A Riding Weekend with Australian Olympian Chris Burton
Copper Meadows in Ramona, California, where it was sunny and temperate, was the place to be last weekend for the Chris Burton clinic.
Clinician Chris "Burto" Burton, 36, is a world class eventer, Australian Olympian and smasher of World Records for 3-day scores. His three and four star record speaks for itself, and his solid website includes videos of many of his impressive rides and finishes.
The two-day clinic placed a big emphasis on "rideability" of all horses, with a bit more specific focus on event horses. Other big themes included how to not overuse your hands and "how to be fast with out being fast."
Fleeceworks riders present included Tamie Smith of Next Level Eventing; Taren Hoffos, of Copper Meadows; and the McFall family of Taylor, Earl and Jen McFall from DragonFire Farm.
According to rider Taren Hoffos, "Chris emphasized basic skills on the flat, working with us on control and rideability, and really built on that during the second jumping day of the clinic through tough exercises. There were plenty of lengthening and shortening questions, as well as turning lines to jumps that demanded accuracy. He was positive and patient with horses and riders, often getting on a horse to feel the issue and then relaying back to the rider ways to fix a problem. He left us with good ideas for homework! I will absolutely ride with him again if/when he’s back in California, and would encourage riders at any level to clinic with him."
Jenn McFall noted, "We loved him! He's a true horseman who gives so much consideration to what approach benefits the horse and helps them to understand. And he has a great sense of humor! We hope he comes back to California."
The horses looked the part of serious eventing athletes, all wearing a combination of Fleeceworks half pads with square pads under saddle. Jenn McFall said, "I use the FXK sheepskin half pad. It's great for clinics because it fits multiple horses of different shapes--no worries about changing pads between rides--I can just focus on the ride when I know my horse is comfortable."
(Below) The power couple Earl and Jenn McFall of DragonFire Farm were all smiles at the Chris Burton clinic.
(Below) Rory (Fleeceworks Royal) performed well with Tamie Smith aboard, but paused when Chris decided to hop on. We weren't sure if she was confused, curious or nervous! Chris Burton jumped her around and was interested in learning more about her breeding.
Tamie Smith's thoughts summed up what many saw as the clinic's ultimate takeaways: "Chris really emphasized 'ride-ability,' and not over using your hand at the jumps. And his "fast without being fast" ideas were really interesting!"
- Elizabeth Howell