Thursday, 29 April 2010

Blog template change

I changed to a simple blogger template so everything loads quickly whatever browser you use, I've been told my other template was loading slowly and with errors on the page so nice and easy it is for now.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The ways of horse psychology

If you ever had a horse with unsoundness issues you will know what I mean: where does the discomfort ends and a resistant behaviour starts?
I did a little experiment with Kingsley yesterday. I sat on him on the stable yard to ride him out to the arena and check if he would nap. He certainly did. He stopped a couple of times on the drive way and I could feel him preparing to lighten the front so he can hop up. We had a bit of conversation about it and he proceeded OK ish to the arena. There I dismounted and long-reined him into the woods with another horse coming with us, but behind us, for company. He was absolutely fine and striding out everywhere I told him too. Once we were about 10 minutes away from the yard I got on him again and he led the way home with no problem whatsoever.
From this experience I can pretty much say he was napping due to learnt behaviour and that's no good. However, there could still be some discomfort in his front feet as he definitely isn't 100% sound.
I will be repeating this type of fun and games with him so he doesn't have the opportunity to misbehave. Once (when/if) he is sound I will take him out on his own ridden both away and back and see how we go then.
It's interesting to me that he will follow me absolutely anywhere in-hand, no questions asked, so there isn't so much a trust issue. Ridden, he is definitely more worried and unsure.
On a good note, he would make a lovely hacking horse, he doesn't care about uneven ground, odd shaped tree stumps, dogs barking etc, just walks on in this big, ground covering walk of his :)

Frankie was a changed horse yesterday. We had arena company though so that could have contributed to the calmness he showed. He was very focused on me listening to every command, kept his trot slow even when he was obviously worried about things from time to time.
He is the first horse I've dealt with that looks literally like a scared dog when he spooks. His head goes up, all rigid, his body curves with back up and the tail goes right underneath him, bottom low. He contained himself very well yesterday and relaxed a bit about me leaning over the saddle too.
There is still a lot of tension in him so we will continue playing until he starts enjoying it all a little more. I was very tempted to sit on him yesterday but don't want to spoil all the good work so far. Have a feeling that if he scares himself now we will be back to the drawing board again.

Right, back to polishing the content for the Academy's website! Having seen the first pages designed I can't wait for it all to go live, it all looks excellent (and I will be able to have a good night sleep too!).

Friday, 23 April 2010

Why eventers can't show-jump, training half-steps, napping,shadowing Anna and watching Human Performance in action - week in review

Pic.left: Watching dressage warm up with Barney who after becoming friends with me decided being close by is the way to go!

Where were we?

Tweseldown trip was very interesting. The reason I like to go to various events is because I like to stay on top of the level of riding out there, what do riders have problems with, whether there is any common issue, how does everything runs etc As I barely ever compete myself it's important for me not to stay too much out of the loop. On top of that, being foreign, I still think about competitions I used to take part in and many aspects of events here are very, very different to what I'm used to.
One thing that was particularly striking at Tweseldown was that eventers have a grand issue with the show-jumping phase! I watched quite a few rounds, 30-40 in total and saw maybe 1-2 rounds where horses had a good show-jumping canter. It was an unaffiliated Pre-Novice class so perhaps the level was lower than at a BE event but nevertheless there was quite a few pros competing.
It's good to know there is plenty of scope for improvement in the rider's way of jumping the courses.
The Dressage phase was another interesting part. I watched the riders warm up and very few practiced movements or transitions that came up later in the test. Many just rode around trying not to be mowed down by other riders! It was quite manic and very few looked like they were focusing on the job in hand. Not surprisingly, the transitions seemed to be the weakest link in majority of the tests I watched.
I'm very pleased to report my friend rode a lovely, rhythmic and forwards yet relaxed and supple test on her horse Epperne Z (or Ernie) to score 25.5 for it. Look out for them, they are good!

When you go as a help you can see much more than when you compete and have to focus on yourself. Observing is both good fun and an inexpensive education.
Very few riders walk their horses much once off the lorries. I saw several riders trotting away and into jumping warm-up literally few minutes after they chucked the saddles on. Not too good for all these cold tendons and ligaments is it?
Another good area of teaching - how to organise your time at an event, how to look after the horse before, during and after the event.

