I was lucky enough to be invited to join the F & I Association course which was held at Coleg, Gwent (Usk).

The course was taken by Gareth Hughes. What an inspirational trainer. He worked with 10 combinations all at various levels of training from an ex racehorse to PSG.

Gareth assessed each combination, quickly identifying the “honest” strengths and weaknesses. He then clearly explained to the riders and to the spectators WHY the combination was having difficulties.

He used various combinations of test exercises to achieve flexibility, contact, forwardness and engagement, all of the time letting the exercises do the training. He insisted on accuracy, creating focus and discipline in the riders. If a horse became unsettled, he encouraged the rider to hold the exercise line and wait until the horse relaxed back into the work. He would not let the rider back off the contact to the outside rein but to be patient. If the horse became tense and started to rush he would just take the speed out of the work until the horse produced a relaxed, soft rhythm and then built the exercise back up from this.

Gareth gave us all so much to think about. To be patient, to wait, to use simple building blocks in exercises, to take time in all the work and always qualifying WHY.

I hope that there will be more courses which will be opened up to instructors who are not members of the F&I.

Gareth quoted ” As a horse develops in the training they also mature in age – you must also accept that the rider also matures – in age!”

Monday 15th October 2012 – Coleg Gwent

Report by Sally Rees Matthews BHSIT SM