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Matt Jenkins’ dressage diary: getting out of my comfort zone

So, I hate to go on about the weather, but MORE snow, really?! Yes, the latest batch was slightly less disruptive than the previous lot, but it’s getting a little tiresome. Fingers crossed that rubbish is over with now. Can you tell I hate the cold? We managed to keep going this time, and even got the boys out for a last minute hack just before the snow started, which was a bonus!

I have been busy teaching of late. I try to bring a precise and methodical way to my teaching, as well as making it fun and easy for the combination, after all training horses should be enjoyable! I lots of good clients to teach at the moment. It’s great to be able to pass on the knowledge that has been given to me from my trainers.

I’m lucky to do occasional clinics and rallys for riding clubs, as well as teaching individuals. This is a great way for riders to test out different trainers and training methods. Recently I had a great morning teaching for the Severn Vale Riding Club. I taught three groups with four riders in each, split into beginners, prelim level and novice level. It’s always enjoyable to have such a wide and varied set of new combinations to give a taster of my training and see improvements in just one session. I have had many influences thoughout my ridden career and I continue to have tuition myself, not only to improve my riding, but to also pass this onto my pupils. After all with horses, you never stop learning.

I’ve been lucky enough to have some lessons with Jose Luis Valdes since my last update. Jose Luis runs the VDC stud near Albacete in Spain. He is a grand prix trider, trainer, judge and breeder. He has trained many horses to grand prix and has worked with many world renowned trainers, including Klaus Balkenhol.

Jose Luis had both Stig and Dalito focussing on their lateral work, with the idea that the movements in a dressage test are there to help train a horse and create balance and self carriage. With both horses we worked on going from shoulder in, to haunches in, then to leg yield and half pass, with Stig even moving onto some half pirouettes and flying changes! 🙂

Some of the work was a bit wobbly, but Jose Luis believes you have to allow the horse to make a mistake, before you can improve the movement. If you never try out some of the tricks, you won’t ever know if you can do them! I am guilty of sometimes staying on a 20m circle until everything is perfect, so it was good to be pushed out of my comfort zone a little and crack on. Jose Luis is here for another few days before he returns to Spain, so I will be able to benefit from his help a few more times this week.

As my horses have been working hard, they have been benefiting from some regular treatment from my good friend Laura Browne. Laura is a McTimoney practitioner, as well as being an accomplished competition rider and groom, so is excellent at spotting signs of stiffness or resistance in a horse and can treat them before a problem arises. Laura is very open minded to new techniques and research, so it is great that we can discuss any problems I have with my horses and work together to ensure they are in tip top condition for the competition season ahead. You can check out Laura’s website at www.lbmctimoneytherapy.co.uk

We have had many new arrivals come and go in the past few months at the yard. I recently backed Harley, who is a livery at Crown Farm. Owned by Becky Edwards, he has always been an opinionated little fellow, but was quite possibly the easiest horse I’ve had the pleasure of backing. He has now been turned away to grow and mature before he starts his ridden career.

Last week Zac arrived. He is a thoroughbred ex-racer owned by Sue Creswick. He is such a charming horse, who just loves to please. He has come to me for a couple of weeks, just to get him carrying himself a bit more. He is an absolute pleasure to train and loves to trot his socks off, especially when there is a fancy warmblood watching!

Ihave a busy few weeks coming up now. I have my first competitons booked with clients’ horses. And I will hopefully be working the boys in front of an Olympic rider, as well as them enjoying treatment with a chartered physiotherepist, the lucky devils. Watch this space!

Matt

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