Top Tips from WFP

I saw this posted on the IEA facebook page passing it on, sharing. Good Horsemanship.

Top Tips from William Fox-Pitt (fei.org)

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Interesting about the let-down over the winter. No one in the U.S. seems to do that anymore - it’s like maybe 1-2 months off, then straight to Aiken or FL to start up again. :woman_shrugging:

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Very few top riders or would be top riders are taking any time off these days.

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And people wonder why some BNRs are only getting a maximum of 3-5 years out of their horses at the upper levels… :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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Most big name riders cycle through a great deal of horses over 4-5 years, because most of the income in the horse industry comes from selling these horses. Most horses are not going to be top 5* horses, and get sold to lower tier riders by design.

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While I absolutely believe a let down period is an important feature of a horse’s training cycle (and gets more important the harder they work, though every horse deserves a mental and physical break regardless of level), my understanding from listening to WFP is that “a long holiday in the field over the winter” is the equivalent of “1-2 months off”. Perhaps I am misunderstanding though. What is the distinction between the two for you?

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Here in the UK there is no BE eventing between late October and early March so there is an automatic break. Basically, no one fancies an event run in cold/wet/mud/frost/snow/rain/sleet/cold/wet/mud - and possibly all that in one day. Horses might be turned out for several weeks and then be brought back into work in time for the early season. Others might spend the winter doing pure dressage or show jumping, indoors, yet others might go foxhunting a bit, others will be hacking or working on developing stamina. Yet others will go off to Portugal or Spain for the sunshine tour. Winter is usually the opportunity to work on the youngsters.

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An interesting read;

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Right, so bar indoor work/hunting/Sunshine tour, typically they would go out to get fat and hairy for November and December, then get brought back slowly with some hacking in early January, then back into work for the back half of January and February so they are ready in early March, correct? (I’m genuinely asking - I don’t live in the UK but that’s always been my understanding of the approximate way things work, and I’d love to be corrected if wrong).

If so, that doesn’t seem so different from the way we do things here (at least at my barn). 1-2 months off, as Fritt says, then bring them back slowly with a couple weeks of hacking before gearing up into proper work to have them ready for the next season. The timelines might shift a bit one way or another within the year, but in general it seems pretty similar to my experience. No?

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@Marigold, yup, turned out to get fat, hairy and muddy. Then begin to bring back into work January or so… But having said that, it does depend on the horse. Many have a good break, particularly the older ones who are well established in their training. A youngster might not be let down for as long, or even at all. There is some debate if it is good for a horse to just stop working or if it better to keep them ticking over. Badminton comes early in the year. The thing with the winter break is that there is time to work with the youngsters and school a lot more. During the season the top teams are on the road pretty much non-stop, returning home to unpack, reload and leave again. The season is pretty intense for everyone.

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I particularly like his warm-up advice - don’t overdo, flat or jumping. Boy do I see a lot of this at events. And he got that right about rider’s nerves. It can sour a horse. Me I liked a fresh ride.

The warm up is about getting the horse thinking forward - not about drilling them.

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Great photo of WFP and QE. It looks as though he’s wondering if he might be bonked in the face by the Queen’s handbag. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yes, pretty much. We’re in Scotland, so our season is even shorter due to weather (mid April, though only 50/50 whether the first couple of events will run or abandon) until 1st week in October, unless anything is going to the young horse champs at Osberton later in the month.

Ours get turned out after their last event (a couple did Blair as their last run in Aug so had Sept-Oct off and are now back in work to do some winter dressage + sj). The others are still out and will come back into work after Xmas. We could leave them later but quite often get a couple of weeks to a month of snow/ice/generally horrendous weather so have to stop/start their work accordingly.

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