Georgina Teece is the Northern sales manager for BEDMAX and was heavily involved in the ‘BEDMAX Inspire with Yogi Breisner’ event, run in conjunction with Northumberland Sport, at Alnwick Ford Equestrian on 18th – 19th March. Georgina was also lucky enough to take part in a group lesson with Yogi. Below is Georgina’s blog which rounds up the event in her own words…
My weekend began on the Friday afternoon when I went to set up for the ‘BEDMAX Inspire with Yogi Breisner’. Walking into the massive indoor arena at Alnwick Ford Equestrian was something else and it just made me even more excited for the Yogi event due to follow!
BEDMAX was delighted to be main supporter and we were all very excited in the run up to the event. Belford in Northumberland is where BEDMAX was founded so this event seemed a great thing to get behind. BEDMAX was established in 1998 after Tim Smalley carried out research into the different effects bedding can have on our horses when stabled. We know that horse owners want the very best for their horses and that is how and why BEDMAX has become the company it is today. It’s not often we get an Olympic coach travel to the North East of England to share his expertise, so news soon got around and tickets sold quickly!
Saturday morning started with a quick talk from myself about how bedding can benefit both the horse and owner. With the audiences help we worked through different problems which can occur when a horse is stabled:
- Respiratory problems
- Joint injury
- Sleep deprivation
- Hoof problems
Participation from the audience was fantastic and those that answered questions were given a BEDMAX goodie bag as a prize. Yogi then took over and starting introducing the demo horse and riders and also explained what his plan was throughout the day.
First up we had a group of green horses being ridden by professional riders. Yogi focused mainly on flatwork with these combinations, however incorporated small fences into the lesson too. The main aim was to have the young horses responding quickly to the questions set by the rider. To begin with, a simple grid was set up just with trotting poles which the horses were asked to walk over, allowing them to stretch and look at the poles. They then progressed into trot but asked the horses to square halt after the first set of poles, before proceeding straight into trot again for the next set. Yogi then slowly built this up to small fences. Each young horse showed a different attitude to the exercise; some were more keen and some needed more encouragement, but either way each horse was really responsive by the end. The audience then got chance to ask Yogi questions about the exercise, the demo horses and riders or even their own problems. Yogi was very open with the audience explaining that no question is ever a stupid question, which, as a rider I found very helpful to be able to get answers from the best.
The second group was a team of amateur horses and riders jumping up to 1m. Personally I enjoyed this one the most as it showed your everyday riders who don’t compete professionally having similar problems to what I have. The main exercise Yogi did with this group was having a set of 6 bounces on a curve, starting with trotting poles on the floor. This progressed to canter and then one the poles put up on one side. Some horses found this exercise difficult to begin with as they have to think for themselves with the riders being instructed to sit quietly throughout the bounces. This was also challenging for the riders as they had to maintain a secure standing body position while thinking about keeping the horse central to the fences on the bend, and also collected enough to get through all the bounces.
The poles then went up to straight bars at about 70cm and it was amazing to watch the horses really become athletic. If a horse had an issue and stopped, or maybe ran out, the fences were lowered back down again until the horse went through correctly again before being put back up. When I’m jumping at home this is something I don’t tend to think about myself; if I knock a fence, or my horse stops or runs out, I would just put the fence back to where it was, which I imagine a lot of people would do. I found this a great tip for keeping both horse and rider confidence up. The group then popped over a few single fences and all found their rhythm and accuracy a lot better than when they normally jump.
Onto the final group, the professional riders and advanced horses. There was no slacking in this group and once warmed up they were straight into jumping. Although these horses are used to jumping well over 1.30m fences, the fences were kept at about 90cm to begin with, however everything was very technical.
After warming up over a grid, the combinations were then asked to jump over some skinny BEDMAX bales. Of course they all found this quite easy, so Yogi asked them to go about three strides away from the bales, halt, trot over the bales and then halt very quickly at the other side. Then then complete a 180 degree turn on the forehand and repeat the exercise again. This is a great exercise and I think anyone would benefit from it at home as again, it’s more about the flatwork than the actual fence and emphasises how the horse responds to the rider’s body weight when stopping, jumping and moving forward. All the horses responded well to this and were almost ready to move onto the next exercise when things didn’t quite go to plan for one of the riders whose reins snapped while jumping the BEDMAX bales! A slight scary moment for everyone in the audience as the horse was jumping directly towards them! It did highlight the fact that these things happen to everyone and it is important to have a horse listening to the rider should a situation like this occur.
Yogi then had all the riders jumping three fences on a tiny circle to see how their turns were handled, and also watch how the horses jumped diagonally across the fences rather than straight. This then progressed to jumping fences which were all on angles yet in a straight line, it made the riders think how to get from A to B, however they managed it perfectly and I was amazed to see such technical riding made to look so easy!
Sunday came – my chance to ride! After watching the lessons on the Saturday I was so excited and hardly slept Saturday night. A good two hour drive and I had arrived at Alnwick Ford once again, but this time with my horse, Ruby, in tow. I arrived early so I could watch the lesson before me as I find you can learn so much from simply watching other people.
We began with a small bit of flatwork, mainly working on my position, then started jumping. First of all we rode the bounces on a curve, like the previous day. Ruby picked this up really nicely however I was a bit nervous as we previously have had a nasty fall over bounces. We continued to work down a grid raising the fences to around 1m which we coped with really well, before progressing onto a course of around 1m. I felt like the smallest of comments from Yogi, trying to keep my leg more secure and moving myself slightly more forward in the saddle for example, made the biggest of changes to my jumping.
Having had a great round over the course the fences went up to around 1.15m. This was definitely out of my comfort zone but I knew it was the push I needed! After making her jump really athletically over the bounces and having a confident first round of fences she felt unbelievable and jumped possibly the best she’s ever gone around the bigger course.
Yogi kept mixing up the fences so we didn’t get bored doing the same thing and we had a combination of oxers and uprights. Although the lesson was a group of three I felt his eyes were on me all the time, yet the other two riders felt this too. So we were shattered after the hour to say the least! We ended the session with a slight early dismount when Ruby did her usual trick of grabbing the reins with her teeth, but this time actually getting them stuck in her mouth, panicking and going backwards! Luckily it was a dignified and quick dismount and I landed on my feet.
I couldn’t thank Yogi enough for the brilliant lesson I had, as well as everything else I learned throughout the weekend. I would strongly recommend anyone who has the chance to have a lesson with him to just to go for it as he can cater for any rider.
The feedback we received from those who attended was fantastic and people were really keen to learn more about how bedding can impact health and well-being, as well as performance of the horse. BEDMAX are delighted to have been involved with such a wonderful event, and fingers crossed for many more!