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Posted on Jul 15, 2016 in Eventing, Paul Gaff, Riders blog

Great blog from Paul Gaff

Great blog from Paul Gaff


A lot has been going on since last month’s update, the horses have all been out competing regularly and performing very well and a few topics within the sport I feel that need addressing.

I would like to start by introducing our newest member of the team Courtney Geal and her horse Nyala.


(Gift )

At the beginning of June we went to Commonleys farm to hold a lecture demo for Abingdon and Witney college open day where I took Chacco Boom and Abacus to show the scales of training the modern competition horse. Following this Gift O’ The Gab (Top Image) had her first event at Keyso where she placed 9th and Ecclesmachan was 5th at his final run before stepping up to BE100. Followed by a mixed weekend at new event Offchurch Bury – a brilliant new venue near Leamington, Warwickshire and Maddie with Abacus at a rather muddy Chepstow. All this winters hard work with Charlie Hutton Dressage really strting to show with all 5 horses scores ranging from 25 – 28, and Gift leading her section as the only score in the 20’s! Abacus was 7th in the Novice while Ecclesmachan was 8th in the 100 and Chacco Boom was 5th after a 26 dressage and double clear we collected a few time penalties after a steady xc. Bastille produced his best test to date on a 28 and show jumped clear but a rather unkind jump into the water caught us out and I decided to call it  day with him, and Gift made a small mistake on the sj and again I made the decision to try some new breaks rather than continue.

boom(Chacca Boom over at Trakehner)

As we all know producing young horses is a real rollercoaster and it is really important to remain positive and to always work positively through problems.

My main topic of conversation this month is to discuss recent concerns with course designing and building I have and my concerns regarding unqualified and uneducated instructors providing less than satisfactory training. But firstly –  I have ridden a few courses recently I feel have been trappy, backwards and misleading for both horses and riders and I think it’s very disappointing that young horses and riders are being trapped into making mistakes rather than positively educated.

Increasing numbers of funny angles, odd striding related distances and this new trend of gappy hanging log types,  gappy roll tops in front of water and taking away ground lines!? I think this needs discussing in head office. Don’t get me wrong, I am always hugely in favour of Brtish eventing and I love my sport and our governing body but especially below novice, at BE100 and BE90 you have three types of combinations or horse and rider – Young horse experienced rider, young rider experienced horse or both young/inexperienced…. Educate don’t punish for making mistakes…

I would always encourage people to affiliate rather than go to go to unaffiliated due to the stricter safety standards regulated by the governing body of British Eventing but feel with recent events, falls and the tricky courses I’ve seen this season something needs to be done.

By all means have the courses up to height and with technical questions but provide alternatives, make sure competitors are educated well enough to know to use the alternatives and don’t encourage problems.

eventing(Image of Chacca Boom)

I also think they should have a grading system for all levels so amateurs know what to expect and which courses are good to move up to for a first time or to run at before stepping up to the next level. E.g. BE90 I II and III and so on. It is also the responsibility of competitors to make sure they seek experienced qualified and competent instructors and actually learn how to ride cross country safely – yes they are more expensive but there is a reason for it.

Qualified and experienced coaches have years of training, education and costs behind all the courses, insurance and qualifications taken, from BHS & UKCC to first aid courses, DBS checks and CPC courses taken. There is a worryingly large number of unqualified and incompetent trainers teaching for low prices to suck in clients but giving less than satisfactory and dangerous training.

The amount of people I coach who have never been taught the most basic of skills, it’s hardly a wonder there are so many accidents. How many people know the basic scales of training? Very few in my experience.


I would be interested to know people thoughts, and feel these are topics that need addressing somehow.


For now July holds the first few 5yo qualifiers for Boom, Bastille and Gift and the others stepping up the levels again, and one of my favourite times of yeah Pony Club camp with the Beaufort branch!



Happy riding and good luck to all.

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