It has once again been our immense privilege to play host to the international judge and trainer Judy Bradwell – and what a fantastic experience it was for all those who took lessons, myself included!
Last November, Judy visited the Ranch to assess my horses, Defender and Butterfly. It was a huge moment for me because Judy has not only enjoyed a fantastic riding career, including a win at Burghley, but she is on the select committee for the New Zealand eventing team and is a highly-respected – and much sought after – trainer. Therefore, to not only get her seal of approval on the horses, but to have her agree to take me on as a student – in partnership with another internationally-renowned trainer, Paul Fielder – was more than I could have hoped for.
This visit, Judy was delighted to see a real difference in Defender, who was still quite a difficult horse back in November. However, after agreeing on a way forward with him, and sticking to her advice, something seems to have worked because Judy thought he was ‘unrecognisable’. As for Butterfly, she still thinks he’s going to be a superstar, which is always nice to hear!
Having recently tried out a different bit, at the start of our sessions Butterfly wasn’t as good as I know he can be, but he was much better the last couple of days, which also provided us with an excellent opportunity to have a good talk about what things to maybe watch out for and to be careful of. As Butterfly is such a laidback character, Judy also thought he would benefit from variation in his routine, so this week I took both him and Defender to check out a new venue for the CYEF shows, and Judy was 100% correct about Butterfly because once he got into a new arena it pumped him up, giving him that extra edge that makes him so special.
Of course, both boys have a long way to go and work now starts on our flying changes. Both horses have got the sequence quite good and are in tune with the aid for the change, and they have an understanding of the change, but because they are both young and green if I don’t have the canter just as it should be they can be a fraction late behind, which is something I have to watch for. Judy was also insistent that it was time to start progressing to work on test riding. So far, I’ve spent a lot of time building up the muscles of the horses, thinking about the way they go and the way they move, but because Judy is a judge she has a lot of experience in test riding and she is acutely aware of the amount of marks that get thrown away through a lack of precision. So, I now have to start doing things on the markers to the markers.
As well as putting me, Defender and Butterfly though our paces. Judy also fitted in some really good sessions with the clients, giving us some very positive feedback. She thought the horses were all in fantastic condition and extremely well turned out – so much so she has vowed to go home and throw out all her old numnah because everyone looked so smart – and she was also impressed with the quality of the horses and the level of riding and enthusiasm of the riders. She was also very complimentary about the atmosphere on the yard, which was lovely to hear because we have a great team here and great clients who all invest a lot of time and effort in making the Ranch a home from home for everyone.
So, as expected, Judy’s visit was another tremendous success and we are very much looking forward to welcoming her back again in the autumn. Paul will also be returning at some point in the summer, and details of his visit will be posted as soon as we have them.
In the meantime, we all have our homework to concentrate on, but what great homework it is!