Jumping – Annual Course Report from Keysoe – 3rd & 4th January

Report on Jump Sessions with Caroline Moore FBHS.

What a treat the F&I Convention was. With Covid leering as understudy in the wings, we were relieved to see some Coaching and Learning, so it was business as usual, albeit at our new venue at Keysoe International.

Although I have seen Caroline coach, a lot, I always learn. I loved that Caroline had produced notes, posing questions, using the ‘Scales of Training’ to present a framework and to set the tone for the two days.

It was great to see the ‘Floor Plan’ of Dressage Boards, for trotting and gateways for straightness. Canter Poles on a curve and Cavaletti Bounces. I believe that this element for the training is vital for the horses’ physical and mental dexterity. And so relevant to all breeds and types of horses we work with.

Caroline’s exercises had clear progression, making riders aware of the correct way of going right from the first moments. She highlighted straightness, riding from the outside aids, accuracy on the ten-metre circles and ‘Putting the Horse to the new direction’.
It will always appeal to me, the use of language and phrases that coaches use, as descriptors.

‘Your Aids are the Boundary; Your Body is on the Line’

‘Its about taking off and landing on the Corresponding Spot’

Even the corrections were noteworthy – ‘Just go down the Cavaletti again, because the habit was begging to alter’ – “I’m just on the ground to suggest you do something different there, remember good habits”

The Cavaletti Bounce work with open 90 degree turns to uprights, and small fences ridden on 4 strides to 3 strides and 3 strides to 4, sharpened the preparation. And the Bounces 7 strides apart with raised second and first elements had interesting effects on all combinations.

On the second day the work was putting into practice the directional and rhythm skills from the first day, around a course.

The Cavalettis were used in front of fences on loose contacts, to place horses, and help them read the profile of the fences.

Caroline gave good explanations of reading the horses’ energy output, and was keen to keep riders’ rein aids low, allowing the horses to use their backs to bascule. Caroline was always making riders aware of why they may have picked up time faults when they lost
rhythm. And she set individual challenges, such as Whip changes or taking feet out of the stirrups. Creating a ‘Handy cap’ is brilliant for Comfort Zones and pressure testing.

Every rider on both days was reminded to finish exercises or rounds with correct canters, circles, and square halts. Which is what Kenneth Clawson would have had us do all those years ago. Good practice is best practice.

So I’m well and truly inspired for the new season. We’ve built the Courses at Millfield already. Plagiarism is the best compliment. Looking forwards to next year.

Report by Kirsty Fontaine-Henley.