Tag Archives: training

Be an efficient and effective rider. 10 Top Tips – Core strength, mobility and suppleness will make you ride better

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How effective are you in the saddle.  Have you ever tried to tune in to what is happening under your saddle? Are you aware of the exact response from the horse to any given movement by you?

Are you a bit fuzzy on how the whole thing actually works. You know the basics, you ride inside to outside, you sit centrally in the saddle with subtle changes in weight reflected in the movements of your upper and lower body.  Legs controlling behind, shoulders the front and your core the power house creating energy, swing, impulsion, and lastly your seat providing a stable point from which to perform all this with a set which is light, mobile, agile, and controlled.

All this without even thinking about your spot on timing and direct ion, cadence, pace, suppleness and balance from your horse.  So much to think about all at once. Sometimes it’s easier to forget that there is a horse under you and concentrate on recreating the correct body shape needed to make efficient and accurate aids.

You can go a long way to helping yourself become efficient and effective in the saddle if you are fit and agile.

The key to being a effective rider starts on the ground.  You need to be fit.  Riding and mucking out  (unless you are one of our professional riders and trainers) is not enough you need to get out and to aerobic sports like running and swimming, fitness classes or dancing.  Dancing is very good for a rider as it helps with a sense of erythema and makes you agile at the same time.  However key to all progressive riding is being strong and mobile in your core.  Here are a few simple exercises which can help you start to strengthen you central core/abs.  As always with any fitness advice if you experience pain then you must consult your doctor before progressing further.  Taking part in fitness classes may be a way to get you motivated.  There is nothing better than the thought of thinking people will notice you haven’t been doing your ‘homework” to get things moving along a pace!

However if you want some exercises you can do at home with a minimum of equipment her are five simple ones to start you off.

1. Reverse Crunch with Resistance Bands

Targets: transverse abdominals

Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms down by your sides, holding one end of a band in each hand, with the band wrapped around tops of shins. Raise your knees toward your chest until your hips leave the floor. Hold for 3 seconds; lower to start. Repeat for 2 sets of 10 reps.

2. Knee-Ups

Targets: rectus abdominus

Brace yourself between the backrests of two sturdy chairs, keeping elbows slightly bent, shoulders down, neck relaxed, head and chest lifted. Keeping your abs tight, exhale and then very slowly bring your knees to your chest without swinging back and forth. If your form falters, try raising one knee at a time. Build up to 3 sets of 15 reps.

3. Leg Swings

Targets: obliques

Lie on back with arms out to sides, legs and feet pointing up. Exhale and draw navel in toward spine as you lower legs to left side about 5 inches from floor. Return to start and repeat on right side. Keep switching sides for a total of 15 reps. Work up to 3 sets.

4. Ball Leg Lift

Targets: transverse abdominals

Lie facedown on a ball and roll forward until your hands are on floor and just the tops of your feet are flat on ball. Keeping your back and right leg straight, slowly lift leg a couple of inches toward the ceiling. Hold for 3 seconds, then lower. Do 10 reps, then switch legs. Add 2 repetitions each week as long as you can maintain perfect form.

5. Butterfly Crunch

Targets: rectus abdominus (“six-pack”)

Lie on your back with the soles of your feet together as close to your body as possible, with knees bent out to sides. Place hands behind your head, elbows in line with ears. Keeping your back flat on floor and stomach muscles contracted, exhale and curl your chest up a few inches off the floor toward your legs. Lower to start. Repeat 10 times.

6. Side to Side

Targets: obliques (sides)

Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, with your arms at your sides. Exhale and contract your abs as you slide your right hand toward your right foot. Your head and neck should remain aligned and your lower back pressed to the floor. Return to start, then switch sides. Repeat 15 times.

7. Front Plank

Targets: transverse abdominals

Start on your hands and knees. Keeping your back and ab muscles contracted, drop down to your forearms while extending legs out behind you so you are resting on the balls of your feet. Be sure to keep your back straight, hips up, and neck relaxed. Hold for 3 seconds, then return to start. Repeat 10 times.

