Talland Training Day with Pammy Hutton FBHS

Monday 22nd January 2018

A great day was spent in the company of Pammy and the horses at Talland. This was a wonderful opportunity to either ride or observe and discuss what was happening in front of us. The riders had a great time with a fantastic variety of horses working from novice to Grand Prix and to have Pammy’s experienced eye to help with any situations that came up.

We were able to observe how the riders connected with their horses both physically and mentally and discuss authentically what was happening, as it happened. This day also allowed riders to get the feel of different horses in a situation which would be like an assessment session in the Fellowship exam. We were also able to come away with ideas that would allow you to think about your own training and how you are able to develop as a coach.

It was good to be reminded that you sometimes have to do something wrong to get it right and to see how the horses were able to tell us how the riders were riding.

Both the riders and spectators found the discussion relevant to the horses way of going and it was great to see the riders taking on the advice given and being able to develop their techniques with the horses.

A big thank you to Pammy and the team at Talland and to Judith and Jeremy for organising the day.

Sam Goss.

F & I Annual Course Jumping with Christopher Bartle FBHS

Day 1

During the initial warm-up when many horses came into the arena a little distracted and inattentive (especially the less experienced ones) Chris encourages riders to use plenty of counter flexion on straight lines to encourage horses to truly accept the outside rein and then to straighten and press them away from the inside leg in the corners to help aid true connection, straightness and balance.

Following on from this a sequence of 5 canter poles were laid out on a curving line, firstly, riders were asked to trot through this line to acclimatise their horses to the exercise building up to canter.  Chris stresses the importance of not looking down at the poles on the ground but looking up and ahead at the last pole and beyond, this especially helps for those on spooky horses (like my own!) who are suspicious of poles on the floor, which actually also relates to jumping a ditch or off a small step or bank for the first time on a youngster!

Next, the 3 middle poles were raised into 3 small cavaletti about 70cms, leaving two bounce placing poles either side, the exercise was approached from both reins in canter, working on the rhythm and balance, with the riders looking up and beyond the last pole and not to look for a stride but instead to concentrate on the quality of the canter and the line. When this was established smoothly on both reins, Chris raised the middle cavaletti about 2 or 3 holes, which made the horses react quickly, to snap up in front and therefore aid athleticism, finally a 10m circle around a jump after the curving line was added to help re-engage the canter after the bounces, keeping in mind the turning of the horses around this 10m circle using the outside aids to keep the horse straight and in-line whilst bending around the riders inside leg.  (Chris relates the balance and straightness of the horse on a circle to a train on its tracks with the carriages staying on-line and in-line around a curve).

A phrase which sticks firmly in my mind throughout the two days training with Chris was ‘Impulsion and balance give you options’ meaning with enough balanced impulsion you and your horse can afford to be a little bit close or a little bit off a fence because the canter has enough quality and power!

Chris has 5 basic rider positions:

  • Racing position – more applicable to cross country riding than show jumping
  • Preparation position in-between fences – half seat out of the saddle
  • Contact position in front of the fences – sitting in contact seat to balance and engage
  • Landing position – to land in balance in the stirrups with eyes up and a balanced secure lower leg
  • then lastly….. if needed, the ‘Oh Sxxx’! position – self preservation seat!

The next exercise, situated across the diagonal was to canter to a placing pole 3 yards to a small fence with a pole in between one non-jumping stride to an oxer followed by 4 even non-jumping strides to a vertical.  Once again Chris emphasises the importance of looking for the line early enough and once on-line to look beyond the combination at the last fence imagining it is 1m50 to take the riders eye level up which in turn aids the riders balance.

During this exercise, which gradually got built up as we worked through it, Chris had all sorts of excellent memorable catch phrases for example:-

‘Let the horse poke his nose’ to encourage riders to loosen the rein to allow the horse more freedom to bring his shoulders up and make a better bascule.      (To loosen the rein enables riders better use of their seat, in addition shorter reins make the horses neck tighter and restrict the horses ability to look over the fence)

‘Grow your legs long’  – (I really like this one), Chris likens this to the riders legs being the roots of the tree which supports the upper body being the main trunk of the tree which should stay up and strong!

Day 2

Course Jumping

On day 2 there was a full set of fences set up in the arena with various route options and rather than making each rider jump a set course, Chris gave ownership to each rider to devise their own short courses sticking to the principles laid out on the previous day.

Of course, each and every horse is different but the principles remain the same:-

  • Balance and Impulsion give you options
  • Riders to ride more towards a medium canter in-between the fences to keep the canter strong in a preparation half seat.
  • Find the fence, find the line then look ahead and the leg must be there to say ‘yes we can’ if needed.
  • Once on line in front of the fences to come into a contact seat to balance and engage the horse whilst keeping the horses on-line.
  • Chris trains riders to find a line just inside of the mid-line of the fences to stop any drifting and to stay disciplined and balanced throughout the course, he trains riders to line up something beyond fences, ie the audience, a flag or a sign.
  • Aim to keep the stride length even throughout the course
  • The riders body must react to the distance the horse has found rather than the rider going to their hand

As the session progressed riders were to devise several different courses and to incorporate more challenging tighter jump off turns using the techniques above and from this much improvement was shown throughout!

