Yard Visit to Carl Hester 6th October 2016

 

You are greeted coming through the gate by a shimmering full size silver mesh horse – a taste of the magic to come! Guinea fowl and chickens wander around the outdoor school and grounds, a parrot raucously chats to you at the entrance to the school, and a variety of dogs wander in and out of the school throughout the morning, vying for Carl’s attention, or yours, and weighing up whether yours is a handy lap to sit on. The school is light and airy, with one long side completely open above the kicking boards, where Carl can keep an eye on what is going on in the long outdoor arena that runs parallel. Behind the short side are stalls for tacking up and washing off and the heat lamps, and built into the kicking boards are benches that fold down for spectators.

The first horse to come in is a 4-year-old bay by Negro, bred by the late Jane Gregory, and ridden by Carl’s newest member of staff, Sadie Smith. Carl says he likes to look at youngsters at about two and a half years old – see their shape and movement and attitude – for him the breeding is last in his list of priorities. He feels the walk is difficult to improve, but that you can really change the trot.    His youngsters live out, come in at 7.00am and have a really nice life. He thinks that often if they are kept in, shut up, and fed too much, that they can turn into monsters!    This horse has a very good temperament – has been well handled and shown as a two-year-old- he has a very good walk and trot, with good articulation of his joints behind, but at present suspension is missing. That will come with training and as collection is developed.       He feels some horses are born with mouths like silk, or like a brick, but that you can change the mouth.  If it is soft or over bent and dropping the contact – these can be more difficult!

The young horses usually start the day’s work on the bit and under control. He has a very big walk, and Carl discusses how huge walks and massive over track can lead to problems later with keeping the clear 4-time rhythm and asks are they going to be quick enough for piaffe. The canter is also very big, and Carl considers will he be able to sit for the pirouettes and have enough jump for the changes.      This horse likes to work ‘up’, and Carl wants him to take the neck out more – you have to teach stretching and in walk think of ‘rowing’ with the arms, give him a long rein to help him stretch. The stretching will help to get him stronger over his back and behind the saddle where he is as yet a little weak.   Charlotte had ridden him the day before, working on getting him really reactive to the aids –  touch him and he must go – if need be, gallop forwards!  The youngsters may only need to do about 20 minutes’ work.

Carl talks briefly about Valegro as a young horse – how his short front legs are very strong, he has a short back, and very powerful behind! He says when he was young he had a short choppy walk that they needed to work on, that with his huge canter, Stephen Clarke questioned whether he would be able to sit and collect enough – so they went home and trained him to collect! When he learned to piaffe he just wanted to keep doing it. He says he didn’t fully learn to stretch until he was seven!    Carl feels Valegro will continue to be a great ambassador for British dressage!!

The next horse is the 5-year-old mare Mount St John VIP, with Charlotte riding, that won this year’s Novice Championship.   Carl talks about how Charlotte can transform horses, changing their balance and their movement, and this horse is beginning to understand suspension, and how to work with expression. He felt some people create it through tension, and then it can easily get jerky and unbalanced.       This mare is starting work in collection. She does some leg-yielding (not too much neck bend!) and shoulder-in on a shallow angle, all in rising trot. He finds travers helps to get horses straight.  He stressed that horses should be both back movers and leg movers.  This horse slightly tips her head in right shoulder-in, and Carl explains if a horse is stronger on one side or stiff, don’t keep pulling them off the stiff side – you should get them to take the ’empty’ side, and work on getting a steady, even contact on both sides.

Having worked ‘up’ for a while, then stretch the horse – if they are kept in the same position all the time they get stiff and tired and can’t be supple – you need to stretch them and bend them. He then discussed what was missing in this horse. He felt her back end works better than her front end, and she could use her shoulders still more.  Her trot deserved a very high mark, but her canter, because it doesn’t have huge reach, makes her look like a pony, but being smaller, it’s more balanced.

He discussed the importance of doing countless transitions within and between the paces, with the rider being very consistent with the aids. He thought the elementary test was difficult, and reminded us that when teaching canter to walk transitions they can lose the canter- trot transition, and how these must be constantly worked on, working forwards through them.     When giving, and retaking the rein you must GIVE the hand, and the contact generally should look like it can be moving but not floppy and intermittent.

He drew our attention to Charlotte’s position, how when she is sitting, she is stretched up in her upper body. He recalled the Spanish Riding School advice – “Lift the top and drop the bottom!”   He discussed how Charlotte takes a risk, and teaches ‘maximum’, and is not cautious and over careful.    He feels that this is a very exciting horse and there is nothing she won’t do!

Like most of the horses, she works 4 days in the school interspersed with 2 days hacking, and has Sunday off in the field.

Next forward was the 6-year-old mare Brioso II, by Benetton Dream, out of a Dimaggio mare, and ridden here by Amy Woodhead. Carl tells the story of how she was seen very locally, and without revealing who was the buyer, she was bought for £4,000. The previous owner said she was ‘a bitch to break’ and very backy with the girth. She lives out in the field.  Carl comments she had no real trot, but the hind legs always worked like pistons. David Pincus helps Carl with work in-hand, and they found she had a natural piaffe, and if the rider picks up a whip she just piaffes. Carl adds she is a bit short necked but very strong behind. Charlotte mainly rides and competes her, and she won this year’s Elementary Championship. Carl says she is going to be his old man’s grand prix horse!

Carl then illustrates with this mare ‘how do you create suspension?’ First teach them to push – open the door with your hand, create the push, and then catch the energy, so she doesn’t go more forwards, but goes with suspension.  He said she was a bit difficult in her mouth, and he wants her to learn to take the contact forwards. He uses lots of ‘on and back’, and warns us against just going round and round in the same gear, boring them and not teaching them much. The forward riding teaches her to open up and take her frame forwards, and she must learn to slow without pressure and without tightening her neck and drawing back. He reminds us of how often you get ups and downs in training, and that if things are not going well, give them a break or stretch them – they often learn more from this!

He feels you can find horses like this -it’s all about the system you train with, not the money you have!   But you need eyes on the ground daily, and the huge difference it makes with Carl and Charlotte working together all the time, with great attention to detail, where nothing is ignored or left to chance.

This horse has a big walk, and Carl draws attention to how she uses her shoulders better than the previous horse. During the work he sometimes uses a whip to help with the rhythm, or to teach them to pick a leg up, and they must respect the whip, but the whip is not carried throughout, just picked up for a specific purpose and then put down again, so you never become reliant on it, or lost without it!

Carl discusses how to get good canter work, with well-prepared transitions, showing the preparation for collection, teaching her to begin to sit, but not over sitting, keeping enough impulsion, and reminding Amy to open the underneath of her neck and ‘shift your hips towards your hands.’ She did some work in canter travers and Carl commented on how counter canter can be good for obedience, but doesn’t really improve the canter – it can make the canter dull and puts them a bit on the forehand. This mare can be feisty and hot, which Carl likes and makes him think she can get to the top – but it will probably take another 4 years before she is established at Grand Prix.

