Report from the F&I Training Day with Judy Harvey FBHS

29th April 2024.

Morning report – from Mandy Chaffin BHSI.

I was privileged to have a lesson with Judy Harvey for the F&I study day at her yard near Milton Keynes. The experience was hugely beneficial to myself and my horse “Dailmer” who is a 9yr old warmblood as we have recently stepped up to Prix St Georges and have been struggling with the right to left flying change in particular.

Judy had fantastic ideas with exercises for us to explore and help develop the suppleness within all three paces, travers in both trot and canter were ridden in a more forward pace which really opened up his stride.  We then took this into the leg yield across the school and varied each time where we asked for the change.  In the walk, which with my horse at times can be fragile, we used the pirouette on each rein to slow him down and generate more suppleness through the inside leg and staying within the pirouette for several revolutions to let him breathe and relax. This work got both myself and my horse more elastic in the back and improved the suppleness, and a great new word that Judy used to aid me in achieving this was “Elasticise”.

There was a similar theme with another dressage horse ridden by Maggie Dole and an ex-racehorse ridden by Lisa Spence.  During these sessions work was done on creating more suppleness in the body which allowed the riders to slow down and create more elastic movement through the basic paces. It was clear this relaxed environment had a positive impact on each partnership.

Reflecting and observing the other partnerships, a similar theme came across in all the sessions in the morning which is to keep things “Simple”, “Honest” and “Quality”. A great take home message for my own training and coaching, I left feeling inspired and excited to continue my journey.  I was grateful for the experience a huge thank you to Judy for the brilliant exercises and tips, and to Ann for organising an informative and educational morning.

Afternoon report – from Sally Jackson BHSI.

After lunch we watched two brave F&I members coach a session each under Judy’s watchful eye.  This provided an opportunity to hone exam coaching techniques for the future.

The first big chestnut horse was due to compete at Adv Med the following weekend.  The session began by looking at transitions and then moved onto some leg yielding and then ½ pass.  We were reminded that often the picture from the outside of the school where the assessors would be sitting, could be quite different than from the centre of a circle where the coach may be standing, a reminder to move to the side for some of the time to get a different perspective.

Work then moved onto the changes, where the horse was anticipating the left to right change after the turn onto the diagonal.  Judy suggested maintaining left bend for a little longer, then moving the horse away from the right leg…  this kept the horse on the aids but then there were a couple of changes which were late behind, this was also swiftly rectified!

Judy reminded us all of the need to have a lot of exercises in our back pocket ready to deploy in an assessment situation. If still struggling for a result it might be worth suggesting that a horse needs a little more time to develop and work on the quality of the pace!

The second horse was also working at Adv Med.  Work began looking at his shoulder in and travers and moving the horse on and back within the trot.  The coach then looked at the ½ pass with a focus on the correct use of the inside rein and balance of the rider.

There followed a discussion on how to address the guinea pig or customer in a coaching session.  Sometimes as coaches we fall into habits which are completely subconscious but when preparing for assessment we must re-evaluate our language and make sure that we are using the most appropriate terms.

The horse was then worked through some more basic transitions on a 20 metre circle as he was starting to sit behind the bridle, this was very effective.

To finish off Judy suggested that it might have been good to look at the horse’s canter as this was his highlight.  She stressed that both coaches were on the right track and to keep practicing assessment technique until becomes second nature.

What a great day we all had, lovely horses, talented riders, great friends and great training…… and most importantly we managed to stay dry!

Thank you so much to Ann and Judy for holding your nerve yesterday with the heavy rainfall and allowing us this opportunity to get together and learn.