Exercises from a great trainer: Ken Clawson

I was only lucky enough to be taught by Ken a couple of times, but I remember the exercises he used, and what he said, as if it were yesterday.

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What would I see in a mirror? Horse going quite nicely, rider collapsing forward, needs more attention!

One key one was to imagine there are mirrors all round the school, so you are always checking your position, straightness, and the how horse is going, etc in them. This prevents looking down, and he sent the riders all off and, then asked them what they ‘saw’ in their imaginary mirror after they had ridden around for a while, and compared that with what he saw. This is a very good exercise.

When it came to jumping, he repeated the great “the hand is the enemy of the eye” mantra, and was very hot on the seat staying light.

He had us coming down a decent grid with reins in 1 hand only on the approach and all the way through, and touching the other hand on the top of our hat in midair over the jumps.

He said that when he makes a rider jump using just one hand, it always improves the way the horse jumps. Of course on the way to the fence it is a test of straightness, and prevents fiddling.

He also that there is one particular GB team rider (of course he would not divulge which one) who rides much better one handed like this!

All these are good exercises to play with when you are on your own.

It was a privilege to be taught by Ken, and I know he is hugely missed.

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