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Adam Kemp: why getting the basics right while coaching is so important

‘Consistent coaching’ was the key message speaker Adam Kemp FBHS was keen to get across to delegates at the Pony Club Conference, which took place at Hartpury College last month. Adam stressed the importance of getting the basics right due to the impact they have on riders of all abilities and explained how a failure to do this will prevent riders from progressing up the levels.

Here are some of the key points he raised during his presentation…

1. Whether you are teaching at grassroots or elite level the elements are the same, it’s about control, position, accuracy, harmony of horse and rider, planning, preparation and awareness. Those important skills you learn in Pony Club live with you throughout your riding career.

2. If you are riding around the edge of an arena you are demonstrating control and accuracy as you ride four straight lines and four corners, that’s the same whether you are a grand prix dressage rider or a C test rider.

3. A grand prix dressage rider can change their canter lead across the diagonal through a flying change while a lower level rider would do it through trot. The aim of the exercise is the same, it’s just been developed and you need to have the basics in place to be able to change your canter lead either way.

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4. If a horse and rider is yet to master one of the basics they will struggle to progress and develop their training, particularly lateral work. If you can’t ride in a straight line or create flexion then you are not ready for shoulder in. All lateral moves can be broken down into component parts such as the quality of the trot and how straight you are – if you don’t possess these basics then you will be unable to perform lateral work correctly.

5. Keep things simple and if necessary go back to basics. If you are struggling to master a specific move or exercise then look at where the issue is and why you are finding it difficult. Discover what component part you need to improve and find specific exercises which allow you to work on that before re-attempting your original goal.

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