8. Fingers to Toes

Targets: rectus abdominus

Lie on your back with your legs straight and extended toward the ceiling, with arms down by your sides. Exhale and contract your abs as you crunch up from your waist and extend your hands toward your toes. Keep your back flat on the floor. Work up to 2 sets of 15 reps.

9. Scissors

Targets: obliques

Lie on your back with your fingers resting behind your head. Keeping your abdominals tight, raise your left knee and touch it to your right elbow. Return to start, then raise your right knee and touch it to your left elbow. Alternate for 15 reps in a smooth, continuous motion, keeping abs engaged and hands relaxed so you don’t pull on your neck. Work up to 2 sets.

10. Obviously don’t do all of these at once!! Work through the list joining on new sets as you get stronger.  Do not perform moves badly.  Stop and rest of do fewer repetitions until you are ready to move on.

Improving your horses core strength from the ground

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Horse Scout blogger in meditation mode: Whether you are training a top class show jumper or Eventer as an athlete or working with young horses or perhaps trying to balance a big horse under you as per my recent blog. Then working from the ground is a useful and effective way to begin working on core strength with your horse.

Core strengthening exercises strengthen and stabilise the spine and pelvic muscles as the horse responds to pressure over specific areas. If you have strong hands, you can apply pressure manually; if not, use a metal thimble over your thumb or finger. Perform three to five repetitions, allowing the muscles to relax for a few seconds after each exercise.

Some horses, especially those that are girthy or cold-backed, may resent certain procedures. If resentment persists, omit the exercise until you’ve consulted with your veterinarian.

The following exercise stimulates lifting of the base of the neck, sternum, and withers through pressure on the ventral midline between the forelimbs. These movements are essential for self carriage.

Sternal, withers, and thoracic lifting exercise:

1. Stand facing the horse’s side, just behind the elbow.

2. Apply upward pressure to the sternum (breastbone) in the middle of your horse’s chest, between the pectoral muscles. Gradually slide your hand back between the forelimbs and behind the girth line while maintaining a steady upward pressure.

3. The horse responds by initially lifting through the sternum and withers. Then as the pressure moves further back, he responds by lifting in the thoracic area immediately behind the withers, and finally in the thoracic area under the saddle.

Note: the amount of pressure needed to stimulate a response will vary between horses, so start gently and increase pressure gradually, or use a slow stroking action until the horse responds.

  1. Balancing Exercises

Balancing exercises improve balance and stability by inducing the horse to use active muscular contractions to shift the centre of gravity toward his haunches and/or to resist displacement of his centre of gravity. A horse uses his muscles in some of the balancing exercises to shift his centre of gravity, while in others, he uses his muscles to resist a shift.

The next exercise stimulates activation of the pelvic stabiliser muscles to maintain the horse’s balance.

Tail pull:

1. Stand to one side of the hindquarters.

2. Take hold of the horse’s tail, pull it toward you by flexing your elbow. (The goal is not to pull the horse off balance, but to stimulate resistance in the pelvic stabiliser muscles.) You’ll see the muscles around the stifle contracting as the horse resists the pulling force.

3. You can gradually increase the amount of force applied to the tail or the number of repetitions as the muscles get stronger.

Remember to check with your veterinarian before including such exercises into your horse’s training regimen; this is especially important if the horse is recovering from an injury.

Core training exercises can be done without a warm-up–for example, in horses that are recovering from injury–because the horse controls the amount of motion, and loading of the joints is less than during locomotion.

This advice has come from Dr. Hilary Clayton —equestrian, veterinarian, author, researcher, and clinician — is known internationally for her ongoing contribution to the understanding of equine biomechanics particularly relating to performance and conditioning.   Dr. Clayton’s targeted studies in bitting, saddle fit biometrics, kinematics and kinetics, and locomotion have provided valuable insight into the mechanics of equine sports, the interaction between rider and horse, and the effects of various rehabilitation techniques.  You can read about her here of buy her book The Dynamic Horse.

Justine Armstrong-Small – Showing – Rider/Groom Wanted – Epping forest

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Just Riding is Justine Armstrong-Small’s riding school and show production yard.

Well known in the showing world as regular competitors on the County circuit, team Armstrong-Small have enjoyed many successes at HOYS & RIHS.

