Tips from HOYS

On Thursday I took a little trip to Birmingham for the second day of HOYS.  Yet again I struck gold by having my day off on ‘dressage day’.  There was a Q & A in the Live Zone with Olivia Towers and Alice Oppenheimer, a masterclass with Carl Hester and the Dressage Future Elite Championship which was won by Charlotte Dujardin.  If you didn’t make it – here are the main things I took away from the day – they weren’t necessarily new lessons but certainly timely reminders.

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Stick in the stretch zone

At the Q & A I asked for any tips when getting back to riding after a medical reason kept you away from it.  Olivia answered with the ‘safe, stretch and danger’ theory – that staying in the safe zone would be not riding at all, being in the stretch zone would be gradually getting back into it and being in the danger zone would be getting out there to a competition straight away.  It made perfect sense – I’ve definitely been in danger of going into the danger zone but it was a good reminder that stretch is best!

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Remember no one gets 100%

Olivia and Carl BOTH said this!  No one gets 100% at dressage – you can seek to be perfect but you never will be.  It is a levelling thing to remember that even the greats aren’t perfect.

Even the most precious horses are turned out together

I have always been very much in the ‘let horses be horses’ camp as at my yard, the horses live out 24/7 in groups and I have seen how that benefits their behaviour.  Carl saying that Charlotte’s Vogue gets turned out in the field with Valegro just proves the value of turn out and companionship.

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Variety is the spice of life

The other thing Carl said is that the horses at his yard only school two days at a time and mix it up with hacking and pole work.  It is very easy to get stuck in a rut especially when you’re limited like I am at the moment but it reminded me of my vow to try to hack out, ride over poles, do an all walk session and a normal schooling session each week at the moment.

Aside from the horsemanship and mindset tips I also really enjoyed seeing the Musical Drive of the Heavy Horses, the Double Harness Scurry, the Mounted Games (although sadly a few ponies went lame during them), the Ridden Heavy Horse Championship, the GB Vaulters, Alizee Froment’s bridleless dressage and the Household Cavalry Musical Ride. It was a thoroughly good day out!

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