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Matt Jenkins’ dressage diary: training, training and more training

Hi everyone, it’s me again! I hope you have all had a happy horsey fortnight. I thought life would quieten down after the Nationals, but how wrong was I?

The boys have been cracking on with their training. Stig has been working on the strength in his hind legs. In the school we have been doing LOTS of transitions and starting collection work. Of course, then the straightness goes out of the window — but we’re getting there. Hacking has also been a key factor, walking and trotting up and down hills, with the odd trip up the gallops too!

Dalito has been working on his balance and his general fitness. Rhythm has been an influential part of improving this.

Woody, the ex-racehorse owned by my client Jane, is also improving greatly. Rhythm is the sticking point with Woody and working consistently from the rider’s leg to hand. I’ve been doing a lot of slow work with him and lungeing to help build up his muscles. The grazing at Crown Farm has helped him put on a lot of condition.

We have some new additions to the team! Emilius is a 3-year-old Dutch warmblood who has come to me for a short stay to continue breaking him in. His owner, Samantha Gibbs, and her boyfriend have done a fabulous job in handling him and doing a lot of the groundwork. It was my job to climb onboard and start the education process of having a human on his back! He is proving to be very straightforward and talented with huge paces. Emilius is being a superstar in the school, so the next step is to venture into the big, wide world of ‘off roadhacking!

More permanent members of the team are Branston and Dolly P. They are both foals that I have purchased from Court Farm Stud near Ross on Wye. I chose them for their super movement and fantastic temperament. Branston is a bay colt by Bertoli. Dolly P is a bay filly by Dimaggio. I’m very excited to watch them grow up and, all going to plan, start their ridden career and education in a few years time.

My teaching is going from strength to strength. I do the majority of that around Bristol and have some great horses and riders to teach. Within this trainer’s role, I love going to help them warm up at shows, whether it be unaffiliated or affiliated eventing or dressage. It’s great to support my clients and see them develop as a partnership, especially when they’re dressed up all posh and doing what we’ve spent so much time working towards.

The other day I went to BE event, Calmsden. It’s always different to train event horses for the dressage phase compared to pure dressage horses. Something I think is often forgotten is that it takes a lot of skill to ride an accurate, fluent dressage test on undulating grass arenas. It gives such a different feel to both horse and rider to that of an all weather surface AND they have to wear studs. The combination then have to be careful and accurate over a set of showjumps and then bold and brave enough to tackle solid obstacles, whilst galloping over undulating ground. I take my hat off to them!

Over the next couple of weeks I’ve got lessons with the boys planned, a visit to see my gorgeous foals, along with the usual riding and teaching. Thank goodness for the indoor school as the winter months approach!

Until next time…

Matt

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