For many years I have admired Judy’s riding, training and judging but thought she probably only had time to help the top flight riders such as Ruth Edge. Then I discovered that Ann Bostock is a regular customer at Great Horwood and with the training day presenting itself in the F&I news together with an unusual ‘window’ in my diary there was a perfect opportunity to be seized with both hands.
I feared the day would be full but found I was able to take two teenage ex advanced Eventers working at Adv Med but only lightly competed and I was anxious that I would appear very rusty in front of a well educated audience of BHS Instructors. On arrival I saw Ann Bostock and her horse looking warm in the lorry park after their lesson and then received a friendly welcome with hot coffee in the refreshing and much needed summer rain as I watched a lovely grey event horse ridden by Nettie Christey having a lesson. They were working on establishing the changes.
Feeling bolder now, I tacked up my first horse and entered the 20x60m school with fantastic truth telling mirrors along one short side.
Nicole Biggs was riding the first of her two event horses and discussing their last outing at Aston le Walls. Her second horse was younger but not as young and green as the homebred filly Sabrina Jones appeared on towards the end of my second lesson. This attractive and expressive young horse was away from home for the first time and certainly on her toes so when my older horse acted as schoolmaster to walk round beside her he did nothing to help when seeing something frightening at the C end of the school! The last I saw of Sabrina, following her successful lesson, was a calm attempt to reload for the journey home.
Having worked in as usual and explained the history, we worked on movements from the Adv Med 98 Test I was to ride the following day. Judy was brilliant in allowing me to spend the first part in canter which is always so much more comfortable than sitting trot!
I was given an excellent tip for riding the serpentine loops allowing more time to change the bend before the actual aid and Judy pointed out my tendency, being a judge, to pay perhaps too much attention to the accuracy of the movement over the quality of the pace.
We built up the lateral work using a more extreme angle in travers than one would in a test and went on to half pass, always keeping the rhythm and balance while trying to improve the suppleness and quality of the contact.
The horse in his late teens and his rider, no longer in her teens, were given frequent short recovery breaks which were much appreciated in the heat!
As a result, during my tests at the competition the following day, I could hear Judy’s wise words in my ears which prevented me from asking too much in the medium and extended paces and allowed us to maintain the rhythm. It was a huge source of confidence to have Judy’s advice with me in every movement and resulted in a win in the Medium and a miss by one mark, due to a stuck pirouette in the AdvMed, however the changes all held 7’s and I can live with 3 out 4 pirouettes on 7 until next time.
My second ride was on a large Hann/TB who I chose to ride in a double as he tends to lean into the snaffle until well worked in. It was his first outing since last autumn and he was pleased to be out.
Until he is working through there is a tendency to be rather inconsistent to the contact but Judy made no discouraging comment about the use of the DB until the end of our session. Again we worked on the Rhythm first, keeping the tempo slow enough for the horse to maintain some balance. Limiting the bend on large circles to maintain control of the shoulders and using frequent transitions to improve the suppleness and engagement over the back until the contact became more secure and the horse and rider more relaxed. Work then progressed to the canter and changes, being sure to maintain the straightness in the change and not leave it too late before a corner. We both love riding changes and do them for fun out hacking so again we relaxed further into the work and were quite happy to move on to the trot movements after another break! Judy helped in the preparation of the half passes by reminding me to point the nose towards the marker and helping me to make my outside leg more effective by keeping it on the more sensitive part of the body rather than drawing it further back when I felt no reaction.
Eventually the horse’s meter ran out and we had to finish however it had been a long session and it left us feeling full of enthusiasm to achieve more in the future.
As I drove home I was pleased to note Judy had not had to tell me once to ‘shorten my reins’ but of course there were plenty of other things to correct!
I am very much looking forward to the next opportunity, it was such a boost. If anyone reading this is having second thoughts as to whether or not to have a lesson on a day like this my advice is – don’t hesitate just go for it!
26th July 2010.
Report by Nikki Herbert BHSI
Report by Nikki Herbert BHSI