Carl talks about preparing horses for championships – about how there is so much going on that it can be really hard as the atmosphere can create great tension. He feels it is a big ask, especially as he usually only does about 4 big championships a year, whereas show jumpers can be jumping at Grand Prix level much more often.

When asked does he always wear spurs, he said that they often don’t wear spurs on the young horses -‘you can’t give a real kick forwards with spurs on!’   If a horse was too light in a snaffle, then don’t put a double bridle on. He would like to train all horses to Grand Prix in a snaffle, whilst using a double bridle as and when necessary.  He thought this horse was one he hoped to ride at Grand Prix. The Mount St John stud will do embryo transfer with her, as Carl is not so interested in breeding horses himself.

Next to come in was Charlotte on the 8 year old gelding Hawtins  Delicato, by Diamond Hit – this year’s PSG Champion. He was bred at Hawtins Stud and Carl saw him at the Nationals when he came 3rd in the 5-year-old Championship, and bought him then. He hopes he will be his next Grand Prix horse.

He is very uphill, and very active in the hind leg, with really good articulation of the joints. Carl discusses how he teaches changes on the wall, not using diagonals regularly until they are 100% straight.     Working on the canter pirouettes, the horse has to be able to go sideways and sit.  Pirouettes are ridden out of shoulder in and people struggle when they are trying to push the quarters in.  You must be able to bring the shoulders round and be able to ride them big as well as small.  The large half pirouettes make it easier for them, and with a very collected canter, you should be able to ride them at different speeds – at the higher tempo the horse has to really use his body well. He also uses different speeds in the half pass work. She rode some lovely canter to walk transitions with Carl stressing how ‘everything must be correct – do the correct thing all the time!’ He also has a huge walk and Carl discusses how much care needs to be taken when collecting the walk. At this stage he keeps him marching while only collecting the frame of the horse – so as yet not a true collected walk, but helping him to maintain the correct rhythm.

He said he wasn’t good at piaffe to start with, but is really beginning to be good now. They taught him in hand – to lift the leg and not launch forwards – not teaching him on the spot, but at this  stage moving a little forward and in a horizontal balance, not yet asking for too much sitting. He feels this horse has so many talents and such elasticity. In the half pass he has great reach and is both supple and elastic, and through the passage work is learning to really use his knees.

Regarding half halts, he stresses how you just give one rein aid, and hold in the tummy for one stride only – not holding over 3 or 4 strides. Going into medium trot your upper body should come forward a little and allow the back to move, and the body comes back a fraction when collecting. When the horse is using its back well the tail comes up higher, you can see the muscles behind the saddle flickering and moving, and the back, as a bridge, stays up.   A top horse both sits and pushes.   He found that when you’ve got really good horses at the top, the younger horses seem to come up quicker.

BUT – it is not simple – doing it well!!      Charlotte then discusses her regime. In addition to the riding, she is in the gym 4 days a week. She says sitting trot was really difficult at the start, and how she has had to do loads of core work and how having a weaker and a stronger side can really affect the horses. She has a lot of physio – very necessary if you are crooked or one sided. At times she uses acupuncture and with physio every day it makes an amazing difference as she starts feeling really loose and supple. She also uses sports psychology and feels it can really change your attitude. Carl says he can see the next day if Charlotte has had sports psychology the day before! Carl finds he can’t have physio like Charlotte does, but just needs to tweak things or you can cause damage. Also they have incredibly experienced staff backing everything up – (the wonderful Alan Davies is now as famous as Carl and Charlotte!), and then there is the whole team of vets, physios, farriers et al to ensure the very best possible care for the horses – nothing is left to chance!

Next we have two horses – Barolo, the 10 year old gelding by Breitling W, ridden here by Amy Woodhead, and Nip Tuck, ridden by Catherine, one of Carl’s pupils from the USA. Carl says when Barolo first came to them he was emotionally untalented, had no desire to do anything and had had enough of life! He hated other horses and had dropped a few riders. They keep him in the field as much as possible, and it has taken him 3 years to come round and learn to do everything. This year he won the Under 25’s Championship at Sheepgate with Amy, and came 2nd in the Grand Prix at the Nationals with Charlotte (when Carl came first with Wanadoo!)

Carl says Nip Tuck has really taught him a lesson. He thought he would never make a Grand Prix horse. He is very long in the back and the hind legs are out behind him, and he was very nervous and would bolt!   BUT – what makes all the difference is he WANTS to do it, so Carl works to make the very best of his abilities.

Watching the two horses doing flying changes, Carl shows how Barolo really bounces off his legs in the changes, so there is a lot of suspension and expression – he says it is like sitting on a trampoline. They get him nearly eventing fit to help with his energy. Amy is urged doing the one time changes to ‘keep the ears up, and keep him straight!’ Nip Tuck has less of the exuberance and has to be super correct and very straight.      Working with Nip Tuck on the canter pirouettes, he did some canter work on a circle, changing frequently from quarters in to shoulder in. He reminded us – use shoulder fore in the approach, he mustn’t slow down into the pirouette, and should finish the pirouette in shoulder in. Put the inside hind leg between the front legs, the hips are wider than the front, and don’t turn the quarters in!

Carl brought up the question that with so many PSG and Inter 1 horses now, why do so few make it to Grand Prix? The answer is – piaffe! To learn this horses must have a desire to go, which Nip Tuck has in abundance, and he learned to piaffe. He demonstrated how a whip can be used to help – for more sitting use the whip below the hocks, for more height, on top of the quarters. You must not scare them with the whip! They need relaxation, to be able to walk into piaffe and walk out – letting the piaffe keep moving forwards a little bit. As the passage work develops, first get a forward passage, and then bring it back, and build up the transitions doing a lot of passage to piaffe to passage. With Np Tuck in passage Carl has to keep him short, as the more forwards he rides him, the more out he is behind. Carl says ‘ you have to accept what are their limitations, and do the best THEY can! And, you have to have the belief that each horse will make it! ‘

It was the most magical morning, watching all these fabulous horses at every age and stage, beautifully ridden, developing their abilities, dealing with their problems, working so often with breath taking power, yet with such balance, suppleness, precision and harmony!  Carl asked at the start not to film or photograph the work in the school, and we need to keep fresh and sharp in our minds these images of the manner in which these horses worked, the quality of their work and how they were ridden – a huge inspiration to all who were there!      I was reminded of when writing for Stephen Clarke, when he had just judged Carl, saying to me ‘Carl is one of the world’s greatest riders and trainer of horses and riders, and what he does affects riders and trainers throughout this country and the rest of the world, and will do so for years to come!’

How privileged we were to be there! Nicky Herbert said to me during the morning “This is like being in heaven!”  I think she had everyone’s most heart-felt agreement!

Afterwards, Carl showed us around the yard, with its lovely large airy boxes built in a square, meeting these equine royalty – Valegro, Nip Tuck and Uthopia, who Carl hopes will be out competing again, after telling us about the terrible time when he had to come up for auction, and how they finally managed to keep him. Carl is a great story teller and communicator – friendly, funny, down to earth, with such a wealth of knowledge and experience that he is prepared to share, and a passion for what he is doing, and for the horses and people who share this with him!

