Last weekend I was at Your Horse Live, and once again, we had a fantastic time. I did two demonstrations; one on spooking and one on getting “forward” from a horse that is behind the leg. Contrary to previous years, I used my own horses, JJ and Beans, this time rather than unknown ones. Not only did this make my life a lot less stressful, it probably made for better demonstrations and it was a great experience for the horses.

Due to popular demand, I also let Diesel have his moment in the limelight and once again, he thought everyone was there to look at him! As well as having our “Your Horsemanship” stand there, I was also involved in a Q&A panel alongside some legends of the business, such as Monty Roberts and Geoff Billington (pictured top). I even ended up being a last minute auctioneer for Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony auction, which raised over £2,300 for bone cancer research.

Back on the yard, we had a recent arrival in the middle of the night from Holland. Dressage rider and trainer Damian Hallam’s new purchase came off the truck like a rabbit in headlights. He is very tall and the long journey had knocked him about a bit, so we gave him a bit of time to recover before we started working with him. He is related to Serupgards Salento who I started a few years ago. Since then, Damian has been quietly working on him at home and last week took him off his farm for the first time for a couple of outings and won four medium classes; the future certainly looks bright for him!

Rosie on her pony

Rosie on her pony

The stables here are definitely looking like a Land of the Giants, as in addition to “Pinky” I also have four showjumpers in for starting. One had been ridden a few times before but had developed a habit of lying down. This is an unusual reaction but can happen when the horse has run out of other options to get rid of a rider and they use this as a last resort. It has been a question of going right back to the start with him and I have found the “block” in him that we’re now working through.

Just as it was great to hear that Salento is doing well, I had another piece of good news from a former pupil. A while ago, I had an event rider in for a lesson with her young mare that had a rearing problem. She had got to the point where she was becoming unrideable in the arena at home. At events, she wouldn’t leave the start box and if she did go, she would feel like she had boots made of cement on and would often grind to a halt round the course. It was clear that I couldn’t help much in one lesson, so the mare ended up staying for a while to work through the problem.

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Horses rear for different reasons, but in most cases, the horse doesn’t take a true contact due to their being a lack of a forward response from the rider’s leg aids. There can be a steady progression from a reluctance to react to a forward cue to napping and eventually rearing. This can sometimes be caused by the rider making “forward” less attractive by trying to create a correct outline by pulling the horse together rather than pushing the horse together. Whatever the reasons were with “Livvy”, it was fantastic to see her rider, Laura, at Your Horse Live, where she told me she had won an arena eventing class at Blenheim and completed a number of British Eventing (BE) novice events with double clears! It hasn’t been an easy road for the partnership, but now she has unlocked the horse’s potential and the future looks bright for them.

It now looks as though I have another horse trainer on the yard too. My children haven’t been particularly fussed by riding up until now, but my daughter Rosie is now a fully-fledged pony-mad eight-year-old. She went to her first showjumping competition on her pony Lola and loved it. Then last week, we took arrival of Gilly, who is a bit of a legend in polocrosse circles. Standing at just 12hh, he has been playing the game for years, winning numerous awards. Rosie is already zooming round the arena with a stick and ball, dreaming of making the UK team one day and has told me that she is going to take over my business when she leaves school! I have told her that although it is an amazing job, there are definitely many ways to make a much easier living!

Jason