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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Inspire with Yogi Breisner

Last weekend  (18th-19th March 2017) we were very lucky to have Yogi Breisner visit Northumberland to hold a demonstration - Bedmax Inspires with Yogi Breisner - in partnership with Northumberland Sport.

I was a very lucky girl, and was able to collect Yogi from the airport, and travel to Alnwick Ford Equestrian picking his masterful brain along the way. Actually, do you know what...that's not true! We didn't really talk about horses, except a brief few questions as to whether he is part of lots of clinics, and were they only in the UK... He was really personable asking about my day job & what I did, & we talked about various other sports too, including football which I was surprised to hear he was a fairly keen follower of the Premier League.

The demonstration started at 10am, and when I walked in the setup looked interesting, fun and I was looking forward to what Yogi would do with each group of riders. There was an opening introduction from headline sponsor Bedmax. Even during this talk, I learnt a lot - the history of Bedmax, how it works and the hygiene benefits all round of using a Bedmax shavings bed. I also visited their stand later in the day to talk to them about the best way to bed a very wet horse - they were really approachable and friendly, & I thought the advice that they offered made sense & was thought through. Sometimes, when you visit a brand's stand, they are only interested in selling you their product...

Also sponsoring the event was Carrs Billington and Robson & Prescott Vets, both of whom had stands so I had a natter to Carrs Billington about feeding options during one of the breaks, and it was good to see Louie's vets and speak to them about how we are getting on. There's something very reassuring when you don't see your vet for a long time!!!

Ariat had also very kindly sponsored the event with gilets for volunteers on the day, so it was easy to identify who was available to help you, should you need it.

The day had three distinct groups of horses (& riders) - first up was the young horse group. This was really interesting, not only because I have a young horse myself, but also because Yogi re-iterated what Philippa had taught at one of here clinics - a horse needs to be judged by level on what it has done and not actually its age. In the group there was: a 5 year old that had done quite a lot, a 5 year old that had done nothing, and a 6 year old that had also done nothing.

It was interesting to see that the 6 year old seemed the most relaxed, & while the inexperienced 5 year old was very "busy", it took well to the environment & you could clearly see it grow as the sessions progressed.

Yogi did some polework down the centre line, with a halt in the middle, before make the first three and last three poles into small uprights. The more experienced 5 year old, didn't particularly find this exercise difficult, and the 6 year old only really found the striding difficult, as it had a dinky stride, but Yogi soon had that fixed and making the distances look easy. The other 5 year old really must have done very little as this one gave the jumps a bit more caution that the other two.

The purpose of the exercise was to prevent horses getting 2-3 strides out from a fence in a combination and becoming long, flat and too quick, & will definitely something that I will put into practice at home!

The next group up were jumping around 1m & again were a variety of horses, with differing levels of experience.

This group started out with a curving line of canter poles across the arena. These were then popped up on the inside to create raised poles. once all three combinations had been through, the outside was also raised, but to higher than the inside, creating a series of 6 bounce fences. I'm REALLY glad I didn't have to do this, however it clearly made the horses use their hocks & become a bit snappier in their jump.

One of the horses found the exercise more difficult than the other, but within 5-10 minutes was skipping through like a pro and just as good as the other two. It was fascinating to watch a combination improve so much in front of you own eye and within such a short time frame. I was listening careful to Yogi's tips and direction when it went wrong for the few times, and what he advised as the horse (& rider) figured how to complete the exercise well.

The final group were more advanced riders - there was a 4* horse in the group (!!) with another who was about to make the step up to Intermediate eventing and the final one was at a similar level, but had just come back from its winter break.

These were 3 very different horses.

The 4* horse was disciplined, and didn't find very much difficult. The intermediate eventer coming back from a break came in and I thought he was the most relaxed until about 20 minutes in when he was clearly having a whale of a time but was also fairly 'vocal' about what he wanted to do and how he did things.

The novice eventer stepping up to intermediate was a smaller coloured horse, and was a real little pocket rocket & I really enjoyed watching him! He went round the arena looking for the fences, and in Yogi's words:

"He's always looking for what to jump. Turn him...and he'd looking for where the fence is!"

This group rode the centre line as the others had, except the last fence led to a dog lead into an angled upright with a stride in between. Beyond this, the combinations had to come back the other way, before jumping the red & white, blue & white (hidden from my view) AND the multicoloured rainbow fence. After that the horses went the other way, and had to turn right to come over the green and white, as well as coming to a fair sized oxer without touching the horses' mouths, before jumping back down the combinations and around a quick course.

The day was fantastic!! There was something for everyone, of all levels, at each level and in each group you could take a lot away to put into practice. If you ever get the chance to attend one of his clinics, it is well worth it in my opinion, & I'd go back again.

The day was very well run, and it was good to have some short breaks in between, as well as some time for lunch to talk to friends, sponsors and others also attending.

Tickets were £23 in advance and £30 on the door - very affordable, excellent value for money & a good price in comparison to demos of a similar nature.

I was very lucky to get a lesson the following day with Yogi, so keep your eyes peeled for my blog post about that too!!

Photo credit: SteviePurves.co.uk
Photo credit: SteviePurves.co.uk

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