We owe huge thanks to Carl, Charlotte, Amy, Sadie and Catherine, and all his staff, and especially to Andrew Fletcher who organised this wonderful day!

Report by Cherry Elvin

Burghley Course Walk with Nick Turner – Friday 2nd September, 2016

Friday at Burghley dawned dry and clear and not too warm for our course walk with Nick Turner FBHS. This time it actually was a walk and not a march as Nick’s riders had all done their dressage on the Thursday!

Nick presented Katie Partrick with her BHSI certificate with Burghley house in the background so welcome to Katie, well done for all your hard work.

So off we went 4 BHSI’s and their guests with Nick giving us a real insight to the course and to the questions that course designer Captain Mark Phillips had set them. Nick said it was an out and out proper 4* Burghley course and was not at all “soft” as some riders had said (they weren’t riding this year!!)

The technical combinations came thick and fast with some looking almost impossible with the lines that needed to be held. You needed a fit horse not only physically but mentally as well.

We had an insight into the frangible pins and their value including the 11 penalty clause (which was used on Saturday). The mimms clip is also used by BE and FEI but none were used at Burghley.

Thankyou as always to Nick for sharing his views and immense knowledge, with everyone able to ask any questions they wanted.

Written by Ann Bostock.

Report from the RIHS

The sun was shining as Fellow and Instructor’s Association members met in the BHS box at The Royal International Horse Show on Thursday 28th July. As the F&I’s newest member, I enjoyed meeting those who were there at morning coffee. Some members made themselves comfortable in the box to watch the show jumping action in the main arena whilst others headed off to watch the action in the outside rings or explore the trade stands before lunch.

Following a lovely lunch, with an excellent cheesecake dessert, I was honoured that all of the members present and their guests gathered to watch Lynn Petersen present me with my BHSI certificate. Looking around the room, there were so many welcoming faces and I am so proud to be able to call myself a BHSI and join this prestigious Association. Thank you to those who came over to congratulate me.

The Supreme Hunter Championship caught the attention of some members, who joined the crowds in cheering on the competitors in their gallop! Thoughts were exchanged on who should earn the top accolade, Kirsty from the education department was amongst those to pick Jayne Ross’s horse as the winner. Watching the champion parade with hounds from the Crawley and Horsham Hunt was a superb sight.

Members were privileged to join Shane Breen for a course walk around the Eventers Challenge course. The course was a little different this year – staying within the International Arena and featuring a range of fences varying in technicality. Many were surprised to see Shane walking distances between seemingly unrelated fences – he pointed out that the difference between winning and losing a class might be knowing where you can take 1 stride out. It seemed we were not the only ones interested in a show jumper’s thoughts on the course – whilst studying the road crossing Shane was questioned by longlisted Irish Olympic event rider Joseph Murphy on how to ride the Derby Bank and striding for the Irish bank combination and the Devil’s Dyke! Other highlights of the course walk were multiple appearances of Willberry Wonder Pony (who also rode the course twice) and Ben Hobday being overheard asking (and I paraphrase), ‘How the heck do you ride a fence like this?’ off the Irish Bank!

We crowded onto the balcony, just as the rain made an appearance, to watch the class. A sweepstake meant we all had a serious vested interest in the class! There were plenty of thrills (thankfully just the one spill – Holly Woodhead remounted to leave the ring unhurt), many cheers of encouragement and the odd chastisement for those who chose to take the long route down the bank – of course we would all have taken the direct route if we were riding! The competition was hot right to the last, with Sir Mark Todd the final rider to go, but no-one could beat Ireland’s Elizabeth Power for the title.

The rain cleared just in time for journeys home from a superb day – though I never did find out who won the sweepstake!

Report by Ruth Baxter

Visit to Coolmore Stud and Ballydoyle Racing Stable in Co Tipperary

Eight very lucky members and ten friends were privileged to spend an amazing day visiting both Coolmore Stud and Ballydoyle Racing Stable – brilliantly organised by Faith Ponsonby.

At Coolmore we had two very able guides in Tom Harris and Tom Miller.   These young men were both English, graduates of the Pony Club and British Eventing. One specialised in the stallions, and the other in the mares and foals side of Coolmore, so their knowledge on all fronts was extensive.

Our visit coincided with 6 stallions leaving the stud to go into quarantine for two weeks, prior to flying to Coolmore Australia, where they will stand for the Australian breeding season. Their flight starting at Shannon Airport will take 24+ with stops, although they stay on the plane. Each stallion takes his own groom and there is always a vet in attendance. They are seasoned flyers from their racing days travelling to race in England, Europe and America etc. We were lucky to see Excelebration, Canford Cliffs and No Nay Never walked up in hand before their departure. On arrival in Oz they will spend another two weeks in quarantine.

To view slideshow, click here

Even more special, we were able to see the great Galileo, who stood quietly in his stable – no headcollar, door open, thoroughly enjoying our admiration of him. In addition, we saw some of the stallions in their turnout paddocks and were taken on an in-depth trip around the covering yards, where we learnt how Coolmore deals with visiting (walk in) mares, as well as their own mares. Great care is taken to ensure the safety of mares, stallions and handlers. The mares’ headcollars are carefully tagged to ensure they ‘meet’ the correct stallion.

Galileo and his his “friends” have their own covered lunge ring with padded walls and a good surface where he can be lunged to let off steam prior to walking in hand. All the stallions are walked twice a day and weighed weekly, so any slight loss or increase in weight can be monitored – fit not fat. They are fed Coolmore, home-grown, barn dried hay ad lib off the ground and a nutritionist supervises their 4 four feeds per day.  Mixed grazing takes place across the many acres with 2000 store cattle grazing the first flush of grass which is, this year, 23% protein. Sheep then follow the horses. Some cattle graze with the mares and foals which is found to be beneficial.

Stepping out of our cars it was like entering into another world – cleanliness and tidiness reigned everywhere. The surfaces where the stallions walked were all specialist, rubberised block paving as horses are unshod, but kept well trimmed. Security is such that there is always a person in each yard 24/7 and no-one appeared to know where all the security cameras are located!

From Coolmore Faith had managed to get us a very special invitation to Ballydoyle Racing Stable , the training yard owned by ‘Coolmore’ where the unrivalled master, Aidan O’Brien trains the best of the Coolmore progeny with an amazing success rate.

We left our cars in the village of Rosegreen and after a super picnic lunch prepared by Jillie and Faith we piled into a mini-bus and were met at Ballydoyle by Polly – once we had passed through security. Polly is English married to an ex-jockey, Andrew Murphy, who manages one of the senior yards.  Polly works in the office dealing with entries, International transport and a plethora of related vital items. Her enthusiasm and love for her job was apparent, and infectious, as we were driven around the 700 plus acres with her as our guide. We saw some of the different yards and there are 13 miles of varied gallops – grass, wood-chip and poly track, including the imitation ‘Tattenham Corner’.

Ballydoyle was the inspiration of Dr Vincent O’Brien in the 1950s, where his innovative ideas were put into practice, and some are still in use today. The hydro-therapy unit was impressive and unique, and when in the pool care is taken to work the horses both ways. Interestingly there are no horse-walkers at either Coolmore or Ballydoyle.  What was apparent was the attention to detail, leaving no stone unturned to ensure the total well being of the horses’ mental and physical health. 

