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Press Release


USHJA Zone 4 Free Clinic

USHJA Zine 4 Free Clinic

Cynthia Hankins at the USHJA Zone 4 Free Clinic

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USHJA Zone 4 Free Clinic Goes Back to Basics With Cynthia Hankins

Written by: Arianna Delin
Client: USHJA Zone 4 Free Clinic
Release Date: 2013-02-26

West Palm Beach, FL- February 25, 2013- Practice makes perfect and practicing the basics makes you even better. That is what Cynthia Hankins preached to her students at the USHJA Zone 4 Free Clinic. The clinic, open to all Zone 4 junior and amateur riders, was held at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center and had a successful turnout. Four groups had the opportunity to learn under the tutelage of Hankins, thanks to the Floridian Community Bank.

“I think Cynthia is a wonderful clinician. She makes it so simple a direct and she helps and encourages,” Sue Ashe explained.

Riders began each session warming up their horses over ground poles, where Hankins critiqued and helped each rider with their position. She explained how to achieve a connection with their horse and how to keep a stable balance and seat.

“Position and stability is everything. If you’re in a correct position and know the basics, you can do pretty much everything. If you can understand line, pace and balance on a horse, track and strides, knowing the horse’s strides; As long as you can do that, you can do any course,” explained Hankins.

With four to eight riders in each of the four groups, Hankins was able to give each rider individual attention and help them improve on their weaknesses. Some riders had to work on the way that they held the crop, some had to focus on the way they held their hands, and some had to learn the difference between a full seat, half-seat and a light-seat. Hankins had every rider focus on steering and straightness, with an exercise over ground poles that they could practice at home. By asking their horse to trot to the center of the poles or fences, the rider had to focus on being straight while maintaining correct position.

“We’ve chosen these horses to do this as a sport. Our training is communicating and our job is to be patient and consistent so that they understand and make the association,” explained Hankins. “We’re communicating with these animals so be clear and don’t assume. The reward, once you form a bond, is that they’ll do anything for you.”

After the groups had warmed up, they added a gymnastic into the ‘course.’ The three ground poles became a set of bounces, which led to a one-stride to a three-stride. This set forces riders had to continue to maintain their straightness, position and pace throughout. The heights were kept low, allowing riders to focus on the task at hand more so than worrying about the height.

These exercises were repeated throughout the day in the remainder of the groups, with some being tweaked depending on the level of experience in each. Throughout the day, there were about 30 riders broken up into four groups: 2'6", two groups at 3’, and a final group at 3'6".

“I think its good to offer a clinic for riders who don’t necessarily have every opportunity to go to WEF. I think its important since there is a grassroots level that education is made available to them as well a lot of us started off in smaller location, associations. I started I ponies, I didn’t go straight to WEF right away. There are some kids, where that won’t ever happen. You have to be able to still try to educate these kids,” attested Hankins. “We’re not reinventing the wheel, there might be some trainers that claim they are, but basics, having a good foundation, that equates to being secure in the saddle and safety. It improves communication with the horse but also if they’re educated correctly they have a chance to be more stable and be more confident because they’re more stable. If you don’t feel stable on your horse your not going to have any confidence, and your horse will sense that.”

The USHJA Zone 4 Free Clinic took place on Monday, February 25, at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. Clinician Cynthia Hankins focused on the basics of riding and reinforced the importance of a solid position and connection between horse and rider. In addition to the group sessions, Hankins gave individual attention to each rider, making the clinic a huge success. For more information about the United States Hunter Jumper Association, please visit



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