January saw the three riders from the Wesko Equestrian Foundation, travel down to the Surrey hills to train with mentor, and fellow Toggi ambassador, Pippa Funnell. With each rider taking three horses for training across five days, there was plenty to learn during the week.
Emma Thomas took her 4* ride Buzz, her younger Advanced horse Stix and the very cute 5-year-old Loki.
“A large element of Pippa‘s coaching is the importance of the seat as the central aid. The seat controls the level of collection, is the foundation for bend, and much more. It was using this method that I had some small breakthroughs on the flat with my two older horses. Pippa’s dressage philosophy is to ‘let them dance’ which is achieved through training horses to respond to the seat allowing you to lighten your other aids and allow them to really move underneath you. I can’t wait to apply this across the board at home with all the horses and see where it takes us.
We were also lucky enough to use the amazing facilities over at The Billy Stud. Pippa identified that while both my older horses are talented and consistent jumpers, there is one element that they could both improve on: the use of their head and neck over a fence. To encourage this, she advised me to set up doubles and trebles with take-off and landing poles and A frames. I have already put this into practice at home with great results.
It was quite chilly throughout our time in Surrey, so I was very lucky to have my Toggi kit with me. My lofty jacket and base layers were particularly fantastic. They were lovely and warm, whilst being breathable during intense sessions. Their fit is also great, snug, and flattering, but remaining unobtrusive whilst riding.”
Each rider had their own highlights when it came to the pearls of wisdom that Pippa shared. For Harry Mutch it was the importance of straightness.
“With having three completely different horses there, in both their way of going and the levels they are competing at, it was interesting to see how Pippa’s training would vary to suit each horse individually.
One of the key things I learned from the training is how important it is to have your horse completely straight! It sounds easy but the difference in their way of going when we got them connected and straight was amazing.
For HD Bronze one of his weaknesses was his centre lines but once we got him feeling confident to let go and canter straight down the centre line without me trying to hold him to stop him falling out he felt like a different horse and actually felt so rideable.”
The Defender jacket seemed to be the highlight for Kristina Hall-Jackson, as the perfect defence to the cold weather, but without restricting her movement in the saddle.
“The Toggi Defender jacket was a perfect jacket to work in down at Pippa’s with the cold weather it was warm yet lightweight, and so easy to ride in.
I loved the way Pippa worked and it showed true horsemanship as everything was about keeping the horse happy and travelling forward on its own. If the horse swished its tail or reacted slightly more than anticipated, we then had to read into what signals were sent to the horse that it didn’t like and adapt to a manner the horse liked.
I loved my time spent with Pippa and can’t wait to work with her further. Two of my three horses I took were feisty mares who felt much softer and light in the contact from all the work with Pippa.”
With the start of the new British Eventing season just a matter of weeks away we’re looking forward to seeing these young riders in action.