Prue Barrett and the UK based event riders kick off with the first clinic of 2012

“We had a really good week. The squad training clinic took place at Unicorn Trust Equestrian Centre in the Cotswolds, England. The facilities at Unicorn are amazing. They have a huge indoor school and two outdoor arenas, both of which we put to good use and the facilities for the riders are equally good.

We had about 28 horses at the four day clinic with 12 riders. Eight of those riders made up the British based Australian Elite and A squad with the rest being riders and horses on the Future squad. The show jumping coach, Gilbert Bockman, came over from Germany and did 2½ days of jumping while Brett Parbery and Gareth Hughes covered the dressage coaching. Gareth is a British dressage rider but his family emmigrated to Australia when he was four so he grew up ‘down under’ and is now based in Warwickshire. His link to us came through Brett. It was a hectic schedule for Gareth and Brett as they were competing in France at the same time the clinic was taking place. They flew into UK on Sunday night after competing in the Grand Prix and taught on Monday. Then Gareth flew back to France on Monday for more competition commitments. Brett taught on Tuesday and then jumped on a plane to get back in time for another Grand Prix test … I think we certainly got our ‘pound of flesh’ from them!

I spent the first three days of the clinic with Gilbert, listening, watching and helping him with rails. I have worked with him before and really enjoy any opportunity I get to learn more about his ideas, his philosophies and how he approaches his coaching. Obviously Gilbert, Brett and Gareth are not going to be available at every single event these riders go to so it’s really important that I have an understanding of where that coach is coming from, what they are trying to achieve and how I can support that rider. I also spend time with each rider developing their plans for each individual horse and their competition plan with that horse for the year.

All the horses were looking really good. Two of the Australian vets were at the clinic, British based Graham Potts and Dennis Goulding flew over from Australia to look at the horses as well. Dennis is the eventing team vet so it’s important for him to keep up to date with all the Elite and A squad horses as well as getting to know the horses on the futures squad. Having the vets was also a fantastic opportunity for the riders to ask questions get advice. I certainly think the clinic gave everyone a good start to the year and from here we just keep going forward.”

Thanks to Equestrian Australia for the photos