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16Jan 15

Princess Anne and sailing

 
Many years ago, when I had just moved to Cornwall, I was invited by two eccentric sisters, whom I had met in the one and only main street of the picturesque harbour town of Fowey, to come and have an evening sail on their racer-cruiser, owned by their also rather eccentric father.
For those who are so immersed in the equine world that they don't have time to be interested into anything else: a racer-cruiser is a sailing yacht on which you can take your family and friends for a comfortable sail, but there is also the boat-speed to be competitive in a yacht race.
I was definitely one of the 'equine immersed' ones as this was a complete foreign world to me. I positioned myself quietly on the side of the cockpit next to something which was called a winch thinking I could hold on to that in case we capsized. 
It was a stunning evening, and everybody was well into their second gin and tonic when the owner asked me whether I would like to have a go at steering. So there I found myself at the wheel of a 35 or so foot sailing yacht with what I now know to be a following sea, supported by a gentle breeze from behind. 
It was not easy at all, as every time a little wave rolled by the boat went one way, I steered the other way, which made us lurch into that direction and so we ended up zigzagging along. Most of the party oblivious to this while concentrating on their possibly third gin and tonic. The owner and his daughters, however, seemed to enjoy my struggle greatly and gave me the odd tip. Gradually I started to understand and get a little feel for what was happening. I was responding to late which subsequently caused for me to over-steer.
Bit by bit the boat started to follow a straighter line and I started to really enjoy it. Whereas initially I was working the wheel hard from left to right and back again, I was now barely moving the wheel and was able to relax in the process. When they complemented me on my improvement I answered: 'It's like being on a horse!' When they recovered from a roaring fit of laughter, they explained to me that some years ago, during Cowes Week (famous regatta at the Isle of Wight), Princess Anne had been a guest on their yacht and had said exactly the same. 
So, the above is about horse training after all. Over-steering a sailing yacht is no different from over-riding your horse. The secret is to feel, speed up your response through practice, which results into less intrusive aids and a happier and better balanced horse.
 
 
 
 

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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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