Another Outstanding Clinic with Nicholas Fyffe09.12.2013
(submitted by Betsy Bougie)
Australian native and rising international dressage star, Nicholas Fyffe, returned to Hampton Green Farm this weekend to educate and inspire us. The clinic, hosted by Andrea Landis, was a great success, filling two days with riders from youth through professional. In addition to being a top professional, Nicholas is a generous, positive and thorough clinician. The riders and auditors often you heard the encouraging words: “You can do this”, “be really patient”, “I have 100% faith that you can do this” and even “I make mistakes”. Nicholas inspired us with his faith in us as riders and the horses we train.
Hands-on approach makes a big impact.
Nicholas rode many of the horses at the clinic so that he could understand what the rider was feeling and to inform his teaching. On many occasions he reassuringly said to the horse “you can do this”, as he worked through each area of resistance or tension calmly and with positive energy. Nicholas’ training philosophy is finding the easiest way to have the horse understand what he wants them to do. “I always want to think about how I can make my riding simpler. When a horse doesn’t understand me then I look at it from their perspective and think “how can I do something with this horse that they DO understand?” and it’s usually getting it done in a very simple way. For me, the less aids the better. The single aid is the simplest aid and it’s the easiest too for the horse to understand.”
This positive and straight forward approach was well received by the attendees. Even when the ride “isn’t so pretty” the effect of Nicholas’ confident approach and keen eye gave riders of every level tools for an incredibly rewarding experience. I myself, count down the days between clinics with Nicholas. Having participated in two Fyffe clinics now, I’m much more confident in my ability to train my 4 y/o PRE Botero HGF.
The clinic was filled with positive comments from riders and auditors.
“He doesn’t make you feel like it’s not in your power to get better”, said professional rider and trainer, Val Noblet, who rode her 16 y/o Hanoverian “Wunderboy” on Saturday. She added, “He also very respectful and is really good at listening to the rider and likes to know how you feel about things covered in your ride. He gives you homework that you can feel positive about and instills in you a feeling that if you put in the work, you’re capable of getting something out of it.”
Rider Bernadette Radke, who brought in her horse Set To Jet shared, “He gives you a REAL lesson as opposed to ignoring you, belittling you or just telling you what you’d like to hear; like “oh your horse is wonderful and you two make a lovely pair” which is what a lot of dressage riders unfortunately DO like to hear.”
What did we learn? or relearn?
Two fundamentals of dressage are relaxation and submission. Nicholas helped each rider find more of both. For some of the top riders the lesson was very technical. For one horse and rider he worked on getting more reactivity in the hind legs for the start of piaffe, which resulted in good activity in the half pass. For my younger horse it was about adjusting his neck position and providing firmer consequences for resistance to my left rein. For others it was about generating more energy and responsiveness to the leg aids. Nicholas stated, “My training is about the easiest way to have the horse understand what I want them to do...It’s not just about using these aids at these times, it’s about reading the horse and the situation every time and acting appropriately.” By the end of the clinic, each of us was sharper with our aids and corrections.
Nicholas was extremely meticulous and challenged me to get out of my comfort zone. He was tough and respectful. He generously shared his ability to train different horses and different riders across all the levels while he delivered 100% focus and enthusiasm from the first ride to the last. That’s what you get with Nicholas Fyffe: incredible talent, patience and wisdom, plus positivity, presence and heart. Val summed it up best: “When you have someone come in with that much positive energy that positive energy gets passed through you and who can’t be inspired by that?”
Thanks for inspiring us once again Nicholas and thank you to Andrea Landis for hosting and coordinating another wonderful clinic at Hampton Green Farm.