Polly Williamson's Blog

  • 22 Feb 2017
  • Building confidence!

Another busy few weeks have passed but luckily we "horsey" people thrive on being busy! This last month I have taught quite a few new people. Karla Harding (who I’ve taught for 18mths now) organised a couple of groups at the large Swindon all weather show jumping and cross country course.

Kerry Alexander

There were eight riders in all, some of whom I had not met before. We mainly concentrated on the show jumping course, working on establishing a forward yet balanced canter and regaining this canter between the jumps. We then moved on to a couple of cross country fences to finish, concentrating on some skinnies. I made a small one stride double of skinnies with the emphases on how important it is to look for the line early and more important to keep the body weight correct and never to take off before the horse. One rider had such a correct rider balance that when her horse went to duck out to the side she was in a position to correct the horse and ride forward over the fence.

Last Sunday I drove to teach Karla again, this time at her neighbouring arena. We concentrated on keeping the same rhythm to the fence with me re-emphasising that she must not tip her body on landing but stay central and in balance so she can regain the correct canter quickly before the next jump. This winter, I’ve also taught a friend of Karla’s, Sophie, many times and last Sunday she explained that she had a small loss of confidence at her last show. Before we started jumping, I ensured Sophie had a good, strong canter and then quietly insisted she keep this canter all the way to the fence and not to worry too much about seeing a stride. For the height Sophie was jumping (1metre/1.05m) if her horse has the correct canter it doesn’t matter too much where the he takes off as long as the rider stays in good balance. The lesson passed really well with no repeat of confidence problems.

Katherine Heffer and Piablo

While at this same yard I also taught Katherine Heffer who I haven’t seen for a while. Katherine worked for me for three years when I was still running my equestrian business, as well as competing. Amazingly, it is now 5 years since that business was closed (due to my accident) but I have kept in touch with all 4 of the girls who were working for me at the time. It was lovely to see Katherine again (I haven’t taught her for a couple of months) and her 100% honest horse Piablo who she does BE90 and unaffiliated competitions with. Katherine has owned Piablo since he was 2 years old and he is the kindest horse.

Amazingly, given the ground, I’ve taught a couple of cross country lessons in the last few weeks. The weather has been dry enough in between the rainy days to feel confident that courses would be open. The first lesson was for two ladies who’ve had much show jumping training over the winter and we concentrated on getting back into the swing of cross country pace again, keeping the horse confident and happy. Last week I gave a cross country lesson to Kerry and Klaudia who I teach a lot at the various show jumping clinics I do. Their position and knowledge was so much greater than when I first gave them lessons over 12 months ago now. The continual show jumping training showed a marked improvement in their cross country riding. A good lesson!

I’ve given Becky Scammell a couple of lessons too, this past month, after her horse Boris had a winter holiday. Boris has come on so much since I first started helping Becky 18 months ago. When I first met him he had barely seen a pole and being an ex-hurdler was a little "upside down". By the end of last year, she had many BE placings gaining a Grassroots regional qualification as well. I’ve always like Boris. He has a good head and his eye has changed so much since I’ve known him. He used to look a little confused, unsure of what was being asked of him, but now he has an open, confident eye.

I’ve also been down to Aaron Miller’s again and gave Aaron six dressage lessons on various horses from Advanced to 5 year olds. I’m driving there again this Friday before stopping off on the way home at The Naval Air Base at Yeovilton for my husbands "leaving The Navy dinner". Thankfully we’re staying the night, so I can change and put on my party frock before joining 100 other people to cheer Tobe on his way.

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