August 2017 
The time has sped by since the last Coaching News, partly because I have been in catch-up mode after spending 4 weeks in Europe and partly because it has been a busy Pony Club time as well as things like tax returns, grant acquittals and a bit of fencing maintenance after the first real storms of the season.
 I was reasonably pleased with the response for those coaches who are interested in pursuing  a NCAS Level 2 coaching qualification and there has been quite a lot of Preliminary and Level 1 accreditation activity as well. I had the pleasure of assessing Fern Faulkner from West Plantagenet Pony Club for her Level 1 last month. In addition to undergoing her assessment at King River Pony Club (not enough C level riders at WPPC this year), Ferne had to cope with dreadful weather which meant using the small RDA covered arena for her flat work lesson during which time pace work was happening alongside and then when we moved to the SJ arena there was the distraction of a tractor and front end loader busily preparing for the Hickstead event, scheduled for the following weekend. Typical Pony Club I hear you say! Ferne maintained control, kept her cool (she has a very nice calm delivery style) and improved riders' way of going. Her jumping lesson flowed on logically from the flat work and the horsecare session on bandaging was very informative. During this last theory session Ferne emphasised the need for safety when bandaging horses in their yard or stable and congratulated the only rider to keep her helmet on. Ashley smiled and explained it was because she had "bed" hair - brings a whole new meaning to "bed hair day."
Well done to Ferne and all coaches under going assessment or following up on their re-accreditation.
 The SCP are still working on the right words for the definition of a Working Rally - trying to strike a balance between what will be practical and pragmatic and meet the desires of our Associate Riders.
 At the next SCP meeting (21st August) we will start to draft up the next State Coaching School program. At this stage based on information from the feedback forms and other anecdotal comments it looks as those the long list of topics include:
  • XC Jumping
  • Games
  • Fun with Flat Work
  • 1st Aid for coaches
  • Lesson/rally plans
  • Veterinary session
  • Ground Work
  • SJ Course Building
Suggestions are always welcome - please submit before 21st August so we can plan around these as early as possible.
We have provisionally booked the Karina Equestrian Park and have our fingers crossed that it won't be boiling hot nor blowing a gale. Concurrent with the SCS there will be a Gear Check Update run by Jacinta and her team.
Jon Pitts and his team received excellent reviews at the SCS in February and many Pony Clubs have had separate RideSmart clinics. As a result of this positive feedback Jon is in the process of setting up a business in Australia and coaches and riders will have the chance to join the RideSmart Core Advocacy Group. The webinars are scheduled for filming in September and release in January 2018. Download the RideSmart flyer.
Putting the hoof boots on
Lapping over the velcro flaps
Doing up the velcro straps 
As I mentioned in my last editor's notes I have had to stop using my grass arena as in the winter it is a haven for ducks and reeds. Since our neighbour opposite has subdivided his property my easy access to the Karri forest and trails has disappeared. I can still get to the forest trails but have to negotiate gravel roads and some fairly rough terrain first. Not a problem for my QH x Paint mare who has front shoes (and I know this is tempting fate) but Tango has not lost a shoe in 10 years. My other Paint X , Rhapsody, is a shoe puller and his first set didn't even last 24 hours. Our soil is clay here so the paddocks are quite damp in the winter which makes itpointless to go down the long painful road (metaphorically and actually) of trying harden up his hooves for a barefoot life. The only other realistic option was hoof boots. Now I'm not one of those bitless bridle, treeless saddle so called "natural horsemanship" people. There is nothing natural for the horse about riding it no matter what technique or equipment you use. But I do recognise there are some situations when a bitless bridle will be a kinder option for the horse.
So I measured Rhapsody's front hooves (twice) and got an experienced horsy person to check these measurements. Ordered pair 1 - too big. Read the measuring instructions more thoroughly, watched a number of You Tube segments and ordered pair 2 - too small. Finally I got the "Goldilocks" pair and have been diligent in terms of breaking these hoofs boots in slowly by starting off with a 20 minute walk and building up from there as well as diligently oiling the leather cuff and heel sections. Since buying the hoof boots I have spoken to a couple of my endurance friends who describe fitting hoof boots more as a black art than a science.
Included in this edition is a simple game to improve riding with one hand and also a straight forward flat work exercise to encourage spatial awareness. Plus a report on the first of the Great Southern Zone Hickstead series.
Well it time to sign off as I can see my horses from my study window hoping for an early supper. It's been a dry but windy day so my two rotund Galloways (Tango and Rhapsody) have been rug free for the day but I kept Eskimo Joe, my retiree, in a light canvas. At 24 he is rather looking his age, until he came here 6 years ago, he had a bit of a "pillar to post" life, but he is not underweight, loves his food and always has a little "hello" for me. I try to rotate his rugs (his wither is more pronounced now) and when the weather is kind he gets a few hours of Vitamin D. We have quite a few veteran horses and ponies in Pony Club so I've included an article on caring for your veteran. 

