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12May 20


Lockdown, a word that we never really used until some weeks ago. How fortunate that it coincided with spring and lovely weather. Even more fortunate that I am blessed with a playpen of 60 acres and a nice horse to work with.

But, man, did I miss my pupils! And also my trips to their yards through lanes with hedges covered in primroses and bluebells. The view over the Atlantic on my way to Tintagel. 

Lockdown is now just about over and limited freedom allowed. We can meet with one person outside and are allowed to drive somewhere in the car and hopefully if everyone behaves and keeps their two metres distance we don't run into a second wave of infection so we can keep this freedom going.




However, lockdown has changed us. If anything, has made us all more inventive. It was Claire Daniels who set me up with Zoom so that I am able teach her from my own chair in my own living room. Daughter Tia took on being the camera girl and doing an excellent job.




The first time it took us half an hour to set it up because of several awkward hick-ups. At first I couldn't get a full screen. I tried everything. It turned out Tia had to turn her phone sideways and there it was. Lovely Paso and Claire were now filling up the entire screen in the most charming way. However, there was another problem. Claire could hear me perfectly well, but I felt I was listening to a hurricane when she started to trot and canter. I was just about ready to say that I couldn't really teach her like that when it solved itself. Claire stopped to adjust her headset because it hurt her neck in canter. From then on it improved to the sound of a fresh breeze which was perfectly acceptable.

Last week I got my first WhatsApp video from Helen with her horse Merlin which I watched and afterwards sent her some comments. This morning we already improved on this by her sending the next video through WeTransfer. I pushed on my laptop the start button for the video at the same time as the recording button on WhatsApp on my phone in the hope that this would synchronize my comments with her training session. It worked! Helen called me immediately afterwards and could not hide her excitement.

It taught me something, too. It is actually quite lovely to see pupils make their own decisions about how to set up their training session without me telling them what to do next. No micro-managing possible. It shows me how independent they are which is hugely important. At the end of the day they ride most of the time without me and also go to shows on their own. This is an excellent way to help them to learn to make better decisions if necessary and have a system which they can depend on.




The newspapers are full of it and everyone is talking about it. This virus is going to change the world. It will never be the same again. So many are having a terrible time, locked up in an apartment, losing someone they are close to or having to work in the hospital with all that horrible kit on, day in day out.

I feel so lucky to be where I am with the life I'm able to live. And when hopefully one day we have lived through this ordeal I think that some of the ways of teaching I have now 'invented' with the help of Claire and Helen could stick. Especially in the winter when often lessons have to be cancelled due to rain and wind. The pupil picks his or her own gap in the weather and I can come back with my comments on my own schedule.

So, I think from now on I'll use both methods. Of course I'll take the car because I do want to see my pupils and their horses 'live'. Other times use the computer. Added bonus which shouldn't be underestimated, it saves time and fuel for me and makes the lessons that bit cheaper for my pupils.


Top picture: playing at home

Second picture: Claire on her young mare Ola from my own living room

Third picture: watching a video from Helen on Merlin

Bottom: camera girl Tia and her brother Rio 



Dressage Training

Dressage training needs variety, including pole work

Dressage Training

Dressage training needs variety, including pole work

About Liz Barclay

Her love for horses together with her dedication made her into the trainer and dressage rider she is, today. She is versatile and inventive and likes a challenge; whether it is a technical training question, a confidence issue or a problem involving the management of the horse or pony.


My book 'THE FARMER, THE COAL MERCHANT, THE BAKER...' with the subtitle 'A Personal Impression of the Development of the Gelderland Horse World' has been received with more enthusiasm than I possibly could have hoped for. Click here to contact me and I will send you a copy. £7.50 + postage, or click here to order from Amazon.