Once a month, Woodruffe clients can take part in jumping clinics with John Smart -- a B.E. accredited trainer, who's jumped on Nations Cup teams and competed at Badminton. John provides training for all levels.
John’s teaching career began in the Household Cavalry, where he became the youngest soldier to qualify as a Military Riding instructor. After his army career, he worked as Rough Rider for HM The Queen at the Royal Mews Windsor Castle, backing and schooling riding horses.
One of the few people to have been both a prize-winner at Badminton and an international show jumper, John is a British Eventing accredited trainer and a UK Sport coach and taught for the BSJA for over twenty years. He has jumped on the Nations Cup team and been in the ribbons at the Horse of the Year Show, Hickstead and the Royal Windsor Horse Show. John’s expertise and wealth of experience have helped everyone from Pony Clubbers to top eventers achieve their goals. Lucinda Green credits him with getting her great horse, Wide Awake, to jump his first clear round at a three day event, at Boekelo. The pair went on to win Badminton.
John’s teaching ethos is “keep it simple”. He says: “I always try to be constructive and to look for the positives. It’s very easy to point out the negatives – but a successful outcome comes through focusing on the positives.” It’s this approach that has seen many of John’s pupils credit him with boosting their confidence. His popular clinics typically start with grid work and, once horse and rider are going correctly, progress to jumping courses.
At Woodruffe, clients are taught in pairs of similar ability – from novice to more advanced riders – who are eventing or competing BSJA. All levels can benefit from John’s teaching.
Sarah events her Irish Sports Horse, Sunny, at Intro level. They’ve been training with John for two years.
"When we got Sunny, he’d hunted in Ireland, so he was bold cross-country, but his show jumping was a bit sloppy. He’d get stressed before the show-jumping phase, spook at fillers and knock fences down. We used to get a lot of jumping faults
John has been great at building up our confidence. He doesn’t overface you and starts small, so when the fences go up, you don’t really notice the height. He’s really helped me with my technique; there’s a big emphasis on gridwork, which has made Sunny more careful over fences.
Now when we go out competing, the jumping doesn’t hold any fears for us. At our last few events we’ve gone clear in the show jumping and had good placings at a pre-season unaffiliated Intro at Tweseldown and a Pony Club working hunter class."
Flora has just started taking her TB loan mare, Kim, to combined training and plans to get her out eventing this summer.
"Kim is quite green when it comes to jumping and has learnt to run out at the last minute. Following a couple of falls, our confidence was at rock bottom, but John has been brilliant, starting with trotting poles and small grids, all the time telling you, 'it’s just cantering over a pole on the ground'. He always sees the positive and gets us going so happily, that, when he puts the jumps up, we pop over them without worrying about it.
John’s manner of teaching is so straightforward, he somehow demystifies the whole business of jumping – he has even taught me how to 'see a stride', something I never thought I could do! By the end of his first clinic, Kim and I were jumping a small course of 2’9”/ 3 foot and have now started venturing out to local shows."