To conclude, a valuable 2 days training experience and a real privilege to be trained by Christopher Bartle.

Wishing everyone a very happy successful 2018!

Report by Joanna Shields BHSI

F & I Annual Course Dressage with Christoph Hess

Addington Equestrian Centre once again hosted the F and I conference and we arrived with a great sense of excitement and anticipation. We had been privileged to watch Christoph Hess last year and he was superb. Now we were to be in his presence again. He started coaching at 8 am and finished at 17.45 pm. His enthusiasm did not deplete once during the full two days. He is gifted in his ability not only to connect with his rider and their horse but with their support team.  Everyone connected with the horse was involved in a most emphatic and jovial way. This led to relaxation on everyone’s part and of course our friend the HORSE benefitted from this relaxed approach.

On day one Christoph talked with each rider asking about the combination and what they wanted to improve. Then he watched the horses working in, asking for basic paces and simple movements.

Whatever level the horse was working at, Christoph went back to the basics. He preached the Gospel of FORWARDNESS. Each rider worked extremely hard to achieve this concept. The inside leg was king! There were horses working towards Grand Prix level down to two 5 year olds. They all worked on this principle of going forward from the inside leg using different exercises to achieve it. He mainly used leg yield and shoulder in.

The leg had to be used from the CALF not the spur. The horse had to learn this and Christoph would show the rider how to achieve it. At times taking the rider’s leg away from the side and showing how to apply it firmly. He wanted a reaction from the horse to go FORWARD. It worked, even if it took a little time with some horses.  With the more educated horse he used leg yielding and shoulder in to achieve inside leg response and the riding of the corners had to be precise. The corners and lateral work help with flexion, which is necessary and created from inside leg to outside rein.

Once the horse was going forward, RHYTHM was paramount and the correct tempo had to be achieved.  Leg yielding helps to slow down a busy horse.

The rider position was worked on and thus the contact with the rein aids. Many riders were dependant on the inside rein. He use one handed work and had riders doing lateral work one handed and the result was transforming. The horse now with a consistent contact could go forward in balance. In order to keep the suppleness and throughness in the horse, a lot of work was done in light seat and rising trot.

Each horse on the first day improved and was more relaxed and the throat lash area was more open. The riders were pleased with the improvement made with their horses.

On day 2, Christoph continued with the forward work. Each horse came in, as one rider said the quality of work “was like a continuation of how it ended yesterday”.  The quality of work further improved throughout the second session.

The lovely relaxed approach helped each combination to raise their game and work to a better level. The expression “Get a feeling for the feeling” was repeated constantly i.e. feel what is right and remember it to get the correct feel. The rider has to ask three things:

1. Is the horse trained for the movement?

2. Is the horse uphill?

3. Is the horse forward?

In the canter work flying changes were used a lot and improved. In order to do the flying change the canter has to be forward asking for bigger strides. The horse has to sit on the inside leg so using a smaller circle before the flying change helps. Some walk to canter transitions in the preparation work is a useful exercise.

The purpose of Dressage is “to develop the gaits more and more”.

The Piaff and Passage work was helped by the use of flexion. In Piaff the rider must be careful not to drive too much with the aids. Christoph would help with voice aids to encourage the horse…a little whistle or click. In Piaff the horse must be in front of the tongue!

On the last day Pammy Hutton on her lovely Magnum did the GP test for our assessment. It was a joy to watch this combination displaying correct classical riding and training.

It was the icing on the cake and Christoph was very happy.

To quote him “It was top class”.

Christoph you were TOP CLASS.


Much appreciation must go to Jillie Rogers, our charismatic Chairman, Ann Bostock, organiser extraordinaire, and the F and I Committee.

Until next year!

Report by Faith Ponsonby

Chairman’s Report – AGM – January 3rd, 2018

Ladies & Gentlemen,

As I prepared this report a few days ago, I said to myself: well, we have the FaceBook page up and running thanks to Sam Champney Warrener, the web page is kept ticking over by Sally Newcomb, and our F&I days keep getting better and better as well as more and more. So that’s it really, job done for the January 2018 AGM.

Then I had a rethink. So much has happened this year. The Banner! Much head scratching was done when it was first mooted, many photographs were looked at and Sally Newcomb was at the forefront of the team who put it together with a great deal of input from the “design department” in Co. Wexford. We became great friends with one of the BHS staff members, Alex Whitten in Marketing, who put the final touches to it, following all the time Sally had put into the design work. And it had its inaugural showing at the BHS Convention at Hartpury. It then went on its travels and I saw it at Badminton, Hickstead and Blenheim. It was an eye-opener speaking to local BHS volunteers who were most interested in an Association they knew little about, so it’s certainly doing a good job. At the end of last year, the Committee decided another banner would be useful, hence the purchase of a second one.

