Time has been moving very strangely since lockdown! In some ways, it hs flown by, and in other ways, it feels like we have been in this strange situation for ages; it certainly seems like my kids have already had their summer holidays! We have been incredibly lucky; everyone close to us has remained safe and healthy, we live on a wonderful farm with lots do to and family around us, and our business has been able to ride the storm so far.
We currently have a full yard of horses back in on training, and I am teaching individual clients again, so we’re actually as busy as we’ve ever been. It is definitely a case of “making hay while the sun shines” as I am well aware that we are heading into very uncertain times economically and socially. The thing that is continuing to be difficult is not being able to plan ahead. I have clinics and camps lined up, and a demonstration tour booked for October, but will people be able, or want to be, seated together in an indoor arena? One thing I have got a lot more practiced at is being in front of the camera! We have been live-streaming from the yard every day at 11am, doing weekly live demonstrations and Q&A sessions, and filming some training tips for my sponsors, Champion Safety, Toggi and Equilibrium Products — I’ve even been conducting vitual lessons via Zoom!
One of the horses in at the moment is here due to a rearing issue. Once physical issues have been discounted, the main (but not the only) cause of rearing is the horse being “blocked” from going forward by the rider, either by a rider’s natural reaction to tense if the horse gets adrenalised for some reason, or if the ratio of hand to leg is in favour of the hand — for example, when a rider is trying to get a horse “on the bit” by pulling rather than pushing. Unfortunately, once a rearing habit has been established for whatever reason, the horse realises it is a way of relieving pressure, even when a rider isn’t stopping their forward movement. In very simple terms, I start on the ground in order to find any stiffness or imbalances that may be exacerbating the issue, and to teach the horse to move their feet rather than throw their head up and back to get away from pressure. The ridden re-education then takes two forms; first I want to get the horse moving truly forward and enjoying their work, before re-establishing the contact, while remaining forward thinking at all times.
As I said in my last blog, lockdown has actually given my family and I some time to reassess the way we live our lives, and how we can gain a better balance as we slowly return to some normality. I am looking forward to downsizing the horse training element of the business, and halving the number of horses I ride a day. Not only will my body thank me for it, it will give me more time to work on Your Horsemanship, my online horse training resource, and my own horses (I have rediscovered the pleasure of a leisurely hack during lockdown! Pictured, top). And if I fancy taking the afternoon off to watch Jack play hockey or take Rosie to Pony Club, then I can! Hamish Gillanders, who has worked alongside me for three years, is starting up his own horse training business as an associate trainer, and I will enjoy continuing to work alongside him and international eventer, Camilla Kruger, who also rents a block of stables on the farm.
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We have also had a wonderful addition to the family in the form of Risebridge Chinook! He is by our Australian Stock Horse stallion, Haydon Oracle, out of my best polocrosse mare, Sea Breeze, and was carried by Cuckoo, a fabulous surrogate mare from Equibreed UK. It’s been a while since we’ve had a foal around the place, and he is getting cheekier by the day; watching him charging around in the evenings is definitely more entertaining than yet another boxset!
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