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.”