Where We’re At
Ah! The joys of the indoor school... I had almost forgotten what it is like to have permanent accessibility to working indoors. My 19 years in Scotland had allowed us access to one of the most beautiful indoor schools in the world – dare I say? – at Ladykirk in Berwickshire... but that meant a trip in a box or trailer and except for demos, I never had the time.
Now I feel truly spoilt again as Prazer my stallion is at livery (for the first time in his life) and I have to confess I am enjoying the experience too. No more arranging extra help for groom’s days off or worry about the weather when a student is travelling 100 miles for just one lesson – yes, they did! – no wind to get under my schoolmaster’s tail and make what should have been a smooth transition into a rather hairy one; no poo-picking or dealing with weeds and leaves! And yes, all those of you who own or train in outdoor schools will know what I’m talking about.
So here we are! In Suffolk – at Water Farm, Raydon which boasts both a comfortable indoor and a magnificent 20 x 60 outdoor manege as well. We are truly spoilt for choice. To start, as you will read in the latest CRC section of TU when it shortly goes up on this website, we did lots of turn out for Prazer indoors. Luckily, this has very high sides which is just as well, since across an American barn style corridor, reside 10 boxes which amongst other things, contain some mares! Apparently, they all simultaneously came into season when His Highness arrived!
Gerda has bred a number of German dressage over the years, both in England and Germany, including some fine Wesphalians and Oldenburgs among her progeny.
There are other things which make livery very tempting when one reaches a certain age! The camaraderie of the stable is very pleasant, it’s great having very little responsibility over feeding, working, dentistry, farrier arrangements. Gerda brings in an excellent equine physio on a regular basis and of course, a busy working yard is a great venue for lessons, clinics, competitions and small demos. The latter I hope to do on a regular basis from now but due to demand and the fact we try to keep numbers down to no more than 60, we will probably run two or three on the same topic every quarter. So keep an eye on Diary Dates. After the next Demo on The Classical Seat, I want to move on to the topic of The Leg Aids in the autumn. This topic, I feel is much misunderstood in the average riding school, to the detriment of the horse’s understanding.
I am also planning indoor Balance & Bodywork workshops on a regular basis. Not just at Hadleigh but further afield if people are happy to organise this for me. All we really need is a decent size village hall, where no one objects to a crowd of ladies and gents doing stretch exercises, developing their core muscles on the hula-hoop (yes!) and practising their downward transitions on their own two feet! Yes, it can be hilarious... but it can also change your riding life. And one Grand Prix rider who shall be nameless said that attending one of these with her students did more for her than she had ever thought possible. I was thrilled when she told me it had transformed her left canter pirouette... but I was not surprised. It’s all down to improving ones weight aids.
I already have one fully qualified Weight Aids (Intermediate Stage) practitioner in the north of England, Claire Whitfield who attended a course of lessons with me and then took quite a demanding 3 hour written – followed by a practical - exam. For anyone else keen to attend a teacher training course, this may have to wait until the winter but I would hope to qualify more people gradually over the next few years. Students have to be riding at the very least Elementary Level for the Intermediate Stage and only those riding and training at PSG and above can be qualified for the Advanced Level.
Now that I’m back in Suffolk... the work must go on!