The horses. I rode Kingsley today and he felt much nicer and straighter than he was couple of months ago. He is still lacking a lot of suppleness and avoids any bending. Turning on the right rein rocks me to the outside quite significantly. I walked him in the woods in hand as there was nobody to go for a hack with and I thought it might be a bit silly to go solo on a horse that hasn't had the saddle on for almost 2 months. We then walked into the arena where Craig was riding Spider (Just Ironic who is on Badminton waiting list but only 6 places to go! We are keeping everything crossed he goes in!!) and Kingsley was totally fine until Spider started leaving...Kingsley spied that he would be on his own and reacted with napping. He didn't rear but because I know that he might want to I rode him firmly for a couple more rounds on his own. He was fine with that.
Frank was still quite worried about the saddle. He acts almost cold-backed. However, he was much better in the arena, no galloping around at the end of the lunge. He listens now and I can slow him down almost immediately. He still overreacts to most things around him but I was really surprised at how much calmer he was. He was also fine with me leaning over the saddle again. No drama there. I really like him and working with him is quite a challenge.

Day with Anna Ross-Davies. If it was financially possible I would happily just go and spend few days a week just watching the training sessions and anything involved with top horses and riders. It's a fabulous opportunity and I love my days there.
This time Anna wasn't teaching any clients but was focusing on preparing herself and horses for Saumur CDIO where she is selected to ride for the Team GBR.
After 4.30am start to the day I got picked up by Ali who also teaches and rides some horses for Anna. I groomed quickly the two horses that were to be worked at 9 and went to watch Ali riding lovely black mare. A couple of months ago she was a hairy, fluffy, unfit broodmare look-a-like, she is rather sleek now! And moves! Well, I thought it was quite good until Anna came, said a few things and the canter went from bum high to sitting on the hocks.
Then the rest of early morning was all about piaffing in hand with MK and watching very elegant Merrie learning half-steps. I've never seen a horse being taught half-steps in - hand before, fascinating. Simon, who does the in-hand work is quite a magician with the whip!

I was then left with Benji the dog with permission to eavesdrop on James Burtwell's clinic (he is a Coach & List 3 Judge as well as Team Selector for Home Internationals and BD Regional Camp coach) while Anna dashed to the gym. Benji and I leisured in the sun while observing the training sessions. I must say James Burtwell knows how to be positive! He also seemed to have found that happy medium that allows him to praise riders a lot without sounding overly complementary and correct the problems without sounding too harsh. The skill I don't think I have much of...yet...I'm trying ;)
The riders ranged from prelim to medium/adv medium level and yet again there was a lot of emphasis on correct basics but also a lot of freedom to play with more advanced movements despite a gap here and there.
What I really like about Anna's teaching is that the basics come first. I don't think I've seen many lessons when the gaps in rider's position and the correctness in horse's training wouldn't be addressed first and foremost.
Having said that, all the horses on James' clinic improved their way of going and finished on a very good note. He used a serpentine exercise a lot to work on horses' balance, rhythm, bend and flexion and it was interesting to see how many riders/horses started rather badly and rode much better and more balance aware after several goes.
The afternoon started with Anna teaching Eppi who rides for her at home. Then MK, Borris and Anna's riding were scrutinised by Jon Pitts who helps Team GBR with rider's fitness & performance. Jon came to help with improving the canter zig-zag and one tempi changes. There is so many minute details in the training of a GP horse and a GP rider it is mind blowing, in a good way! To semi - quote Anna here, all the weakness that you have as a rider, all the gaps in the basic education might not show at Advanced Medium or PSG level but will hinder you at Grand Prix. Therefore she teaches riders at prelim as if they were going to make the GP level. It seems that once you're there you better have your basics well in place or you can forget about improving your horse at that level.

This is probably why Anna's way of training suits me as I like to be taught the correct way, no gaps, and I like to coach riders this way too. If I go for a lesson I'm not interested in being praised all the time and/or told how good my horse is. Sure, I want my confidence to be built but if I needed a tell-me-sweet-little-lies session I am sure I can get it for free. Not all riders like this of course and many prefer to move up the levels without ironing out the foundation steps.
The solid basics and relying on rider performance tools is the sort of work we want to do with Academy for grassroots riders (scaled down of course!) so watching the training with Jon's input was a fabulous opportunity.
Even more so, he is interested to get involved on rider performance side of the Academy so I just have to figure out how to organise it all!