From their Essex base they provide a wide range of services from livery and individual lessons to production, breeding, riding school activities and horse & pony sales.

Just Riding is set in an idyllic spot with a well equipped equestrian facility located in Epping Forest.

They are currently looking for a rider/groom

We are looking for an experienced rider used to doing breakers and completion young horses to join our team. Lots of riding for the right person

Click here to find out more

Horse Scout International Listings – Professional livery and training facilities even in Egypt

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Horse Scout International  Listings – Professional livery and training facilities even in Egypt

Are you thinking of visiting Egypt and want to do some riding while you are there, The Stallion Centre sounds wonderful.  Below is a piece taken from their website describing their facilities and where they are situated.

“Stallion Equestrian Center” is a specialised private center for teaching horse back riding at any stage for children & adults. it offers a high standard of training, it aims to develop highly qualified new riders and fulfill all riding disciplines and interests including Beginners Lessons, Dressage Lessons & Jumping Lessons.

The perfect choice for those who love nature, by providing them with the opportunity to observe the great beauty of Sakkara desert, and Wadi el Rayan’s beautiful lakes and desert ,our overnight trips to the old roman village and gold British mine situated between the mountains of Hurghada and other trips to explore the magnificent nature among the mountains of Sharm El Sheikh.

We have started our own horseback-riding dream by building our first private Equestrian Center in Ahmed Orabi. Over the past few years, the owner and trainer, Mr. Mohamed Khalifa, managed to develop a strong foundation with beautiful well trained horses, cozy, comfortable atmosphere, and well equipped stables with modern facilities.

Stallion Equestrian” Center started by establishing it’s first facility located in Ahmed Orabi, Cairo- Ismailia Desert Road with only 8 stables, 1 paddock, a lunging area, and 5 riders. It was known since then to be a very welcoming, safe, and dedicated place for teaching young children the art of horsemanship.

The owner, Mohamed Khalifa comes from a family of horsemen deeply involved in the horse world. He started riding at the age of five in Feroseiah club. Then, by the age of fifteen he joined the Armed Forces show jumping team.

He was one of the pioneers who understood the importance of private centers to the sport. Until the 1990′s all sports were only available in big clubs, where memberships are usually very expensive and hard to get. Then people started to be interested in private centers specialized in specific sports like tennis, bowling, golf, and horseback riding.

Being the pioneers in establishing the first private Equestrian Center specialized only in the equestrian field in Egypt gave us the confidence over the past few years, to develop a strong foundation withbeautiful well trained horses, cozy comfortable atmosphere, and well equipped stables with modern facilities. “Stallion Equestrian Center” is not only for beginner children! Adults as well are offered training at all levels.

Improvements in the center were done by Phases. Phase one we increased the number of stables to 34 second phase we added the Royal Stables , which consists of 13 box, tack room, washing area, separate food storage, trainer residence, grooming box, one lunge and a lightened riding arena. Third phase we added the Arabian Stud, which consist of two stables one for breeding (9 boxes) and the second for raising(8 boxes) including boarding for grooms & storage.

“Stallion Equestrian Center” has become a second home for all its riders. The families love to go there enjoy the sport and the homey environment. They all grew to be a big family celebrating most of their occasions there, with parties and barbecues!

Your Yards – Spotlight on the North coast

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If you are looking for lessons or livery or even a holiday activity on the North coast look no further.

The North Humberside Riding Centre has something to make everyone happy. They are a British Horse Society Approved Riding, Training and Holiday Centre established in 1965.

Situated near the Spurn Peninsular on the heritage Coast the centre has superb riding on the beach and river banks, bridle ways and quiet country lanes.

The cross country course is on the bank of the Humber Estuary.

Facilities also include an Indoor School and a large all weather outdoor school.

We train riders for examinations and competitions, we introduce beginners to the delights of riding and provide instructional fun holidays for children and relaxing or energetic breaks for

We can offer you the very highest standard of instruction. We cater for all standards from the beginner to the advanced. Riders trained at the Centre have represented Great Britain in Holland, Germany, Belgium, France and Sweden and although we cannot promise that a short course at Easington will ensure you a place in the Great Britain team, we can guarantee that you will receive the very best instruction.

