Pammy Hutton: ‘A horse has the reasoning powers of a seven-year-old child’ *H&H VIP*

  • We all need something to lure us outside on winter mornings — so I’ve bought a young horse by Fidertanz. Having allowed many others to compete my horses lately, this one’s for me!

    She was within my strict price range, has athleticism, a kind temperament, moves better than any other horse I’ve had, is easy to ride and is only just four. What better incentive for another 15 years’ riding?

    And why a mare? Well, I like nice horses. A gelding can be more trainable, a stallion can be brilliant or difficult and a mare similar. But a mare who gives you her heart tries even if the rider makes a mistake.

    Having ridden only advanced horses recently, the re-remembering of those basics on a young horse will do me the world of good as a trainer.

    “Do I change my diagonal in the middle, or at the end when going across the arena?” I was caught out by this question, but recalled that the latter disturbs a rising trot rhythm less than going bump in the middle.

    Much is said about riding at a certain level to be able to train well at that level. Surely that applies at both ends of the competitive scale.

    How much?

    “To be or not to be?” That’s been the question over the promised new under-25 European Championship. As I write, the FEI says it will be in Hagen, Germany or Lamprechtschausen, Austria some time this year.

    I hope Britain tenders to host it in the future; we have great venues and it’s so expensive to go abroad. At close on £1,000 for a return channel crossing, stabling, entry fees and time off work, there’s little change from £3,000 per trip.

    One ought to do two trips to be considered for team selection, plus hopefully a championship. Finding £10,000 for one year’s international campaigning is no mean feat for the up and coming — and, no, this trainer/mum won’t sleep in a tent!

    With plus-70% scores required for European young rider, junior, pony teams and under-25s, Addington High Profile results indicate a ton of work needed to warrant sending teams this year. Though in mitigation, some pairs were missing.

    Learning from the paras

    A friend taught by Paralympic medallist Nicola Tustain remarked on how much there is to learn from how the paras ride.

    No force but lots of energy, proper use of the seat, giving hands and signals from body position. Getting the horse on your side is key, via gradual work for a relaxed result.

    Positive use of the thought aid was well written about and taught by my late mother Molly Sivewright. Rio candidate Anne Dunham concurs. This multi-medallist has helped many of my able-bodied pupils, including our daughter Pippa, especially with getting the best from a horse when under pressure. So what’s the secret?

    “I certainly don’t have a strong kick, so I’ve learnt to ride with my head,” says Anne, who means this both literally and figuratively. “If you look where you’re going, your body position reacts and communicates your wishes to the horse.”

    Getting inside a horse’s head is also vital. Anne is one of the generation of para riders who competed on borrowed horses. Her starting point is that a horse has the reasoning powers of a seven-year-old child.

    “Incentive works better than getting cross,” she explains. “It’s a partnership, though horses need the security of the rider being the dominant partner.”

    BHS, please find a way to include para riders who are already qualified to teach within your system. Every BHSAI does a great job, but surely world class riders like Anne and Nicola, to name but two, deserve recognition? Just because they don’t jump as required for BHS exams, can you afford to ignore what they have to offer?

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 28 January 2016