The day finished with setting up the dressage boards on grass for Anna's lessons for eventers in preparation for Badminton. Wish I could see those. Maybe next time.

Running Training Day tomorrow, then teaching my dear Barnfield gang on Sunday.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Catch You Soon!

I know I haven't posted in almost a week but there just isn't enough hours in the day. Frank accepted me leaning over the saddle which we arrange for with a help from Craig at Cane End. I will play with that for a bit until he stops worrying too much, then will have a sit on him.
Kingsley can now be ridden in walk under saddle so I will take him out on Friday and see how he likes the woodlands.
I had a super weekend running Training Day then off to Tweseldown to help a friend at Pre-Novice event. She came second and we had a great day.
Today I've just returned from teaching in Gloucestershire and I loved the place so much we are roping it in for Academy as a venue: - it's truly stunning and the site doesn't do it justice. You simply have to go and experience it!
I will catch up on all details soon as I now need to hit the pillows for the 4.30am start tomorrow for a day with Anna! Three alarm clocks should do!

Please don't say I'm doing great fitting this all in, I'm really tired, if I could go back under my mummy's caring wings right now I would jump at a chance. Breakfast in bed at 10am, everything done for me, clothes washed, food cooked, house cleaned, the likes ;)
Right, reality check.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Busy Day

Pic. left: Kingsley ready for his lunge session (and spotting his own hair whirling on the floor - scary and loud blow-worthy).

I spent this morning on Academy chat with Jen, a freelance instructor who also works for Horse & Country TV (btw they will run Badminton coverage available free to watch !!)..I am having Jen involved in Academy's Training Programmes as she is a buzzing personality and as to H&C TV - watch this space ;)) More details soon!

Then off to the rest of a lovely day on yard work and relaxing physical work ;) Kingsley is looking better than ever but isn't very comfortable in trot. I kept him mostly in walk with about a minute of trot work.
Here are photos of his feet in new egg-bar shoes:

Video from today:

Work with Frankie followed. He is...very switched on about his life! He will need serious de-spooking before I sit on him as he almost had a heart attack when I sneezed.
He took a major objection to the lunge roller broncing for several rounds with his back up but settled in the end.
Umbrellas and tarpaulin will be called for action me thinks and he will have a police horse de-spook school.
His idea about lunge work is fast and furious but we got some normal work too in the end. As oppose to Kingsley who barges into side-reins and pulls on the contact, Frank is over cautious of the bit. He avoids the contact and would happily curl deep and round. I put the side reins on for the first time today so they are quite loose but even when he is above/behind the contact there was rarely any pressure on side reins.
First part of the video shows him running as something spooked him just a moment before I switched the camera on. We managed good amount of walking though and I was pleased with the silly man.

Lungeing done I took him for a walk in hand into the woods and his eyes were on stalks. Lots of snorting and ears pointing. Having said that he is tune in enough to where you are and very respectful of your space.
I will be lungeing them both tomorrow lunch time (that is if I manage to catch Frankie as he doesn't like leaving his grass paradise early!)

Thursday, 15 April 2010

"Bad" Day For A Reason Or A Reason For A "Bad" Day?

I didn't want to write all this at first but then I realised that those who do read this blog or who might come across it will always be the people I actually do love teaching. The inquisitive types who maybe searched for some horse or riding related issues.

Maybe it's the virus I had but I'm not having the greatest few days. I'm missing my family very much right now without any particular reason other than just feeling under pressure. The pressure that I am actually putting myself under by myself...It's probably rather a pointless post because I am not even sure how to word what my mind is trying to digest right now.
I'm so incredibly fed up with the attitude of many teenage/children clients I have to teach right now. I'm so incredibly useless at teaching them as they are, I see no point in doing what I'm doing and feel like I'm seriously wasting both theirs and my own time.
Perhaps it's wrong to give up on them and maybe it's just a nature of today's youth to want immediate results with least effort. Perhaps. But it's draining me so much I'm feeling like a zombie.
Just to give you an example of what sort of attitude I mean:

Me: Let's ride a little deeper into that corner so your pony stays in better balance...
Rider: Yeahhh but it's boooring, what's the point?
Me: Well, the point is that he will feel stronger and happier to carry you to that jump and the jumps will feel great!
Rider: Yeahhh, but he will cut that next corner anyway...
Me: .....:-/

Just in case it sounds like I'm bad mouthing ALL young riders out there, far from it, I have some super little clients that I adore teaching. However, per every 1 great child/teenager I have 9 that make me want to give up riding school teaching for good!
How school teachers deal with that specific subject disinterest many kids show is beyond me.
It's of course very much of my fault in this as I'm in it out of passion for the sport and for the horses. Anything less, anybody who treat riding a horse like hopping on a bicycle kills the teaching passion in me.
I know what you think, I should be in it to inspire and motivate and encourage that right attitude...and I indeed do that in many many riders I have had over the years.
But right now, to be perfectly honest, I think I ran out of the persuasion strength.

