The first Wobbleberry Rally got off to a great start on December 20th. As I drove into Cambridgeshire Horse Sport Academy in Milton, there were quite a few horse boxes with some eager heads peaking out which made it feel very exciting. The weather on the day, while fresh was gloriously clear and sunny.
The day began with a short classroom session with Georgie Horrell introducing the two qualified instructors, Sara Horrell and Frances Murray who explained what to expect on the day out at eventing, as well as the plan for the day.
Each wobbleberry received a pack with important information inside including a BE 90 dressage test and a “Things to remember when eventing” sheet. Also included was an observation form that we kindly ask everyone to fill out who attended so we can continue to make these rallies and training the best we can. Then it was time to mount up and get riding!
There were 2 riding sessions, dressage and a jumping session while one group observed. The group not riding were able to watch the progression of the mounted groups and get to know each other officially, and not just on Facebook! Observing on the ground is a great way to watch how the instructors work and to learn the difference between what one might think is naughty behaviour in the saddle is actually the horse trying to figure out what is being asked of them.
There were 3 phases for the the jumping course; Francis had set up a series of poles to start which would enable her to watch the horses gait and straightness. This is also an effective way to watch the partnership between horse and rider. Then it was off to canter 20m circles over poles which created more balance, suppleness and bend. What was great to see were the horses really getting the exercise and picking up their feet; there were a few launches over the poles which always creates a bit of excitement!
Finally it was as Frances called 'the wiggly bit' which is an alternate off-set cross poles to encourage the rider's seat, the bounce for the horse and build confidence in the saddle. One key phase I heard Frances call out was "Keep your eyes up; their his poles, not yours!"
She also encouraged the use of fillers, which she left up to 'frighten' the rider( in the best way possible). The idea is that the more you practice what you will experience at a real show, the more confidence you will create during training sessions. Shows are hectic and overwhelming, preparing ourselves by working with different types of obstacles is key to keeping calm and collected when competing.
There was lots of great flat work happening with Sara who was encouraging movement and suppleness with response to aids. Some of the horses were experiencing their first time out in awhile and it was great to see how Sara kept gently encouraging the best out of horse and rider. I think Julia Godbold is 'one to watch' in the upcoming months; she was cracking on!
I wasn't able to stay the rest of the day due to other committments but what I was able to witness was incredibly encouraging and I feel the riders felt the same. Everyone had big happy grins on their faces after and finishing an eventing 80 is now becoming a reality. Another highlight was the role reversal of having a few daughters on the ground supporting their Moms in the saddle!! Prizes were also given out at the end of the day, which is always a nice way to finish.
The next wobbleberry rally is December 28th with the two amazing instructors, Sara and Frances held at the same location. In order to keep quality and attentive care, we are keeping the groups small as we all build up the confidence. The wobbleberry rallies will be expanding into other regions shortly so please check with your reps.
Thanks to Georgie for putting it together and everyone who contributed to making it a fantastic and educational day out.
For more info on how to support, please visit Wobbleberries!