I can’t believe we’re in November! The past few months since the first lockdown have flown by. I count myself incredibly lucky that my working life has continued largely as normal in these very abnormal times, although events like my demonstrations have gone online rather than having large numbers of people on the yard. We also had to postpone a number of camps during the spring and summer, so we were fortunate to be able to run two in September, albeit with social distancing and bubbles involved!
I love seeing riders’ confidence grow throughout the camps (pictured top), and over the years, I have noticed that there is a pattern with many of our attendees. On day one, either the horse is het up and this makes the rider nervous, or vice versa. They are also being taught new techniques that can create a little frustration or confusion, so by the time dinner comes around, they are definitely ready to unwind and maybe have a little tipple or two! Day two brings new activities, but both horses and riders are more settled and focussed and the things they learnt the previous day start to make sense in practical situations, such as negotiating water, or trying a new sport like polocrosse or Le Trec. On day three, they put all they have learnt into a series of challenges, and their sense of achievement often manifests itself in an outpouring of emotion; tears (hopefully of joy) are quite a regular feature!
As a coach, it is interesting to pick up on these sorts of patterns, and adapt your coaching practices and management of riders, horses, groups and schedules accordingly. I have just completed Centre 10’s fascinating applied psychology for equestrian coaches advanced programme, and it has taught me a lot about these themes, and made me assess myself as coach and understand where improvements needed to be made. By building a rapport, developing goals and understanding what their motivations (and fears) are, the aim for the riders on my camps is to be challenged but to finish with a strong sense of achievement. Sometimes, that doesn’t go quite according to plan; one horse took great pleasure in trying to dunk his rider in the water jump, but hopefully we get it right more often than not!
On the yard, I have some top quality horses in for starting and retraining, from a beautiful showjumping mare from the Gustavii Stud to a stunning new dressage prospect for Joe Bright. A four-year-old Dutch gelding with seriously impressive movement also arrived this week, who is going to be an interesting horse to work with. He is an anxious character, who finds it hard to settle on the ground and under saddle for his young rider. He is starting to give and relax a little though, and he is pictured below on a particularly miserable day after a successful hack and canter round the farm, so I am very hopeful he will work out for them.
Today, I have been filming for the Horsemanship Showcase that is being run virtually this year. They wanted to film me working through an issue with a horse, so we put the call out for equine “guinea pigs” to use, and it turns out there are a lot of people with clipping, mounting and spooky horse issues! As I have been doing a lot of filming for my online horse training programme, Your Horsemanship, I am getting pretty used to being in front of the camera, and although they say never work with children or animals, the frustrating retakes are getting further apart than a few years ago, and I really enjoy it now.
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Credit: Jason Webb
Jason brings us up to speed on what he has been up to, including helping one rider with a horse
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I also like watching and listening to other people, too. I had a great webinar for my Your Horsemanship members recently with Gus Olds, a personal trainer who specialises in helping riders. It made us all reflect on that fact that many us focus so much time and money on getting our horses “right”, but invest so little in our own fitness, nutrition and health! With that in mind, I am happy to say that I have taken up a new sport. My son, Jack, has just completed England under-16 hockey trials, and as hockey is a major activity in the Webb household, I have taken up a stick and joined Penny, Jack and Rosie at the local club. Team sports have always been such a major part of my life, and I am really enjoying the new challenge, although slightly frustrated that I’m not better at it… I guess practice makes perfect though, and I am enjoying the challenge!
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