Aiken Training Sessions with Mark Phillips

Lets jump right into coverage of today’s training sessions, with Mark coaching only A&B listed riders.  

(1) I arrived just at the end of Jan’s flat lesson, but Waterfront looked great and it was all smiles in the traditional post-lesson chat.
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(2) I remember my first experience with how spooky Arthur can be.  I was at an Aiken training session two years ago and Arthur wouldn’t trot near me sitting on the rail.  At the time, I offered to move, but Allison handled it patiently and said ‘no, he needs to learn.’  It seems like that patience has really paid off because he didn’t spook once today, and there were a lot more super-scary people sitting on the rails.  That said, the lesson started with a discussion between Mark and Allison about how to manage the spookiness when it does occur.
(3) Allison and Arthur started their jump lesson by trotting a vertical.  They eventually progressed to trotting probably an advanced sized vertical, which made the crowd gasp.  Arthur had one or two crooked jumps, but then looked super as the vertical got bigger.  Heck, I watched Bru Maguire trot into the Head of the Lake at Rolex a few years ago, so trotting fences is vastly underrated.
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(4) This theme of a great jump not needing a fast approach continued into the canter work.  Arthur used a relaxed, calm, and steady canter to jump some very large fences.  Arthur really demonstrated that a canter does not need to be ‘fast’ to be forward.  Arthur has really developed a beautiful canter that will really help the show jumping.
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what you lookin at?
(5) Rumor has it that The Foreman jumped with Mark later in the day, after I had left.
(6) One thing to remember as we look at selection for the WEGs is that the USET vets have a tremendous say in the process.  The vets looked at A&B listed horses today, trying to get a feel for where each horse is in terms of soundness, and to help the riders develop a management strategy for the spring.  We might watch a horse win everything this spring, but if it doesn’t look good to the vets it will stay home in September.  Go eventing.
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