GoSmart with Charlie and Jason: A European Adventure

GoHorseShow.com in partnership with SmartPak are pleased to bring you GoSmart with Charlie and Jason. Since founding Highpoint Performance Horses in 1992, they have trained over 100 World Champions and 200 Congress Champions.

GoHorseShow.com in partnership with SmartPak
are pleased to bring you GoSmart with Charlie and Jason. Team SmartPak riders,
Charlie Cole and Jason Martin have achieved success beyond compare. Since
founding Highpoint Performance Horses in 1992, they have trained over 100 World
Champions and 200 Congress Champions.

Exclusive to GoHorseShow.com, GoSmart with Charlie and Jason gives our readers
access to Charlie and Jason and the secrets to their success like never before.
In this installment, Charlie takes us on his recent trip with Jason to Italy where
they put on a very successful clinic and traveled through Italy in search of
great food and shopping.

Jason and Charlie’s European Adventure
By Charlie Cole

Our trip to Italy started
with a three-day clinic just outside of Milan in Zanica. The clinic was held at
the training facility of our friends, Matteo Sala and Jadasa Jablonowski. For those of you
who don’t know Matteo, he is a European all-around trainer who recently won
the Junior Trail at the 2011 Congress. Jadasa, more commonly known as Dasi, is a talented graphic
designer who designs ads for some of the top American competitors.

Unfortunately, my three
previous trips to Europe don’t rank at the top of my list of adventures. However, I did meet
Matteo and Dasi on my last trip to Italy when I judged The Italian
Championships. That was where, thanks to Matteo and Dasi, I finally got to
taste what real Italian food was on the last night. Prior to that, I had survived on gelato (ice cream) due to
the fact that the horse show committee apparently felt the judges did not need
to eat dinner.

This year, the clinic was
well organized and a lot of fun! Matteo and Dasi did a fantastic job of
gathering a small group of talented riders and horses from Italy as well as
from Germany and Switzerland. The horses were all well trained and the riders
were very seasoned. I was impressed that almost every horse had a lead
change. We worked on a lot of
western riding but also trail, western pleasure, hunter under saddle, horsemanship
and showmanship.

The facility had a massive and
beautiful indoor arena made out of huge glulam wood beams that are definitely
something you don’t see in the USA. It also had a restaurant that overlooked
the arena.

Jason and I have given a
lot of clinics and the messages we leave people with are no different if it is
held in our home state of Texas or as far away as Italy. Here’s my top-5 list of things we teach
in a “Smart Clinic with Jason and Charlie.”

  1. Each horse is an
    individual, and while we use the same techniques to teach and school them, we
    ask more of some and less of others.

  2. When practicing lead
    changes, try to have a realistic goal for each day. Don’t try to do too much in
    one day. We usually practice lead changes for about 15-25 minutes a day on each

  3. When practicing changes
    going down the line, be careful not to correct your horse hard in the change
    area. Keep the change area a relaxed place.

  4. A good cool down is to
    practice the jog log.

  5. Pet your horse when he
    does something right. Horses understand praise and appreciate it!

After the clinic, we all
headed to Venice, and I will tell you that Venice is one of my favorite cities
ever. We stayed at a great hotel and took water taxis everywhere. They
are really cool! San Marco is the main shopping area in Venice, and we found
lots of nice ties (great for judging) and clothes. One morning we took the
water taxi to Murano Island where they make amazing hand blown glass pieces. I
left with several nice pieces of glass. We then headed to Milan for a few days.
Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world and another great shopping

Knowing my past issues with
European travel, Dasi’s goal for my trip was to insure that I did not have a
bad meal. I will admit that I’m a
picky eater. I particularly don’t like it when something that I am accustomed
to such as McDonald’s has a totally different taste in another country.
But Dasi did not disappoint and the food was great! My favorites were good ‘ole spaghetti
with tomato and basil or with meat sauce. We also had an interesting meal
one night. I couldn’t understand the name but I called it “Beef on a
Broomstick” which is exactly what it looked like! It tasted good and was served
with great pasta called Casoncelli which is basically pasta filled with bacon.

When our trip was up, it was
time to fly back to the States. We said “ciao” to our great host and hostess. Matteo
went on to a show in Germany. He took a horse named Dillon who was one of
the western riding horses that we had worked a lot with in the clinic. We had all focused on improving his
lead change and general way of going in the western riding. Matteo was quick to
let me know that he scored a 76.5 under all three judges at the show. I’m sure
glad Matteo mostly shows in Europe as it’s tough already here in the States!

After 10 days of being away
from home, we flew out of Milan. The clinic was a success, and I did enjoy our
vacation in Venice and Milan. The food was great, but I have to be honest…when I
got home to Pilot Point, I checked the animals then went straight to Ernesto’s
Mexican restaurant. Chips, salsa and a margarita never tasted so good!

Click here to view the slide show of their Italian vacation.