Chicago Equestrian - News, Events, Contacts and Marketing Services

Young Riders Improve Their Skills at Platinum Farm Horsemanship Clinic

Riders learned in the barn as well as in the saddle at the Platinum Farm clinic.

Marengo, IL- July 19, 2016- Young riders from all over the Chicagoland area came out to attend Platinum Farm’s Horsemanship Clinic, hosted by trainer Sirena Liggett. It was a great turnout for a chance to ride with USEF “R” Licensed Official and USHJA Certified Trainer, Diane Carney. The clinic was targeted towards interscholastic and intercollegiate riders to improve their barn management and riding skills.

Riders participated in all the morning chores. 

Riders arrived early in the morning to complete their barn chores- cleaning stalls, sweeping the aisles, and watering and feeding the horses. Then they went outside to the arena to set the course with Carney. The young riders assembled all of the jumps, learned what cavalettis were, and learned how to properly measure the distance between the jumps. Next, the riders drew their horses they would be riding for the day, similar to IEA and IHSA competitions, and went straight into tacking up.

Learning to set the course.

“It’s easier to ride if you know how to handle a horse. It’s very difficult to know horses if you don’t know your way around brushing a horse. You have to be able to handle a horse to be a well-rounded, overall horse person. I also think it helps with fitness if you're pushing bales of hay and you're pushing wheelbarrows after cleaning a stall. It helps you organize your time and I think, in general, it gets you in a better frame of mind to go to the ring,” commented Carney on the importance of barn chores and grooming.

The clinic included the draw for horses, similar to IEA and IHSA competitions.

After tacking up the horses, the riding sessions began. Carney focused on the rider’s concentration, determination and ability to count strides between fences. She tested the rider’s skills to listen to instructions and follow through with their actions.

Three groups allowed thirty riders a chance to ride with Carney.

“They have to figure out how to make the horse goes straight, forward and to the middle while learning to use the corners. I’m hoping to give them some help in those kinds of skills,” said Carney on what she emphasized to the riders.
With a firm and direct voice, Carney helped fix rider’s positions and made sure they understood the exercises. At one point, to show the importance of listening, Carney expressed George Morris’ five factors of jumping- pace, line, distance, balance, and impulsion- and had the riders recite these five factors back to her. Some got the sequence right, where others did not, proving that listening to the instructor is one of the most valuable lessons in the ring.

If they weren't riding or in the barn, they were in the ring to jump crew.

“You can learn so much in such a short amount of time. You don’t even really have to jump that many jumps, it’s just all about the basics,” said Caitlin Hope, who has trained under Carney for almost 20 years. Hope was a Gladstone Program rider and as a full time schoolteacher, she enjoyed spending time with the young riders.
“This very much follows the pattern of George Morris clinics, it’s a group of six to ten [riders] and it definitely allows for a lot more learning opportunities even if it’s not your turn and you didn’t make the mistake,” Hope said of the style of the clinic.(Pictured right)
While other riding sessions took place, riders also had to take a written test when they weren’t in the saddle. The written test included questions about parts of the saddle, horse anatomy, riding knowledge, and putting together a disassembled bridle. Assembling the bridle was a challenge for some and easy for others.

The written test provided conversation for more horse care topics.

“Usually when I clean my bridle I take it apart, I did it last night to clean it, so it was super easy for me,” said 17-year-old Stephanie Kramer about the bridle challenge.
Kramer, who rides out of Twin Oaks Farm in Bourbonnais, enjoyed the clinic and being able to ride a different horse other than her own. (Pictured inset photo)
“I’m on a huge horse normally that I lease, so today I was on the large pony and it was a totally different stride and a different way to see my distances,” Kramer said of the experience.
The day continued with lunch and a few more riding sessions. At the end of the clinic, the riders and Carney came together for round table discussions to talk about the day as a whole and have a question and answer session.
“It’s been fun. It’s been educational and we just moved into this facility so it’s been really fun to get everyone out here to see where we are at, too. I always learn a ton from Diane, she’s got a great perspective, and it’s always fun to have your kids looked at by somebody else and critiqued,” said Liggett of hosting the clinic at her farm.
Platinum Farm is a full service equestrian facility located at 19810 Beck Road, Marengo, IL 60152. For more information on the clinic contact Sirena Liggett at or by phone at 847-641-8110.

Carney organizes the George H. Morris Clinic November 25-27, 2016 at Annali-Brookwood Farm, 18752 Edwards Road, Antioch, IL. For more information contact Diane Carney 847-922-6167.