Yes, I have been busy! Not sitting in front of my computer of late hence the “no blogs” from Megan. I have much to tell you all..... no I’m not getting married!
Firstly, I went to NZ a couple of months ago to do a run of clinics. This was my first time teaching in the “land of the long white cloud” and I really enjoyed it. Everyone was keen to learn and they want me to come back in January. ( i just might miss some of our hot hot weather over here)
Anyway, it got me thinking about the clinics I attended when I was a junior/young rider and what was expected of us. I did my first serious clinic when I was about 11 with Tad Coffin from America (but it could be Canada, I know I’ll get shot getting the two mixed up.. sorry J) He was a true traditional instructor. We did theory in the mornings and rode after that. We had to wear top boots and I only had short boots so I got my first pair of second hand leather top boots for the clinic. I was very excited about this! We also had to wear a collared shirt so I found a new one which was a red, blue, green and yellow rugby jumper(polo top) as it was cold weather. And yes, I still have that same rugby shirt a little thinner these days and it is my one and only cross country top that I still use to this very day at every competition.
He demanded respect and he got it. You would never question him, you would do what you were told and asked questions after wards. I have been lucky and never really have any problem clients in my clinics, but I do see it when a very experienced coach comes over to do a dressage clinic and because they are not in the game of telling riders that they or their horse is amazing and they actually challenge them to ride better or change something with their horse. The rider gets very defensive instead of just listening and getting on with the job of learning. (because isn’t that why they paid all that money to do the clinic in the first place, instead of making excuses they might just get something out of it.)
It frustrates me to see this happen, because as coaches we want to help and makes things better, help you get a better mark, get you to jump that ditch that you are terrified of jumping. There are very few, if any coach, that are doing it just to make money. Those that start with that in mind will not last long as you need to put your heart and soul into coaching/teaching. If your regular coach or a coach at a clinic is putting on their best effort, you need to put in yours too so polish your boots, clean your gear, don’t be late, wear a collar and no tank tops please, tuck in your shirt and communicate with them if you don’t understand, stop and ask, don’t challenge and don’t make excuses.
If you really are getting light headed because you are unfit or it is hot, don’t faint on us you can stop for a breather!
This brings me to hot weather and cooling your horse down. Now some of you may have heard of “aggressive cooling”. It is a term that is thrown around a lot in eventing circles as we get our horses quite hot on cross country and we need to cool them down after quickly.
The best way to do this is to have plenty of ice water there and once I have come off the cross country course, we untack the horse very quickly and start cooling. The water must be sponged on liberally and then scraped off with the sweat scraper in the other hand. The cooling process is achieved when the water is scraped off. as it heats as soon as it comes into contact with the horses hot body. You need 5 people: one to hold / walk the horse and 2 on each side to sponge and scrape.
Once you have done the first 3 to 4 mins of this, the horse can have it’s studs taken out and boots off as it will be less likely to try and kick you with all the excitement of finishing cross country. If there is shade, cool in the shade and walk around a bit to make a breeze on the horses skin. Keep cooling and the vets will check the temperature when the horse first comes in off cross country and then again at 10mins so you will all be very wet by the time you have your horses temperature down this could take 15mins.
I had one horse that no matter how hot or cold it was, it still took 15 to 20mins to get him comfortable again. Touching the skin will give you no real indication of your horse’s temperature you do need to pop a thermometer up his bottom. This all sounds quite extreme but it is the way it is.
So consider this, you drive to a dressage lesson on your slightly round dressage horse, it’s hot outside but you have been sitting in your air conditioned car for the trip through town to get to your lesson. You unload you horse, he feels warm from the drive, tack up and away you go. 45 mins later you untack and give him a quick hose off, you have forgotten your sweat scraper so you just load up and drive home.................. poor pony! If you can make the time to hose off and scrape then hose off again and then let him cool down in some shade and start drying before you load up to come home, you will have a much happier horse.
I always ice my horses legs after work just to get their tendons cooling down faster as well. Just like the footballers do here in Australia, they do a mad dash into the cold sea to aid in recovery after a training session.
That’s enough from me - wish me luck for the Australian International 3 Day Event CCI****. I have both Kirby Park Irish Jester and Kirby Park All of a sudden in the 4 star class.
And just a bit of self promotion here, but I thought I should let you all know. .... Jester was ranked number 1 event horse in the world last year and Floyd (Allofasudden) is ranked number 2 for this year in the final standings posted on the FEI web site yesterday. So not bad for a couple of nags from the Adelaide Hills in Australia.