps a lot because he runs and he bears down on the bridle. We try to mix it up as much as possible. That keeps him paying attention." Corjulo explains what happens to her during the canter-walk transitions Lendon has her working through.
Lendon Gray teaches all 14 kids for eight hours several days a week as she intensively gives each specific exercises. Photo by Betsy LaBelle
“Our problem was that I would use my hands in the transition and that would cause his chin to go to his chest. That is our main problem. Every time I touch him in the bridle he does that same thing. That is why Lendon has us do the canter-walk exercise, to work out that problem. The canter-walk keeps him lighter and more focused on my aids so that I could get my half-halt perfect.”
Since Hannah was 12 years old, she grew up working in the barn every weekend, tacking up horses for lessons, cleaning, feeding, doing the chores for her coach Nancy Rosen. If she couldn’t make it on a weekend, her Mom filled in over the years. Rosen began to realize Hannah’s dream of riding in the Junior (Young Rider) division and entrusted her with the horse to pursue that dream. To prepare for this winter’s opportunity all the Lendon Gray kids have creatively fundraised to take part in the program. They work hard each day to complete their school work on-line while they work long hours in the stable. Rosen shared, “It’s delightful to share with these kids in their climb. Hannah has worked hard fundraising, by hosting a Bowling Party, and a Cross Country Run (Giddy-Up 10 K). She really wants a chance to succeed.”
Hannah Corjulo and Essex works on exercises to prepare for the Junior(Young Rider) level with Lendon Gray Photo by Betsy LaBelle
Karen Clark, the Stable Manager for the student said, “Each morning starts out with horse chores, then a 7 am rider workout. They are responsible for all their horse’s own care, from feeding to turnout, grooming, everything. Then there is a list of extra chores like cleaning the tack room, bathrooms, paddocks, arenas, and sweeping the floors of their barn and the main Hampton Green barn. They have to work together as a group.”
The students began to arrive on the fourth of January. There were a few days of figuring out which horses could be next to each other in the stable, where in the turnout paddocks and scheduling with the riders what works best for their horses: organizing equipment, getting to know one another, generally just settling in. Some of the horses had over thirty hour drives to recover from. They all had few days to adjust to the warmer weather, adapt to body clipping, and make the overall adjustment. Most of the kids come from boarding facilities, and are learning the rigors of everyday full-time horse care.
Training at Hampton Green Farm, Hannah Corjulo and Sarah Roda Photo by Betsy LaBelle
Being in a group like this, has given them confidence, because they are watching the ones who have more everyday horse care experience. Getting up at 6:30am was hard for some of them the first few days, a bit of a wake-up call that it’s going to be seven days a week. They were tired, but that has been really good for them. I give them all credit that they are working really well together. They are helping one another out when they see one who is struggling with something. They are jumping right in and helping," said Clark.
On the 7th of January the students started with a nutrition lesson. Mary Beth Gordon from Purina helped them understand the needs of their horse in the Florida climate, the hard training in the heat, and the overall needs of each one of their horses. They learned about Sand Clear and Electrolytes, as well as the correct amounts of grain and why that is so important to the training of their horses.
Catherine Haddad Staller shares her training methods with the kids. Photo by Betsy LaBelle
Not only does this program involve daily lessons with Lendon Gray, but also covers rider fitness, cross training, nutrition, sports psychology, media training, horse care, riding theory as well as riding tips from other top international riders.The students had a morning to spend with Catherine Haddad Staller, learning her training techniques on several horses and how she allows the horses to train the rider.
For more information: Dressage4Kids