We were so privileged, due to Faith’s long standing friendships with both the Magnier and O’Brien families to be allowed to enter the oval Iron Horse yard, which was designed by Mrs J Magnier, so all the horses can see each other and have their own turn-out paddocks behind their stables. This was built after the success of Giant’s Causeway, whose beautiful statue had arrived this week and is placed at the entrance to this yard opposite that of Yeats.

Members of our party were stunned into silence as the mini bus made its way around Ballydoyle.  This was a truly remarkable day which everyone thoroughly enjoyed – we would like to thank both Coolmore and Ballydoyle for allowing us access and our 3 most informative guides.

We then repaired to The Bailey Hotel, Cashel for a ‘light’ lunch and further reflections on a truly brilliant day.  Thank you Faith.

Report written by Julie Biggs and Kathy Merrick

Training Day with David Pincus

F and I’s’ Training Day 23rd May 2016 with David Pincus, hosted by Carol Bennitt.

david-pincus-training Demo Riders    Carol, Nina, Sarah, Mandy
In Hand work  Carol with 5yr old, PSG and GP

This was an excellent day in every way. Our Hostess is so welcoming, kind, encouraging and supportive.  Our Coach is tops.  Open to discussion.  Complete horseman, encouraging to all, both human and equine.  Understanding fully with an eye for detail resulting in noticeable progress with all partnerships.

We were encouraged to “set the standard”.  Prepare and ride our corners and movements well.  We used shoulder fore, shoulder in.  Haunches in, leg yielding half pass.  Partnerships were encouraged to stay in balance; self carriage; to “deal with issues” if/as they arose.  Horses must “give” in the poll, their jaws with activity created from behind.

david-pincus-training2In Hand work:  From a good halt, encourage a good walk, then progress to small steps. Then reward.

On behalf of all attendees THANK YOU CAROL and DAVID.  Next date, PLEASE.

Thank you to Emma for our delicious lunch.

Report by By Amanda Holloway BHSI (Regd) BE Accred

Judy Harvey Coaching Day

The weather at Judy Harvey’s (Monday 9th May) could not have been more different  to last year when it poured with rain and Judy had put up a gazeebo to try and keep the spectators dry. This year it was needed to keep the sun at bay!!!
Four BHSI’s rode with very different types of horses ranging from a 5yr old to 19yrs, Novice to Advanced, cob, warmbloods and Iberian.  Each partnership was discussed and there were many ways to achieve better quality within the work but without compromising the welfare and harmony that the riders had with their horses.  The spectators – some ‘I’s and others coming through to take their Senior coaching exam were able to ask questions and got sound, experienced advice from Judy.
After lunch those who wanted to were able to coach a session with Judys’ staff and apprentices and gained valuable feedback at both ‘I’ and ‘F’ level.
A huge thankyou to Judy and all her staff for what I feel was one the best days  we have had.
Report by Ann Bostock

Badminton XC Course Walk

A group of 12 members and their guests including three Irish representatives gathered at fence 2 for the annual course walk. This year we were lucky to have Eric Smiley FBHS as our guide.

Eric began by explaining that there would be three groups of riders walking the course that day. The “oh my goodness I have made it here “ contingent. The “ I want to complete” riders and  finally the riders who would be competitive. Everyone starts the course with 3 buckets, one containing the energy, one honesty/confidence and one containing the time given to complete the course without penalties. The goal is to manage the contents of the buckets round the course so that you make the best use of the horse’s energy whilst maintaining his confidence level and keeping up with the clock.

Eric then took us on the journey around the course. He is a master at looking at things from the horse’s perspective. At each fence he discussed the options, what things would take the energy out of the horse, such as needing to change direction and leg a number of times, the rider taking pulls and the wrong camber in the ground.

The emphasis all the way round the course was Pace and Line, you only need one stride straight to jump the fence. Practice at home so when the course builder tests you, you are ready. Teach the horse to make quick decisions but ride so he has time to make the right decision.

As we entered the intense part of the course Eric emphasised the need to be having the debate with yourself about managing energy (taking the direct route) versus maintaining confidence (choosing alternative routes). The important thing here is to recognise the mental stress for the horse of answering so many questions in a short space of time and for the rider to recognise if the horse is losing focus.

Eric explained that good course builders understand how horses think and so towards the end of the course fences are positioned well to make it easy for tired horses. However riders still need to adapt to the horses energy levels on the final few fences, holding the line but allowing the horse to find the stride. It was somewhat prophetic as it turned out, sadly.

I have only managed to pass on a snippet of Eric’s wisdom here. He is a master storyteller and made us feel as if we were riding the course ourselves. Thank you Eric, it was brilliant, although I am still trying to work out how to jump all those fences carrying three buckets………..

Report by Liz Eaton

The Punchestown National Hunt Racing Festival

It was the really keen racing fans who turned up for Faith Ponsonby’s picnic at the Punchestown Festival of Racing on 26th April, and as representatives of the F&I Association I can include Ann Bostock,  Nick Turner, Faith and myself.  The day was cruel weather wise with hail storms a regular feature of the picnic.  Faith’s many racing friends had come from the four corners of Ireland and many had crossed that wicked little strip of water the Irish Sea to see some great National Hunt Racing.  About 50 of us gathered around the back of Faith’s jeep as food kept appearing, washed down by gallons of beer and wine.  We then walked up to the course and into the Members Enclosure, courtesy of Faith and her friends and watched some good racing.  The first race is called a Cross Country Race and is based on the old style of crossing the country whilst galloping from point to point with banks, hedges, undulating land and ditches, great fun and won by Nina Carberry – some woman on a horse.

There were seven races in all with two flat races, only in Ireland!  We glimpsed Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins with their strings of horses, Grand National winner Rule the World owned by Michael O’Leary (Ryanair) and swooned (well I did) over the prowess of Barry Geraghty, David Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

My local pack of Foxhounds The Island paraded at the end of the sixth race accompanied by much whooping and hollering away by Ann and myself.  And then there were the interesting little shops to peep into if you’ve not had a winner and need to come to terms with the loss of €5+.

So this day keeps Faith Ann and me happy, it tells others about this ‘club’ the Association of Fellows and Instructors and affords us the chance to see some great horses and horsemanship in another sport.  Just to keep it all on an even keel there were six Dressage Ireland Judges present one BD List 2a Judge who is also a FEI 3* & 4* Event Judge and the Performance Manager of the Irish Event Team, himself a FBHS who has for the past two years coached at our Annual Course.

Report by Jillie Rogers

Fellowship Training at Millfield School.

Danny Anholt and his dedicated team at Millfield hosted an excellent training day on Friday 18th March, providing a great opportunity for those preparing for the Fellowship exam or just wanting to improve their coaching skills.

The day started with Danny running through the presentation that he had used in his Fellowship exam, which very effectively combined a power point presentation and a practical demonstration of horses and riders over fences.  Danny highlighted the basic correct principles of rider position, particularly over fences, using his very competent ‘guinea pig’ riders and a brief yet informative history lesson.

