Private lessons with professional riders Jo Whitaker and Angela Weiss

Richard is always looking to improve his riding, so when the opportunity came along to have lessons with professional riders Jo Whitaker and Angela Weiss he jumped at it….

Rich pro
Richards lesson with Angela Weiss was at her yard on a bitterly cold and snowy day and was attended by Biomechanics coach Teresa Dixon who was seeing Richard ride for the first time. Teresa was taking the opportunity to see how Richard was applying all her coaching to date and to spot areas that still needed to be corrected. It was also the first time Angela had seen him ride so understandably she initially wanted to observe Richard before setting to work on the lesson. 
Richard continues …..
The first part of my lesson with Angela was warming up, this gave her the opportunity to observe both Tommy and I and gave me the chance to settle some of my nerves and become accustomed to the bitter cold. 
Once warmed up, Tommy and I were asked to go on to a 20 meter circle, initially in walk and then trot. It took me some time to settle Tommy in this new location and as a result our circles were in need of correction. 
rich pro_big_jump 
Angela worked with us to get a better shape circle before moving on to looking at the quality of our trot.  The trot needed to be a lot stronger and forward.  I was instructed to give more effort and Tommy reacted well, giving a more active response and a better outline. The trot was quite hard to maintain, but when we moved up to canter it was the complete opposite and we needed to collect more and slow things down.
It was interesting how different Tommy's reaction was to these two paces - a slow labored trot, but a high energy canter. I knew it was me that had to change if we were to improve the canter - Angela instructed me to sit more upright and to lean back to the outside a little, immediately these changes had an effect and  Tommy slowed down making him more balanced on the circle. The lesson all too soon came to an end, but in a very short period of time Angela had given me some new approaches to my riding that delivered instant improvements.
rich pro_and_joe
A few weeks later my yard owner, Katy Thomas, booked Joe Whitaker to come and visit and give us all lessons, this was a great opportunity and ideally timed as Tommy and I were ready to take our next step in jumping.
Tommy and I were last to have our lesson, and sadly the rain had started, but it was not going to stop us learning all we could.  We warmed up and soon Joe had us jumping over a cross pole where he was able to spot the first thing that needed to be corrected.
Tommy and I often take a flying leap at jumps, and today was no different. To correct this Joe set up a small jump with a pole 3 meters away on either side, he then asked us to trot over the jump. The idea was to jump in trot and use the poles to help Tommy get much closer to the jump on take off and to not run off on landing. 
rich pro_canter
Our first few tries felt a bit wayward, but it wasn't long before Tommy got the idea of what he had to do. To progress from this exercise a second jump was set up with no poles on the ground.  We were asked to canter and jump and if Tommy took a flying leap over the jump we were to stop immediately on landing, however if he jumped correctly then we were to continue cantering round and jump again (not forgetting to tell him he was a good boy).
A few weeks later Joe was back to teach at the local riding club, so, I booked a lesson and was able to continue from where we left off. This time I was in a group lesson rather than a private lesson.  On warm up Tommy was very excited due to there being horses here he had never met before (meeting new 'friends' is very exciting for Tommy!)  As we sped round the school taking huge leaps over the cross pole, it must have seemed to Joe that Tommy and I had taken nothing from our first lesson.
Rich pro_jump
After a few minutes Tommy began to relax and get more under control as we worked over a single jump that had been set up. Jo was soon asking us to return to trot after each jump to regain some control and slow down. We improved on each jump gaining more of a flow to our round. 
On our final time round we cantered the whole way and didn't need to circle to regain control at all‚Äö√Ѭ∂. The best bit was, by the end of the lesson Tommy had jumped clear. 
I am so proud of Tommy and how positively he responds to new  instruction - our jumping is definitely improving and It must be getting close to us being able to try our first show jumping competition‚Äö√Ѭ∂. Wow did I really say that!

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