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Keep calm and kick on

Your Horse Live, Warwickshire, November 2012

(First published in STATNews, January 2013) 


 

Following on the past years of success bringing the benefits of the Alexander Technique to riders, the Your Horse Live Exhibition provided another opportunity to build up more awareness, understanding and contacts. 

The event is the biggest and most popular equestrian shopping event of the year and part of its success is down to its mix of the commercial with the educational.  Sarah Witkin and her team of teachers organised a very successful stand bringing the Technique to the forefront of riders’ minds.

The two day equestrian event had a 24% increase in attendance this year with more than 18,000 through the gates.  Some of the very best riders and trainers in the world shared their skills and experience from all disciplines in riding from Show Jumping to Eventing, with demonstrations from Olympic medalists Mary King, Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Ben Maher amongst many other well respected figures in the equestrian world.

 

AT riding demos

Interwoven with this high profile line-up, were interactive demonstrations where Sarah Witkin and Sally Tottle explained how the Technique applies to riding, horsemanship and the enjoyment of communication with our equine friends. Their presentations were well balanced with a prominent STAT stand in the "Improve Your Riding" zone, and throughout the two days, a steady flow of interested people came to find out more.

The location in this zone was ideal as it was in the more "thoughtful" area aimed at a variety of ways to improve your riding, rather than simply sales of riding equipment.

Fifteen minute taster sessions for £10 were offered throughout the two days, and often there was a queue, so that time slots were booked in advance.  We worked on people on two static saddles, and also had a table for turns so two or three teachers could give sessions simultaneously.

There was an interesting mix of pupils -riders who had pain or injury limiting their riding, as well as non riders with back problems or similar, including those who had difficulty walking around the exhibition for several hours without significant discomfort.  Many came specifically to the stand from prior awareness of the Technique, or from interest sparked by the demonstration talks.  Through having the annual STAT presence at Your Horse Live, we are developing further links with others in the equine industry -one of several examples of this is an Instructor from the Centered Riding stand next door who specifically came across for a taster session as she wanted to understand how we made such a difference to the posture in the saddle of those we worked on, as she could see this repeated time after time, with very little effort or stress.

Details were taken of all those having a taster session, and the STAT office has contacted them by email since the exhibition, to remind them of how to get in touch with an AT teacher, and to suggest a teacher local to them.

 

AT directions and classical riding pointers

There were often lively discussions of how Alexander directions align with those taught as part of classical riding -forward and up, with lengthening and widening, and knees forward and away all fit well with the riding principles of softness over the horse’s back and light easy steps. Obviously this can best be promoted by a rider with a soft and easy seat. Of course the impact of having the opportunities to talk to potential pupils at this exhibition will evolve in time, but already Sarah has had an email from a riding instructor in North Wales thanking her for giving his pupil a taster session that has allowed his pupil to understand all that the instructor has been teaching for the past few months.

Thank you to all those that helped make the event another great success: Sarah Witkin (Cambs/Essex), Miriam Wohl (Leics), Sally Tottle (Monmouth/Hereford)  Caroline Chalk (Bristol/Wilts/Somerset), Rosie Lane (Powys) Christina Wilton (Surrey) Anita Bennett (Bristol).

Harriet Saunders (Glos)

  

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