I took copious notes during the two days of the Carl Hester Masterclass this past weekend and these notes made their way into two rather long blog posts. However on Monday WordPress told me that 233 people per hour were reading the posts so I guess they were not too long or too boring. But there were still some gems of wisdom and some of Carl’s wicked sense of humor that I had not managed to fit in. So I thought I would share some of these now.
When you are nervous in a competition remember: Don’t clench your toes! I used to do that all the time.
You travelled FIFTEEN hours to get here? ( To Erin MacQuarrie who had come from New Brunswick to Ontario) If travel is over one hour and my ride time is before 9 or after 4…. I withdraw from the competition!
If you want to be an elegant rider you have to be effective. and the horse has to do the work!
Over analysis causes paralysis.
I asked for 5 tempis, what you did was a bit of a chocolate box of timing.
ON BECOMING A TOP RIDER.
Well I came from a non-horsey family and I did it. If you come from a non-horsey family or your family are unable to support you what can you do? Well, you need talent but not that alone. You have to be able to take criticism. You should base with somebody so you can get lessons and experience.
I am known for not spending a lot of money on buying a horse. I buy horses at the age of 2 and that is a risk because you don’t always know what you will get. If you go abroad , to Europe, you must BEWARE. Horses are kept in their stalls and then they come out and fly around with these amazing paces and when you get home you have nothing.There just a small trot and small canter. You should wait and see the horse in a natural way with no razzmatazz! At age 2 1/2 you can see the confirmation and can start to see the paces. The temperament will not be known until you get on.
How much do I pay for horses? What is cheap? Something under 10,000 GBP (Great British Pounds) I got Nip Tuck ( his mount for the Rio Olympics) for 1000. and Valegro ( the horse that won Gold at 2 Olympics with Charlotte Dujardin) for 4,500. Some do not work out but they can be moved on without you losing too much money.
TRAINING! Training is where you should have your investment
ON SPORT PSYCHOLOGY.
Why can riders not replicate what they do at home when they get into the show ring? That is where the sport psychologist comes in. When we were in Rio the team had a sport psychologist and she asked me if I wanted any help, I said I didn’t. But then she asked me if I wanted help as the coach. I was coaching the other riders on the team. She asked me how I felt about training the others. Well…. one girl was wishing she wasn’t there and was feeling very insecure and the other was saying:” I’m going to beat the Germans, I’m going to beat the Dutch! And she was riding every ride like it had to be a gold medal. And I think we all know which rider that was don’t we? So it was really good for me to be able to work with the sport psychologist to help me to deal with them.
Charlotte has found the sport psychologist helpful. She goes for a session and the next day she’s like a lovely person and I say:” You’ve been to see the sport shrink yesterday haven’t you?” And she says “yes”. It helps with all the things you have to deal with the online criticism, not winning….although Charlotte doesn’t have that happen too often.
ON HOW TRAINING HAS CHANGED…..
When I started I was training in Holland with a family and it was “old school”. You would do one round of walk and then start the trot, up and on the bit! Things have come a long way since those days.
ON TEACHING PIAFFE…..
Charlotte has a talent for teaching a horse piaffe. It is in her rhythm. She could teach a donkey to piaffe.
THE PROBLEM WITH KIDS TODAY…….
Nowadays too many juniors are not learning about the horsemanship. They go to championships, and just get dressed and get on! They don’t know anything about looking after the horse.
ON RIDING TESTS…..
For test riding you have to know your horse. Some horses need an element of surprise because they anticipate. So in the warm up you might do the 2 tempis on the diagonal but not start any changes until after X. Another horse will need to know the routine.
ON FAMILIAR AND OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD PHRASES…
What is self carriage? You have your horse on it’s own legs. I learned this when I was starting and I’ve never forgotten it.
What is ‘in front of the leg’? The horse must free wheel. That comes from doing on and back.
ON WHAT MAKES A GRAND PRIX HORSE…..
You see these horses that are so expressive at 4 or 5 and then you don’t see them again. But a horse that may be not a lot to look at when he’s young and has different conformation and he ends up a Grand Prix horse.
The victory at the London Olympics did not make a big difference for me. People in the horse world in Britain already knew me. But it has helped to get invited to other countries. And as for fame, well I am old enough and ugly enough and I can say no. I’m not going to do things I don’t want to do. I just want to pass on my knowledge.
“I just want to pass on my knowledge.” Over the past weekend that is exactly what he did. All of us who were there came away inspired and with knowledge we did not have when we first arrived on Saturday morning. Thank you Carl Hester.
*All photographs by Karie Alderman*