Who says you can’t get competition experience during a training programme? You can at Holger Hetzel Stables, and several of this year’s courses included a competition module.
“Our aim when we train horses and riders is for them to be successful at competitions. But although many of the riders perform really well at home, they sometimes find a show situation more difficult to cope with,” said Holger Hetzel, describing a problem many riders face, “so that’s why we’ve introduced competition riding as part of our jumping course programmes”.
Problem identified and solved! This year, Holger introduced an innovative kind of jumping course. It starts off with two intensive days of training, either one-to-one or in very small groups, where the riders do basic groundwork and practice individual jumps and related distances. Then, on the third day, they compete in an official show at Holger’s place.
The competition day is very educational and effective because the course participants are mentored from start to finish. They walk the course with the trainer, who is also there to help them in the collecting ring and, afterwards, they analyse the video of the round.
The need for competition riding management and support is always evident on the day of the show. “90 percent of the riders rode different lines and strides than we discussed beforehand, which roves that even if you’re a champion in training, you won’t necessarily be a champion at the showground.” All the students gave very positive feedback about the new training concept. “It’s a great idea. And it’s very motivating to have your hard work rewarded. Some of us even won rosettes,” said one. In fact, so many people have been asking when the next courses are being held that Holger has decided to continue them.
Holger Hetzel regularly invites riders of all ages from Germany and abroad to take part in three-day workshops at his ultra-modern training facility. They attract so many riders that closing dates for registrations have to be set up.
Participants receive instruction on the essential aspects of flat work for show jumpers, gymnastic exercises over poles and they practice different related distances and jumping course segments on the first two days. Then, on the final day, they practice course jumping. Both the one-to-one and group course participants receive a DVD of them jumping and a written personal statement from Holger after the course.
“If they spend enough time working on a training programme that is tailored to their needs, all riders are able to make progress and develop a good style,“ said Holger Hetzel. “If they accept this and are willing to make the necessary changes, they’ll ultimately improve and be delighted with the results. That’s what motivates me to keep on holding my workshops. I love helping riders out and encouraging them to make the best of their abilities.” Holger Hetzel always enjoys watching his students make progress and improve their success rate, whatever their level of competition.
Next year Holger will be inviting riders to Goch again for his show jumping workshops so that he can inspire them with his own enthusiasm for the sport. The neighbours probably can’t wait for him to “dust off his megaphone again.”