Guest blog from Hilary Westall
Held at Jax Johnstone’s fabulous facilities, I really wasn’t sure quite what to expect from a 45-minute session with a man who trains Charlotte Dujardin. Passage, piaffes, and pirouettes perhaps (don’t even ask me what they are), with an expectation that I know what he’s talking about?
I have always been one of those riders who ‘doesn’t do dressage’ (it’s only for people who are too old to jump and gallop madly around the countryside isn’t it? Oh hang on, I’m quite old…).
Getting Zelly nearly two years ago has kind of turned this around for me. She’s far from amazing but we are both learning – and more to the point – enjoying our forays into the world of dressage. And I do think it’s made me and both my horses (yes, even Charlie!) better at what we do across all disciplines.
So, Ian Cast it is then. Down to earth, very pleasant, good ‘bedside manner’ and not remotely up his own wotsit. Already I’m impressed. Using one of those earpieces, he was able to give instructions calmly and concisely without battling the wind and other background noise. I did keep forgetting that it wasn’t two-way so kept talking back to him equally calmly from the other end of the school before realising he couldn’t hear a word I was saying, haha!
We packed a lot into those 45 minutes and by the end of it, Zelly felt like she was, at the very least, HOYS qualified and I was buzzing with all the new skills I could practice. And it made me realise that she really is very capable. With the right rider, ahem.
I swear he tapped into Zelly’s psyche within the first five minutes and had her more sussed out than I have in nearly two years. But I guess that’s why he teaches a dressage superstar.
I’ll definitely sign up for his next clinic – but would quite like him to be talking into my ear every time I do a test in future. Move over Charlotte!