Would you take part in a virtual horse riding lesson? Many riders are and here’s why…

Most of us wouldn’t get very far without the guidance of at least one coach in our horse-riding career; the support and influence of a good coach can completely transform a rider and motivate you to strive to be the best rider that you can be. When it comes to training, it can be difficult to have the mindset and motivation to get the best out of your horse on your own. With an experienced coach that you trust at hand, all of a sudden the unthinkable becomes possible and your confidence skyrockets.

Due to recent circumstances surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 and the lockdown measures taken throughout the UK and beyond, many riders of all levels have been unable to train with their coaches, some being unable to train at all. Lessons are an integral part of progressing as a rider; furthermore, they are also a brilliant activity to enjoy with your horse. We’ve all had that feeling after an amazing training session when you are smiling ear to ear and bursting with a sense of achievement.

Fortunately, several professional riders and coaches have had the game-changing idea of hosting virtual horse riding lessons! Video has stormed the online world and it makes sense to harness the power of communication. We’ve all seen the rise and success of online shows in recent years and virtual lessons are opening up a whole new world for equestrian training and coaching.

We’ve identified a number of coaches, all offering virtual horse riding lessons in the UK during this time, to find out what the deal is with virtual horse riding lessons! Online lessons are a fantastic way to carry on training during the current situation that everyone is facing, however, aside from COVID-19, they are a great option for individuals who perhaps don’t live locally to coaches and don’t have the benefit of transport but do have facilities at home. We’ve spoken to four renowned dressage coaches in the UK who are offering virtual training; Melissa Chapman, Lara Edwards, Hayley Watson Greaves and Jezz Palmer.

Capall Rock caught up with Melissa Chapman, who’s based in Yorkshire and coaches all levels, from the novice to international rider. Mel explained how much of a success the online coaching has been for her and her clients, saying “some of my clients decided they would like to keep having training sessions whilst the lockdown is in place. They all keep their horses at home so that has made it easier too. It’s worked really well and has been a great way of staying in touch, all they need is decent 4G or 3G and a willing volunteer to video. If they have wireless headphones, only one phone is required. Otherwise, I call their videographer from my iPad and the rider from my phone to theirs. I’ve loved being able to have a small bit of normality during these crazy times”.

Many riders are put off by the technicalities of an online virtual horse riding lesson, but the set up is simple. All you need is a good Wi-Fi connection, someone on the ground to video you and some earphones! In an increasingly technologically advanced world, it’s incredibly easy to prepare for a virtual lesson and your coach will explain everything to you. Aside from recording you, it’s also important to have somebody on foot with you for safety reasons.

We also caught up with Hayley Watson-Greaves, International Grand Prix Dressage rider who is trained by the highly regarded Olympic Dressage rider, Carl Hester. As well as offering her expertise in the form of virtual lessons, Hayley offers video assessments to help people progress with their riding, wherever they are in the world. Hayley began virtual training at the beginning of 2019, long before the Coronavirus outbreak, with the aim of helping people between lessons, clinics and training. Hayley explained that the set up is much more simple than it sounds, stating “it’s a great way to teach, nearly the same as if I was there in person and after being asked to travel the world to teach clinics, it enables me to teach from my home. I am now teaching people from around the world! The feedback from these virtual lessons has been well received; clients say that it’s like having a real-life lesson, they feel they get the same amount from the lesson and are having more frequent training rather than waiting for a clinic that they may or may not be able to attend”. Hayley also has a free dressage video series called ‘Ride along with Hayley Watson-Greaves’ which you can find on her Facebook page.

Virtual training is becoming more and more popular and many people expect to carry on with virtual lessons going forward. One of the fantastic things about virtual horse riding lessons is that you can train with riders that would usually be geographically difficult to train with. We hope this blog encourages you to try it yourself, why not get in touch with one of the above coaches and book your first virtual training session? Don’t forget to tag us and let us know your feedback on virtual training – @capallrock


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