Kind regards,
Your editor
The re-introduction of the Hickstead competition provides clubs with the opportunity to run a "different from normal" event in a manageable format and allows riders to get good value for their entry fee money.
The Great Southern Zone scheduled 6 such competitions (Show Jumping and X-Country, no dressage element) as a series. The first 2 took place at King River Pony Club on 9th July. The week prior the weather was awful - wet, wild and cold - although the day got off to a cool start it stayed dry all day and we even enjoyed a few hours of sunshine.

A rider having a splash at the water complex
There were 42 entries across 5 grades including a number of Pony Club WA  Open Riders. After completing their Show Jumping round, riders went straight onto a shortened X-Country course. On the day both elements of the competition provided challenges for the riders though most improved their score over the Cross Country during the second event run in the afternoon.
Apart from the usual refusals, run-outs, and spooks at jump judges, water complexes and "horse eating bushes", the common cause of penalties resulted from going too fast over the Cross Country section, riding at a Cross Country speed rather than at a SJ speed.
The anecdotal and written comments showed that the riders really enjoyed the competition. So our thanks to the Hickstead Sport Committee for their hard work. We would certainly encourage other Clubs to run a Hickstead competition (with or without a dressage element). It's fun, achievable and educational.

Article by Bernadette O'Meara
President Great Southern Zone
This is a great game to improve riding with one hand, communicating with a riding partner and as a pre-cursor to drill work. You can use an old lead rope (no clip) cut to length (1m) or to make the task more challenging with a 1m length of crepe paper ribbon.
Basic Rules
Riders are paired teams (note mounts must be compatible) and the riders hold the rope/ribbon between them. If one or both drop the rope the pair are eliminated and if using the ribbon the same applies and if the ribbon breaks.
Put riders into pairs
Initially riders to ride in pair without a rope/ribbon whilst the coach watches for negative body language from the ponies. If ponies aren't getting on the pairing will need to change.
Once everyone is settled, halt the ride and hand out the ribbons. If riders are struggling to keep hold of the ribbon or it breaks very early on you may want to give each pair a couple "lives" so that they can continue to hone their skills. 
Actual competition
This can either be via elimination (last pair riding) with the coach making the pace and school figures progressively more challenging. Or you can have a set course e.g.  making use of well spaced bending poles or a barrel race circuit and time each pair with the fastest pair with an intact ribbon being the winners.
  • Have a short ribbon (0.6m).
  • Ride it bareback
  • Riders put the ribbon under their thigh.

Riders need to talk to their riding partner, with the inside rider stepping shorter than the outside rider for turns and circles. Riders need to maintain 2 horse length between pairs.
Reference: Games on Horseback by Betty Bennett-Talbot  and Steven Bennett
It is possible for a less experienced coach to keep children occupied and engaged with games or small fences due to the "thrill factor".  However taking a group pf children for flatwork can be more of a challenge in terms of making it memorable and educational.
Generally unless you have an experienced group of riders (C*+) then you expect to have the riders as a ride and that they need to maintain a certain distance between each other. This will depend on the number of riders and the size of the arena but, with say 4 to 6 riders at D/D* level in a 20m by 40m the 2 horse's length between riders is a good safe distance. Most children are not that spatially aware so it useful to reinforce what  2 horse's length means in reality. For large ponies you would be looking at c.4m nose to tail so on the long side lay out a cone/witches hat for each rider just off the outside track at 4 m intervals. If possible make sure one of the cones line up with the middle markers (E or B). Put out another set on the opposite long side. Park the riders at one set of cones and explain you will ask the riders to walk on and try to maintain the correct distance and will check this by halting the ride when the leading file is at the far end of the opposite long side.

