Competition winner - Bonnie Fishburn
The lucky winner of our lesson with Jock Paget was Bonnie Fishburn. Bonnie travelled all the way from Shropshire to claim her prize and bought her horse Percy (posh name Mr Precision) a 7yr old homebred by Bazaars Texas out of Bonnie's old event mare. Percy is eventing at Novice level and Bonnie was keen to seek some advice from Jock about how to progress his jump training.
Jock started by watching Bonnie warm up and then asked her to come to a simple crosspole. The first observation that Jock made was that Percy was very keen to a fence. Once Bonnie started to string a couple of fences together Jock noted that because Percy was keen, and a little quick in his approach, Bonnie was holding too much to balance him but this resulted in her actually taking the power out of the canter. When the canter was underpowered the pair had a couple of awkward jumps. Jock had Bonnie canter a large circle around the fences to find their perfect jumping canter. He then asked her to balance him without changing the canter, through softening the hand and encouraging him to hold his own balance. Jock stated that it was important to be able to balance the horse without going too much to the hand and that through training and development the horse will be able to find his own balance much easier.
Jock then moved onto an exercise which was a series of fences, including an oxer, ridden over a series of loops. This particularly highlighted any control issues and as Percy has a tendency to land and run a little, it was making it hard for Bonnie to make the turns. Jock stressed that it was important that she was able to keep riding Percy forward to a soft hand but that he had to learn to wait for her. Jock then worked with the pair on a related distance and asked Bonnie to halt Percy between the fences, then circle away and jump the first fence again, repeating this as many times as needed until he anticipated the halt and waited. This enabled Bonnie to keep riding forward and not to lose the rhythm as she did when trying to get him back. The difference was clear; the smoothness was improved and because Percy was balanced and not running through the hand he was able to jump from a good stride each time. Jock advised Bonnie that she had to sit quietly and trust the horse to the fence, she had got used to a feeling of holding on to him, but he needed her to be soft in order for him to stay relaxed and produce a nice jump. The final exercise was to ride the course and then incorporate the serpentine exercise at the end. If Percy had started to run or lose balance through the course then this would show up very clearly. The final round Bonnie rode was smooth, forward and they looked a very confident and polished partnership. Jock advised Bonnie to keep riding this way and to video herself jumping at home if she could, he recommended this as a very good (and free!) way of identifying faults and mapping progress. He added that he thought Percy was a horse with a lot of potential and plenty of scope. Bonnie commented that she had found the lesson invaluable and the difference she had felt in Percy's jumping, particularly the final time around the course was amazing. “I was so happy when I found out I had won the lesson, I was on holiday at the time” she said “I've learnt so much today and I'm so pleased with how Percy was jumping at the end of the lesson”.
If you would like to follow Bonnie and Percy's progress, then take a look at her website: http://bonniefishburneventing.weebly.com/ or follow her on Facebook at Bonnie Fishburn Eventing.