Monday, June 16, 2008

Courses for horses

On Saturday, Sam P attended the first combined training clinic run by Horses'n'Courses at Hickstead Showground. Her trainers for the day were Chris and Karen Wellings, and they covered flatwork in the morning and jumping in the afternoon...

"I have to be honest and say I really didn't know what I had let myself in for! I was unsure how many people would be in my group, what we would cover and what I would get out of it. As requested, Lottie and I were in the lovely all-weather surface at 8.45am to warm up and be ready to start at 9am.

"In the first lesson, there was only me and one other lady, Anna, with her stunning 15yo chestnut gelding. This was lovely – it felt very one-on-one and personal. Anna and I had similar horses that were a bit dead of the leg, so Chris made us concentrate on the horse’s responses to the rider – they had to go when told, turn left and right and stop/slow down on request. 1hr 15mins later we both had more forward going horses that we felt were doing all the work, whereas at the start it felt like the horses were on a ‘joy ride’ as Chris said, with us doing all the work.

"After a three-hour break (during which we got to watch the other lessons) we were back on and ready to take what we’d learnt in the morning and put it into practice over fences. This time there were three of us in the group. At all times the fences were kept relatively low – it was more about us keeping the horses forward and confident.

"We started off with some gridwork to get the horses thinking for themselves, and then we moved on to a course and practiced over it with some jump off turns. I have to say, Lottie and I found this part a lot easier! Although Lottie did try a little nap over the course, with Chris’s help her temper tantrum soon subsided.

"Overall it was a great day, really worthwhile and definitely worth the money. Many thanks to Simon Gaskin, owner of Horses’n’Courses for organising my day, and to Chris for putting up with me and Lottie!"

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