Firstly a big thank you to Nick for spending his time with the 7 of us who attended this day. For us it was brilliant that more people were not there but a huge shame not to see more faces to take advantage of Nick’s knowledge and ideas. It was a very cold start to the day but an ongoing supply of tea and coffee made it easier.
Before the horses and riders got going we talked about the Scales of Training and whether they were always in the correct order for how we train. As the day progressed we realized that we worked out of sequence quite often.
First up was Ann and her mare to be put through their paces over a ‘roundabout’ exercise and then incorporating 2 single fences. Nick worked on getting Ann to keep a consistent rhythm to the jumps. The ‘roundabout’ really helped to focus this thought. Ann felt a big improvement and we saw a much softer, rhythmical horse.
Next Nettie rode her horse who she described as a good all rounder, who could be picked up and put down whenever needed. Nick did a lot of work on the flat trying to get her horse more supple. Time was spent on riding shoulder in on both reins around the arena including the corners and short sides to achieve this. Then Nettie rode the same exercise as Ann. She found this much harder on the left rein than the right. Nettie was very pleased with how much improvement had been made in the way of going.
Sam then rode her 2 star horse. He was described as a “poser”! Sam has been having problems at competitions keeping his attention and keeping him soft. Nick worked on the flat again collecting him first and making him submissive in the rein before riding him forwards. The exercises used were related distances and single fences. Sam was pleased that she was able to make the submission in a soft way.
Then came Nicole, she has lessons with Nick so he roughly knew what he was going to do here. On the centre line was 4 jumps angled with one non-jump stride between. Nick got Nicole to ride the 2 end jumps on a curve, getting 5 strides to start. Nicole’s horse gets quite strong so Nick asked her to try and get 8 strides instead of 5 to help with the control. As the lesson developed it became apparent that the rhythm was becoming quick and strong. Nick asked Nicole what she was focusing on when this happened. It was soon decided that it was the contact and speed, by getting Nicole to look to the left and the right moving her neck much more than she would normally do, the speed then started to become slower and more controllable.
The sun finally came out before Sam came back for a second go, this time on her 3 star horse. Again Nick worked on the flat and then used the related distances to help with this horses way of going. I didn’t get to watch much of this lesson as I started to work in Simon on one of Nick’s horses for a teach practice session. Simon was going to compete this horse in a week’s time. I found out that he has trouble with related distances and with holding too much in the rein. We worked on the flat trying to improve the straightness within the canter. After some practice jumps we moved on to a related distance on a dog leg. I got a bit stuck with what to do for the best and Nick helped with repetition of the exercise to gain the improvement we wanted. I found this session very helpful towards coaching.
Sam then taught Simon on one of Nick’s young horses. She chose to put them through a grid comprising of 3 elements, which were gradually built up. She also worked hard on the horse’s straightness and on Simon’s position which of course would influence the horse’s way of going.
We finished the day talking through ways of using poles for training of young horses or convalescing horses coming back to jumping. The whole day was very informative and we were very lucky to see such different horses with different problems.
I understand that Nick may run another day next year and I hope more of you take up the chance to join in.
School Farm, Honeydon, Bedford – April 09 – Report by Judith Murphy