Adults are very welcome outside school holiday periods.

We have limited accommodation at the Centre or accommodation is available locally from modest B&B to more expensive hotel.

Stabling

Riders look after their own horse/pony during the course and instruction in stable management is given with prizes awarded for the best looked after ponies each week. Following an assessment lesson on Sunday afternoon the weeks riding is planned according to ability. Between six and ten young riders are taken each week and either ride as a group or as divided accordingly to age and ability If there is a wide difference in experience.

The larger indoor school provides a perfect working area for lessons and allows riding to continue unaffected by the weather.

The Centre is approved by the British Horse Society. It is open all year and during the school holidays, courses are run for unaccompanied children. Under the professional friendly guidance of the Centre’s staff, children combine serious instruction with pleasure activities.

The stables are ideally located with rides along quiet country lanes, by-ways, plus miles of sandy beach and riverbanks. The cross-country course offers a variety of fences for both the novice and the more experienced rider.

TRAINING VACANCY

Training full or part time available for BHS stages 1/11/111/PTT and riding and road safety

Want to Shine in the Showring? – What are the judges looking for?

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There is so much to know about the show ring.  Take a look at the long list of seventeen Top Tips which give a clue for every important conformation requirement for a well made horse to shine in a Ridden Horse Show.

Not only must your show horse be immaculately turned out, as must you, he should be impeccably schooled and ready for anyone to ride. Before venturing into the show ring make sure you understand what is required of you and of your horse.

Learn ring craft form the best , go on a course, attend clinics or even livery your horse at a showing yard.  That way you can take the show season on knowing you have prepared everything as well as you possibly can.

Horse Scout has Justine Armstrong Small listed on its professional rider pages.  She runs a yard training people and horses for the showroom and also hosts clinics specifically aimed at those who want to perfect their ringcraft.

  1. If you want to take part in riding Horse Classes not only is the ride itself important but, ultimately, it will come down to type and conformation. If you are buying a show horse you need to look for a horse which should be of Thoroughbred type, (really more of a National Hunt type) with
  2. plenty of good quality, flat bone,
  3. deep through the girth and
  4. with strong powerful second thighs and a
  5. well rounded backside, lots of muscle and strength,
  6. short across the loins and with the length of back concentrated on the quarters, so that you have a powerful engine.
  7. They need to be able to gallop.
  8. A very sloping shoulder is excellent, so there is plenty to sit behind and the horse is able to have a long stride,
  9. with a neck coming out of the top of the withers and a good length, narrowing elegantly behind the head so that the head and neck are not restricted by a fat thick structure.
  10. To make an impression in the ring the horse needs to be able
  11. to flex and bridle happily and comfortably, and
  12. be able to breathe easily while being ridden in collection.
  13. The body should be in proportion and foursquare,
  14. the legs, especially viewed from the front should not appear too close, or too wide.
  15. The horse should move straight, without dishing or plaiting and stand straight on all four legs on good well shaped feet.
  16. A good looking head is very desirable, but there is quite a lot of variation; from a dished slightly Araby head, to a longer straighter, more thoroughbred head, what is not wanted is a tiny pony head or anything with a common cobby aspect, roman nose or bumps between the eyes!
  17. Good big second thighs are essential and if the tail is lifted there should not be a wide space of nothing under it (split up behind) – there should be plenty of muscle. Mares do tend to be longer in the back than geldings because they have to carry foals

 

Looking at loosening up muscles, joints and your horses mind.

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Looking at loosening up muscles, joints and your horses mind.

When you have mounted your horse allow him to walk off on a soft low rein with a loose contact and encourage him to stretch forward and long in his neck. This stretches the ‘nuchal ligament’ which runs from his pole to his withers and in turn pulls on the ligaments which run along the top of the vertebrae and gives him time to get used to your weight.  When you feel he has developed a loose and flexible walk and is listening to you then move into trot keeping the contact soft and low and start in rising trot on large figures of eight in a slow steady trot. This will help him relax and adjust his stance to easily take your weight. Also by riding your horse in this way also it allows for more swing through his back, which is a positive movement to promote.

