Hannah Waugh from HEW Dressage in Dundee tells us about a recent three day clinic with Mathieu Smith.
Mathieu Smith trained in the UK with a variety of top riders, such as Spencer Wilton, before moving to Germany to work at the world famous Schokemohle yard. As dressage is his true love he later left to follow his heart by moving to Sweden. Since moving to Sweden he has had success training and competing to Prix St Georges, taking horses to the Young Horse Championships.
The first day of the clinic was extremely cold – you would think that Mathieu would be used to this living in Sweden, but apparently not! Buckets of coffee and the yard’s insulated indoor school helped to get the lesson under way.
The horses were particularly excitable (and so were their riders) – so Mathieu worked with both horses and riders to bring out the best in them as a team.
One rider went from being unable to sit on the horse while cantering and jumping 70cm cross poles, to being able to kick the horse on and jumping 1m30 spreads, fillers and water trays!
We also saw a beautiful, safe mare come into the arena and paint a lovely basic picture, however, Mathieu and her owner were very aware that the mare was capable of so much more. Mathieu therefore jumped on board and had her working beautifully, covering more ground, engaging her hocks more and even working towards Piaffe. With such simple instruction both horse and rider were able to move on in leaps and bounds.
Day two was another cold day, only this time it started to rain – good old Scotland! Another full day of lessons were underway, but this time mostly concentrating on the flatwork. The riders were certainly pushed to their limits, however Mathieu is very good at knowing when to push a rider on and when to stop. This gives his horses and riders the chance to progress with confidence, without “frying” the horse’s head.
On the last day of the clinic, riders were fighting for spaces to come back for more training. One rider, Matthew, brought along his new pony Ozzy and wowed us all. Matthew (who is a member of Perth Pony Club) was hugely encouraged by Mathieu and went on to sign up for his first BYRDS training.
We’d like to thank Horse Zone for sponsoring the arena hire for this clinic. Mathieu will be back in April for another three day clinic. You can find out more or book on to day one, two or three here.