I used to try to kick myself and tell myself to just get on with it but I think I'm getting to a point where that tactic is no longer having much effect.

Good few days coming up with a yard day tomorrow, then Training Day for two lovely riders on Saturday, then grooming for a friend at Tweseldown Pre-Novice event.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Academy Road Test Continues and Introducing My New Horsey Project

Photo: Kelly and Tilly on the lesson today.
As this month is very much about road testing the Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy project before its launch, I am trying to use any opportunity and time possible.
I had two girls coming for lessons with me to Cane End Stud and it seemed just perfect an occasion to test drive the Academy's goodness :)
Kari The Chiropractor drove down from London and watched me teaching Kelly on her 15.2hh mare. They do a bit of everything but mostly show-jumping. Having had a confidence crisis they are now building everything back up again and little mare jumped brilliantly today.
The funny thing about confidence is that the moment you lose it, your skills go. Kelly is a competent rider and having passed BHS Stage 1 she is working her way up the BHS ladder; she is starting her instructor's course at Wellington Riding in September. Although I love teaching all sorts of riders, my main passion lies in coaching people immersed in the sport as much as possible. It makes such a difference to give a lesson to someone who really wants to improve and make both their riding and their horse better.

Once I finished with Kelly I had a chat with Kari telling her what the riders needs to improve on. Knowing what needs changing for particular skill level to increase is very important.
The chiropractic care is quite a complex subject so Kari always have a good chat with the rider in private after which she "prescribes" series of exercises/movements for the rider to practice to work on the problems that came up in the ridden lesson.

We are still trying to work out how to do it so the cost isn't prohibitive for riders. There is a lot that can be done even without wonderful fitness facilities and with minimal amount of tools. When it's beautifully dry and sunny everything can be done outside :)

Here is Kelly demonstrating some of the exercises she has to do at home before her next lesson in few weeks time:

Then off to teach Natalie on her new pony. Natalie has her BHS Stage 1 and is also off to Wellington in September. She will be taking her pony with her, it's a 14.2hh mare that must have been a trotter in her previous life as her movement in trot is the biggest you have EVER seen. She is gangly and green and have a lot to learn. The plan was to work on basics i.e. rhythm and suppleness and she ended up working really nicely into the contact. Teaching Natalie today actually made me realise something. There are different types of 'confidence' when riding. I've always said/thought I'm not very good with riders lacking in confidence but I labelled "confidence" too narrowly.
There is this type of confidence that needs to be worked on and that has nothing to do with fear/nerves/worry about a horse's behaviour. I'm talking about the confidence in one's actions...the ability to say to oneself : 'I've made a mistake and that's fine. I'm now going to make it better' - as a perfectionist who hates performance failure I can totally relate to that and work on. Not sure if I'm really expressing myself well here, maybe when I know how to describe what I mean I will attempt the subject again. Either way, it was a little revelation for me and something I want to work on getting better in my own teaching.

Photo below: Natalie and Poppy after their lesson

I am now preparing written homework for both girls and they will receive exercise diagrams from Kari tomorrow. I hope they keep up with excellent work they did today.

Considering Kari has only been working with riders for a short while I am on the mission to get her as much into the subject of relevance as possible. Seeing I am based at the yard of Craig Nicolai (New Zealand eventer entered in this year's Badminton Mitsubishi Horse Trials) I thought Kari can be thrown into deep end so I arranged for them to meet and for Craig to have a session with Kari too.

I would also like to introduce you to Hairy-Field-Monster aka Frank - my new project to play with. His posh name is Small Talk, he is by Dexter IV and out of Grade A SJ mare. But right now he is just hairy...