2017 saw the greater use of our Training/Study Days for BHS CPD points, where previously they had only been available here at the Annual Course for those F&I members present. Following further discussion with the Director of Education, Alex Copeland, we will be offering additional CPD days again in 2018, starting with the day at Talland on 22nd January for CPD for Fellows & BHSIs, and on February 14th at Wellington for BHSII /BHS Stage 4 Coaches & above. Other days will become available during the year – HOWEVER, each potential date must be run past the Committee first, to get approval that it can count. Anyone may run a day in their area for F&I – and it doesn’t have to be a riding day, as we have had some most rewarding non-riding days organised during 2017. There is now an ‘Organiser’s Pack’ which is available from Di Roberts, so, come on, let us know how we may help – we are available for email or phone call chats.

And then we have the wonderful Annual Course 2018 Booklet – another new innovation, put together by David Sheerin. It has certainly made me feel as if these two days are even more important to our Association than we all previously thought. The booklet was suggested by David following the Charity Day in Honour of the late Tom Searle, held on October 16th at Wellington Riding, where a commemorative and informative booklet was available for all who attended.

This year we welcome as new BHSIs (or Stage 5 Performance Coaches in Complete Horsemanship) the following people – Brendan Bergin (RoI), Dan Spencer, Wendy Suddes, Melissa Troup, Michael Whippy, Sonia Wilkes and Kirsty Fontaine-Henley. It was in fact Kirsty who wrote an interesting report on last year’s Annual Course headed ‘From a Future BHSI’ so well done to all of these people and Welcome. The Committee invited this year’s new BHSIs to a Bucks Fizz reception today here at the Course, and they all have their first year as members of the F&I Association free. A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR THEM ALL PLEASE.

The person who didn’t get her free year although she is on the banner is of course Sam York FBHS our new Fellow and very busy F&I committee member. A BIG CHEER PLEASE.

I must mention here that one of our members has taken up a new sport. On December 14th Kylie Roddy boxed a semi-pro boxer who boxes for the Royal Navy. After some serious training Kylie won, raising £2000.00 for Cancer Research. She is now thinking of sticking to boxing following today’s unplanned dismount!

2017 – I’m going to take that look back at 2017 right now. The start of another full and awe-inspiring year was right here with Christoph Hess and Chris Bartle. Jeremy secured the services of these two eminent trainers and both days were spent with many jaws hitting the ground by those of us watching, whilst the riders rose to the occasions on each day with each Coach – and how lucky are we to repeat the same success story this year. Gentlemen, thank you so much.

During the year we walked XC courses, enjoyed training with yet more well-known and well-respected Coaches, attended study days which stretched our minds e.g. Sync Thermology and Research and Technology in Coaching, whilst in Ireland Faith Ponsonby called in many favours to get us a full morning with Top Trainer Willie Mullins and Top Rider Ruby Walsh and an afternoon with Sam Watson 4* event rider. The reports of each venture have been full and I’d like to thank all those people concerned with organizing all these different days for us. Once again, a plea from the Committee for more people to become involved in setting up a day out for us.

2018 – looking forward to this year, we’re back at Addington EC and our two Coaches have returned for the second round. Today has been totally captivating and we all look forward to tomorrow.

In the booklet you’ll find other dates for 2018 and these are still coming in, everyone please have a think and make your offers during AOB or over the next few weeks.

This year, Badminton Horse Trials’ Charity of the Year is the British Horse Society. The BHS will have extra tentage and, through the good efforts of our BHS Chairman, David Sheerin, the F&I Association will have a greater presence at the Horse Trials, hence the second banner. We need help from members for our space in the stand. This will be where members can meet for tea/coffee and a ‘catch up’. An hour per day will be a great help and we might, just might be able to get a little help towards your entry fee. Please advise Di Roberts if you are able to come along.

On our Face Book page you will find an exciting message from Lynn Peterson, our esteemed CEO of the BHS, which arrived with me on New Year’s Eve. This should also reach you all by email from Di Roberts. It gives us all a greater look at the wider influence of the work the BHS does and the continued progress made, including internationally.

2019 will mean a change of Annual Course Coaches and this time it has been the silver-tongued persuasions of David Sheerin to secure for us Adam Kemp FBHS (Dressage) and Corinne Bracken (Jumping). Another two years of exceptional coaching on offer. Please note the new dates 2019 – 8th & 9th January TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY. 2020 will be 7th & 8th TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY.

I can’t finish without thanking the Study Group Leaders – Fellows Sue Payne, Lizzel Winter, Islay Auty, Sam York, Danny Anholt, Tim Downes and Jeremy Michaels. And BHSI’s Jenny Ward, Carole Bennett, Ann Bostock, Kylie Roddy and David Sheerin. Gifts to all.

It just remains to say Thank You to everyone who has contributed in whatever way to another outstanding year for the F&I Association.