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by Anna Collins

What a fantastic, value for money the training day was. Held in the welcoming and friendly atmosphere at New Barn Farm Nr Knutsford on 26th Feb. I went without my horse and for just 8 enjoyed a full and informative day. I learned many things, which will be useful when working with my horse around the stable, on the ground, in general riding and when competing.

Several of the talks and demonstrations were given by experienced endurance riders so they really understand our horses needs and how to get the best out of them.

The emphasis of the day this year was on 'balance' for both the horse and rider. The talks and demonstrations included Flick Edmeston who showed how to assess whether the saddle fits both horse and rider correctly and the consequences of it not doing so. Jackie Lockett enlightened everyone on the use of thermography to assess horse and rider hot spots. Using a thermal imaging camera after 30 minutes light ridden work, we were able to see whether there was symmetry in the horses back, whithers, legs, the saddle and even a riders rump!

A farrier gave a demonstration of how to check for foot and limb balance in our horses and how they use the trimming and shoeing process to create balance and resolve problems.

Centred Riding Instructor Carole Miller got us up on our feet to show us the importance of core strength and balance when riding and how lack of it can really impede our horses comfort and way of going. In ridden demonstrations, it was really great to see how Carole's focus on rider balance and her empathetic approach to instruction, quickly made some impactive changes to the rhythm, balance and impulsion of the horses on the day.

Qualified instruction on Cheshire's only horse simulator was also available. Riders were able to fine tune their riding position and balance without worrying about how 'Rocky' the mechanical horse was behaving.

Andraya Hiscock (a vet physio) gave each horse a full physiological examination to identify stiffness, uneveness and problem areas from forelock to tail. We were then shown and encouraged to use our own hands to massage and palpate the areas of stiffness to give our horses relief from their inevitable everyday aches and pains. I couldn't wait to get home and try this on my mare. It's an excellent bonding process which usually results in some relaxed signs from the horse such as trying to groom you back again!!

Liz Finney also unravelled some of the mysteries of vetting under competitive conditions and gave some invaluable tips on how to make sure we are maximising the health and welfare of our horses. Liz also shared some of her insightful experiences of international competition.

At all of the sessions, the instructors were willing to share anecdotes and valuable lessons from some successful and not so successful events during their years of experience which made everyone from complete beginners to seasoned competitors feel very comfortable.

I only have two regrets about the day:
1. That I didn't take my horse. As an EGB member I could have got all of this valuable assessment for just 20.
2. That more members and non-members didn't attend. What a fabulous day they missed out on.

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