Next there was the chance to coach a group jump lesson with three well established riders on quality horses.  This was followed by individual dressage lessons with two riders on their own horses.  Both combinations compete at PSG, so this was a great opportunity for the coaches to work with riders of this level.

Lunch was followed by individual advanced jump lessons with two talented young competition riders.  Both were super to coach and open to the ideas and methods the coaches used.

Two quality horses were provided for the last session of the day, the lunge jumping.  Both horses provoked discussions on all aspects of this session, from lunge equipment to the value of jumping horses on the lunge.

Throughout the day Danny provided constructive feedback and encouraged everyone to share ideas and offer opinions.  He helped to dispel misconceptions about the requirements of the Fellowship exam, emphasising correct basic training principles and sound coaching techniques are the route to success.

By Sarah Spencer-Williams

 

Report from the 24th  National Equine Forum

We met at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1, Birdcage Walk, Westminster, having survived the journey during the rush hour. We are both glad we don’t have to do that every day!  The venue is impressive both from the outside and inside.  We were made welcome with coffee and met several people we know including our BHS CEO Lynn Petersen, who sits on the organising committee for the forum. This forum was oversubscribed by 45 unlucky applicants.

The objective of the annual forum is to address matters that could impact on the equestrian industry, including policy changes, scientific developments and cultural initiatives and bring them to the attention of key decision makers.                           The proceedings are recorded, so anyone wanting further detail on the presentations should be able to source them.

The first presentation was by George Eustice MP – Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment DEFRA.   –He said he was proud of Defra. They are currently working on Tightening up on Fly-grazing rules and working on the Welfare of horses and he is pleased with the progress which will be NON Statutory as that gives greater flexibility to change things and keep them up to date. They are looking at abolishing the Council Licence for  Riding Schools and  introducing  ACCREDITATION by way of a licence for all animal establishments.  World Horse Welfare supports the principle  so long as the implementation does  not water down current welfare standards. (See report Horse and Hound 10th March on page 6.)  George Eustice voiced  his support for leaving the EU as it would allow us to make our own rules re Equines.

Jan Rogers – Head of Equine Development British Equestrian Federation. She spoke about the failure of the  current passport system with no workable database.  By July1st the new system will be ready to upload and by 2017 the system will be fully functional. The system will be much more robust with internal and external  testing and a  Central  Database with  Enforcement of the rules by Defra and the  BHS.

Pamela Thompson – Head of EU Team, Animal Health Policy & Implementation, Defra.  She  spoke of the work of  a team of negotiators  she leads, working across the “ Smarter  Rules for Safer  Food ”, which will bring better regulation across animal and plant health with official controls of disease  and  Trade.  The UK is pushing for better regulation.

Roly Owers  Chief Executive of WHW  chaired a  discussion and Question and Answer session  with three Vets and an Animal Health and Wefare Inspector, as the panel.  The heading was United we stand, divided we fall. Each panel member gave  a short presentation before the audience asked questions The questions covered  Equine Infectious Anaemia and the worries about it. Antimicrobial resistance.  Responsible  ownership.  Overgrazing or a lack of Pasture. Greater awareness of the movement of animals.  Notifiable diseases – are the regulations robust enough and whether we have the man power to  enforce the regulations.  African Horse Sickness- the  ramping up of regulations.  Whether equines have enough protection from  NON qualified people who give ‘non expert advice’!     (This session  was brilliantly chaired by Roly, but even with the microphones, it was very difficult to hear some of the panel members  and audience participation.

Dr Richard Newton  head of Epidemiology and Disease  AHT, gave the Inaugural Memorial Lecture  in a 5 minute slot. He presented  a huge amount of information within his short slot.                                                                                                  Diseases spread from one species to another :-     Endemic : Strangles. Redwings- as a example – went public  so controlled the outbreak.    Threat of novel influenza strains in Equids.  Vaccines effective but not instantly available.                                                                  Vector borne diseases:- West Nile Virus (WNV)  In the  North Kent Marshes – from Europe.  Effective vaccines are available.      Midge borne diseases:- African Horse Sickness (AHS)  Legislation and plans in place. Trade with Africa a concern.

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Equine Dourine Outbreak  in 2012.    Glanders in a German horse.     Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) Swamp Fever – in a Cornish Horse.  NO effective vaccine.  Movement limitations . Euthanasia.    Glanders at the Rio site.    E. Herpes at our National Stud –  Went into lockdown.  Went public.  Have sorted it.    The burden of Endemic  Disease is high as well as the emerging diseases.

The afternoon session started with  Ben Hart from The Donkey Sanctuar who gave an entertaining and very sound presentation,  involving the audience, on Behaviour in All Working  Equids.   He made  4 points that are at  the root of equine behaviour problems.            1.   It is the animal’s fault.        2.Everyone is an expert behaviourist .                                      3. No-one’s got time.           4. Misunderstanding of the true nature of the species.                                                                                                                He suggested that many humans fail to  recognise fear or danger ,  panic,   or a scared  or a worried equine.   In order to produce good behaviour in equines,  humans must understand the equines reason for his behaviour.   Then have the ability to  build a bridge between  a) where they  are now and      b) where they  want to be.   How?  First  remove all negative detrimental  behaviour  terminology !   Then  progress may  be made.

Dr  Peter  Webbon. Chair of the UK Equine Sector Council for Health and Welfare;  Veterinary Advisor, International Studbook Committee.  This presentation was given under 4 headings.                                                                                            1. Genetic manipulations in the horse:  This selects the good qualities.  It may neglect other characteristics such as durability, temperament, susceptibility to disease.                                                                                                                                  2. Selective breeding ;  Fixes desirability based on genetic criteria. May influence breeding, purchasing and training/management decisions.  Could reduce susceptibility to injury and disease and  allow horses to realise their athletic ability.                                                                                                                                                                                             3.  Gene therapy  or gene doping;  Introduction of DNA to cure disease. Genetic editing. Control and recording of genetic therapy must be documented.                                                                                                                                                                 4.  Manipulation of heritable genes,  is still science fiction.

Prof Derek Knottenbelt  Consultant in  Equine Internal Medicine, University of  Glasgow spoke from the heart on   Always Consult the Professional.   He started by giving the reasons for NOT doing so:- Expense ;  I can do it myself; the professional knows less than I do;  the professional was wrong last time; I have the required medication.                                       A  Professional  is a person with a qualification by training.  He stated that homeopathic vaccines and medicines  do not work.  Often non professionals miss the cause of the problem.  Wounds should have nothing put on them that you would not put on yourself.  Slides of badly managed wounds were shown, proving the point of the presentation.   It was an excellent presentation.

The 1st of three  5 minute topical slot presentation  was given by Prof Celia Marr with the heading:- God helps those who help themselves. Prof Marr is Editor of Equine Veterinary Journal: Chairman of the  Veterinary  Advisory Committee and on the Horserace Betting Levy Board.  ( We looked at each other at the end and neither of us understood the point of the presentation! )

The 2nd topical slot, was excellent  :-  Just a matter of proportion?   By Tony Tyler. Tony was a BHS Assessor for many years so some  of you may remember him.  He is now Deputy Chief Executive of WHW.   Tony said that if it looks wrong it probably is wrong!  He had the onerous task of talking about oversized riders on horses/ponies. He said that the only guideline of the rider being no more than  10% of the horses weight,  is not very realistic and 15% is acceptable but over that is an issue.  20% is a definite NO.  As yet none of the disciplines has acted on riders who are overweight for their mount, but the Showing fraternity are putting guidelines together.

