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‘The more confidence you have, the quicker you’ll go’

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By Wrenn Propp

Robert Taylor’s advice – delivered in a voice lightly threaded with an Irish brogue and immigrant Australian – is pretty good if you’re riding a pony or poised on horseback.

“The more confidence you have, the quicker you’ll go,” urged Taylor, an internationally known riding and jumping instructor, during a jumping clinic April 8 at the Rodeo Grounds in Los Alamos.

It’s also applicable for the rest of us.

For example, when you’re coming down from a big jump, lean back, or it is certain you will fall.

“Shoulders forward and it’s not a matter of when, it’s a matter of where,” you will go down, he said.

About 20 riders participated in activities sponsored by the Los Alamos Pony Club last weekend, including 11 riders for mounted game competition April 8. Taylor, who has lived in the United States for 20 years and operates TaylorMade Stables in Maryland, has taught annual clinics in Los Alamos four times in the past. He also presents clinics in Albuquerque and Taos.

With an estimated 300 to 350 horses, ponies and other equines in Los Alamos County, his clinics have been popular. And appreciative spectators abound.

A cool morning breeze turned temperate during a clinic at the outdoor arena. By lunchtime, four riders – two on horses and two on ponies – had gotten lessons likely to last. 

Eager volunteers took his direction in creating environments for horse jumping.

With humor, he often offered verbal sugar lumps, but he also cajoled the riders to take on – not just the jumps – but the animal.

“Steering wheel! Steering wheel! “ he shouted to the riders when a horse or pony wanted to circumnavigate the last jump of the series – the most daunting, relatively.

When he saw a horse grow more interested in its paces at the completion of the series of jumps, he urged the rider to take an extra go-round.

“When you get that much excitement, you’re allowed to do it again,” he shouted.

The horse and rider kept it up as muscle and air described joy.

At one point, a balky pony drew his ire, but Taylor was quick to point out that it was not the rider’s fault.

“You did not do anything wrong, it was the lazy lump I was talking to,” he said to the young woman.

In a circle after the clinic, Taylor gave more instruction to riders, volunteers, and spectators, noting that instructors should always stay off horses when they’re working.

 

The horse will show you up,” he said.