Sunday, 8 June 2014

Wicked lesson with Warren Lamperd

We had a bit of a disasterous weekend last weekend - we had a lesson with Sara-Jane Lanning planned and our first ODE - arena eventing style. Unfortunately I had to do a last minute dash to the hospital with a relative (who is totally fine now) so that scuppered all my plans. SJL was so very understanding and I'm looking forward to my lesson with her on 17th.

This week was manic with work so poor Buddy had to cope (!) with just some hacking and got away without schooling once, lucky thing. We had a clinic booked in on Saturday with Warren Lamperd and I was really looking forward to it... Until I saw the weather forecast. Thunder, lightning and tornadoes were forecast for Saturday and I would not have taken Buddy to a new place in those kind of conditions, he's worth far too much to me. I needn't have worried as although we had horrific thunderstorms in the morning, by the time the afternoon came round it was beautifully sunny.

I've never had a lesson with Warren before but had heard good things from friends, plus he's a UKCC L3 coach in both show jumping and eventing so I hoped I wouldn't look like a total numpty and let Buddy down. The group was a nice size, there were 4 of us, all of pretty similar attitudes and although Buddy was one of the greener horses there we held our own in good company.

Time for a canter Mum?
To start I introduced myself and Le Donks and we went through a potted riding history. I told him all about Buddy's injury and said how he was barefoot now. I am always wary of telling professionals this purely as there is a lot of stigma around being barefoot but Buddy is sound and this method has worked for him so I will continue to share it! Warren, luckily, was very interested and had a look at Buddy's feet and we chatted through what he thought they should look like (shorter in the toe) and I explained why they look like they do and even though they don't look like they should work they do. We chatted through supplements and then he said that I was definitely doing the right thing for my horse. Wow. I was so relieved that we were not only accepted but also approved of.

The session went really well, we started off by jumping a cross pole twice and then we were brought into the middle to analyse how our horses went and then changes we should make to improve. Our issues were straightness (Buddy) and riding too much (me). So next time round we worked on it and slowly got better. The lesson continued in this way and I LOVED Warren's approach, it made you think about key elements that you could improve on easily and those small changes made a massive difference in all the horses and riders.

Stopping for a drink in the river
One exercise Warren used with all the horses was to bring them back to trot around 5/6 strides out from the fence and then pick up canter again. It worked like an exaggerated half halt and got all the horses cantering better and powering from their hocks. The first time he used it on Buddy and I we were coming round a corner into an oxer which was around 100 and it was wide. We got a good take off spot and I was pleased with the jump but as soon as we landed Warren told me to give Buddy a pat and come back to walk. I panicked, wondering what I'd done wrong - was he lame?! Warren then asked me how the jump had felt to me - I said it felt like nothing special, we got a good spot but he could have come 'up' more. "Interesting" said Warren, "Where do you think he jumped it?" he gestured at the wings and I said maybe he'd jumped 6" higher than the back pole. Nope - Warren then gestured pretty much at the top of the wings, which were 1.60m give or take, and he said "here". What?! It felt like nothing... Honestly, nothing special at all.. I didn't have a prolonged moment of suspension or anything. Warren then told me that's what it feels like on a special horse. Big grins all round.

We finished off by adding a triple into the course, it was a straight with one stride to a parallel with three strides to a cross. The key was to get the take off right at the first element to allow them to meet the parallel easily. All the riders messed it up first time and backed off the first - Buddy ballooned the parallel and we ran out at the cross as I had slipped my reins to allow him to stretch. Once I sorted the take off point we jumped through beautifully.

My prized possession arrived this weekend - signed by the man himself!
I was gutted I didn't have a photographer there as I was really pleased with the way he went. Warren was a brilliant trainer and I will be going back to him for lessons as he made me think about my riding in a more positive way and the small changes made a huge difference to Buddy's form.

I am planning on going XC schooling again next weekend, then we have a local RC show where I can do some dressage and SJ on grass and then we have our first event booked in for the end of the month! Am ridiculously excited about getting out there again.   

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