A huge thanks to Pammy Hutton for a fantastic training day. It is wonderful to see what a life time of hard work, dedication and passion can create. The New Talland is a purpose built British Riding School that is setting a standard that could almost be impossible to imitate. Two huge barns are evident as you drive down a long drive to an enormous car park, one holds 64 stables, tack rooms etc and the other for riding. I was impressed in every area of the business. To me the key points were the quality of horses, facilities and instructors, but the marketing, staff and overall professionalism was evident. Many of the horses had competed at CCI**** or Grand Prix, others had serious quirks and were given to the school, who then went through the Talland system and became National dressage horses!
The next area was the training facilities, obviously built with determination to get it right first time. All under one roof was an indoor school (able to fit 2 60×20 arenas), Café, 2 offices, accommodation for students, viewing gallery and as many extras as the imagination can think of! The music system was going in on the day we arrived and I ’ m sure we ’ ll see further developments as the whole business gets used to its new surroundings. The instructors all seem to be part of the training system, that also includes Pammy and her entire family as it is obviously a family run business in the true sense, with everyone living, breathing and working towards individual goals and a common objective, to train, teach or coach. Pammy says she doesn ’ t care which title people use.
Six members took advantage of the offer to ride some advanced horses, interestingly being given 1 1/2 hrs to ride and riding three times. Pammy felt it would give everyone time to warm the horses up correctly, plan a good work scheme before having a go at some party tricks. They were asked to improve what was underneath them and what they would work on if allowed to take the horse home. The riding became more relaxed 20 mins into the session and towards the end everyone was getting some super changes, improving their half pass, with collection and extension becoming more confident. Pammy commented at this point that when examining be very careful when failing a candidate on the first horse in the morning as your conscience might regret it later that evening and would suggest all candidates to find a horse to ride before going to an exam, even if it meant a 4.30am hack or canter. I read into this comment the idea that, “you do what it takes” at this establishment regardless of effort or convenience.
Throughout the day, high calibre horses entered the arena with dedicated, enthusiastic and open-minded riders on top, they were encouraged to think about the way of going for each horse and then their positions. It seemed that everyone was given exercises to work on, time to discuss problems and advice on understanding how to feel what is correct. After a quick lunch Charlie, Pammy ’ s son, rode through a Int.2 test and was applauded for his execution of the tempi changes despite having to give a Pony Club kick to ensure his horse didn ’ t switch off after 8. Competition to ride particular horses is hot at Talland, with preference not always going to family members but as reward for hard work, forming partnerships and loyalty. Horses are shared as Pammy feels that different riders can help train one horse. Riders bring their expertise to the table and horses can improve from one rider with super hands and another rider who has more upper body strength. Who rides down the centre line at a competition can also change in a day ’ s work with one rider in the morning and another later in the day, however Pammy gave Laura a ride on a very quirky horse given to her as they just seem to click. To keep the horses happy, they are trained quietly, methodically and with an understanding that training takes time. Talk to the horse, give praise and work on the good areas not just on weak points are familiar but very important comments. The horses looked fantastic, the bottles of oil, barley boilers bubbling and grooming were noted. Time off is also important to horses sometimes a weekend or 4 days, it keeps them sweet and is better than long breaks.
The message that Talland and Pammy as a person, rider and teacher is a result of her mother Molly, (who also is still involved) came across, as did the confession of an argument 2 days ago! Her mother believes in striving to ride perfectly, Pammy differs in this method and believes mistakes are going to be made so ride them at home, on purpose. Change angles in the half pass, change the bend in the neck, alter your position…. Then with the help of eyes on the ground return to the correct way of going and position, this can be put into an exercise and will put a stamp on your riders and ensures that you can feel what is correct or not. As trainer to the Para team, Pammy explained that you didn ’ t actually “have” to sit perfectly in the saddle or put your legs in a certain way as riders with no use of their legs can demonstrate to be able to ride well. The important factor is balance, and confidence and an affinity with the horse are much more important. Discussion was open and the communication between us all was super, questions were answered carefully, secrets and training methods revealed and a great time was had. The time flies when you are enjoying yourself and it seemed all too soon that the day was over.
I was disappointed not to be able to ride (I am getting used to that feeling after 13 weeks) but it was a privilege to sit and watch such a high calibre trainer working. I was surprised to hear that she trains 4 or 5 times a month with a variety of trainers, this is a good example of a life long learner and reminds me that self development is essential to the professional instructor. Although she was suffering broken ribs and popped pills to keep the pain at bay her enthusiasm was infectious, leaving us all wanting more knowledge and regretting our time was up. I have been inspired and have been quietly reminded of why I teach and ride. Her son is obviously proud of his mother and vice versa, they worked well together during the day ’ s riding bring an enjoyable personal touch to the day.
Thank you Pammy and The Talland team for such a wonderful insight into your working and training principles, to William Blane for organising the day for us and to the members who attended the day.
By Victoria Thirlby B.H.S.I (Badly Hurt Still Instructing!)