If your trainer were to tell you that one thing was the secret to an improved performance and higher scores in the dressage arena, you wouldn’t believe it. We all know it’s not that easy. But Kayliegh Tupper and her trainer Char Lassetter seem to have caught on to something

Following a year’s absence from high level competition due to an injury and a virus, Kayliegh and her horse Twister recorded two personal bests at a inter 1 (69.21%) and prix st georges (68.15%) in a pick-your-own class at Cobham Manor in Kent at the beginning of November (report, 21 November issue of Horse & Hound magazine).

“We have been working on getting Twister to bend and stretch more around the inside leg,” Kayleigh told H&H. “It seems to have strengthened his back.”

Well-established trainer and rider Char Lassetter concurs: “The lateral work helps keep twister working more over his back.”

So, is working on strengthening the back muscles the secret to getting better scores and what exercises have the pair been working on?

“As a horse gets stronger through the back everything becomes easier,” says Char.

“The connection, the balance, the forwardness and therefore the movements required in the tests. But sometimes having the patience to let this develop can be frustrating for the rider.

“We’ve been working on a lot of leg yielding, especially on the circle, and stretching and transitions between and within the gaits.”

“His pirouettes and lateral work have improved dramatically,” Kayliegh concludes.

We asked Char her what it is that motivates her training.

What’s your USP?
I try to work on both the horse and the rider and to be sure the rider understands how they achieved whatever it is that they are working on.

What’s your pet hate?
Riders blaming the horse when things go wrong without thinking it through.

Share with us your signature exercise.
Shoulder-in in trot, walk or almost walk, and trot again, keeping the shoulder-in throughout.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Perseverance is the biggest talent you can have”, from Jane Gregory.

If we were to ask your pupils, what would they say you shout all the time?
I try not to shout — except in bad weather. But I guess it would have to be “shorten your reins”, “your reins are too long” and “try not to balance on the reins”!

For more information on Char and to enquire about training call Char on tel: 07850 438103

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