Photo: Arnd Bronkhorst
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Four-in-hand driving is an exciting sport where teamwork pays off
our horses twist and turn around a maze of wooden gates. They’re piloted by a driver holding four reins, sitting on a carriage, with two navigators on the back who lean in to every corner, keeping the rig upright. The world’s top four-in-hand drivers will descend on Normandy to vie for World Equestrian Games glory in early September. The format of combined driving is similar to eventing. There are three phases – dressage, marathon and obstacle or cone driving. Driven dressage takes place in a 100 x 40m arena, with a set test over nine minutes, in front of five judges. Circles, transitions and changes of gait are performed, showing obedience and harmony. The marathon phase is a time trial with eight obstacles. At each obstacle is a maze of gates that the team must navigate in a particular order. Sharp turns, water, hills – it’s a test of stamina, suppleness and teamwork. On the third day, in the obstacle or cone driving, the team navigates 20 gates, each marked by cones with balls balanced on top. While the gates are wider than the axle of the carriage, the time allowed is tight, so the pressure to go fast and cut corners means that the balls do occasionally go flying.
American driver Chester Weber and his team in the marathon phase at CHIO Aachen
In this feature ➤ Warming up for cross-country ➤ Ensuring your horse Our trainer British eventer Lauren Shannon competes at four-star level and was a member of the Young Rider gold medal-winning team in 2006. She has also produced young horses for eventing with great success, and teaches riders from Pony Club level all the way up to the higher levels of eventing.
As told to Lucy Turner. Photos: Bob Atkins. Many thanks to hit-air for organising this photoshoot, hitairuk.co.uk
Our riders Rachael Faulkner has evented at four-star level, but having suffered a back injury, she is just getting back into riding after a four-year break. Her mare, Lulu, recently competed in her first Intermediate event with Rachael’s daughter, Lottie. Lottie Faulkner is riding Bill, her 14.2hh, eightyear-old gelding. Together they are competing at BE100 and they have done a few Novice events. Sophie Kalpin has come over to the UK from Canada with her horse, with whom she is hoping to compete at two-star level. On this photoshoot, she is riding 16.3hh Dutch Warmblood, Vern, who is an ex-Grade A showjumper owned by Jon Lovell. Denise Lambert is riding William, her 15.1hh, nine-year-old Connemara-cross gelding. Together they have been competing at BE100.
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It is important that all tack is checked and the appropriate safety clothing – including a BETA 3 body protector and helmet – are worn. Many trainers including Lauren are also recommending air vests for additional protection.
In the saddle
is responsive to your aids ➤ How to tackle different cross-country obstacles
Each cross-country obstacle tests slightly different riding skills. Event rider Lauren Shannon takes us around a typical course, and explains how to tackle each fence safely and in style
eing solid and often imposing, crosscountry fences require respect. And each style of fence you’ll find on the course requires different skills and techniques to tackle them safely and effectively. In this feature, we are going to look at how to ride some of the more common ’questions’ you and your horse will be asked on-course, giving you the best opportunity to achieve a safe, successful round. First things first – the essence of cross-country riding is to have effective ‘stop and go buttons’. When you ask for a reaction from your horse, it’s essential that you get it straightaway. When you put your leg on, he must go and when you ask him to steady up, he must wait and not just run through you. It’s not the same as dressage, where if you ask for something and it happens a stride later, you simply lose a mark. If you put your leg on to ask your horse to jump and he doesn’t respond, it’s a safety issue. So work on these issues at home and reinforce them in your warm-up. When riding corners, ride them so you’re straight on to the nearest side of the fence, so you actually jump the fence at an angle
r e k a t i h W
What makes Michael Whitaker so good – and so consistent? H&R had a Q&A session with the maestro
ichael’s dazzling showjumping career spans four decades. After making his international debut aged just 16, he went on to be crowned the youngestever winner of the Hickstead Derby at 20. He has been a member of the British Nations Cup teams on 167 occasions, contributing to 34 British victories, and has represented Great Britain in the Olympics four times, helping to
Learn from the legend Michael’s showjumping success story is underpinned by careful preparation and schooling of his horses at home.
