Eventing enthusiasts had the privilege of learning top tips from World Champion event rider Ros Canter at a fun and educational lecture demonstration held at Reaseheath College, Cheshire.
The sell-out event was part of the ‘From 4 Years to 4 Star’ tour which Ros undertook shortly after winning team and individual gold medals at the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina, USA. The demo was attended by hundreds of competitors, coaches and eventing fans.
The evening was compered by Caroline Moore FBHS, British Eventing National Under18 and Junior Team Coach and was sponsored by Jump 4 Joy manufacturer of polymer show jumps and Stierna Equestrian Sportswear.
Ros was joined by Heidi Coy, a British junior team and individual silver medallist at the FEI European Eventing Championships 2018 in Fontainebleau. The two riders brought out six event horses at different stages of training and demonstrated a range of exercises and techniques which would help them progress through the grades.
The introductory session, ‘Training to Learn’, was aimed at teaching young horses the correct response to the rider’s aids. It included key early lessons combining pole work with small jumps and regular changes of direction, aimed at encouraging the horse to stay straight, active and able to search out and understand each challenge.
For this Ros partnered Lordships Parc Royale (Polly) a five year-old grey mare in the early stages of her career while Heidi rode eight year-old Royal Fury, her silver medal winning partner, proving that advanced horses also benefit from revisiting these basic exercises.
“It’s essential at this early stage that riders ensure that their aids are clear and consistent”, advised Ros. “The horse needs to understand what he needs to do and it’s our job to make it easy and enjoyable for him.”
The intermediate session, ‘Training to Compete’, demonstrated exercises which would enable young horses to grow in confidence, widen their experience and be able to cope with the pressures of competing.
This included the introduction of a course of new fences including ‘skinnies’ and shoulder brushes, with the emphasis on the horse holding the line through the turns and staying straight and forward.
“You need to lay the foundations and put in the building blocks early,” said Ros. “Learn about your horse, keep your aids clear and teach it its job. Build up a trusting partnership and give it confidence, then don’t interfere. Come in on a longer rein and let the horse find its own balance and learn where to put its feet.”
She also emphasised: “It’s very important that you don’t take the pressure off immediately you have finished jumping. Make yourself ride at least another half circuit moving actively forwards. This helps enormously with fitness and keeps the horse concentrating on you.”
Other exercises in this session included increasing the pace, with the rider in ‘racing jockey’ position, and riding accurate corners in a 15m square of boards to enhance straightness, activity and rhythm.
Ros demonstrated these training tips with the highly talented but quirky Izilot DHI (Isaac), a five year old bay gelding which she believes is her best future prospect. Heidi partnered Jack-Ass, a very promising four year-old with an outstanding temperament.
The advanced session, ‘Training to Win’, took horse and rider to the highest level where even the smallest mistake can be costly. Although a larger and more complicated course was introduced, the emphasis remaining on straightness, accuracy and balance, with the rider looking forward and over the fence and not at it.
The equine stars for this part of the programme were the six year-old mare Shannondale Nadia, already a BE Novice winner with Ros and another talented horse for the future, and Heidi’s 5 year old mare Indiana de Vlist.
Again Ros advised approaching the fence on a longer rein, enabling the rider to keep the body more upright and in a safer position, and using plenty of transitions to engage the hind legs.
“It’s not about the number of times you repeat something,” she told her audience. “It’s about the quality of your riding. When you are warming up you need to make sure100% of your horse’s brain is focused on you. It’s essential that your horse is with you all the way and that there is trust between you.
“You need to have power without tension to ensure quality within the paces, so think a lot about balance and softness.”
On competition nerves she advised: “Establish your system of training and follow it. Give yourself time to prepare as you would at home. Once you’ve competed, analyse and then move on. Stick to small improvements and have another go. Keep focused and make sure you enjoy it!”
Due to the popularity of ‘From 4 years to 4 Star’ further dates have been added to the tour:
- Friday 25th Januay – Wellington Riding, Hampshire
- Sunday 27th January – Easton College, East Anglia
For tickets visit www.myridinglife.com