I always know spring has arrived when a new bunch of young polo ponies arrive from the Tomlinson family at Beaufort Polo to be started!
They run one of the largest polo pony breeding operations in the UK with a number of stallions and a busy embryo transfer service.
The first “batch” is going really well. Their first few rides have progressed nicely and they have also been showing a great turn of foot cavorting round the fields together in their downtime!
I really enjoy doing these horses as they remind me of the homebred Australian Stock horses we had on the farm that I learnt my trade on.
The Tomlinson’s and their staff do a great job at getting the balance right between handling their foals and youngsters correctly, while allowing them to grow up in a herd environment without too much interference. I love the photo above of some of the group — you can tell they’re related!
Just after my last blog I travelled to Bristol to do a demonstration for the BHS at the Avon Riding Centre.
I first worked with a little horse that was a bit bargy on the ground and was starting to cause his owner a bit of trouble. Most of the work I did with him was getting him to pay me attention as this is the first step to regaining a horse’s respect on the ground.
I usually always ride at demonstrations, but this time I gave a lesson to the owner of the second horse I worked with who had been getting a little lazy and unresponsive to her aids. This was definitely more empowering for the owner and I hope it was just as interesting for the audience to understand how these problems occur and see how she improved her horse’s way of going.
After the demonstration, I caught up with my friend and top performance psychologist, Charlie Unwin. Charlie works with a number of top riders alongside other sporting superstars such as Winter Olympics gold medallist Lizzie Yarnold. I have known Charlie for a number of years now and love our in-depth chats about human and horse psychology.
We have enjoyed doing some demonstrations together in the past and we’re planning to work together again at a new event at the end of April called Total Confidence Live before organising a series of demonstrations around the country towards the end of the year.
Behind the scenes
In this day and age, running a horse training business isn’t just about riding the horses — much as I wish it was! The team and I are just as busy behind the scenes. We are just about to launch our redesigned website and a new online education program called “Your Horsemanship” that has been a real labour of love for the past three years.
Back on the yard, we are in the next phase of developing our facilities. We have just put the foundations and concrete in for an education area, new office and shop and hopefully one day, some accommodation. The added benefit from all this activity is that the horses on training are getting very used to vehicles and strange noises coming from that part of the yard!
Finally, as anyone who runs a business knows, having a great team of staff is everything and it was with great sadness that I accepted my assistant trainer, Tom’s, resignation as he heads off to the world of polo where he will be managing a yard and horse hire service.
Tom has been with us for nearly four years and has become not only a very accomplished horse trainer, but a real favourite with clients with his brilliant teaching. As much as we will miss him, we wish him all the best in his new career when he leaves us at the end of April.
In the meantime, the search is on for his replacement; they are going to be hard boots to fill!