This week I have been fortunate enough to learn from two very different showjumpers during demonstrations.
The first was Matt Render, a brilliant young up-and-comer who I know from Spen Valley Riding Club jumping clinics. During his demo at Middleton Equestrian Centre he rode his two horses who were very different to each other. The first was a young, spirited beauty who he is training, I found this section particularly relatable to my own work with Leo (although we are nowhere near Matt’s standard!!).
Matt’s second horse was a lively, argumentative character with a fantastic jump. It was interesting to see how Matt adapts his training and exercise of these two beautiful animals to suit their personalities, while keeping the same core principles throughout. He is very kind to his horses and frequently rewards them for good behaviour. As the second horse rushed at the jumps Matt worked him through a triple bounce before an upright to slow him down, encourage him to think about what he’s doing and increase control that way – rather than fight for control. During lessons with Matt he often advises my friend with a similar horse to go with the speed and determination rather than fight for control- quite a scary concept! Seeing it in action makes you realise that it can be done with excellent results.
The second demonstration of the week was from Geoff Billington at Countryside Live 2018. Geoff is a more experienced showjumper and Olympian in his sixties. He is a born entertainer sprinkling his demo with stories and insight into his life with horses as well as jokes and amusing past experiences. Geoff started his demo with one of his pupils, showing how he would work with her and her horse. He then moved onto his own horses; riding an excitable youngster (5 years old), a nervous 9 year old, an excitable 12 year old and finishing on a Grand Prix horse – flying over some crowd pleasing heights! Again Geoff was a fantastic rider (as you’d expect) and kind to his horses. He shared advise that he has been given over the years and made everything understandable, even explaining terms for the none-horsey spectators.
Apologies for the blurry photo of Geoff below, it’s a screen grab from a video clip but I will share the video on Twitter (@TheYorkshireGem) and Instagram (@gemma_whitehead).
If you can get along to a demo I would recommend it, I found both Matt’s and Geoff’s interesting, informative and inspiring.