November Madness!

by | Dec 4, 2018 | Equestrian Coach, Horse Riding, Uncategorized | 0 comments

What a month November turned out to be! Busy doesn’t even come close to describing it all, what with teaching all hours God sends, alongside heading out for a whole heap of professional development events, I can safely say that I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as this month! It has been brilliant though, from catching up with regular clients, to meeting new ones, to running fully booked clinics, to making plans for the future; I’m very very lucky to be able to work with such great horses & clients.

I had initially planned to write loads of blogs about each event I went to, but clearly that never happened…  so I just thought that I’d get the highlights down ‘on paper’ here as a kind of recap. I absolutely love learning & keeping up-to-date with industry developments and best practice, so I’ve been on a real mission to get involved with as much as I can.

From 4 years to 4* – Lecture demo evening with Ros Canter & Caroline Moore @ Vale View Equestrian Centre, Leicestershire

Oh my goodness, I learned so much from this lecture demo, both Caroline and Ros were awesome. They demonstrated their training methods with a range of young horses, and showed both how to ride correctly and effectively over a selection of jumping questions. Caroline spoke really clearly about her training ethos and what she is looking for, as a coach through each exercise, while Ros eloquently described what she was feeling and doing as a rider.

Super inspiring event 🙂

BHS Stage 4 Teach

So I’ve started training towards the BHS Stage 4 Teach exam, which is exciting & terrifying in equal quantities! I need to feel like I’m continually learning & challenging myself to improve my coaching, and indeed the learning & progress of my clients, so I’ve bitten the bullet & booked my exam.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a BHS exam, about 5 years I think as I got distracted by competing, but I definitely want to improve what I do & learn from other coaches. This is a great opportunity to get some professional feedback on my coaching and some constructive criticism for developing my skills, with the ultimate goal of delivering better value to my clients & their horses. It’s certainly not easy to be watched & judged when you’re teaching, but it’s the only way to improve & make progress. I’ve got quite a few training sessions planned, so watch this space!

I was really disappointed to miss out on going to the British Dressage National Convention in November; I had booked tickets early & planned to have a lovely day out, but unfortunately I had managed to get myself to the point of complete exhaustion by that Saturday, and the thought of driving an hour and a half down to Hartpury just felt impossible (and probably not terribly safe). Instead, I had a lovely duvet day at home with my little girl, and basically came to a great big fat stop. It was the right thing to do, but I still wish that I could have made it there. Next year…

Event Physio – Creating rider symmetry to improve performance; the coach’s role @ Flawborough Equine, Nottinghamshire

Presented by Andy Thomas, who is currently the High Performance Human Science and Sports Medicine Advisor to the US Equestrian Team, and who has previously worked closely with the British Equestrian Federation, this was a hugely interesting day. It focussed around discussion of rider asymmetries an imbalances, functional anatomy & biomechanics, along with practical rider assessments both on and off the horse. Further we explored the role of the coach in identifying & managing imbalances, together with a range of practical exercises to improve rider posture.

It was fascinating to be involved with discussions around the approach of elite riders and how their experiences can translate to use mere mortals. Basically, physios & scientists see the same physical issues in both elite and grassroots riders; the difference being that elite riders generally take professional advice & guidance to fix the issues since they have a direct impact on performance, while grassroots riders focus almost entirely on their horse over themselves!

The biggest learning point of the day was that the majority of rider problems & asymmetries can be corrected by fixing imbalances & weaknesses in the pelvis. The key to a truly independent seat is improving control of the rider’s pelvis, hips & core.

There are a wide variety of on- and off-horse exercises which will improve the rider’s balance & symmetry:

  • Riding without stirrups
  • Riding on the lunge
  • Franklin balls
  • Resistance bands
  • Correct warm of before riding (for the rider!)
  • Pilates and/or yoga
  • Observation of the rider’s movement when dismounted
  • Video analysis

Many rider imbalances present as problems in opposite sides of the body in a common pattern, for example many riders are weak in their stabilising muscles around the right hip, whilst being excessively tight in the muscles around the left hip.

This was a brilliant day, from a true expert in their specialist field.

Brightwells Elite Performance Horse Sale @ Addington Equestrian Centre, Buckinghamshire

Last weekend, I went to the elite sports horse sales at Addington, and it was fab! I haven’t been to anything like it before, but we saw some amazing young horses and were in awe that people were actually in a position to spend £34k on a 3-year-old! It was lovely to see how well the horses had been produced; we went to look round the stables and all the horses were calm, happy and well-mannered. I would definitely think about buying a youngster from these sales; not all the horses were sold, nor did they all fetch really high prices, however they all came with a full set of X-rays, evidence of two 5* vettings over the previous two weeks, and had been started their ridden careers correctly.

It was great fun to watch the sale happening, but also to see the time & effort put into preparing the youngsters for the event. It’s definitely worth going to watch, if you get the chance.

British Dressage North-West Region – Coaches Evening @ Ashbrook Equine Hospital, Knutsford

What a brilliant evening this was! It was quite a trek across to Knutsford as I had to take the back roads since the M6 was closed, but it was totally worth making the effort to go. Delivered by Prof. Moira Lafferty and UKCC L4 BD Coach Janet Horswill, the session was designed to consider how coaches can best manage parents and children in a coaching environment, but it offered so much more. The evening was a great opportunity to share ideas, discuss issues and to brainstorm potential solutions.

The two main quotes of the evening for me were “Everyone can be excellent at their level” which really resonates with me on a personal level, and for my clients. Secondly “Tiny, tickable, attainable targets”, which rings true for so much in life, but especially for working with horses!

Anyway, enough of my madness… I’m looking forward to the next few weeks of December and the run up to Christmas (not that I’ve even started shopping for presents yet), but also to catching up with friends & family that I have neglected over the year. I know I’m incredibly lucky to have the support of my hubby and little girl, who put up with my obsession with horses in all its forms, plus some very very good friends who help with my horses when I can’t make it to the yard. It’s sometimes not easy to try & balance everything, and I really couldn’t do it without them.

Merry Christmas everyone, and here’s to making big, scary, exciting plans for 2019!

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