Jason Webb’s blog: how to help your horse deal with their ‘demons’

  • It’s been a while since my last blog, and lots has happened in the meantime.

    Our series of evening presentations, ‘The Horse Talks’, were kicked off by bitting expert, Gill Batt, and we’re looking forward to welcoming top performance psychologist, Charlie Unwin in a couple of week’s time. Our amazing new function room, ‘The Barn’, is perfect for these events, and it has also transformed our camps; it’s a great place for everyone to get together for meals and chats.

    It was just over a fortnight ago that we ran our autumn three-day camp, where we hosted 15 riders and horses for a range of activities from jumping to farm hacks and mounted games. However, the main focus was on negotiating obstacles; from poles on the ground, to tarpaulins and bridges, with our water jump as the ‘finale’! Before we embarked on training our horses, I went through the processes that horses go through when they encounter a spooky object, and what the rider needs to do to ensure they don’t exacerbate the flight instinct, while encouraging the horse forward without resorting to bullying or force — the horse should always choose to do it, but it’s up to the rider to direct them towards the right choice. All the campers achieved more than they thought possible, with them all happily splashing about in the water by the end of the three days.

    Helping a rider on our recent camp

    It’s not just recreational riders that need help with these issues. I have been working with some lovely event horses that are having problems with ditches and water, and some dressage horses that baulk at ‘monsters’ in the arena. The processes are the same whatever level the rider and horse are working at, and all require the rider to be adaptable in their seat and rein contact, which can be difficult after years of cultivating the perfect dressage seat!

    On the yard, we really have been spoilt this year by the quality of young horses that have been in for starting, but every now and again, one comes in that we all fall in love with. Pasha (pictured below) was bred by Classic Top Stud, and he was bought by Gemma, who has just had her first baby. Pasha was with us for our six-week starting programme, and he didn’t put a foot out of place for the grooms or for Hamish and I training him. He is the whole package with a great temperament, beautiful paces, a scopey, easy jump and stunning looks. Even though Gemma hadn’t ridden for a year, she felt totally at home on him during the handover process, and we can’t wait to follow their progress out eventing in the future.

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    Usually at this time of year, we start to slow down a little, but looking ahead we have lots of events leading up to Christmas, and a full training yard of horses. I am due to demonstrate at The Horsemanship Showcase and Horses in Motion at the end of November, and we open our doors on 7 December for our Christmas coffee (or mulled wine!) morning, which is always a fun way to kick off the festive period. I have closed the yard for a couple of weeks over Christmas to recharge the batteries, but I’ll use the time to work with my own horses and my daughter and her new pony. In particular, I am looking forward to competing my own JJ (pictured top), who is now working at medium level, and bringing on my awesome young Australian Stock Horse stallion, Haydon Oracle; they’re like chalk and cheese, but both make me grin from ear to ear!


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