As this month is very much about road testing the Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy project before its launch, I am trying to use any opportunity and time possible.
I had two girls coming for lessons with me to Cane End Stud and it seemed just perfect an occasion to test drive the Academy's goodness :)
Kari The Chiropractor drove down from London and watched me teaching Kelly on her 15.2hh mare. They do a bit of everything but mostly show-jumping. Having had a confidence crisis they are now building everything back up again and little mare jumped brilliantly today.
The funny thing about confidence is that the moment you lose it, your skills go. Kelly is a competent rider and having passed BHS Stage 1 she is working her way up the BHS ladder; she is starting her instructor's course at Wellington Riding in September. Although I love teaching all sorts of riders, my main passion lies in coaching people immersed in the sport as much as possible. It makes such a difference to give a lesson to someone who really wants to improve and make both their riding and their horse better.
Once I finished with Kelly I had a chat with Kari telling her what the riders needs to improve on. Knowing what needs changing for particular skill level to increase is very important.
The chiropractic care is quite a complex subject so Kari always have a good chat with the rider in private after which she "prescribes" series of exercises/movements for the rider to practice to work on the problems that came up in the ridden lesson.
We are still trying to work out how to do it so the cost isn't prohibitive for riders. There is a lot that can be done even without wonderful fitness facilities and with minimal amount of tools. When it's beautifully dry and sunny everything can be done outside :)
Here is Kelly demonstrating some of the exercises she has to do at home before her next lesson in few weeks time:
Then off to teach Natalie on her new pony. Natalie has her BHS Stage 1 and is also off to Wellington in September. She will be taking her pony with her, it's a 14.2hh mare that must have been a trotter in her previous life as her movement in trot is the biggest you have EVER seen. She is gangly and green and have a lot to learn. The plan was to work on basics i.e. rhythm and suppleness and she ended up working really nicely into the contact. Teaching Natalie today actually made me realise something. There are different types of 'confidence' when riding. I've always said/thought I'm not very good with riders lacking in confidence but I labelled "confidence" too narrowly.
There is this type of confidence that needs to be worked on and that has nothing to do with fear/nerves/worry about a horse's behaviour. I'm talking about the confidence in one's actions...the ability to say to oneself : 'I've made a mistake and that's fine. I'm now going to make it better' - as a perfectionist who hates performance failure I can totally relate to that and work on. Not sure if I'm really expressing myself well here, maybe when I know how to describe what I mean I will attempt the subject again. Either way, it was a little revelation for me and something I want to work on getting better in my own teaching.
Photo below: Natalie and Poppy after their lesson
I am now preparing written homework for both girls and they will receive exercise diagrams from Kari tomorrow. I hope they keep up with excellent work they did today.
Considering Kari has only been working with riders for a short while I am on the mission to get her as much into the subject of relevance as possible. Seeing I am based at the yard of Craig Nicolai (New Zealand eventer entered in this year's Badminton Mitsubishi Horse Trials) I thought Kari can be thrown into deep end so I arranged for them to meet and for Craig to have a session with Kari too.
I would also like to introduce you to Hairy-Field-Monster aka Frank - my new project to play with. His posh name is Small Talk, he is by Dexter IV and out of Grade A SJ mare. But right now he is just hairy...
As owners have no time to keep him in work he has been a field ornament for about a year and was last sat on in the summer last year. He is 8 years old but about 3/4 education wise. Mission one: get on ;) I would love to event him but I will see how we go with the mission 1 first. He is a lovely character, cheeky but respectful of your space. He is also very alert and very aware of his surroundings...;) I will keep you updated. he needs his mane pulled that's for sure. Once he is looking more presentable I will post more pics.
Kingsley boy looked much freer in his movement today and just generally quite happy in himself. He really likes life and people this horse. I gave him a good groom creating a bit of a carpet on the floor - the joys of moulting ponies!