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Group Photo from Bobbie Reber Clinic

CPK Zone 4 Clinic Fundraiser

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USHJA Zone 4 Free Clinic with Bobbie Reber a Resounding Success

Written by: Shannon Bower
Client: USHJA Zone 4 Free Clinic
Release Date: 2015-02-17

Wellington, FL – February 16, 2015 – The weather was beautiful and the venue was perfect Monday at the USHJA Zone 4 Free Clinic with Bobbie Reber, held at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Four groups of riders each took their turn to learn from the accomplished judge and coach. 

Reber came into the clinic with a plan to go back to basics, establishing good horsemanship and providing framework from which the riders could build.  “Any time you give a clinic where you don’t know the riders, you really have to go to the basics.  So I always try to go to the basics and try to really impress on the riders to try to make it simple.  The simpler you make it, as far as giving them a system, the better. There are enough things that happen in the ring to make it complicated.” 

As riders learned, “What you do well or poorly will show up when you jump.” Reber spoke about the coordinated use of aids, focusing on the diagonal pair of inside leg and outside rein being the dominating aids and the outside leg and inside rein being the supporting aids.  Both sets of aids were necessary to keep their horses straight and on the correct track.

Reber maintained a number of her key principles throughout the day.  Eye control was a huge focus throughout each of the sessions. Reber started each group with the same demonstration by focusing on a point on a standard.  She was able to look at that spot and adjust her step accordingly to touch the specific spot she wanted.  However, when she looked off beyond the fence into the distance, she would either get too close to the standard or be too far away, and the spot she would touch would be off from the original target.  This was her way of explaining where she wanted the riders to look- at the top of the fence until they found their spot, and then she asked the riders to look ahead to plan their track.

Reber emphasized, “I try to really stress eye control, which is my huge thing, riding a good track and just good horsemanship.  Riders should begin thinking like a horse and recognizing when your horse has a problem, why?  Why did he have a problem and how do you fix it?”

Another of Bobbie’s key focuses was on the jumping zone, instead of a perfect spot.  Often drawing lines in the sand in front of the fences, she explained that the riders simply had to get their horse’s front feet into this zone in order to have a takeoff that was acceptable.  While a spot might be a little close or a bit gappy, it was suitable in that zone, and this took pressure off many of the pairs. 

Cynthia Brewster-Keating of GGT Footing rode her jumper in the second group. “I thought she was excellent, I thought she had a lot of great information.  I especially liked the zone that she gave you for the jumping zone and not to be so worried about ‘the perfect spot’.  I thought she was very good at handling each horse’s personality and dealing with that individually and coming up with a solution, where she was able to make changes to the course according to what the horse’s needs were and what their athletic ability or what their training level was.  I just thought she was great and I can’t say enough about the clinic as a whole.”

The first group, which consisted of younger riders, developed their eye control by looking ahead at the fences in order to follow a path.  The group before lunch had several young horses, which benefitted from having a specific track to follow.  The group after lunch used eye control to fine tune distances according to the horse they felt underneath them.  The final group were asked to exhibit greater control by riding more challenging tracks, including bending lines and rollbacks. 

Reber had some clear goals for the participants to take away, “A lot of times in a clinic I would say to watch each other, I’m a big believer in “monkey see monkey do,” watch each other and if you can get one thing from the clinic- it might not even be something that you did, but you might have seen the other person get it and say ‘I saw that!  I got it!’ And that’s what it’s all about- just seeing what everyone accomplishes, and just going away with something.  It might be just trying a new skill or a new technique or something that helped you with your horse.“

Melanie Penner brought her adult hunter who has been a long-time partner to the clinic and rode in the third session.  “I really liked that Bobbie told me to challenge myself, because I have a very big habit of falling into a lull and just doing the same thing over and over, so I like that she wanted me to push it and step up and challenge myself; I think that will help in my riding at home if I can keep that mentality.  The exercises were great, I liked that they built on one another, we started with a small part of the course and added more every time, or we changed a small part—It helped you work on your horse but also keep things different.  So you could practice the same thing if you had trouble the first time, but you were still mentally changing and doing something different.  That was fun!” 

Penner continued, “She’s very personable and easy to talk to, which it’s great to take a clinic with someone like that.  I thought that the way she conducts herself is very professional.  Plus, it was free, thanks to USHJA!  I’m building a barn right now, so funds are really tight.  Everything goes to the farm.  It was great that this opportunity was there and I hope they keep doing it in the future- I would definitely want to come back next year.”

Riders were treated to a wonderful breakfast provided by the Wellington Starbucks.  Croissants, muffins, hot and iced coffee got the pairs fueled up for the morning sessions.  A fabulous lunch was provided by the California Pizza Kitchen of Boca Raton. A fundraiser, held tomorrow, Wednesday, February 18, at the Boca Raton and Wellington California Pizza Kitchen locations will donate 20% of patrons checks to the USHJA Zone 4 Free Clinic. Make sure to either print the flier below or show it on your mobile device to support your zone.

Each of the riders went away with a lovely jumper saddle pad, compliments of Smartpak Equine.  Every one of the riders commented on how much they enjoyed the clinic with Reber. There was a lot of appreciation for Zone 4 and USHJA for putting together such a wonderful opportunity that many of the riders would not have been able to afford otherwise.

For more information on the United States Hunter Jumper Association or Zone 4, please visit


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