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