Did you know that Horse & Country is not only a source of frequent international live streams, it also plays host to a robust library of education and entertainment content? In an age when digital assistance is becoming more the norm (which I am 100% here for), it seems like you can really take your riding and horsemanship education to the next level with so many offerings on the menu.
One series I’ve become a big fan of recently is the Masterclass compilation, which taps the expertise of well-known riders and wraps the concepts up into a video series. U.S. 5* rider Hannah Sue Hollberg and her husband and show jumping rider Matt Hollberg paired up with MARS Equestrian to deliver the latest Masterclass, which centers on the ideas of productive flatwork, making the most of your warm-up (which includes rehearsing it!), practicing your jumping at home, and working through spooky questions.
Here are just a few bits Hannah Sue and Matt focus on in this Masterclass:
Rehearsing a Show Day Warm-Up
Hannah Sue starts out on Harbour Pilot, her Pan American partner, bred and owned by Jaqueline Mars. After some flatwork aiming for forward engagement, they jump some small fences to get warmed-up. Matt discusses that the warm-up might look different for different horses, noting “William’s” vast experience means he doesn’t need much preparation to be ready to win.
Practicing a Course
Hannah Sue jumps Harbour Pilot through a course with elements similar to what they find in the show ring. Matt explains the importance of starting on the pace you want throughout the course, riding up to the jumps and working towards a 12′-14′ stride. He also mentions they always incorporate rollbacks in their coursework to ensure the horses are looking ahead to the next fence along with the rider’s eye.
Working on a Circle
Hannah Sue switches on to J, a seven-year-old rising star, owned by Christa Schmidt. Matt talks about the difference between a younger, less experienced horse like J, and a seasoned pro like Harbour Pilot. He stresses the importance of introducing everything to the horse in a slow, thoughtful way. In their flat warm-up, Hannah Sue rides J on a circle, where Matt discusses the aim of this exercise is to get the horse’s eye to follow the rider’s eye for better focus and connection.
Breaking Down the Spookier Elements
After a few smaller fences, beginning with a cross-rail and progressing towards little verticals and oxers, Matt has Hannah Sue jump a shortened portion of the course with spookier elements. He expresses the importance of everything being introductory for a young horse. Then he supposes how J will likely react and details the best way for Hannah Sue to get his attention back on her, by continuing to incorporate the circles from the flatwork as well as downward transitions from the canter to the trot to maintain balance and connection.
Putting it All Together
Hannah Sue uses all of the elements they’ve worked on to jump through a course. Before they jump, Matt reiterates the importance of having the horse’s eye follow that of the rider– that the rider’s body language also needs to match their intention so the horse has a clear idea early on of what they are supposed to do.
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