Monday, 16 November 2015

Your Horse Live 2015

I've had a great weekend, this year I treated myself and spent 2 days at YHL.  I really felt last year that I didn't have time to see everything I wanted, as there are 2 arenas and an 'Equine Learning Zone' .  So this time I spent Saturday going around the shops, visiting the small arena and the learning zone.   Then on Sunday I watched all the demonstrations in the main arena.   As I said last year, I decided that as I had planned my trip well in advance I would buy a Standard Plus ticket for Sunday.  This meant that I had a set seat and didn't have to vacate between each demo.  It was well worth it for the extra as you get to sit much closer to the arena too!

I didn't take any photos this year, to be honest I am not sure why, I just decided not to take my camera this time.  However, I hope I inspire you to go along next year or go to something similar which might take place near to you.

Jason Webb -
This was a FASCINATING demonstration, Jason rode a horse and had a younger rider on another.  They started on the ground teaching them about personal space and not getting too close to you when being led.  The horse had to follow you and then stop when you stop.  The horses they had were young and still learning so it was interesting to see how they reacted to this!  Some of it may be interesting to try with Tommy.  However, they were lifting their arms up high to get the horses to stop and this might be too frightening for him.

Jason went on to talk about getting your horse to stand for you to mount and to stand close to the mounting block.  He showed the way to get your horse to stand closer which didn't involve you getting down from the block too!  Generally Basil will come close for me to mount but a couple of years ago I was not making him stand after I mounted and he started walking off when I put my foot in the stirrup.  Now, I make him stand while I check my girth and stirrups every time I get on, he has learnt now that we are not racing off. The mounted section of the demonstration was interesting too as he is a big fan of circles.  So if the horse gets fast or starts playing up you put it on a circle.  The circle can be big or small - it seemed to work.  The younger rider's horse was a bit unsettled and on a couple of occasions nearly started a bucking act but she popped it on a circle and it settled again.  Very interesting.

Russel Guire -
Again a really INTERESTING demonstration.  This one was about position in the saddle and how it affects the way of going in the horse.  One of the most interesting things he said was that lots of people have one leg shorter than the other and if you do you should ride with appropriately odd stirrups.  It is most important that your pelvis is straight so if your legs are forced into a level position by having symmetrical stirrups this will affect your pelvis and give you back pain!  I probably should get myself checked to see if I have odd legs as my lower back is often painful in canter.

He had his horses and riders moving around the arena demonstrating common position faults.  Lowering the inside shoulder, having the legs too far back etcetera and explained how this can affect the horse.  They were wearing the special jackets (as in the photo above) which show your upper body position faults clearly. He also said everyone should try and be videoed riding in a straight line so that they can see what they do!  I may have to try this :)

Spillers -
In the Equine Learning Zone I saw a talk by a nutritionist from Spillers.  I was pleased that she did not mention their products once and it was a really unbiased and informative talk.  She did a little quiz with the audience and it was surprising how many people still think that you can feed less haylage than hay.  In fact you need to feed between 20% and 50% more haylage to get the same amount of fibre in to your horse because of the water content of haylage.  It is also often the case that haylage has less nutrients than hay as the water has diluted them!

Nicky Jarvis -
This is the talk I wanted to see as it was specifically about veteran care.  Nicky is the head vet for Redwings Horse Sanctuary and with Chesney becoming more tricky I thought it would be interesting to get some more advice and tips.  Apart from the feeding and teeth issues which I mostly knew about and have talked about in a previous blog here.  The topic I found interesting was that she mentioned about Arthritis not just affecting the legs.  When it affects the front legs it can make it difficult for horses to eat from the ground as when they put their heads down it increases the weight on the joints.  However, Arthritis can affect any joints, this includes the neck bones and so horses can find it painful to pull hay from a haynet.  This is something that would not really have occurred to me and opens a whole new world of problems - you can't feed them on the floor but a haynet is not good either?  I wanted to ask what she suggested as the best method of feeding hay but unfortunately did not really get an opportunity.

Paul Tapner and Ben Hobday -  and
This double act were BRILLIANT.  I managed to see their morning and afternoon performances.  Much like last year Paul is really funny and he and Ben bounce off each other.  The morning was a couple of younger horses, Ben's was a 5 year old and Paul had brought a 2* horse that was an ex-racehorse.  Ben's was much better behaved!  

They basically talked about rhythm into, over and away from a jump and did lots of poles and different types of jumps.  The afternoon was similar but the horses were older, Ben had a 2* and Paul had Kilronan (who has been around Badminton).  You may notice a pattern emerging - Paul had actually brought more experienced horses than Ben and they had a good laugh about it!  

They always have a bit of competition between them and in the afternoon did some cross-country style jumps.  They practised some skinnies, corners, jumping on an angle, water trays and ditches (black trays).  Then put them all together in a course and went round to see who was fastest!  Really entertaining, great fun but interesting too.

Charlotte Dujardin -
Always a TREAT, I managed to see Charlotte's morning and afternoon demonstrations.  In the morning she was 'teaching' a rider on a youngish horse.  They worked through various exercises; leg yield, travere, single flying changes, extending and collecting.  Then in the afternoon Charlotte rode Barolo one of her Grand Prix horses.  He showed off some of his moves and Charlotte showed what she was working on and trying to improve with him.  It always feels like a real privilege to watch these talented horses and their riders.

Stampede Stunt Company -
The stunts were AMAZING.  The riders were brilliant and the horses fantastic.  The way the riders were hanging off the horses and standing on them, some of it I guess was similar to vaulting.  However, these horses were not on the lunge!  The horses must be so well trained and there must be so much trust between them and their riders to achieve the things they do.  

If you get the opportunity to see any demonstrations or talks by top riders or by other types of equine experts then do.  It is fascinating to get a different perspective on things and it can really make you think about how you do things and if they can be done better.

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Until next time!

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