As owners have no time to keep him in work he has been a field ornament for about a year and was last sat on in the summer last year. He is 8 years old but about 3/4 education wise. Mission one: get on ;) I would love to event him but I will see how we go with the mission 1 first. He is a lovely character, cheeky but respectful of your space. He is also very alert and very aware of his surroundings...;) I will keep you updated. he needs his mane pulled that's for sure. Once he is looking more presentable I will post more pics.

Kingsley boy looked much freer in his movement today and just generally quite happy in himself. He really likes life and people this horse. I gave him a good groom creating a bit of a carpet on the floor - the joys of moulting ponies!

Speak soon!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Day Of Accidents - My Thoughts Go To Poland

As most of the world knows, there was an unprecedented plane crash that happened this morning and caused death to Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, and 97 other senior Polish figures:
The aftermath of this tragedy is overwhelming and although I'm far from being interested in politics it still makes me feel...? Hmm, not sure exactly...disturbed?

The whole of today was accident filled. I set off to work in the morning only to find all trains suspended due to fatality at Slough area.
Then, once I finally managed to get to the yard, we had a youngster (horse!) involved in a freak accident in her stable. She most likely rolled and somewhat managed to skin her hock and rip a large hole in it. She pushed her calcaneus bursa out through the skin...not a pretty sight. Her hock swelled substantially very quickly and in fact, it looked like bones in the hock shifted with one of the tarsus bone being pushed out at the back of the hock joint a quarter of an inch. Fortunately it wasn't the bone showing but the bursa. Not that it was such a good option. She had the joint flushed with saline solution for about an hour, got injected with antibiotics and had her hind leg put in a make shift cast alike Robert Jones' Bandage.
According to the vet, she has only about 30% of chances of getting out of this sound. That is IF the joint doesn't get infected...the vet is back tomorrow. She's only 3 years old though so let's hope she fights it off.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Drugs Go In

Kingsley had the first course of Tildren given yesterday as well as having navicular bursa injections to medicate the joint and encourage healing.
He was quite uncomfortable on his feet today. Over time I'm getting used to observing variety of subtle differences of his discomfort or gait abnormalities and today it was definitely coming from his front feet. His walk was still good and he worked relatively well into both side reins with some tendency to avoid flexion still. We trotted for very short period of time as the gait looked quite choppy in front, if not stiff.
I watched him in the field and although he played happily he moved in that specific, careful way that indicates he wasn't fully comfortable.

He continues having full body massage sessions from Susanna to relieve the muscular tightness.
He also had his magnetic hoof boots (looking like overreach boots) on for 4 hours.

Heal little boy.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

April Plans & Academy's Next Step

Word of hindsight wisdom - if you're freelance, have a sicky fund ;) Not that I've got one but I would certainly like to have it.
As hard as it is not to be earning I decided to give my illness one more day as I continue having very little voice, jumpy temperature, cough and just generally feeling ill. I worked in similar states before but it always ended up dragging with me for weeks, disapearing for a moment only to return with double strength. Not worth it. I am fully aware I am not making it easy for myself working 7 days a week but right now I don't think I can do it any other way.

Right, onto the current whereabouts...

As I am now at the yard, lovely Cane End Stud, that kindly let's me use their facilities I can offer lessons for horse owners without them having to pay unrealistic amounts. I have two girls coming from London with their horses next week which I am looking forward to.
Speaking of teaching. Someone I taught once at one of my BHS exams contacted me to arrange for me coming for the day to her livery yard. Although I've done some 'training days' (don't want to call it 'clinics' as that's something top riders do!) for Riding Clubs before, this is the first properly paid teaching trip. I am very much looking forward to it and hope I can offer what the riders want/need.


I have just bought a domain and hosting account for the Academy and it's all getting more and more real!
(there isn't much there as yet) but do check back soon!

I now have to order some promo materials as well as place the adverts. Lady from Horse & Hound is due to ring me mid-April to help me with putting adverts online in the right places on H&H website. Then there are a few horsey magazines to consider on top of some non-horsey places to encourage people new to the sport.
If anyone out there knows of good places to advertise comprehensive Training Programmes for riders at all levels, adults and junior riders (12-18yrs old) from those first time in the saddle to affiliated competitors please email me at ridinginstructor at gmail com or leave a comment on here.

