June Update From Rachael Claridge

Claridge Endurance Coaching kicked off a series of clinics at New House Farm, Acton Turville on Saturday 4th June. The day commenced with International Endurance Rider, Coach, Breeder and Trainer Rachael Claridge introducing her team for the day to an audience of existing and non- Endurance GB members from across the South West, Midlands and South East.

The weather conditions were perfect for the demonstration of an Endurance GB competitive ride from start to finish. Richard Bristow from Willesley Equine Clinic conducted a veterinary inspection of Wessex Endurance GB members, Heather Caddick and Lorraine’s horses Juliette and Tommy. Rich checked the horses heat rate to ensure the pulse was below 64 beats per minute, checked the horses mucous membranes, dehydration levels through the standard pinch test on the horses lower neck. Richard then assessed the two horses for any lumps, bumps or lesions which could be noted onto the veterinary paperwork prior to the horses commencing the competition. Heather and Lorraine completed the veterinary check by trotting their horses in a bridle, in hand between the cones on a flat surface to allow Richard to assess the horses gait for lameness.

Once Tommy and Juliette had passed the veterinary inspection Heather and Lorraine returned to the trailer park to ‘tack up’ the horses and were then timed out of the arena by Matt Timms the official ‘starter’ and ‘photographer’ for the day. Heather and Lorraine set off ‘on course’ onto the grass gallops and bridleway network close to Badminton Estate for the 15km training event.

Whilst Heather and Lorraine returned to the trailer park to tack up their horses prior to starting the ‘competition’ Richard talked the audience through the conformational strengths of a good endurance horse. Richard used Phoenix Field Arabians 100% Crabbet Arabian stallion Silver Zenif to demonstrate the key features you should look for when purchasing or breeding a potential endurance or riding horse. Richard explained the importance of mentally dividing the horse into three sections; the front, middle and rear so that you can see symmetry across the horse and spot areas of weakness if one section is out of proportion. For example the front of the horse should have a well proportioned neck compared to its rear end, wide chest for good heart and lung capacity, strong feet with straight limbs and big joints. The horse should float across the ground and land equally on all four feet to achieve the most effective and efficient gait.

Brinicombe Equine’s Aimee Redfern and Cat continued the theme of the day by explaining the importance of feeding electrolytes to endurance and performance horses before, during after competitions and training sessions. They explained the importance of gradual introduction of any product and also the tools of the trade to encourage your horse to drink the product by adding it to sugar beet water, sloppy feed or adding chopped fruit to the bucket of electrolyte water when offering it to your horse in their stable, field or at the event.

Heather and Lorraine returned to the arena 45 minutes into their ‘course’ to meet their ‘crew’ for the day; Jane Cooke and Adam Farley. Adam and Jane supplied slosh bottles to both the riders and various options of drink to the horses including plain water, electrolyte water and sugar beet water as previously explained by Brinicombe Equine. The idea behind ‘slosh bottles’ is to have a vessel which has a wide neck on it to allow water to quickly be poured onto the horses neck or hind quarters, so as to cool them effectively. Jane and Adam also offered their riders isotonic drinks and ‘energy foods’ such as bananas, jelly babies and cereal bars plus carrots for the horses. The riders then continued on course for a further 30 minutes.

Jane Cooke explained the principles of establishing a well organised crew car showing her audience what equipment was carried and the reasons why ‘spare equipment’ was necessary. Jane also demonstrated what was contained within the well marked and stacked plastic boxes within the crew vehicle and why it was important that all members of the crew new the location of every item prior to, during and after the event.

Rachael Claridge then continued the session by explaining the difference between a ‘gated’ and ‘non-gated’ hold area and showed her audience what equipment was required, including large pre-filled water buckets containing pre-soaked sponges and plastic jugs plus a folding chair for the rider. Once the rider crossed the hold or finish line in an ideal world they should ‘get off their horse, sit down and be quiet’ to allow the crew to do their job effectively. The crew should all understand their roles in a vetgate/hold area and get the horse untacked, cooled, cleaned, fed and watered appropriately to permit the heart rate to return below 64bpm as quickly as possible prior to veterinary inspection.

Rachael also explained the importance of encouraging the horse to drink, relax and urinate after an event, which reduces the pulse rate naturally. Heather and Lorraine then return to the arena for their final crew and vetting where Tommy demonstrated the urination example perfectly thus reducing his final pulse.

Over the lunch break the audience had an opportunity to look at the different saddles used for endurance including, dressage, free & easy and podium brands. They also watched Carly Amos-Jones and Niki Dow demonstrate the use of the Equi-Aimee training aid on Carlys dressage horse `Whisper`. The use of lunging and training aids are important for all ridden and performance horses to encourage self carriage, long and low outlines and strong core stability to permit them to carry their rider over tough and challenging terrain for long periods of time.
After lunch, Inspire Hypnotherapy’s Georgina Isaac conducted a relaxation and performance enhancing hypnotherapy session with the audience. Georgina explained the correct mind set anyone wishing to ride 15km+ must have.

Rachael continued the afternoon session by explaining how to join Endurance GB and what the membership options give you and your horse. The day was concluded with a quiz to test the knowledge and understanding of the audience throughout the day. The audience was split into groups and the winning team was decided by a quick fire round. The winners were presented with their trophies and a raffle concluded the day’s activities.

For further information about any of the guest speakers mentioned in this article, future Claridge Coaching clinics or Phoenix Field Arabians please visit www.rachaelclaridge.com or contact UKCC Coach & Assessor Rachael Claridge on 07789641014/01454 238942 or email rjclaridge@yahoo.co.uk

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