It’s important to start and finish your ridden session with your horse in a long and low contact to let him use his nuchal and supraspinous ligaments to support his back, particularly as he’s warming up or when he’s tired.

Once your horse is loosened up and moving freely in the large movements you can start to increase his temperature and circulation by asking him to move into canter this will increase his cardio and breathing rates and oxygenate the muscles ready to start working. It also exercises the core muscles which have to extend and contract more in the canter than they do in the trot.

Once you feel he is breathing well and has warmed up then allow him to have a breather and walk for a while. During this walking period you can concentrate on flexibility. Just like people horses will loose flexibility over time unless they are given routine exercises which help them use their joints to the full.

Lateral work for a horse encourages a full range of movement in upper joints, rather like us lifting our arms above our heads to stretch. Depending on what level your horse is training at you can use small circles of lateral work such as leg-yield, shoulder-in and travers. Start any lateral exercises in walk at first as it requires the greatest amount of joint movement because there’s no moment of suspension.

Walking is the horses most flexible pace for his spine.  In walk he is able to more easily rotate and flex and this helps bring his hind legs in to step up and under him. All of these exercises will help to promote and maintain your horse’s skeletal health. Flexing him to the left and right will help the muscles on either side of his spine and poll to flex, and any lateral and circle work will strengthen and stretch these muscle chains further.

Work with an experienced trainer to get the best from your horse.  Horse Scout has a list of professional trainers and coaches one of whom is bound to be in your area

 

 

Fundraising with a difference – Rides for UK based horse charities

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Charities which support horses and particularly those which support the welfare of UK horses and ponies will always need donations and funds raised by us horsey folks. A great way to meet likeminded groups of people would be to arrange meetings or events through your local equestrian centres and Horse Scout has a number of Yards listed and there is sure to be one in your area.

Here are a couple of kickstarter ideas if you want to saddle up and go get those money buckets filled.

Since the launch of the first British Horse Society fundraising riding challenge in 2000, hundreds of riders have taken part in an adventure overseas. The ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ riding challenge opened the door for our intrepid challengers to travel the world in aid of British Horse Society welfare. The challenges now operate in Bulgaria, Iceland, Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, India, Jordan, Peru, Spain and Lesotho. There is a trip to inspire everyone, each offering a unique experience no matter where you ride.

These challenges really do put the fun in fundraising but as well as enjoying a life-changing trip, all of the riders raise money that is vital in continuing our welfare work. Without the aid of our dedicated challengers our nationwide network of welfare officers would not be able to help anywhere near as many horses as they do. The British Horse Society has over 200 equine specialist welfare officers, more than any other charity, and together they improve the lives of countless horses, ponies and donkeys in every corner of the UK.

Some orgainisations like the World Horse Welfare Group who are the UK’s largest horse rescue and rehoming charity, use funds to provide a dedicated network of Field Officers who work hard to investigate reports of horses in distress, advising owners or bringing horses to their centres for urgent care and rehabilitation. They also campaign to improve policy and practice across the equine world, shaping the laws that protect horses and promoting better standards of care and in 2015 World Horse Welfare are planning to hold four rides.

So if you want to show your support for UK horse charities and fundraisers – saddle up! We guarantee you won’t regret it.

Perhaps you have your own pet charity already and need some advice on where you can legally ride in your area? A good place to start would be the Affiliated Bridleways Group

Professional Profile – Matt Hicks

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Well done to Matt Hicks on his victory at Merristwood on Jackie Vaughn’s ElZorro with a fantastic score of 70.76% in the 10 years olds first prix St Georges for two years.  This powerful horse could hardly contain the excitement in the canter changes but Judge Debbie Wardle said “he had so many marks in the bank at the end of the trot that Matt held on to 1st place”

ElZorro came back to the circuit only five odd months ago having been found to have several minor things that had been affecting his way of going in 2012.  Matt was quick to acknowledge the effort of his vet Janette Palliser and farrier Bonny Morgan who have been seminal in getting ElZorro back on the road.

