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Posted by National Admin on 19/09/2019.
Photos courtesy of Lucas Hurps

COACH OF THE MONTH Lucas Hurps

COACH OF THE MONTH is a regular Education series on our website. It is a way of highlighting the EA coaches and educators who work with dedication and passion all over Australia.

Lucas Hurps is a Grand Prix dressage rider and an EA Level 1 Dressage Coach, who has been coaching for almost 30 years. He and his partner, Ross Newton, own thirty acres near Sydney with their dog, Butter.

"I've loved horses for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Box Hill in the north-west of Sydney, where everyone had acreage and almost everyone had horses.

We would ride around the streets of Box Hill, or go to Vines Pony Club or Kellyville Riding Club. In summer, we rode in shorts and no shoes and I remember holding the stirrup irons between my toes. 

A young Lucas with his pony 

Wendy, who lived behind us, had dressage horses and I used to love watching her ride. The picture of her and her horse moving so beautifully and her seemingly not doing anything is still in my mind. I was hooked.

I was extremely fortunate to meet the most amazing coaches when I was a young boy, who were so caring, so encouraging and interested. I suppose that became my own model for coaching as an adult.

These coaches loved their horses and loved dressage. One of them would lend me video cassettes of Reiner Klimke, Christine Stukelberger and Margit Otto Crepin in a pas de trois or the latest Olympics. It was so inspiring for me.

I think inspiration is such an important gift we can give our students. Yes, I did have one or two coaches who would put me down, yell all the time and make me cry. They were important too, for showing me who I didn't want to become.

While I'm teaching, I'm always thinking about the most appropriate series of exercises, that would best strengthen this particular horse today, to move him closer to the next level.

I also think it's important to work on improving the rider's position in every exercise. The rider needs a checklist to go through in their mind.

Lucas believes almost every horse can do flying changes, pirouettes and a little piaffe and passage

I especially love to concentrate on the rider's hands. The mouth is the most sensitive part of the horse and the rider's hands must be soft and independent. You mustn't grab or pull. When you forget to give, you are pulling.

The horse should become more trusting of your hands if you are riding well. The horse should develop more self-carriage if the training is correct. His shape should become more beautiful and his mind more relaxed.

I believe that almost every horse can do flying changes, pirouettes and a little piaffe and passage within their own ability. I've trained lots of different breeds who aren't ever going to receive huge scores, but still were able to follow the logical step-by-step training that is dressage. This is so important for the inspiration of riders.

Their horse, whom they love so much, can go up through the levels and perform more and more difficult exercises, even if they don't compete at that level or don't have the movement to get big scores in competition. Remember that dressage is about the training of the horse foremost. It's about enjoying the training every day and remaining as positive as possible towards your horse and towards yourself.

Lucas working with one of his happy students

Your students need to know when their horse looks better and to develop feel through association. They need to know how far they have come. They need to know what the next step is. They need to know that their coach cares and wants the best for them. And above all, they need to remember their love for horses."

Lucas Hurps

 

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