Report from the evening with Kylie Roddy Chatting About Her ‘Journey with Gorgeous George’

Report from the zoom meeting of 13th December 2021 chaired by Danny Anholt, discussing with Kylie Roddy about her ‘journey with Gorgeous George’

The evening started with an introduction from Danny, where he let us know that in the first half of the evening, we would be looking at Kylie’s journey to Pau and then in the second half talking about her coaching philosophies.

Firstly, Kylie talked about her background – how she rode horses who others were struggling to ride and then, on meeting the Fox family, they started searching for a young horse. Going with another family to Ireland, she saw George, who the family first turned down as not flashy enough and didn’t move particularly well, but Kylie really liked his jump. The rest is history, and he came home with the Fox family. Basically, they bought George because of his canter, jump and attitude, not his looks!

We then saw a video of his jumping as a 4-year-old, starting off unbalanced and picking up the wrong canter leads but his intention was always to jump the fence. A definite positive. You can see in the first 2 videos, taken one after the other, how quickly he improved and learnt.

Kylie’s plan with all her young horses is to let the horses learn through repetition and lines and find their own self carriage and balance. We then saw him show jumping as a 5 year old, still wobbly and not totally classical in his way of jumping, but always with his ears pricked!

Kylie commented that, while a horse finds the jumping easy and in their comfort zone, they don’t necessarily have to have a good technique, but you can produce that in time by training them. We then saw George competing cross country and could see what a fantastic attitude he has. He has always found cross country easy until he hit advanced.

Kylie has always felt he is a 5* horse. Then we he hit advanced he suddenly had to try quite hard….. and he lost his way a bit at that level. When these horses get to the end of their comfort zone, that’s when they need the training and to listen to their rider.

Danny asked Kylie how, without having ever ridden at 5* herself, she knew he was a 5* horse? Kylie replied that all horses she had ridden at advanced felt like they were jumping through Kylie helping them all the way, whereas with George, he finds it all a lot easier so she can let him ‘do his thing’.

We then looked at the Pau course. Kylie walked the course 4 times – 3 times on her own and once with Richard Waygood. The course was pretty much what Kylie was expecting, with the waters being notoriously tricky at Pau and the distances difficult. The fences are significant in size, but George doesn’t make them feel that big with his huge scope.

George went very green at the beginning of the course and was dwelling in the air. He then grew in confidence, the bigger the fence the more open the field and the harder he can gallop the better he gets! He grew and grew in confidence and got better and better. At minute 7 Kylie started riding him home, using the big open spaces to help him.

He had a lot of running in the last half of the course, so Kylie made up some time here. There was a huge atmosphere in the main arena towards the end of the course which Kylie said was great! He finished well – he’s less than 50% tb and Kylie was concerned about his fitness, as the course was longer than in previous years, so Kylie tried not to be too greedy early, but now thinks she could have asked for more earlier on.
George is on holiday now, just had his shoes back on and started walking which he’ll do plenty of. Kylie will carry on with training ready for the season, starting with some simple exercises then testing lines and turns etc taking him back a few steps early on then hopefully being able to carry on where he left off. Hopefully he’ll be eventing in April – 2 open intermediates and an advanced. If he runs well in those then the aim is Badminton.

Kylie has a few trainers – she finds it helps her to have different eyes – Ian Woodhead is great for test riding and Adam Kemp helps the horses’ way of going. For jumping – Corrine Bracken for the show jumping, very good at correcting the way Kylie rides each horse amongst other things and Caroline Moore for cross country riding – working on her eye being in and taking Kylie out of her comfort zone.

Kylie feels that, as she gets older, she is now realising that trainers are doing things to improve you and make it better!! It’s also definitely worth trying new things and sticking with it until it feels right.

Then, during the second half, Danny was talking to Kylie about her journey. Kylie’s 3 Fs – At Forty ridden round a Five star and the Fellowship exam!

Kylie started out at Snowball Farm in Burnham. She realised that bravery was her biggest asset! Then came up through the junior and young rider route. She didn’t really know anyone but has kept in touch with all of them and has a real network of people which she can now call on. Her first horse was great, but she then struggled to find the next horse to ride at a decent level and so concentrated on doing her BHS exams.
Jonathan Chapman advised Kylie to go down the coaching route so ‘she can afford to compete’. She also spent time with Leslie Law before going to Jonathan’s. Leslie, on a bad day, said ‘Blondie, you’re never closer to succeeding ‘til the day you’re about to give up’!!

She also goes with the philosophy that we must always try to make the next chapter happier than the previous one and to ‘Make sure you’re riding what your sat on and not what you married to’ i.e., be ready for the horse not behaving as he normally does when you go to a competition.

Horses were always what Kylie wanted to do so there have been no thoughts of any other career. Kylie has tried to ride the horses which she thinks she can produce well enough. The thing is the owners need to realise that it’s going to be a long process to get to this aim. On the financial side Kylie’s income is through the livery yard, as a coach and competitor. Kylie aims to have a good, honest relationship with owners, not taking offense at their criticisms and being able to communicate the reasons for her actions. It’s all about being open. Kylie is in the good position, as a small yard, that she can give owners plenty of attention. With vets, farriers etc, Kylie uses the best around so hopefully owners shouldn’t have any concerns and again are fully consulted.

Danny then asked Kylie how she deals with disappointments and failures, and she answered by trying to make sure the next chapter is better than the one you’re in and by making sure the fault is acknowledged and it can’t reoccur. Kylie does believe in luck (even though she would rather not!) but being well prepared is the best way of controlling it. She also talked about success. Winning in her head is about achieving a goal, not necessary winning the competition. Another great quote that came from Kylie was ‘You’ve got to make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard for the horses.

Kylie likes to think of herself as being an accessible person who is approachable and willing to try again. Her way of coaching is to help riders to consider their aims, to think about what they need to work on to improve things to reach their goals.
What an interesting evening hearing all about Kylie’s successful trip to Pau with Gorgeous George and her thoughts on coaching. Time just flew by!!

Nicole Biggs BHSI