It has been quite a while since I’ve had time to write a blog; I’ve barely had time to catch my breath let alone get my brain going to put pen to paper!

Since we got back from Dubai over Easter, I’m not sure I’ve had a day off as I’ve either been training the horses on the yard or zooming off round the country to teach and assess horses off-site. However, I did manage to fetch the most important new arrival; Lola, my daughter’s new tiny and very pretty pony. Rosie is completely smitten (pictured top) and Lola seems to be ruling the roost already!

I have had two horsemanship camps over the past three weeks; one at home and one in St. Agnes, Cornwall.

I have been running them for three years now and its great to see the progress in the “regulars” and seeing the confidence develop in those at their first camp.

On my way back from Cornwall, I dropped in to Laura Tomlinson’s (nee Bechtolsheimer) yard to help her load a youngster of hers. As with the majority of loading issues, the problem stemmed from a lack of a cue to go forward when being led. This rarely bothers us as handlers until the horse is asked to go into a space it doesn’t want to! Once I had put a good forward cue on the mare and opened up the horsebox partitions as much as possible to create more space, she loaded well. I am looking forward to following their progress as Laura thinks she is definitely a “keeper”.

During the camp at home, I also managed to fit in an evening demonstration in aid of the Kent Air Ambulance. I used three horses; Jazz, a young eventer, Eva a horse in for starting who I took onto the field and demonstrated some exercises to help with separation anxiety, and my own Diesel who played up to the crowd as ever!

Jasontalk

Jazz

Jazz has beautiful movement with a bold jump and has been well trained but she has got very sour and just doesn’t want to do the job anymore. I felt she was progressing well but her owners decided that she wasn’t going to be the horse for them so she is now a permanent resident at Risebridge Farm! She has joined Beans and JJ as my “project” horses that I hope to either compete or sell once they are ready. The work I will do with her will be based on alleviating tension and getting her willing and happy to work for her rider again with schooling sessions disguised as hacks, polocrosse, beach rides and chasing my kids around on their ponies!

In my last blog I spoke about a potentially tricky four-year-old that I was starting. I’m delighted to report that he settled right down and not only was he happily being ridden around the farm but he accepted other things such as having a rug on. I felt that it was the right time for him to have a break before he comes back to consolidate the work we have done and hand over to the owner.

One of the keys to success with training horses is feeling when to give horses a break. This is particularly true of young horses who if they are given time left alone in the field at the right time, can come back in feeling as if they’ve had another month’s work under their belts. The same thing can be said of giving a horse a break within a training session or even within a particular movement, for example, the release of a cue once the horse has responded.

One of the main reasons that ridden problems occur is because horses don’t get a break from being “nagged”; they are given a cue and when they respond, the rider keeps asking for more. I tend to treat horses like schoolchildren — they get the weekends off to play with their mates, have proper holidays and within each lesson, they are given time to figure things out!

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Away from work, I am continuing to have a lot of fun on the polocrosse field with my five-year-old, Sea Breeze, who has been a bit of a handful since I bought her last year.

My club held their home tournament last weekend and in her first full tournament she didn’t put a foot wrong and ended up winning champion pony. I have been asked why I don’t sell her and make some money but as Laura said about her horse, even though they have their quirks and can be tricky at times, the good ones don’t come along too often so you should keep hold of them when they do!

Jason