 

Hicks Equestrian is a BD Acredited Coach, professional trainer and an International Dressage Rider on Horse Scouts’ list and operates out of Whitchurch in Hampshire from a friendly 5* competition yard Hurstbourne Equestrian Centre on a large private estate. Livery & training for all levels is catered for. There is also the opportunity to understand how a movement should feel with School Master Lessons on an Advance dressage horse.

 

Matt is offering the chance to win two free tickets to Mary Kings Lecture at Hurstbourne EC on Thursday 26 February on his Facebook page.

FOCUS FEATURE– Competitive Scotland

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This Feature Focus is aimed at  advertisers listed on Horse Scout  who are competing and breeding in Scotland and was bought about because I noticed on British Dressage that,in Scotland, the Ian Stark Equestrian Centre has now been approved to host BD affiliated competitions to bring the total venues in the region to 15. This has to be great news for all intrepid dressage Riders in Scotland.

Wow…It’s a busy place! aside from dressage with Bi Monthly Clinics held by Ian Stark himself, and this weekend the Carrs Billington Unaffiliated Winter Show Jumping Series Final, indoor XC training, a feeding and condition clinic with TopSpec, BSJA Category 1 show and also clinics with Charlotte Ridley  and Efra David…. And that’s just in February

Horse Scout has several horses for sale in Scotland on its listings

Chloe II – Allanton Shotts, Scotland – a Showjumper based in Allaton an ds is described as a fantastic mare by Calvaro Z out of a first premium International grade A jumping mare This mare has three lovely paces and is easy to do in all ways She has mainly done showjumping, having competed in many different venues including the Spanish sunshine tour She is a very sweet horse with no vices She would be an ideal horse for someone coming off ponies and onto horses or someone wanting to go out having fun competing, she has a very careful jump and tries to please every time She is great to shoe, box, catch etc and travels in a trailer or horsebox She is also very well bred and full of quality for someone wanting a top class well bred broodmare She is great to hack out alone or in company and is fully passported with breeding recorded and microchipped. She also has an FEI passport

Or perhaps you are looking for a potential dressage horse then take a look at Faside Wimbledon – East Lothian – a truly stunning chestnut colt born on the 4th July 2013. He really has it all – beautiful colour and markings, correct conformation and super expressive movement. He is by the young British based stallion Wolkenderry and out of a fabulous Donnerhall mare Donnatella.Wolkenderry has just started competing at PSG level and is known to pass on his superb temperament and rideabaility. The dam of this foal is Donnatella who is sired by the world-famous dressage stallion Donnerhall. She is the full sister to the top stallion Don Primaire who has a high dressage index of 148 among with high scores for both conformation (111) and movement (108). This colt is sure to be an exciting dressage competition horse. To make 16.3hh.

Perhaps you are looking for a top Stallion based in Scotland Solaris Sport Horses, breeders of performance KWPN Sport Horses with a primary focus on dressage, show jumping and eventing. The stud is situated in Perthshire, Scotland in the UK. Solaris Sport Horses currently stand four stallions at stud with distribution available throughout the UK:

Solaris select the very best bloodlines that Europe has to offer and combine these with a strong emphasis on proven performance mare lines, they have incorporated distinctive and attractive coats of colour without compromising on quality to produce talented and beautiful horses suited for the amateur & professional rider. The proof of their well thought out breeding program is that they consistently produce Premium, Champion and Prize Winning young stock. Their foals and horses have been successfully sold to clients as far as the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, South Africa, and Southern Ireland with a few remaining in Scotland and the UK. Many of their home bred horses and the progeny of their stallions that are now under saddle are competing with success in the disciplines of dressage, showjumping and eventing at National Level.

Horsechoice –  near Edinburgh, Midlothian also have a selection of competition animals for sale but if you already own your own horse and

and you want to spark up your competitive approach how about a short sharp shock to your system?

Horsechoice offers a targeted service to competition riders through their training program for competition riders. They offer 3 or 5 day courses tailored to suit riders needs and wants at any level. Riders who strive to succeed within the competition ring can be based with the Horsechoice team for a period of time to allow on sight training as well as guidance at competitions.