PRO: ‘Raising Your Game’ at the International Eventing Forum

Eric Smiley teaches at the International Eventing Forum. Photo by Samantha Clark for PRO. Eric Smiley teaches at the International Eventing Forum. Photo by Samantha Clark for PRO.

Samantha Clark attended the 2014 International Eventing Forum and posted a wonderful recap and videos on the Professional Riders Organization blog. Five-star dressage judges and trainers Andrew Gardner and Isabel Wessels critiqued a one-star, two-star and three-star test, and you can listen to their comments in the videos below. Eric Smiley also gave a demonstration on how to properly start young horses, which Samantha also caught on video. Many thanks to Samantha and PRO for bringing us all the action from the IEF!

From the PRO blog:

Once again Eric Smiley arranged a varied and fascinating list of guests for this year’s International Eventing Forum; the theme was “Raise Your Game,” and the bumper crowd that filled the indoor arena at Hartpury were not disappointed. In the morning we watched five-star dressage judges and trainers Andrew Gardner and Isabel Wessels critique a 1*, 2* and 3* test, learning invaluable insights into how to earn every single mark available. Andrew stressed control of the horse’s shoulders more, that riders tend to concentrate on the quarters more but that a lot of problems can be solved by taking care of the shoulders. He and Isabel both agreed that “less is sometimes more,” especially for example when asking for medium or extensions in a test. Isabel reminded riders to “own every step” when you ride, and to make full use of the corners in a test: “The corner is your best friend.”

Watch the videos below of Emily King riding Mr Hi-Ho through the 2* test and Izzy Taylor the 3* test with live critique from Andrew and comments from Isabel afterwards.

Eric gave a lovely demonstration of how to properly start young horses, teaching them from the very beginning to take responsibility and to learn instant reactions: “Reaction time is critical in every sport.” Playing with a 21-metre distance between fences, which can easily accommodate five or six strides without interfering with the canter too much, he emphasised the basics — reward good instincts and behaviour. “Horses will always try for you if they know that you’re pleased with them, and we must demonstrate that as riders and coaches.”

The IEF continues to grow exponentially each year, and next year promises to be no different with Andrew Nicholson already announced as one of the guest speakers. Tune into the Eventing Radio Show next week for interviews with Eric Smiley, Liam Moggan and more, plus the UK training sessions with David O’Connor. Many thanks to Eric, the organisers of the IEF and Hartpury College, and congratulations on a fantastic event.

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