Aiken Training Sessions with Katie Prudent

Showjumper Katie Prudent presided over today’s festivities at Three Runs Plantation here in AIken, SC.  Katie commanded a strong presence in the ring, was clear in communicating with the riders and crowd (approx. 25 spectators), and the riders seemed to respond well.  I watched Jan (Waterfront and Inmidair), Phillip (Tru Luck and Woodburn), and Will Coleman (Twizzel).  Click here for the training list from November.  Overall impression of Katie’s teaching: A+, taking a lesson with her definitely goes on my bucket list.

(1) Katie worked with each rider on developing a warmup strategy specifically tailored to their horse.  She mentioned that from watching Rolex last year she learned that Sunday warmups need to be efficient to preserve the tired horse for the show jumping.  
(2) When Katie asked riders to be more forward, she constantly stressed allowing the horse to go forward, rather than chasing.  She mentioned that chasing the horse will cause problems when the rider goes to rebalance.
(3) Time, time, time!  Katie constantly stressed good technique, such as accelerating after the jumps, as the key to making time.  Riders who did not ride in a forward show speed were corrected.
(4) Will and P Duddy Phillip win the official EN ‘pat your horse award’ as the only riders I have seen at any of the training sessions who patted their horses.  I always like to see this, and, frankly, a rider not making his/her horse know they are appreciated is completely inexcusable, in my opinion.

(5) Speaking of Will, Katie seemed more aggressive coaching him than she was with either Jan or Phillip.  She quipped at Will several times for taking his time approaching the first fence of the course, and even once for trying to talk to her, and seemed to really be on his case about everything.  Will handled it fine, and his horse looked great.
(6) Phillip and Katie spoke about how, when Woodburn does have a rail, it tends to come at the end of the course because the horse becomes more tense as the round progresses.  Katie suggested pushing the pace early in the course to make up time so that Phillip can slow and relax Woodburn slightly at the end.  With at lease one rail in 6 of their last 9 show jumping rounds, look for Phillip to implement this strategy at events this spring.
(7) Katie made 3-4 key points to each rider and gave them time to focus those concepts.  I feel like coaches often just mention everything they see that goes wrong, but Katie seemed to really focus her instructions on the most important concepts.
(8) As I type this up, I have Olympic curling on the TV, and I’m thinking to myself that those giant rocks don’t go lame, they don’t cost anything to maintain, they don’t buck you off or trample you unless you are playing the sport very wrong.  
Go curling.
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