Gill Watson, who trained the British junior and young rider teams to win 96 medals over 30 years, has set up a new training initiative on her retirement from under-21 squad training.

“I feel there is a void in support for riders making the big step toward CCI**, CCI*** and CCI****,” she said. “I am planning a series of structured training days for such riders, encompassing as many aspects as possible to make this next step less daunting and so that riders are better prepared, and most important, more confident.”

During her time training the under-21s, Gill (pictured) says she realised how much more information riders could usefully know and how important it is for them to establish a good system of training, management and organisation, particularly in connection with three-day events (CCI).

“Generally riders go to a trainer to learn a specific riding skill and do not seek an overall view of what is needed at different levels of competition, so they often end up not being aware of all parts of a complex equestrian puzzle,” said Gill, whose current pupils include New Zealand four-star rider Lucy Jackson.

Gill plans to cover the following topics in the courses and may invite other experts to contribute, too:

  • Improving arena craft to maximise dressage marks (Gill is a FEI-listed dressage judge)
  • Showjumping course-riding at the correct pace
  • Using gears and riding smooth lines cross-country
  • Horse and rider fitness
  • Preparation for, and presentation at, both vet inspections
  • Care of horse after cross-country
  • Understanding the rules
  • Forward and contingency planning

Help would also be available by arrangement at events with warming-up, course-walking and general support.

Training days will start in January and further days will run each month. You can sign up for one day or a series. Spaces on these courses will be limited in order to give plenty of individual help.

First dates: 24 January at Tetsworth, Oxon, for CCI***; 26 January at Tetsworth, Oxon, for CCI**; 31 January at Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, for CCI** and CCI***; 2 February at Mayfield, East Sussex, for CCI** and CCI***.

More info: www.gillwatsoncentre.co.uk or contact Gill, tel: 07860 533357.