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The 3rd topical slot was headed :-Tweeting for  Tokyo given by  Natasha Adkinson International Para Dressage Athlete, BEF World Class Podium Potential.  Natasha talked  passionately about the use of social media sites to gain public awareness and funding for Olympic and paralympic athletes.

Dan Hughes , Equestrian  Performance Director  BEF,  gave a 15 min presentation on The Challenges of the RIO Olympic  and Paralympic Games 2016.  There are high expectations  after  the successes  of the 2012 London Olympics re medals. Dan said that Rio is a vast city, very spread out and getting around is a challenge. It is a city of contrasts with the poor  and  affluent  areas in close proximity to each other. The plan is for specialist buses in special bus lanes to transport teams.  However to get to the Equestrian site from the Olympic site, a tunnel  still has to made by blasting a hole through a mountain!  The date for completion of this access  is 31st July with the games starting at the beginning of August. All Athletes and their supporting teams  have to live in the  Olympic Village, – that is non negotiable. The only safe place to eat will be in the Village. Flights are booked with 44 horses on a plane .  The Equestrian team of 120 all need managing.  Health:-  There have been no horses on the site since the test event.  Human health :- All that can be done is being done. Challenges are to develop  Equestrian Sport and keep it in the spotlight so it remains in the Olympics and to develop  and inspire the next generation.

Pip Kirkby,   Chief  Executive, The Pony Club.  She  talked of the changes needed to update the image of the Pony Club as membership is in decline.  Currently there are 41,000 members; 340 branches and 540 Centres.  Under this new Chief Executive (appointed in April 2015) there will be a review to underpin the membership,  a recruitment initiative and help for branches  to  grow their membership .   The Pony Club was established  in 1929 and is a precious commodity. The barriers to becoming a member are the need to own a pony/horse.  The image needs updating and a rebranding will take place. (See letter H&H  10th March from a sensible  P.C. mother!)

Dr Jenny Hall,   Chief Veterinary Officer,  British Horseracing  Authority.  The horse comes first.                                             Equine welfare in British racing is  continually  recorded:- Injury monitoring;  Each race day is monitored;  Runner  fatalities recorded;   Regulations re: Staff and resources in place;   For the future :-  Traceability from birth throughout their life,  of all racehorses.  Clear leadership and accountability is in place.

The President  – HRH The Princess Royal  arrived at lunchtime and talked with various groups of people over lunch before joining the forum for the afternoon presentations.  She concluded the afternoon by thanking all the speakers and audience and saying how valuable the annual forum is for ensuring that the different parts of the Equestrian Industry can keep up with current  policies.

She then  made presentations to  the three finalists for the Sir Colin Spedding Award:-     Hon. Walter Gilbey,        Baroness Ann Mallalieu  and Sue Martin.   The winner was Sue Martin  who was nominated in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the development of Equine Appretiiceships,  leadership of the Equestrian Trailblazer Steering Group and continuing support and enthusiasm for riding schools.   Many of you will know Sue Martin who is Proprietor of Trent Park Equestrian Centre . Well done Sue!

The Chairman of the National Equine Forum  Tim Brigstocke MBE then closed the forum  at 4.25pm on 3.3.16

It was an excellent day with our brains working overtime.  An excellent lunch which included smocked salmon and caviar!    It has been a difficult task to report on it. We have done our best!

Report by Mandy Luesley and Sue Payne

Aston le Walls XC training clinic with Jeanette Brakewell

Clear blue skies and sunshine greeted us at Aston le Walls [Tuesday, 23 February 2016] for our xc sessions with Jeanette Brakewell. Four riders with 7 horses took advantage of Jeanette’s wealth of knowledge and experience which she was able to impart easily, always working on the basics with horses staying straight and to both reins. All the horse improved with the all weather arena at Aston giving them the confidence to keep progressing. One young horse had never been xc before and with Jeanette showing her the way by jumping the ditch herself, within minutes the little mare knew exactly  what to do. No big deal and no big battles.. So with a complete baby through to an intermediate horse there were enough fences and questions to keep everyone busy.

Jeanette made corrections to rider’s positions to help them stay secure but supple enough to allow the horses to do the work. Discussions were had to continue to develop the work at home relevant to the individual horses. The riders were a credit to our Association being focused and able to adapt their lines of approach when the arena became a little busy with some not quite so educated people were having a hooley!!!

Thank you to Catherine Shine for organizing the day.

Report by Ann Bostock

Captain Richard Waygood Show Jumping Training Day at Wellington

David Sheerin and the team at Wellington organised another superb training day making the most of all the fabulous facilities that Wellington has to offer.

F & I Association clinic with Captain Richard Waygood at WellingtonRichard had two training aims for all the riders at Wellington. The first being to establish the correct way of going and canter that is needed for the exercise and then maintain that canter on the way into and away from the fence. The second aim was to get the horses working more from behind and using their hindquarters more effectively, using a variety of exercises to encourage them to do so.

Richard used a combination of very simple exercises for all the 24 horses making a few necessary empathetic adjustments where required. All sessions began by working over two poles on a straight line related distance. Richard asked riders to initially canter over the two poles and count the canter strides that the horses naturally produced in the distance. Then Richard asked the riders to work on having 6 short and bouncy canter strides between the two poles. Richard instilled in the riders that they needed to produce the correct canter well before the turning to the related distance in order that the horses maintained the same rhythm throughout the exercise. This was done on both reins before then raising the later pole into a fence and then finally the first also. Throughout Richard instilled in riders the need for consistency in approach and landing from the related distance. Some of the younger horses, including one of mine, found this very hard work and so Richard encouraged the riders to focus on a regular balanced canter that allowed the horses to be consistent in their approach and departure from the distance.

F & I Association clinic with Captain Richard Waygood at WellingtonOnce this exercise had been completed horses and riders then moved on to a line of three bounces to a related distance of a short 6 strides to another three bounces. Again the emphasis was on the quality of the canter and the consistency in the approach through the bounces and the distance and the bounces again. From there Richard then had riders working through one set of the bounces and then turning on a related distance to an upright on the right rein or an oxer on the left rein. The bounces ensured that the horses worked effectively off their hocks and had to really use their backend and lift their forehand. In the afternoon with the more established horses Richard also added in an exercise of three canter poles on a circle to a related distance to an upright. He also stretched the horses and made them use their scope and power by significantly raising the upright and the oxer. I for one could feel how these exercises made the horses come off their forehand and become more uphill in their canter and their way of going. The exercises were very positive and it was possible to see the horses and riders actively growing in confidence throughout their sessions. As ever it is always useful to work on exercises simultaneously with other professionals and watch how they and their horses react to the exercises.

