Sarah Stretton was recommended by Helena Bevin (whom I met hunting with the Pytchley last season). I’m of the view that I can learn from a range of trainers, so was interested to see what I could get from Sarah. She events at 3* and 4* and has completed Badminton, Burghley, Bramham and Gatcombe to mention a few….
Sarah’s outdoor arena was huge and was already set up with a course of different show jumps, Finn settled quickly and Sarah wanted to see her go through the gears in canter – she commented that there should be no reason Finn doesn’t make the time as she has a great turn of speed when I ask her to push on. We had a chat about what I wanted to achieve, I told her that I had been encouraged to move up to Novice, but wanted a second opinion about our readiness.
We warmed up over a cross pole, being careful to manage the quality of the canter and keep her straight. We then strung a few fences together so that Sarah could see how I rode between the fences. Sarah was keen for me to ride the canter more forward, which makes it much easier for Finn to get a good take off spot – it does work! In one of the courses she was a little ‘stuffy’, I was told to take her up through the gears and move her on. This is s great tip, and something I wouldn’t necessarily think of doing during a competitive course – but Sarah says it is something she does regularly – going up and down through the gears depending how the horse feels – being careful not to fiddle in front of the fences though! She said that my position was on the whole good – but I need to be more organised between the fences and quicker to react to what is going on underneath me. The advice was that I need to be almost bored at BE100 before moving up to Novice – I’m not there yet!
I would like to have a XC lesson with her, so we agreed to book somewhere like Aston or Solihull (her preference was Solihull, as there’s a greater variety of ditch-based fences at my level). Looking forward to that!
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After we had finished our lesson Chris took some portrait photos of Finn – the light was beautiful and the backdrop and colours of the freshly cut stubble fields behind just looked awesome…..