This past week has been manic to say the least prepping for our first Clinic with Rupert Isaacson. I met Rupert a few years ago when I was part of a demonstration that he did and we hit it off straight away. Since then we have traveled to his base in Germany several times for classical inhand training and then during COVID, took part in online sessions.
Rupert is an exceptional individual. His background is steeped in horses but he only went down the classical dressage route fairly late in life in order to help his autistic son. Some of you may know Rupert for his work and development of The Movement Method, Horse Boy (the book and film) and his Foundation. For me, I know him as a true horseman, educator and friend. Rupert trained with some of the absolute greats, including the Valenças in order to learn his trade and his knowledge and ability to pass that on, is exceptional.
We had a wide variety of horses attend the day, everything from a just backed Connemara to horses learning how to piaffe and passage. There were so many gems to take away from the day but one that stood out for me was how to achieve the ultimate relaxation in both horse and rider. This is something often spoken about but rarely achieved. Rupert is able to read and adapt his training to suit each individual horse and rider combo to achieve this first and foremost. Secondly, he is all about the horse having fun and enjoying his work. Each exercise is broken down into easily achieved steps so that the horse understands what is expected of him or her. A true horseman and trainer!
For my part we had three horses taking part. Two owned by ourselves and one owned by a client. The youngest, our 7yr old mare, Bedelia (Suki) I have started inhand classically and had established the basic lateral work and then more advanced piaffer steps, half passes and pirouettes all from the ground. With Rupert we then started the piaffer steps under saddle. With the inhand training well established her understanding of what was required was very good and she responded superbly when asked under saddle.
I then rode my grey, Bink who is more established with the piaffe and we played around more with the quality, and training towards passage and the extended trot. He is a super intelligent horse and LOVES learning new exercises that challenge his brain and body! The third horse that I rode, I have been working on in collaboration with his owner inhand. We have developed his shoulder-in, leg yields, travers and now half pass all from the ground first and then put this into action in the saddle. We decided to try and develop his trot more and WOW did he deliver! He is going to have an amazing piaffe and passage down the line!
These training sessions are just fantastic and really spur you on to reach the next stage and to enjoy the training process. As a dressage coach and rider myself I understand the highs and lows of having horses, the hardships that come along with the joy. Having a mentor to inspire you IS CRUCIAL. This is something that I never really had during my journey until the past few years. Previously, coaches have never really gone down the mentoring route, despite this being something that, to be honest, I have craved for some time. To finally find the right people that want to mentor, that want to pass on their knowledge and expertise is just AMAZING and frankly quite inspiring in itself. This is how knowledge is and should be passed on from one generation to the next. I just don't know why it is so difficult to find people that are confident and willing to pass that knowledge on!
I myself, have endeavoured to mentor my students now for a number of years. Although, like I said I wasn't able to receive that treatment from previous coaches, I know the importance of it and try and pass on as much as I can to my students. We are always developing our business here and looking for new ways to help and assist riders and coaches, so with that in mind we have started running 2 and 3 day Mentoring/Education workshops for individuals. It's like a mentoring programme combined with training. Each day you'll receive 2-3 sessions with your horse using a combination of classical inhand training techniques, dressage training and rider biomechanics training. There is also the opportunity to learn from a school master either inhand or ridden. We are on hand to answer any questions that you might have and to help you achieve your goals. Horses can stay over either in our wonderful stables or in our all weather turnout areas, whichever you prefer. Rider's can either stay in their own lorry or we now also have onsite accomodation. We really want each individual to achieve their goals, whether they are keen to compete or would just like to improve their riding and their partnership with their horse. It's an exciting development in our business and I'm really looking forward to seeing our students progress and most of all enjoy the learning process with their four-legged partner!