Top show jumping name and former Olympian, Geoff Billington made his debut at the Cabin earlier this week with clinics and a lecture demonstration that wowed local riders.
The two-time Olympian who achieved individual 6th at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 and a team 8th at Sydney in 2000, gave an inspirational demonstration of how to school your horse to achieve rhythm and balance on the flat and over poles and over a course. He introduced cross poles to teach bounce strides, starting with just one and building up to a row of four, showing just how much a horse could shorten and bounce over several jumps.
The format of the evening took shape with local rider, Yolanda Geddie bringing her string of three from Blackburn. Yolanda first rode her horses before Geoff took to the saddle and showed the audience a thing or two.
The demonstration was delivered in a fun, humorous way - Geoff told stories and cracked jokes while also getting on with the serious matter in hand.
Enthusing about his first time teaching at The Cabin, Geoff said: “It’s fantastic. The facilities are great and the standard of riding is good. I would come back if they want me to - ideally I like to go back every six weeks or two months to check up on their homework.”
Speaking of the evening demonstration, he explained what achieving “show jumping obedience” was all about. He said: “It doesn’t matter what discipline a horse is, whether it’s dressage, show jumping, cross country or driving, all disciplines benefit from the training and the best in every discipline are the ones that are obedient.
“You let horses relax while they are doing their job - you can’t put pressure on top of tension. That is what is difficult - people tend to try too hard and if the horse is tense it’s like putting two live wires together.”
During the evening Geoff stressed the importance of walking the course exactly as you would ride it, counting strides and riding straight to the fence but he also had some tips on when adjustments are needed. He explained about coming off a fence and riding a dog-leg shape to the next, demonstrating how to make adjustments by slightly altering the line.
Yolande was thrilled with her horses, Bishopston Sandro Girl, Bishopston Ranee II and Bishpston Zicher. She said: “They all went really well, it was brilliant.”