Imogen's unforgettable day at Stanley Grange Stud!
The week we should have been at Equifest was a sad one for Imogen but there was one thing keeping her in high spirits, she was going to Stanley Grange Stud to have a lesson with Jerome Harforth as part of her Horse Quest 2020 Showing Bursary prize. The trip had been rearranged due to COVID but it was very much anticipated.
After a late night bathing Pinewell Hector, making sure her tack was clean and that the wagon was loaded with snacks, we set off for a long drive to Great Ayton. After a couple of wrong turns we arrived just before lunchtime. Imogen was so excited as she was greeted on the drive by Sally and Jerome. She unloaded Hector and put him in to a fabulous stone stable for a rest before her lesson, whilst we were treated to scones and tea.
Once refreshed, we tacked up and went in to the arena. Hector was beautifully behaved as always as Jerome worked on Imogen’s position and getting Hector moving forwards, working over his back. They the. worked on canter and he gave her some tips to help her look up and keep her heels down, encouraging her to try her best. Jerome also gave her some great advice on using the arena to its best, allowing Hector to have the smoothest ride. They then worked on her show, Imogen has only recently started cantering so it was amazing to get tips on how to best present him to the judge.
Then came Imogen’s favourite bit – running him out in hand. This is something she has not done much of but it will be so important as she competes in qualifiers where she has both ridden and conformation judges. She learnt invaluable lessons about how to stand him up for a judge and how to run him out. Jerome also gave us some great turn out tips as showing show hunter ponies is new to us, previously focusing on dressage horses and mountain and moorlands, although it was reassuring to know we were on the right track.
Here’s just a selection of Jerome’s top tips that he shared with Imogen:
To help sit up straight, push your neck to the back of your collar
To help keep her heels down, Jerome put his hand under her heel and told her to push down. This gave her the feel of pushing down and helped her to know how it feels to do it correctly
When walking away and trotting back to the judge, make sure you do a large left circle in walk at the top so that you can trot straight back to the judge without them having to move
Focus on a point in the distance to make sure that you are nice and straight
When coming across the diagonal, hit the track slightly early to allow the pony the best chance at getting a smooth transition in the corners
When going for canter, make sure you have a big, forwards trot first to allow for a smoother transition
When standing up in hand, the legs on the outside should be slightly wider than those on the judge’s side, then as the judge switches side, move the pony slightly back to switch legs. This allows the judge to see all legs clearly and see that they are clean
For Hector, his tail needs to be slightly shorter, approximately 1”. We also need to trim the top of his tail further down (approx 2”) to show off his back end further
Make sure the noseband does not sit too low on the pony’s face, we took Hectors up 3 holes at the start of the lesson which made a big difference to his overall appearance. And if any on the straps don’t have keepers, use a plaiting band to secure it into position
We then put Hector back in the stable, had a lunch break (Imogen declared the chocolate cake to be delicious!) and had a tour of the yard. She got to meet the foals and spend time with them, and the beautiful stallions. It was also great for Imogen to hear about the dressage stallions too, showing her how her dressage training with work along side her showing to help get the best out of her ponies.
And then it was time to leave, although it was difficult to drag her away from cuddling the dogs and stroking the horses! Imogen has decided after visiting that she wants to go and work on a professional yard when she is older now, the visit has inspired her so much.
Thank you so much to Horse Quest and Jerome for organising the trip, it has made her year and given her so much motivation to get out and keep improving for the 2021 show season!
And here's what Jerome had to say...
It was so lovely to meet Imogen, Hector and her family.
Imogen was so enthusiastic and lovely to teach – very responsive. She tried so hard and put so much effort into it.
Hector is a great little pony – Imogen has just started cantering him so we were really encouraging their canter work forwards – Sarah commented that they achieved the most canter work they had ever managed in one session. We talked about how to improve his natural canter at home to make it more comfortable for Imogen to sit.
Hector was presented at a really good weight – we talked about some tack adjustments and I gave her some tips on how the look could be improved – and a few suggestions for trimming / how to further improve his turnout.
We also worked on Imogen’s riding position and some tips to practice at home – and hopefully next time I see her we’ll see that in the progress that she’s made. She already has a particularly good lower leg position and a natural seat.
She’s certainly a jockey to watch out for in the future – be that in Showing or Dressage!