This exercise helps reinforce the correct distance and also checks that the "stop" and "go" buttons work.
Variations (unlikely to do all in the same lesson) could include:
  • moving up a pace to trot with a progressive downwards transition to halt at the cones (don't halt every time the ride passes the cones but keep the halts random so the riders don't anticipate and as the lesson progresses you can get the riders to call out if they are on target when they pass the cones)
  • changing the rein
  • changing the leading file
  • including circle work
  • including figures of eight and serpentines.
The use of the spacing markers will help riders:
  • be more aware of where the other riders are in the ride
  • improve the rider's figure work
  • and be useful as preparation for working in open order.
Article by J Denise Legge
Any horse or pony over the age of 15 years is technically a veteran but just like people some are young for their age and other not so. A horse's history, conformation, general health, environment, management and genetics all contribute his biological as opposed to his chronological age. As owners we have a special responsibility for theirenvironment and management and here are 5 key points to consider:
At some point the older horse or pony may start to slow down or not have the same zest for work as previously. If there is a change in behaviour it's because the horse is trying to tell you something. However it is generally better to keep a veteran horse in light work than no work at all. If a horse has had a full competitive career being "dumped" in a paddock with no or little attention can be a shock to his system. Even if your veteran cannot be ridden you can still add interest to his life with in hand work or long reining.
As a horse gets older his digestive system becomes less efficient. Keep a careful eye on your horse's weight by using a weight tape and condition scoring on a monthly basis. There are now feedstuffs specifically formulated for older horses and generally they need their feed a bit damper. Dental care is vital (after predation, the second most common cause of death for wild/feral horse is starvation due to teeth problems) and he will benefit from at least an annual if not biannual visit from an equine dentist. The golden feeding rule of making any changes to feed types and routines slowly, definitely applies to veterans.
It is good practice with all horses, irrespective of age, to run your hands all over their body and legs so you can detect problems early. Older horses take longer to recover from injury and the hoof growth may be slower and more brittle than younger horses. A regular groom is a good way to check his health and to provide positive attention. Veteran horses may need a hoof supplement and/or a topical application. And like older people they generally feel the cold more so ensure he stays warm and if he is stabled this may mean using stable bandages at night.
Complementary Help
Many people swear by the use of magnetic therapy and the use of herbs to help cope with the adverse side effects of bute, to aid digestion and enhance liver function. Gentle massage and stretches, just like for us, are always welcome but remember if the weather is cool keep him warm by folding back part of his rug at a time.
Quality of Life
When talking to people about their older horses, two points keep cropping up. The first is the retired horse still requires attention and needs to feel wanted.  The second is that owners must be responsible when it comes to ending the horse's life. I find it really sad to see horses offered for free, often as companion horses, when they are aged in their twenties. Observe your horse carefully and ensure his quality of life remains good. Your final act of kindness is to make the necessary decision before he becomes miserable.
Your Horse Magazine (UK publication)
Article by J Denise Legge                                    
School Exercises For Flat Work and Jumping
by Eleanor Ross
ISBN 1-872082-31-9
Subtitled a Handbook for Instructors and Riders this book is a clearly presented smorgasbord of ideas and sample exercises aimed at coaches starting out (volunteer or otherwise) and more experienced coaches and for riders schooling at home.
The book is divided into a number of related exercises; each exercise has a full explanation including a clear diagram, the correct aids, words of command, coaching hints, advice on likely problems, safety and suggestions variations.
Contents include:
  • Straight line exercises
  • 20m and smaller circles
  • Half circles and inclines
  • Serpentines
  • Lateral work: leg yielding, turn on the forehand and demi-pirouette
  • Rein back
  • Trotting poles
  • Jumps and courses
  • Double ride work.
The last page of the book has a cross-reference for exercises such as for canter work or novice riders. All in all a very useful book and, at less than $24 from Fishpond, excellent value for money.
For those of you who are more in tune with the digital age don't forget to check out the RideSmart membership flyer.
Click on the link to purchase the book!
Facebook Instagram
powered by emma