The Maryland Steeplechase Association conducted the second of its two Annual Steeplechase Clinics on the grounds of the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club in Glyndon, Maryland on Sunday, March 10. This Clinic was an open advanced clinic structured for those riders who either have, or are ready to move into “real” racing.

Alma Nicholson (L) and Abby Murphy (R) practice jumping abreast.

Experienced National Steeplechase Association sanctioned jockeys Bethany Baumgardner and Willie McCarthy (2014 NSA champion jockey) again donated their time to work with these horses and riders. They put a very talented group of primarily juniors and young riders through a series of galloping and jumping exercises, which included some head to head schooling, and ended with a challenging course of seven fences culminating with a trip through the ring and out over the “Foxhall Farm Cup Team Chase Hedge.”

Two side saddle ladies approach a fence together; nothing slowed this group of riders down!

This year, the Clinic included for the first time a sidesaddle division, which was well attended. Cheshire Huntsman and accomplished amateur timber rider Ivan Dowling came down from Pennsylvania to work with these lady riders.  There is no more evidence of their sporting nature than this: one Virginia sidesaddle rider went to the wrong location for the Clinic, and got her truck and trailer stuck in a field while attempting to turn around. Undeterred, she programmed her GPS to “walk” mode, hopped onto her sidesaddle, and hacked the several miles to the Club.  This included crossing an old single lane metal bridge, and trotting side saddle for a couple of miles down very busy Maryland Route 25, also known as Falls Road. She arrived, muddy and warmed up, and immediately dropped into a jump school set. The ladies were given valuable pointers by Ivan, and also got to gallop and school as a group. Most are pointed at the Side Saddle Field Masters Chase at the Green Spring Valley Hounds Point to Point, which will occur on Sunday, March 31 at Shawan Downs.

Many of our clinic participants rode side saddle and were instructed by Ivan Dowling.

Now that the Clinics are a wrap, the Association looks forward to Spring racing.

Many thanks to Ivan, Willie, and Bethany for their time, effort, and support. Thanks also to Amy Fenwick for her support, and to Clinic participant Tommy Fenwick for his assistance with one very large John Deere tractor in removing said lady from the field.  Thanks also to Kirstie Grabosky for managing and organizing the sidesaddle division.

All photos ©Carol Fenwick

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