F & I Association clinic with Captain Richard Waygood at WellingtonThe day began with the younger, greener horses and some riders that hadn’t jumped in a while. It was also good to see riders borrowing mounts from Wellington and finding their sessions beneficial, positive and educational. There was a lot to be learnt from watching these combinations and witness how they benefited and grew in mutual confidence through the exercises once the canter had been established. It was good to see some riders who hadn’t jumped since this day at Wellington last year, having a fun and educational session.

During the lunch break David and Richard helpfully ran a loose jumping demonstration. This is the second year that this has happened and it is a really useful forum for discussing the loose jumping process, from start to finish. Richard has extensive experience of loose jumping military horses and it is incredibly helpful to garner his insights regarding how to do it properly and make it a constructive and worthwhile exercise for all. Richard was very understanding about how his support crew for the demonstration were not military and perhaps a little less responsive than his former soldiers! Two horses were loose schooled, the first a five year old mare that had recently begun regular work and the second a four rising five year old that is not currently in work. Neither of the horses had loose jumped before and it was most beneficial to see how they reacted to the exercise and benefited and developed throughout. The feedback on this was entirely positive. As a group it is clear that members find this a useful forum for discussing the process itself and then more detailed specifics of how these two horses went. Special thanks must go to Catherine Shine and Helen Cole for kindly bringing their lovely young horses and allowing them to be loose schooled.

Lunchtime at WellingtonParticular thanks must also go to David and his team for laying on a delicious and plentiful buffet for all the riders and spectators. It was a real treat to be able to sit down to a delicious lunch and chat with all the fellow attendees. It was a thoroughly positive enjoyable day. The feedback has been entirely encouraging. Thanks must go to Richard for educational, positive coaching, providing us all with much to work on and to take forward into our own coaching sessions. Thank you also to David and the Wellington team for organising a fabulous day and allowing us the use of the new wonderful facilities at Wellington and for putting together an entertaining video of the whole occasion which is available below.

Report written by Claire Chamberlayne.

Below are YouTube videos and photographs from the day:

Training Day at Talland School of Equitation with Pammy Hutton

On Monday 25 January 2016, Pammy Hutton hosted an excellent and informative training and learning day for the F&I Association, at the Talland School of Equitation near Cirencester.

In attendance and in support were Jeremy Michaels and Judith Murphy with ten participating riders, four of whom are working for the BHSI exam and twenty spectators.

The day commenced at 10am with five riders being fortunate enough to ride some lovely horses ranging from dressage schoolmasters, eventers and show jumpers all of which gave the riders (and spectators) much to think about and discuss. Pammy in her inimitable style, cajoled and teased questions and comments from all in attendance. During the day the horses were probably the best coaches as they showed when the riders were ‘pressing the right buttons’ – thank you to all those excellent schoolmasters and mistresses, the BEST teachers of all!!

The first five riders were fortunate enough to ride until lunchtime after which a new group of riders rode a similar high standard of horse. During the afternoon session, Pammy also rode several of the horses to demonstrate the rapport and understanding she shares with them and you could almost hear them saying, ‘OK Mum, whatever you say!’ Once Pammy had shown how her horses should be working – connected, forward and over their backs – the riders remounted and soon felt exactly what she was looking for.

Spectators were encouraged to participate by questioning and discussing methods of training, BHS/UKCC exams, horse breeds, rider position, rider effect and many, many more topics.

Towards the end of the day, we were treated to a fantastic GP freestyle test ridden by Pippa Hutton who rode beautifully with precision and feel for the music, and we all wish her luck in her forthcoming competitions.

The feedback from attendees after the day and later on Facebook was unanimous – an excellent, inspiring day with fabulous horses, led by an experienced, thought-provoking coach. Thank you Pammy and we all look forward to the next one!!!

Jeremy Michaels, FBHS

Annual Course Dressage Training Report

It was great to have Jennie Loriston-Clarke back again this year to help and inspire riders and spectators! How many others have her depth and breadth of experience, and such understanding of horses and riders and their training, and her generosity to share this with others and pass the knowledge on!

She teaches with great insight, and quick identification of riders and horses abilities and problems, finding exercises and corrections appropriate to them, given with great energy and enthusiasm, forthrightness, clarity and simplicity, humour and encouragement and praise for improvement.

Jennie always started by finding out what the riders wanted to work on, and there were frequent discussions about what was happening, questions about what the rider was feeling and understanding, and during the work making corrections and adjustments in such a positive and clear way, that riders all made significant progress and were swept along by her energy and enthusiasm – often to achieve more by doing less, but doing it better, feeling more, tuning into the horse better, and always trying to be clear, asking for what was appropriate, and being fair to the horse. Every horse and rider showed real improvement, especially with the continuity and development of the work on the 2nd day.

The emphasis throughout the work was on ensuring the horse was reactive to the aids, which was dependant on riders sitting in a supple and balanced way – giving clear aids, and instantly rewarding with a quiet leg and a forward thinking hand, encouraging the horse to work actively forwards, willingly, and in self carriage. The rider should not be over-working with the aiding, nagging with the legs, over-supporting with the hands, with them doing more and more and the horse less and less! You allow the horse to make a mistake, then correct it, be a bit dramatic if need be, and keep the horse guessing what is coming next, so he is attentive, listening and waiting for you!

Much emphasis was placed on the transitions between and within the paces, where Jennie was looking for the balance in horse and rider, fluency, steadiness in the contact and quick but smooth reactions. In the trot, walk, trot transitions she encouraged riders when training to walk for enough time to get the rhythm and tempo really established. She was concerned that in novice tests where that transition was asked for over 2 or 3 strides, that it was often done too hastily and the walk and transitions suffered accordingly.

There was some discussion about leg-yielding, which Jenny did not particularly like as a movement. She preferred to start with shoulder-fore and shoulder-in, building gradually to travers and half-pass. With a 4 year old she would start with shoulder-fore in walk, then jog a shoulder-in, then step sideways a bit without a bend. She felt that with leg-yielding riders get muddled and ride it so badly, and that the elementary test where they ride a half 10 metre circle into leg-yield is confusing and not performed well. When leg-yielding was being used, she encouraged the riders often to keep the neck straight, with little or no bend away from the movement, and not to let the horse fall out through the shoulders.

Travers was used quite frequently, often with the comment that there needed to be more suppleness, and more bending through the body, while the horse looked straight down the line. In work in halfpass, keeping the rider’s weight into the direction of travel was emphasised, preparing with weight in the inside stirrup around the corner, usually starting in shoulder-fore, making sure the shoulders were leading, and being prepared to make adjustments, either steadying up the shoulders, or bringing the quarters more, feeling for the balance and rhythm, and riding the horse forward and sideways with energy and fluency, sometimes with medium trot, taking care not to block it with an overstrong inside rein. If there was any head tilting, ‘soften the hands and shake him off the rein.’

In all cases riders were encouraged to develop their own balance and core strength, so that they could sit upright and ride the horse forward with their seat, neither getting left behind the movement,nor being pulled forwards and tipped off their seat.