Michael, the question everyone asks... how do you learn how to see a stride? Is that something you can learn? It is, you can learn it. Practice, that’s all it takes, just practice. The more you do it, the better you get.
secure team silver in 1984 in Los Angeles at just 24 years of age. Last year’s victories included a European Championship team gold, as well as the Madrid Grand Prix. Michael is one of the founding members of the famous Whitaker showjumping dynasty and has achieved legendary status through his many achievements. His son, Jack, is already looking like a chip off the old block!
Michael’s 2014 horses Amai Despite having time off due to injury, Amai is now back and running well. He is a 14-year-old dark bay gelding with Nonstop and Bacara bloodlines. After winning a big class in Doha this year, it seems that Amai will continue to contribute to Michael’s impressive CV. Viking (left) is a 12-year-old chestnut gelding by Jacomar. Viking won Michael nearly 130,000 Euros in the 2013 season alone. He likes a lot of attention, has to be fed first and does mainly flatwork at home. Viking was the horse Michael rode to victory in the Madrid Grand Prix last year.
As told to Carol Allison. Photos: Bob Langrish, Keyflow, keyflowfeeds.com
So are there any exercises people can use to get their eye in? Put up a line of fences measured out for four strides between each. Go down it in four strides a couple of times, then go down in five, then six, then back to five and four, and you will soon learn to adjust the stride. You can do the same exercise just using poles on the floor.
How would you deal with a horse who refuses? It depends why he has refused. If it’s your fault and you know you’ve had a bad stride, then it’s not as serious, but if the horse stops for no reason whatsoever, that’s quite worrying. You’ve got to let him know that it’s not the right thing to do. You can’t really sort the problem out in the ring, so you might need to go home and do some schooling and ride positively.
What exercises do you use to develop a good canter rhythm? I do a lot of flatwork. It’s easy to potter around going slowly and looking nice on the flat, but you also need to open them up. The secret is to open them up a little bit at home, get them really going forward, but keep them under control. 54 HORSE &RIDER
Elie (right), full name Elie van de Kolmen, is a 10-year-old grey mare by President. Last year was her first full season with Michael, during which she won him nearly 30,000 Euros in prize money. She just missed out on the top spot in the Masters Class at Olympia last year and is considered a very exciting prospect for 2014. Michael has big plans for her future.
In the saddle
Horse&Rider online For an interview with Michael Whitaker at home, go to our video...
➤ horseandrideruk.com/video.php ➤ tinyurl.com/Michael-Whitaker
Michael and Amai at last year’s European Championships, where they were team gold medallists
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PART ONE In this feature... ➤ Rehoming ex-racers Our expert
As told to Céleste Wilkins. Photos: Bob Atkins
Mary HenleySmith, manager and trainer at Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre, has her BHS Intermediate Instructor and BHS Stable Manager’s certificate. She has a varied equestrian background, with experience training students for their BHS exams, managing a large London riding school and grooming at the highest level for an Olympic dressage rider in Switzerland. She has been at Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre for over seven years, overseeing the rehabilitation of many ex-racers. For more information, visit mrwc.org.uk
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➤ Turnout ➤ Managing injuries ➤ Ex-racers’ mental state
In the first part of our series on rehoming an ex-racer, Mary Henley-Smith explains how she helps Moorcroft horses settle into new surroundings
any riders dream of taking on an ex-racehorse to retrain and keep. Thoroughbreds are certainly beautiful, talented and can make wonderful riding horses and successful competition mounts. However, they have lived a very different life to the average riding horse, and require careful handling, schooling and management to make the transition from racehorse to riding horse a smooth one. So H&R consulted Mary Henley-Smith BHSII and BHS SM, Manager and Trainer at Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre, to discuss how they retrain and rehome ex-racers. Whether you’re thinking of buying one from the sales (only for the experienced) or rehoming a racer from a charity, her advice is invaluable...
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Published on May 29, 2014
Learn one brilliant exercise that will relax any horse, be ready for equine emergencies and perfect your position. Also get jumping tips fro...