First of all, thank you to Andrew for organising the day and the coffee on arrival. Carl showed us five horses ranging from 7yrs to 11yrs, he told us that his first important criteria is “has the horse got the ability to go to Grand Prix” – he likes a horse to be quick in mind and body as he wants to steer through a Grand Prix .
When you are the horseman that he is, he has the natural ability to understand a nervous horse, a naughty one and a horse with pure ability. He spends time working out what life style will suit them. All of them go out in the field everyday, hack and in the winter uses the horse walker.
A schooling day would start with a hack to loosen them, half an hour schooling, another hack to cool them down – between an hour and an hour and a half depending on the level of their work. He works them four times a week, hacks for two days and a day off.
The first horse 7yrs “Nip Tuck” – a nervous horse who took a year to become rideable and lives out as long as the weather allows. On first appearance a well proportioned 16-3hh bay gelding with three correct paces but you would know that once he had been loosened up there would be much more to come.
Carl said that you cannot get the back to soften until you have suppleness in the neck and the contact is even and elastic, by being able to achieve that with this horse he is steadily becoming more confident, having said that he has done everything back to front with this horse’s schooling having taught him sequence changes – for him it helps to get the back less tight.
“Don Archie” a 16-2hh bay gelding 7yrs, a naughty horse that had a buck that had most people off until one day they out sat him and since then he has conformed and allowed himself to become another exciting prospect for the future.
Carl now has Jane Bredin’s “Dances with Wolves” which he was pleased to take when Arum asked him to have the horse after Jane’s sad death this year and knowing that Jane thought so much of this horse. The horse has had his training to a level with another rider and so he likes to take time to forge a partnership and will have the horse a year before we will see him compete.
Another horse called “Nemo” 17-hh 10yr beautiful grey gelding formally ridden by Charlie Hutton has come to him. He spent a few years in Junior and Young Riders and he sees no point in him doing small tour and will produce him at Grand Prix. With this horse he talked about how some horses have the talent for pushing as in passage and others for holding as in piaffe. The conformation being longer for extension and shorter for collection – we cannot find perfection very often so work must be done to strengthen the weaknesses. Personally, I could sit and watch Carl ride and teach all day everyday and I felt it was such an honour to be able to be in his yard before he and Charlotte set off for the Europeans and after his epic 80% at Hickstead, as he said what an exciting time for British Dressage.
By the time you read this we will know the results but be sure if we do well there will be one hell of a party at the Nationals – good luck to everyone.
Report prepared and written by Hilary Hughes