It was an opportunity for an upper level eventer to get better acquainted with Pooh Bear.

Kerry Tracey, and her 9-year-old off the track Thoroughbred Bourbon and Ginger Bear, took part this weekend in the Kristin Schmolze Clinic at Sporting Days Farm.

The horseman from Good Hope, Ga., and the horse known affectionately around the barn as Pooh Bear, worked on their stadium jumping with the rider who has competed internationally.

“This was my first time riding with Kristin,” said Tracey. “It was a bit of an introductory lesson, for us to get to know her, and for her to get to know me.”

Schmolze did an outstanding job in evaluating Tracey and Pooh Bear’s strengths and weaknesses, said the rider. The clinic gave the horseman an opportunity to work on a number of things as she continues to polish her skills, so the rider/horse combination will go smoother and stronger at their next horse trials.

Tracey found the show jumping exercises extremely beneficial as the action provided a rhythm for making adjustments.

“The instructions were also helpful in terms of making corrections to my position, and how it moved the horse around to make it ride better,” said Tracey.

Pooh Bear, made several starts on the racetrack in his previous career, but is making a seamless transition to the sport of eventing having reached preliminary level. The diminutive horse continues to progress in his training, said Tracey.

“He’s a little guy, 15.2 hands, so he doesn’t have a whole lot of step, though he has a whole lot of jump,” said Tracey. “So, sometimes finding the right stride and rhythm can be a little bit more difficult than a big guy who has plenty of step.”

The gelding had gone beginner novice a few times with his previous owner, but Tracey has brought Pooh Bear up the levels.

“The transition from training to preliminary was a bit of a challenge because the footwork comes so much more quickly,” said Tracey. “He’s a pretty laid back guy, so for him to think about moving his feet that quickly was a bit difficult. There was a little bit of greenness when he first got there, and now he’s finally getting strong enough to be good at that level.”

And although he’s not the biggest mover, Pooh Bear has been good in the dressage ring, said Tracey.

“He’s very obedient,” said Tracey. “He’s not built up hill, so it’s hard for him to present a beautiful picture or as pretty of a test as some of the other horses. So, the transition to preliminary has been making sure we’re as accurate as possible, and ride as correct a test as possible, so we get the most out of every movement and every mark.”

Cross country is Pooh Bear’s best phase, and the courageous Thoroughbred continues to evolve as he’s progressed up the levels.

“He’s really bold, and I was telling Kristin the thing that sort of caught out when we moved up was the narrows off of related distances,” said Tracey. “His step isn’t huge, so working that out to a skinny, we have to be much more accurate with our strides then to a wide fence. That’s initially where we had some trouble, and I think that’s getting better now.”

The next Kristin Schmolze Clinic in Aiken will be July 27 at Sporting Days Farm.