Saturday, 21 October 2017

Horse shows then and now-amazing!

Before my judging assignment in Israel begins, I’m standing in King Herods’s 1st century “Hippodrome”-the site of ancient horse shows and chariot races Herod built at the time of Jesus Christ-part of his summer palace in Caesarea.

It hit me – Tomorrow, I’ll be standing in a 21st century Hippodrome!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

A return trip to judge a show in Israel!

My judging colleague is from Italy. My ring steward (and wonderful interpreter), Israeli.

Striking, as a “reserved” Canadian, Middle Eastern shows are more…  dramatic!  Enthusiastic applause for every class, down to the final one at 9:00 PM.  

Passionate viewpoints are expressed at the show office, over the walkie talkie and from the sidelines are colorful –amped up with volume and hand gestures.  No matter the geography –  there’s possibly more competition that goes on outside the ring than inside- what do you think?

It’s a judging survival skill to tune out distractions, drama at any show.  Not speaking Hebrew can have it’s advantages

Thursday, 28 September 2017

A good case for saddle time vs. screen time!

"Mr Smith, I think for the sake of your daughter's well-being, you should invest in a horse..."

Reading an article about the effects smartphones and social media have on us, I‘d say the science is confirming that uneasiness many of us have our ever-present screens.   "There's compelling evidence that the devices we've placed in young peoples' hands are having a profound effect on their lives - and making them seriously unhappy." (Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?" Dr Jean Twenge. The Atlantic.)

Study after study finds that the more time and teens spend looking at screens the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Teens who spend the most time in off-screen activities, especially with friends (the real, face-to face kind), report being the most happy. So, young riders, get to the barn! (and afterwards, sit on bale and yak with the other boarders.)

"In the next decade we may see adults who know just the right emoji for a situation but not the right facial expression".

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Coaching riders and… buying watermelons??

Had a little chuckle in the produce section yesterday J

Hmmm…the process of choosing just the right melon includes the 3 things I consider in choosing just the right solution to offer a horse and rider!

LOOK- We scan the melons comparing one to another - any flaws? I scan horse and rider-looking for resistance, tension, conflicting aids 

LISTEN I'm not sure what tapping the Melon is supposed to do but I do it anyway!
I've learned to listen to my riders more than I did as a younger coach. Does the point of the exercise make sense to you?? Describe what you're feeling-any frustration?  Physical limitations or even pain?  What are your long term and immediate goals?

FEEL- I feel the weight of the melon, picking it up. Checking for soft spots
“May I get on your horse?” Actually feeling the horse may lead to an AHA moment. Resistances, oversensitivity, subtle evasions, an unbalanced or uncomfortable saddle.
Look, listen, feel. Good coaching wisdom.

 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. The Bible (James, chapter 1)

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Tack Traditions

Jim Wofford wrote an insightful piece a while ago in Practical Horseman on the “mindless application of equipment, regardless of whether it is suitable for this horse at this stage of training.” 

What do you think?

He said, “Nosebands are one of my many irritants when coaching.  Almost every horse I see [dressage, eventing] is wearing a flash noseband.  And they are inherently ill-fitting.  These nosebands can interfere with the horse’s normal swallowing mechanism, producing the very resistance they are intended to cure.  Yet when I ask riders whether they have tried other nosebands or even no noseband, they look at me as if I had just stepped down off the ramp of the mother ship.”

I agree with Jim, and routinely ask the riders I teach why they’ve chosen certain tack or training aids.  Often there’s a well-reasoned response.  Other times a shrug -everyone tacks up their horse this way so it must be correct … sigh.

(Jim Woffard is a 3 time U.S. Olympian and World Champion eventer.)