Carl Hester Masterclass

I was pretty excited when it was first announced that Carl Hester would be coming to Perth. I bought tickets for my friend Emily and me and then pretty much forgot all about it until the week he was coming.

It was a few weeks ago now, I'm a little behind! I got to leave work early to get there with plenty of time to get good seats. They sold over 1000 tickets which is amazing considering how small WA is! I wasn't sure our state indoor facility would seat that many but there were more than enough seats and we got a good position at E.

The session started off with two young horses, 4 & 5 and Carl started talking about what he looks for  in a young horse. Se said if they are unbroken he likes to see them moving loose in an arena when they are a bit tired, not fresh and fired up. That way he gets a true idea of their paces and potential. He also said that a winning young horse doesn't have to cost the earth, Utopia cost him 1000 pounds as an unbroken youngster. So basically there is hope for us all.

The two young horses were pretty nervous (as were the riders I imagine!) so Carl had them walking on a long rein to allow them to settle. Both horses were very different, one had big loose paces and moved forward naturally and the other horse was tense but not in front of the leg. He got that rider to walk the horse using her seat and hands, pushing the horse longer. It was amazing how quickly that transformed the walk. Carl said that a 7 walk has an over track of 1-2 hooves but an 8 walk has a bigger over track.

He had the riders pick up the trot and looked at transitions w-t-e, c-t-c, and within the pace. Carl said he is a transitions man and was always ensuring that every transition was good. The horse who was behind the leg's paces were much less expressive and you could see the rider was working really hard. He spent a bit of time with her getting the horse more forward. A key quote was 'make her sweat, you're going to glow!' He had the rider open the mare up in the canter and ride forward. He wanted her to go so fast that us eventers in the room would say 'wow, not even we have been that fast'. Once the horse was more forward you could see the quality of the paces really improve.

Carl really wanted quality in the paces and transitions and for riders to challenge them selves rather than trying to make everything perfect and look pretty. He didn't mentions self carriage a lot but really thats what he always wanted the, to strive for.

The other horses in the masterclass were a 7 year old and then 2 horses training to go grand prix. The older horses had similar concepts applied but to harder movements. The basics were all the same i.e. self carriage!

Carl spoke about how to get a square halt, by teaching the horse to take little half steps and if they aren't square always step them forward, not backwards.

Overall it was an enjoyable evening, and I picked up some helpful tips and tricks. It was interesting to see Carl and hear what he had to say, though it wasn't revolutionary for me. He said much the same things my coaches say, which is always a good thing!


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