Jason Webb’s blog: Starting dressage royalty

  • So much has happened since my last blog! We had an amazing time on holiday in the South of France followed by some crazy adventures in the Alps where the paragliding, mountain biking and white water rafting certainly satisfied the adrenalin junky in me.

    We arrived home with the Olympics in full flow and ever since I have had to put up with: “Where were the Aussies on the medal table?” Gone are the days when Australia had the upper hand over the Brits in the sporting arena!

    I also had my own sporting trials to deal with. After five years of success, my polocrosse team had to settle for second best in the National Club Championships after we lost the final to a very hungry Highlanders side. On the flip side, my young mare, Breeze, lived up to my expectations and I think she will develop into the best polocrosse horse I have had. Our club, Kent Target, also won the overall trophy. We had a blast watching my son Jack play in the novice juniors too; for a boy who isn’t particularly fussed about riding, he certainly enjoyed going as fast as he could!

    Jack showing off some of his skills

    Jack showing off some of his skills

    Back on the yard, we were very excited to be sent three beautiful young homebreds from Dr. Bechtolsheimer and his daughter Laura Tomlinson to start under saddle. It is always lovely to be entrusted with horses from top riders and studs but I do have to remind myself that horses are horses and they don’t know who they are owned by and what price tag they have on them!

    Having never left home before, it took them nearly two weeks to settle. Now they are in their new routine they are comfortable around the yard and are being ridden round the farm and lanes. I did have a heart in mouth moment when ‘Ice’ went slightly footsore but thankfully it was remedied with a couple of days off and some front shoes popped on. They are all different characters but feel great to ride and who knows, there might be a superstar among them.

    Dr. Bechtolsheimer and Laura Tomlinson's homebreds

    Dr. Bechtolsheimer and Laura Tomlinson’s homebreds

    As part of my own education, I have continued to see other professionals from all areas of the equine industry; from Emmett Technique therapists, to equine dentists, farriers and of course, other trainers.

    I had an interesting session with a positive reinforcement trainer. She was great at explaining the science behind these techniques, which are similar to the clicker training technique with dogs, and I am sure I will use some of the ideas we covered in certain areas of my own training.

    With all of this education, the aim is to make myself more knowledgeable and in turn, be able to impart more knowledge to those I teach. In the next couple of months I have some great opportunities to do so, from various demonstrations, clinics, a leadership training day with JLT insurance, Your Horse Live in November and a big launch party for Your Horsemanship, my online training programme, on 8 October (to which you are all welcome to come!).

    With Annie, my assistant trainer, currently recovering from a knee operation and the fact that I am approaching my fortieth birthday next year (and nearly twenty years in the horse industry!), I have used this summer to take stock of my business and how it works with my family. Anyone reading this that is self-employed will no doubt recognise the difficulties in trying to maintain a work-life balance as the temptation is always to take on more work and strive to get “bigger”. For me, that meant taking more horses on the yard and employing more trainers and grooms to work alongside me. However, I have taken the decision to reduce numbers on the yard for the foreseeable future in order to devote more time to Your Horsemanship, to teaching and of course, to my family (although in reality this will just mean more driving around the county to various sporting activities with my kids!).

    Continued below…

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    Although I will ride fewer clients’ horses, I am hoping this will allow me to have more time to train horses for sale and even get into the dressage arena myself. After years of starting young horses it would be nice to do more of the finishing side of riding; it’ll be strange to ride a horse that goes in a straight, rather than wobbly line but I’m sure I’ll get used to it!


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