Warm­ing up

NZ Horse & Pony - - Training Masterclass -

Right from the out­set, Sarah tells Lily that she’d like her to turn her toe out slightly and have her knee o the sad­dle so she can keep her weight well down into her heels. “I’m an ab­so­lute ad­vo­cate of heels down equals a safe rider,” ex­plains Sarah.

Luck­ily for Lily, our lovely venue has a show jump­ing arena where she’s able to warm up and work on a few ba­sics be­fore head­ing to jump her rst spar. Sarah tells her to trot and can­ter round, to check Gri n is in a good rhythm and mov­ing into the bri­dle. She’s pleased to see Lily is keep­ing her heels down beau­ti­fully, but re­minds her to look where she’s go­ing.

“When you’re hunt­ing, you are re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing your pony safe, and you never know what’s in front of you. Some­times there might be wire ly­ing in the ground, or a hole or some rough ground. Once upon a time I was chas­ing a hound and I was gal­lop­ing pretty fast and sud­denly the earth fell away from me and I was ying through space down a six-foot drop! So, you al­ways want to be look­ing,” says Sarah.

Gri n quickly starts to re­lax into a nice shape and looks very work­man­like (top), but Sarah would like to make one small cor­rec­tion to Lily’s rid­ing. She notes that Lily tends to buckle her wrists, and wants her to carry her hands up in front of her, to cre­ate a more elas­tic con­tact.

“If there is any ten­sion in your wrist or hand po­si­tion it trans­mits through to the horse’s mouth, and I think you’d agree his mouth is prob­a­bly one of the most sen­si­tive parts of your horse’s body,” says Sarah.

To help Lily carry her hands, Sarah gets her to hold her whip hor­i­zon­tally, un­der her thumbs (above). is will help her de­velop a cor­rect hand po­si­tion and erase any tight­ness or ten­sion.

“Do you agree this new hand po­si­tion is more e ec­tive?” Sarah asks. “Yes,” agrees Lily. “So it’s up to you to put the change into prac­tice. It will take 28 rides to make an ab­so­lute, com­plete di er­ence. So by the time hunt­ing starts in a month’s time, I should see your hands and think they are per­fect,” says Sarah.

Sarah gets Lily to pop over a lit­tle ver­ti­cal. If she was warm­ing up for show jump­ing, she’d set up a cross, but on hunt day your rst jump is likely to be a 90cm spar and some­times may even be a full wire. “So you’ve just got to can­ter in pos­i­tively.”

Lily’s rst at­tempt is a lit­tle hes­i­tant and Sarah gets her to re­peat the jump while be­ing more de­ter­mined to keep the rhythm (le ). “Yes, su­per!” she says. “Did you feel the di er­ence? at’s what you want to achieve over your rst jump on hunt day, be­cause then you feel re­ally con dent.”

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