Despite horrendous weather which brought rain, hail storm, more rain and more rain water everywhere I've had a super day. Since I decided that this year will be very much about watching higher level trainers/coaches and learning as much as I can I am trying to go by that aim.
It's not always easy to swap a day of teaching (and earning) for a day of some unpaid training education but if I didn't try to get better I wouldn't see much point in doing my job.
Today I had a chance to zoom around Tweseldown racecourse and British Eventing XC venue (http://www.tweseldown.co.uk/) with its manager and an international three day event rider-trainer, Brynley Powell. Bryn took two riders XC schooling on their Novice/Intermediate level horses to sort out some xc technique issues and boost rider's confidence.
I've never been to Tweseldown before but I must say the ground is keeping well considering how many buckets of water per square meter had already gone into the soil!
I will be grooming there for a friend and her horse at a Pre-Novice event on the 18th of April so it was good to be able to have a look around. I hope the weather is better for her (and me!) on the day!
This morning on the course was all about confidence and technique that allows the rider to feel the horse, that doesn't disturb or worries the horse and that allow riders to ride a flowing round. The objectives were certainly achieved!
The other thing worth noting was how the positive comments were mixed with constructive help. There was no negative coaching there at all. There are trainers out there who, although might be good riders themselves and have knowledge to offer, the way they pass it on can destroy a lot of trust and confidence in the rider...and the horse.
As one of the riders said today: 'If you have a relatively good rider who wants to improve more you can't just strip them off everything in one go. Even if what they do isn't ideal, it might suit that horse, that combination. If you take their skill and confidence away there is not much left to run on...'.
As Bryn later added, if you want to teach a rider something new, something better, you must first make sure it doesn't take their confidence away. This is because jumping and XC are 90% confidence.
Some coaching techniques are really mind boggling to me and I wonder whether some trainers just try to cover up for own inadequacies by bringing their riders down.
Then off to watch Bryn teaching two show-jumping lessons to two very different combinations with different problems to solve. I liked the way he chose jumping exercises to help with particular issues rather than throwing plenty of tasks at both horse and rider.
I volunteered to drag the poles and jump wings around so I could get the feel for what he was setting up and what distances he was using.
I've invited Bryn to get involved in Eventing side of coaching within the Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy project and he kindly agreed!!! I have this idea that is part of Academy project but I can't really talk about fully yet. However, it looks like it might be very real :) Let's not rush though.
I then fit in some riding in the rain and lunged Kingsley (in freezing cold, my hands almost froze to the lunge line, not impressed). He's now been on Bute for a week and had new egg bar shoes put on yesterday. Amazingly, he looked way more level AND his canter was 3 beat! I wouldn't go as far as to say he looked sound but the improvement is encouraging. I will lunge him again on Friday and post both videos together.
Well deserved rest now!