Report from 2012 – Laurent Bousquet

Notes from Laurent Bousquet: The Winning Platform

Guinea pigs:
Catherine Raybold (on 8 yr old bay)
Dicken Reader (on 10 yr old bay)
Mark Jenner (on grey)
All 1* horses.

Working on narrow fences and angles – One of the goals is to avoid any run-outs. The horses must never have the idea that they can go down the side, they must be focused. Stay soft, relaxed, play with the mouth to keep it soft.

Balance position – out of the saddle, using your own balance, relax your joints to follow horse. Don’t be stiff in the legs, otherwise when you are going xc, it will be difficult to follow the horse up and down (over varying terrain).

Make sure you have enough rhythm and impulsion, work on transitions, forward, backward, forward, backward. It is very important always to be very soft when you ask for a transition down. Don’t struggle against the mouth.

Independently from the speed, you must always ride in a forward way. As soon as you ride against the movement, I think you just get into a deadlock and start fighting more, especially across the country.

The horse must be in front of you, and straight, control the horse between two hands and two legs, like a corridor.

Sending on, bringing back, using legs to keep the power otherwise you lose the rhythm and the impulsion.

Use your body to collect, then the two reins.

Don’t be against the mouth. Soft, soft in front of the fence.

Laurent Bousquet didn’t mind if they did 4 or 5 strides between the small fences, as long as the rhythm and balance were good.

Parallel poles on the floor first as a channel to skinnies.

On floor before front rail, of upright and parallel.

Then, two of these in a line.

It is important to make it EASY for the horse – there is just one way to jump the fence straight.

Q & A

How do you as a coach, manage the rider’s temptation to go too fast?

Just try to give them all this sort of exercise (angles, skinnies, twisty courses), and my advice is always take your time, not too much pressure, trust your horse. Do not struggle against the horses, they have to learn to trust you if you want them to really understand what you want.

He stressed the value of watching videos of yourself riding.

Safety is control the speed first, and then direction.

Size of fences.

When you train it is very important to keep and to build the confidence with the horse.
When you train if you are able to jump a 60-70 degree angle and if your horse can do it in a very confident way, if you have a bigger angle or corner on a course, it will do it. If it is a bit scared in the training it will get to the corner on the course and it will remember.
It is very important to build the confidence of the horse.

The issue of what to do when training as opposed to competition heights:

Eric Smiley: horses and riders are short of adrenaline in training, and riders do not ride as well maybe as they do in competition, and if you have fences too big in training then very often you can worry horses, in competition they’ll cope with the extra 6-9″ of height or width much easier than they will in schooling or training.

Laurent Bousquet: “When teaching the French riders and the team at Saumur, even with 4* horses, they NEVER jump Advanced fences. You can jump nicely over a (smallish) fence like this and they will do it, you get them scared of a big oxer or a ditch or a big corner or a big drop into water and I guess that the next time you are in a competition they will be scared. It is better to do it easier when you train, let them see all kinds of fences and then they will do it in competition.

Overall message: the confidence of the horse is the most important thing. The rider should soften before the fence, not pull or fight.

Many thanks to kerry Weisselberg and for such a great report