I’m writing this having just come in from doing some weekend jobs outside and it is freezing! It definitely now feels like winter has arrived and our house is littered with various hats, scarves and mismatched gloves!
The past couple of weeks have had their highs and lows. My assistant trainer, Annie, has been doing such a great job. She is only young but has worked with me for nearly three years now, at first grooming and now handling and riding the horses alongside me. She has such a passion for horses and for learning that I was devastated when a young horse she was catching got a fright and jumped past her and dislocated her knee. With plenty of physiotherapy she is hoping to be back riding within a few months but is presently getting very bored helping Jemymah out in the office. It was actually her 18th birthday last week, so Happy Birthday, Annie!
The highs definitely included Your Horse Live 2015. It is such a huge event for us as it provides an opportunity for me to put myself in front of a large number of people and show them what I do. The team on the tradestand was busy all weekend, chatting about our services and welcoming a number of new Your Horsemanship members. In terms of the demonstrations I did, they went well but I am my own worst critic and felt they could have flowed a bit better!
In two of the demos I used Simba and Nala, the three-year-old Headley Britannia twins who I have recently started. Their 14-year-old owner, Emily, was very brave and rode with me. She did a fantastic job, even when Nala decided to show off her athleticism at one point with a hop, skip and a jump around!
The main theme of the work we did with them was to show how to introduce a young or nervous horse to a new environment. My top three tips for this are; work in the area of the arena where you and your horse feel confident rather than trying to immediately tackle the “spooky corner”; aim for relaxation and rhythm in all gaits through the use of circles and serpentines before asking for any collection and finally, make sure you have a prompt forward response as this shows that your horse is focused on you and ready to work for you.
My last demo was with my Australian Stock Horse, Diesel. After last year when he took great exception to the bugle playing the Last Post, I was unsure as to whether he was going to behave! After much indecision, I opted to do a strip show with him; happily for the audience that didn’t involved me taking my clothes off but taking off Diesel’s tack instead!
The audience helped set up an agility course for me to do, firstly on the ground with a
halter and ridden with saddle and bridle. I took the tack off one bit at a time until I was able to do the course with Diesel at liberty before riding through it bridleless and bareback. Diesel was pretty relaxed but I was a bit chicken and didn’t push him to go too fast this time, particularly as there was jumping involved!
These events also give me the opportunity to catch up with other riders and trainers. I always find it interesting to pick their brains and I had fun in Q&A sessions with the likes of Paul Tapner, Charlotte Dujardin, Russell Guire and Kelly Marks. However, biggest cheer of the day was definitely for eventer, Ben Hobday, who was back riding in demonstrations with Paul after fighting cancer. Having beaten cancer (Hodgkinson’s Lymphoma) myself as a teenager, I understand how physically draining the treatment is and it was good to see him back doing what he loves doing. Lets hope he’s back competing before too long.