Captain Richard Waygood, BE Performance Manager, training day.

Wednesday, 14th February at Wellington Riding, Hampshire

Valentines Day. What better day to spend quality time in the presence of Richard Waygood and venue host, David Sheerin along with good friends and colleagues.
This was a fully subscribed riding day, but also offering an excellent opportunity for spectators being allowed into the arena to be close up, watch & be involved in discussion & the questioning that develops between Richard and the riders.

We had been expecting grid work, of a long line of fences stretching up the 70 m long side of the fantastic Dukes Hall indoor school, but Richard had his own ideas for gymnastic type exercises.
He had 6 exercises set out, to ‘pump’ the horses up, get them ‘weight lifting’, activating the hind legs & finding their own better form of balance to improve their way of going.

We started off using 5 trotting poles positioned off the track on the long side. At a 90* angle to be this on either end was another pole. Having familiarised the horses with the trot poles, Richard had us coming in over the right angle and then the following poles. This was a new exercise and certainly got the horses hocks flexing as they turned and in getting us to allow the horses a longer neck, they were able to find better balance themselves, even finding a ‘fifth’ leg, a theme that Richard kept coming back to through the session.

We moved on to three canter poles diagonally off an inner track towards the corners involving a change of rein. Richard was absolute in the horses arriving there totally straight. The hind legs following the front legs. Rhythm, softness & straightness throughout the exercise, to landing to the leading leg away. Letting the horses find their natural way of going, us as riders waiting for the turn, without hurrying, or us letting them fall through the turn.

The next exercise was one we’d done previously, but with a twist.
A pole, upright, pole exercise on a curved line. Except that the upright was lower to the inside and higher to the outside. The bounce placing poles being closer to the upright on the inside and with a more generous distance on the outer. Echoing Chris Bartle’s ‘ride the inner mid line’, we corrected the positioning of the horses shoulders before and after the fence and made sure we had the correct forward canter before we got there.
I found my horse was jumping across the fence and almost rotating his shoulder to the lower inside of the upright. In discussion, along with the other spectator coaches and riders, Richard & I changed the pole to be higher on the inside and lower on the outside. My horse remained more upright, without ‘cheating’ the exercise. That’s what’s best about these days, is the ability we have as coaches and riders, to discuss and trial, to see what does and can work, with informed discussion in a supportive environment.

The next exercise was three uprights, two short strides, the middle being a plank, that could all be jumped in either direction.
Richard had us cantering a 10m circle around the upright at each end, making sure that the canter was active, in front of out leg and straight. Main problems demonstrated as having too much inside rein & not riding the horse around, to losing the quality & rhythm of the canter on the circle and the falling behind the leg and us having to ‘event rider’ chase it to the plank on an angle off the circle, when the horse had ‘stalled’ on us.
On landing, we were back onto the 10m circle around the other upright, coming again to the plank at an angle off the other rein. Richard encouraged us to circle as many times as needed to get the canter really active and responsive. Again priorities were in the straightness to the fence and allowing the horse to use his neck & our maintenance of the canter that we’d created throughout the circle exercise.

Once we’d achieve this, we jumped down through the whole exercise, a treble of short two strides, but with the emphasis on the horse working over his back, in a good forward canter, on the long and short sides prior to meeting the first element.
Richard’s main aim was to enable the horses to stay in rhythm & not to gain ground down it.  Riders needed to stay upright, as excessive folding encouraged the horses to hollow, rush, or gain too much distance. The horses were allowed to ‘back themselves up’ and good jumps followed.
All the time, reminding us that a good balanced canter gave us options, to shorten, or lengthen to the first fence. We repeated it, off both reins, with Richard helping us recognise what had happened in previous exercises and what needed to happened now to improve the initial approach. Looking for the attention, focus and relaxation, so encouraging the horse to become more rideable, allowing us to put more leg on, so we could more forwards to the fence.
As a finale, we jumped the last element off the track, as a larger oxer, the emphasis in changing nothing and letting our horses come in the rhythm and balance we’d previously worked on creating.

The usual amazingly tasty Wellington Farm Shop Buffet was on offer at lunch time, where we can have some ‘down time’ together to catch up, discuss how we felt we’d ridden and our horses had gone along with a bit of banter and this year included the giving of Valentines cards and mugs to Richard and David. Immediate recycling at its best, as both declared, that they hadn’t got their partners anything in advance!

These days are time well spent on us, for our horses and also for us as coaches.
A huge thank you to David Sheerin for organising the day & Richard Waygood for great coaching and tools for us to take away. I’m looking forward to the F&I camp at Wellington Riding, in June already.
There are some fabulous video clips of the day, that David took, on the F&I Facebook page, showing all of the exercises, thoughts and reflections, as well as those attached here.

Report by Sarah Thorne.

Click here for pdf of pole work diagram

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