With some horses working on the canter zigzag and flying change work, she encouraged the rider when training, to ride the halfpass, get straight for several strides, and ride the flying change straight, and with one horse, for example, after left halfpass, to ride a little shoulder-in left before the change. Much depended on the horses balance and whether it was falling in or out with the shoulders when making the change and moving onto the new half pass.

In the work on flying changes, with a horse who got very tense and tight, the rider was encouraged to to ride him more forwards, and with another horse who got faster and faster through the tempi changes, to do one or two changes then halt, and possibly reinback, or ride a walk pirouette, then canter on, or ride a canter pirouette at the the end of a line of tempi changes to help set him back – ‘make him not sure what you are going to do and learn to wait for you!’ Riders were encouraged to sit quietly, staying on their seat in the changes, using small but clear aids, given in time -(this was often commented on -‘you were too late with your aid!’) to help the horse’s balance, straightness, forwardness and fluency. Improving the quality and balance of the canter was fundamental to getting good changes, and Jenny did much work using a variety of exercises tohelp a horse who was late behind in the changes. These did not produce the desired effect on the day, but the canter improved and gave the rider some good ideas to work on at home.

When working up to canter pirouettes, Jennie quite often used canter in quarters in on a small circle – the size varied according to the stage of training. With one horse who was just starting this and lacking confidence and then tending to lean on the bit and stopping itself, the emphasis was on using very little hand, very gently turning with the legs, seat and the lightest rein aid, ‘relax and turn your body’, ‘bring your inside shoulder and elbow back to bend her’, ‘just guide the horse round with more outside leg’. She was asked to come in and do a few steps then ride out, sometimes in medium canter, then come back again and gradually build up the work, being quick with the leg and ‘not so much poking the ribs with the spur’. With more experienced horses working on canter pirouettes, time was spent getting the horses canter really reactive forward and back, finding the right balance, engagement, and self-carriage in a ‘pirouette canter’. Some preparatory work was done in quarters in on a circle, taking care not to get too much neck bend, which could then block the inside hind leg. Sometimes they moved from quarters in to shoulder-in on the circle. When riding half canter pirouettes, as in PSG, riders had to make sure they were on the right line between K and X, and approach in a slight shoulder-fore position, not quarters-in, and not spend too long ‘preparing’ the canter, but be able to do so over 2 or 3 strides, half halt, keep the outside rein and turn. ‘The pirouette should be easy!!’ When riding out after the pirouette the rider should really keep the energy, straightness and line inthe counter canter as well as in the change at C.

Most horses worked individually, but there was a pair of very contrasting horses and riders that were very interesting to watch. One horse was ‘hot’, and inclined to get too short and deep in front, and tight in the steps, and the rider rather too ‘electric’, whilst the other horse had bigger but slower movement and needed to offer more effort and energy, and work more consistently in the contact, and the rider needed to ask for more. With the hot horse the request was frequently to ‘let the neck out more’, ‘relax, sit more quietly and softly’, and in the changes ‘do less with the legs – they come too far back, then that tips you off your seat and the horse starts swinging’. In some of the tempi changes ‘he’s doing the rumba! LOOK UP and ride forward more and stay up in front – horse and rider must focus upwards and forwards!’ In the one time changes, the rider needed to balance the horse more between each change as he gets faster and faster. Throughout the horse needed to relax more to enable him to work with bigger steps.

Some work was done on going from large walk pirouettes directly into a canter pirouette, and when approaching on a straight line to think shoulder fore. This rider was encouraged to work in walk – do shoulder-in, halfpass to the centre line, straighten, then a half walk pirouette – keeping the work relaxed but very precise, rider and horse correctly positioned and fluent. Jennie said she would not do this work with the other horse who needed to be kept more active and forward.

With the other horse, when warming up she was told not to worry if he did’nt want to stretch at the start, especially when they are fresh, but to keep the contact, and feel how much better the working trot was on the second day, and he was working well through his back. ‘You have to be able to ride into the connection for them to have something to stretch out to’. ‘Take care not to let the quarters swing outwards on turns and circles’. ‘Don’t waggle with your legs – the horse must canter FOR you, not BECAUSE of you!’ Much work was done on transitions within the paces, getting more energy, and when collecting the rider needs to find and keep the same rhythm with shorter, higher steps, and then he must GO, being instant in his reaction, not taking 3 strides over it. In the halfpass work the horse needed to move over more – if need be turn it into a leg yield, and be more incisive. In half passes take care not to be too strong with the inside rein and be stopping and blocking him. If he is tilting his head, soften your hands, shake him off your hands. ‘Bend your elbows, don’t have stiff arms’. When riding the SI and ride straight between the changes – sit stiller – don’t twist and throw your body about – be in time with your aids

When riding the tempi changes – SIT STRAIGHT and ride straight between the changes – sit stiller – don’t twist and throw your body about – be in time with the aids!  Much improvement was shown with both horses, especially on the second day.

One rider was encouraged to relax more throughout, the other to be more demanding, and not be happy because he offered something nice and then stop, but keep going, get him fitter and work him harder!

There were also some excellent group discussions with Jenny Ward, Tim Downes and Carol Bennitt, which all enjoyed and gave people a chance to ask questions and talk at more length about what was happening, and various ways of dealing with problems that occur in training.

It was a superb two days, and this report only begins to touch on the depth and detail in Jennie’s teaching. I know everyone would want to say a huge THANK YOU to Jennie for all her help, and sharing her knowledge so generously with all of us!

Report by Cherry Elvin

F&I Association’s Annual Course Show Jumping Training report

Brilliant in its simplicity.  Like all good plans and ideas that was the basis of Nick Turner’s jumping sessions at Addington at the Assoc. of F & I Convention.  The sessions were a masterclass in the use of the arena – maximising the space available and equipment, and minimising moving the jumps around, utilising every minute for the horses and riders.  The basic fundamentals of jump riding were drummed home, repetition and consistency allowing the horses to develop balance, quality of pace and to then allow them to develop in their own individual style – along with that of their riders.  While acknowledging that quality of canter is what makes the jump, Nick used exercises to support the improvement of the canter at the same time as jumping.  This had the double bonus of developing and improving the jump at the same time as giving the horses and riders the fun of jumping without having to work too long on the flat before getting over an obstacle.  He stressed the importance and usefulness of riding (very) good corners when presenting horses to fences, using poles to give the riders a visual aid – at times the poles on the ground made the turns appear quite tight but it was amazing how soon it focussed the riders and after a couple of false starts they all started to get the hang of it and then, abracadabra, it all started to look quite easy. At the end of each session the horses were able to impress with their improved rhythm, balance and fluency.  The second day unapologetically built on the first day and progressed to riding related distances on straight and curved lines.  Building on the previous day it was easy to see how improvement and, in some cases, confidence was achieved. Nick was quick to demonstrate when to back off, change or push some combinations.  At the end of each session, and sometimes in between, Nick involved everyone in the gallery in discussion.  I only heard positive and enthusiastic feedback from the riders.  Save of the day must go to Nicole Biggs when her horse had a change of mind at the last minute, ran out and made a sharp u-turn. There were relatively few upsets – testament to the coaching skills on display.  Thank you Nick – very much.

Report by Sandra Morrison