Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stanford Equestrian Hosts Beerbaum Clinic

The team's clinicing riders with Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Markus Beerbaum

On February 4, members of the Stanford Equestrian Team received a welcome interlude from a busy show season in the form of a mounted clinic with renown international equestrians Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Markus Beerbaum at the Stanford Red Barn. The day's mounted events, which included a Q&A session and a clinic for local and professional riders in addition to the collegiate clinic, were followed by a cocktail dinner and an evening talk by Meredith.

Sophomore Erin Gray on Kartouche

Meredith and Markus, fresh off a win and top placings in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix at Thermal on February 3, started by answering questions from riders on the Stanford Equestrian Team. Questions ranged from how to balance a successful riding career with schoolwork to the differences between the fundamentals of European versus American riding.

Coterm Rachel Kolb on Kandinsky, as the Beerbaums look on

The riding portion of the clinic then included six riders from the Stanford Equestrian Team: sophomore Claire Margolis (on Stanford's Fresno), coterminal master's student Rachel Kolb (on Stanford's Kandinsky), senior Alison Smith (on Stanford's Landor), sophomore Erin Gray (on Stanford's Kartouche), freshman Bailey Martinez (on Stanford's Armani), and junior Macey Sanchez (on her own Deliah). The Beerbaums embraced the foundational principles of collegiate riding, speaking to the Stanford riders as well as to the auditing crowd of over 200, which included many collegiate (IHSA) and high school (IEA) riders as well as several other local riders and trainers. Both Beerbaums explained their strategies to approach catch riding and starting a new partnership with a horse. Markus said, "You quickly learn that you can't change a horse in a short period of time. You have to work with what you have and try to find a common language." Meredith drew parallels between the IHSA and the final four at the WEG Nations' Cup, where riders have to swap horses. "I always start any ride by asking for extension, collection, moving right and left, to see where strengths and weaknesses might be."

Markus Beerbaum

All six Stanford riders, after warming up and receiving general feedback on the flat, each jumped several courses on their horses. In the jumping portion, both Beerbaums emphasized the importance of consistently evaluating pace, track, and straightness and also encouraged riders to think on course and pursue a working connection with their mounts. "It was amazing to ride with Meredith, a rider that I have grown up watching ride," said Erin Gray. She added (about the reception held later in the evening), "Her commitment to her riding and her horses that she shared at the reception truly inspired and reminded me why I love riding so much."

Freshman Bailey Martinez receives feedback on Armani

The second section, held at 1.30m-1.40m, featured several local and top competitive jumper riders: Adrienne Dixon, Taylor Harris, Erika Wright, Daniel Zilla, and Nicole Bloom. After adjoining from the Stanford Red Barn and their equine partners for the day, riders and guests attended an evening event in which Meredith discussed her career in greater depth. While showing competition footage throughout (most notably with her World Cup and international partner Shutterfly), she narrated the multifaceted aspects of a successful equine partnership, from persistence to continuous self-improvement and empathy. The evening provided a memorable capstone to the day's purpose: to highlight and to bring awareness of top-tier equestrian sport to the Stanford campus, the riders of the Stanford Equestrian Team, and the local equestrian community.

Sophomore Claire Margolis navigates a course on Fresno

All events were generously organized and sponsored by the Coulter family, and the mounted clinic was free and open to the public.

Members of the Stanford equestrian community following the evening event