Germany and Team HB
A bit of background….
I first met Hayley Beresford ‘online’ in about 2010 when I decided that instead of complaining about SA not getting top riders running clinics, I thought I’d be part of the solution and contact Hayley directly. I had always been impressed with her responses to the media and her attitude to sport and horses in general. With The Olympics, WEGs and everything in between that a top professional rider has in their schedule, the clinic didn’t happen for a few years (we ran a very successful one in January 2013), but in that time a relationship was formed.
We met in person at Equitana 2012 where Animal Therapeutics had a stall. Hayley had used the Activo Med Therapy system extensively at Isabel Werth’s so she was very familiar with it and was aware of the benefits it would bring to her stable. So after a bit of discussion we organised to sponsor her and she is already a vital part of the Animal Therapeutics A(T) team!
Back in Germany…
Three trains and taxi and I get to Hayley’s yard for (so far) my favourite part of the trip.
I am welcomed by a smiling team of Aussies which immediately puts me at ease and I know these few days are going to be good. We all have breakfast together sitting outside the stables and chat about horses, business and future plans – a discussion that encompasses most things I love.
The breakfast area outside the stables where the team sits together and eats and discusses the current goings on together.
With around 20 horses at any one time there are many to train each day and much work to do. The environment, while being a productive bustling space, doesn’t have the feeling of stress and hurry that you might expect. Instead there is a steady flow of calm repetition – just like dressage training should be.
Horses getting walked on ‘work’ days (they all have “wellness” days as well which I love)
All horses are trained with an end goal of Grand Prix. In the training, there is an obvious lack of ‘trick riding’ – the work is steady, repetitive and focussed on the basics and quality of the paces and work. For young horses there are a lot of transitions between the gaits, and for more advanced horses the transitions are there but are focussed on transitions within the gaits – developing cadence and always with a focus on self-carriage.
Basti getting ready for work
My favourite – Blickpunct – what a gorgeous boy!
As with all horses, some here are a little challenging or naughty; they are expected to behave and the boundaries are clear. But there is no fighting, excessive rein aids, or pulling. One of Hayley’s regular statements is that “the horse can’t pull and carry at the same time, and you want him to carry”. The end result… relaxed, happy horses that know their job, what’s expected of them and produce the goods. I was really impressed with Hayley’s personal relationship with the horses, they really are a team.
I was fortunate to have several lessons while I was there on Don, who is produced by long-time Team HB member Bella Robson. Bella has done a great job with Don who is now a willing schoolmaster. Not too easy, but does the right thing when you press the right buttons. I got to spend time feeling the higher level of collection, working with half steps to get a feel for piaffe and passage, and on my request quite a bit of learning and practicing of canter piriouettes as this is where I need to be improving at home.
Training with Hayley in German – can life get any better??
While I was there I took the opportunity to provide some additional training on the Activo Med therapy system. I was so pleased to see that Hayley more than utilises this system in her stable with all horses getting warm up sessions before their work and many having additional specific programs for their own personal requirements. To hear her say unprompted many times, how the system has ‘made the difference’ with this horse or that horse was so great; it really validated my decision to bring these products to Australia for our local riders and trainers.
It so wonderful seeing these top horses benefitting from the Activo Med Therapy System!
Activo Med manufacturer, Wulf, joined us so that he could meet Hayley and we could ensure that she had any support she needed in Germany, as this system is such a vital part of Hayley’s team and their goals.
This is where I got to stay…accommodation “at the stables”… pretty nice hey!
Beautiful fields filled with young horses
OK so this is just a taster to whet your appetite, I learnt so much and want to share more with you so I will write some specific articles on training, how Hayley manages a stable like this, some tips from her team, and a “lesson with Hayley”– keep an eye out for those!
So as I somewhat reluctantly retreat from this mecca of Dressage and head to the world of Eventing that is Burghley I will leave you with a fitting quote from Hayley
“When I say go, I want to jump the moon”
This is in relation to the horses being responsive and reactive under saddle, but I think it’s very transferable and reflects Hayley’s attitude about many things.
…see you next time from Burghley!!