On the edge of Wales - a 3 day RingCraft clinic goes down well - despite stom Arwen
Ok, it was a tad on the chilly side, but I had a heater .. and strangely no one was cold after their slot!
Thanks also to Ali Kynaston-Mainwaring for the use of the fabulous facilities at the very impressive Hardwick Hall estate and for the incredible food and hospitality too.
On Saturday 27th Feb, I drove the 192 miles Wast, through a snowy Birmingham and beyond into Shropshire and up to the Welsh border to the stunning Hardwick Hall Estate owned by Neil and Ali Kynaston-Mainwaring. I was welcomed immediately with warm food, drinks and a roaring open fire, before walking the 40 yards from the magnificent Hall to the stunning 60 x 30m sunken arena. Being sunken is incredibly important as only on 2 occasions in the last decade has it ever been frozen and unrideable.
11yo Mimi Kampster (daughter of Rachael and avid Hack Up Bespoke customer) was the first of three that pm on a lovely 13.2hh that set the clinic off to the quality start I was hoping for, all focussing on the ever popular 37A novice test. Mimi, Victoria and Zennor got their eye in quickly and soon got the hang of the format with earpieces, being judged with marks and comments in real time. Improvements were made between their two tests at either end of their slots with the final test being recorded from C for them to take away and work on with their trainers. This was just their first string as they all came back on the 28th (the next day) with a different horse.
Just 1 1/2 miles away, I stayed over with Andy Davis, a fellow Uni student friend for Moreton Morrell back in 1990s, who I hadn't seen for 30 years. Having started up his own very successful horse passport business 15 years ago, I was put up in very comfortable furnishings with great company and a plentiful Chilean Merlot, on their 82 acre pad with 10 horses and 80 x 30m menage.
Day 2 was full on. 6 hours on the trot with some quality work ranging from Prelim through to Elem. Mimi, Victoria and Zenor had their dancing shoes put firmly on their second strings and some truly stunning movements flowed through the morning. They were then joined by nearby Claire Growcott Jones (another Hack Up customer) who neatly showed off some impressive moves within the white boards, and the day was rounded off by Sharon and Becky who impressed from the word go. Sharon's mare Lia nailed the Novice test with approx 78% so we worked on the level up for a good 20 minutes at the end of her slot.
Becky King rounded off the day on her 4yo eventer with some supple and willing work that flowed incredibly well, considering the weather broke and the heavens finally opened. The evening roast and bottle of wine went down that evening just as well as the hot bath beforehand to thaw the limbs.
Day 3 included a very smart 8yo pure dressage combinating smashing out an Elem 59 with grace and ease. The attention to detail was impressive to say the least and the scope to the next level very much within reach very soon indeed. Ali, the owner of the estate was recovering from Covid so sensibly opted to stay in the warm this time, but she's determined to be a part of the next clinic in the New Year.
I feel this could be a regular and very enjoyable trip west for me!!