For those of you that don't know me, my name is Amber Barson and I'm a South African rider trying to break into the Eventing scene. I moved to the UK at the age of 18 and started working for event rider Georgie Spence. It was a great first year in the UK, and I learnt a lot about the industry. Following that I have worked at a few different yards including riding schools while training up for my BHS exams and currently have my BHSAI. I run Refined Horsemanship UK with my partner, and spend my days doing freelance teaching and riding.
Last year I bought my mare, Newtown Beauty aka Blanco, as an ex riding school horse that had be wrecked. I remembered the horse that initially arrived at the yard, very honest and lovely nature, so decided to give her a chance and try bring her back to what she was.
Turns out I now have an outstanding cross country horse on my hands. It's been a long, slow year and a half and a lot of hard work but we are finally starting out affiliated career in 2016! So that brings me onto my training. I don't do the norm....I'm not into all the hype about a pessoa, having a grackle because it's fashionable, and certainly don't bit up because my horse is pulling. I choose to go down the 'Natural Horsemanship' route although I don't like that term. You say the words natural horsemanship and people think horsewhisperer, which then suddenly they think your literally working miracles by whispering in your horses ear. Don't be silly, that's far fetched! It's simply about the way I approach work and training, trying to gain acceptance rather than force by working with the horse in a way they understand better. I do quite a bit of ground work with Blanco, which in one sense is a different form of lunging. It allows me to get her working on her own without the interferance of a rider, but is a great way of suppleing her up, especially in the back end where she can get stiff due to the old injury.
Through being and old riding school horse, she hates arena work and being in there, but loves being out. So I take my schooling outside. There is so much you can work on outdoors, and if you horse is happier you will get a better result. Hacking also brings about gradients and can be great for conditioning and building up topline. Jumping is something I try to do once a week at the most. Blanco loves it, and I don't want that to change. You do it too often and a horse will simply get bored and that's where your issues come in. I do quite a lot of gridwork to improve technique, but you will generally find me coming into a fence on a longer rein as it is important for the horse to learn where his or her own feet are and not have a rider placing them every stride, I want Blanco to be able to get me out of trouble if I mess up, not slam the breaks on because she is used to me babying her every step of the way.
All my ridden work happens in a cavesson and snaffle bridle, or a bosal, I don't ride with a martingale and try keep things as simple as possible. This is just an outline of how I bring on and school the horses I ride. Stay tuned for future posts which will go more into detail about each 'phase' of schooling, and possibly open your eyes to something new and different to try with your horse.