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23Apr 15

Martyn Humphrey: aiming high

It is a little over ten years that Clair Rushworth asked me to give a lesson to the newest addition to her workforce. He was only 16 at the time and did not cope with school very well, loved horses and decided to make it his career He had limited riding experience. "So what do you want to achieve", my first question was. "I want to become a dressage rider", was the answer. "So what are you doing in a show-jump yard?" A deep sigh: "Well, I'm still quite young and I don't want to be too far away from home so I figured the best local yard would be my best option and it won't hurt to be more all-round at first." Hm, I thought, this boy has his head together.
 
Well, yesterday,  I had an email from Martyn Humphrey to say he qualified for Prix St George with his lovely mare Damarisk .I am so proud of him. This is with the one and only horse which I never dared to sit on during my entire training career. She had a terrible temper which she could turn on as quick as lightning. Claire bred her and as she wasn't super talented for the show-jumping Martin was given a good deal. At the beginning of their dressage career many knowledgeable horsemen advised him to sell her. She was built more or less upside down and together with her temper a challenge, to say the least.
 
Martin asked me for advice. The advice was: you like her, despite her shortcomings she's a good mover and if you can handle the challenge then let's give it a go and see how far we get. This kind of situation was right up my ally.
 
We did things slightly differently with her. We changed subjects a lot during sessions and let her choose her own subjects on the bad days and grabbed every opportunity on the good days. We introduced new things early but always treated them as tasters rather than repetitions until the glorious day would come when she would say: I can do this. Even if very occasionally we did put our foot down we made sure she did not know it. And once the confidence set in she would do her new tricks rather well. Although, when standing still and alert, you can still see that her neck is 'different', when in the full swing of things she looks glorious. She is the ultimate proof that conformation can change through correct training. Her extensions are uphill and powerful even if as a youngster she looked a downhill horse.
 
As the pair went through the ranks, she seemed surprisingly on schedule as far as upgrading to the next level. As a matter of fact, every time Martyn reminded me of her age I was surprised how young she was for how well she worked and how much she knew.
 
Martyn had relatively few lessons for what he achieved. Whenever I complimented him on his independence he would say that he always just did as I told him to. Whatever we did or however we did it, it seemed to work. However, it has to be said, Martyn does not only have great feel, he also knows how to take care of his horse in order to get the best out of her at competitions. This combination has been the formula of success for this pair and the challenge continues. Aiming high is an art and Martyn is very capable of doing that. 

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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.

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