We will be looking to find riders with aspirations to get the best they can, improve their skills with help from a network of supporting coaching services. The Academy is partially venues based (riders without own horses can learn to ride/train at several participating Riding Centres in London, Berkshire, Kent & Surrey) partially mobile (any horse owner can have their training session at their yard providing the outside trainers/instructors are allowed). There will also be a possibility to attend training sessions on own horse at participating venues.
Descriptions of the Programmes will be released on the website on the 1st of May. To give you more of an idea here is the latest of each Programme in a nutshell:

Aspire Equestrian overview:

START - training focus here is 99% on the rider and the programme is designed as a start up for anyone who wants to begin their adventure with the sport. This is the only 'fixed' Programme and consists of 22 Lunge Lessons and is solely committed to seat education, development of balance & coordination.
Riders will also learn the basis of handling of the horses, stable management, equitation theory; we will also address rider's fitness and performance even at this early stage both for improvement but also for fun and enjoyment.
As well as providing a great start to the sport this programme can also be taken by:
-anyone wanting to re-educate their seat
-come back to riding after a long break/injury/accident
-BHS students needing to address their position in the saddle

FOUNDATION - roughly 75% rider focused, 25% horse focused. Level 1 & 2. This is a programme where most 'riding school' type riders would fit in. It's for novice/intermediate level riders learning correctness of the aids and principles of basic schooling of the horse (at Level 2).

DEVELOPMENT - roughly 65% rider training focused, 35% horse training focused.
=riders straight from Foundation Programme
=riders developing partnership with new/young horse
=riders learning to train their horse
=riders wanting to train towards 'start up' competitions (low levels unaffiliated)

PERFORMANCE - 50%/50% rider/horse training focus
=for competition riders wanting training plans to improve performance
=affiliated and higher levels unaffiliated
Some exciting plans are being made for this Programme :)

BHS Training - preparation for BHS exams for all aspiring coaches out there.

And the last news to share is that I have a possible riding project available and I'm figuring out ways to fit in riding him into my busy working schedule. Thankfully, there is a nice young rider who is happy to share the training workload with me. I will introduce the horse properly once we are up and running with it.


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Educate NOT Instruct, Say As It Is YET Inspire, Support & Direct YET allow the ownership of knowledge - what do riders want from their trainers....?

Seeing I'm ill and spending my day in bed working on the biggest coaching challenge I've ever taken on I might as well share some musings on various teaching related subjects. Lots of waffle below, you've been warned.
In addition to the question in the title, there is another one: what do riding coaches need to deliver?

Creating the Academy project pushed me into reading a lot on various coaching methods, to watch others training and to listen to riders views on various coaches/instructors/trainers.

In my teens and the riding environment I grew up in, there was no proper dilemma. If you wanted a good coach, if you wanted to test how good you can be, you went to the best competition rider in your chosen discipline that you could (or couldn't) afford and you hoped he would have the time to squeeze your training in in between his own training sessions, competition schedule and producing young horses. There would be no time for questioning the methods or having your views on things. If you didn't like it, off you went.

It wouldn't have crossed your mind to go for a lesson to a girl/boy down the road, with new set of coaching certs who jumped in an odd class and managed an elementary test outing a few times a year.
I was no different. Many years later, however, I realised there is often much more to learn from those less obvious individuals. It's no secret that if you worked hard on understanding something you are in a much better position to explain to someone that very process.
Funnily enough, I learnt that very early from my brother. Robert is one year younger than me but was a clever child so we started school together. I loved all humanistic subjects and he was a maths little genius. Many a time I would ask him how he came up with some of our homework but his explanations were so vague (from 'I just guessed it' to 'well, they want you to do it that way but I found another, quicker, way and the results are the same') there were of no help to me. In fact, he occasionally failed some of his exams as he didn't use the formulas we needed to use (despite all his results being correct!). It took me hours to do what he did in 5 minutes and even when he tried he couldn't help me!

Horse riding doesn't seem that much different...If you teach you will most likely have some preferences as to what you teach. I personally often chose to teach on the flat. This is because, whilst jumping I learnt by feel, watching and being immersed in a show-jumping world, the flatwork I needed to analyse and teach to myself.
If I have a rider with problems on the flat, I see a problem and almost immediately also "see" the things that need to change, things that need to improve and most importantly, a plan a,b,c pops into my head as to how to go about it.
Jumping is a different story. I see what's wrong but my first thought usually is 'I would want to sit on this and feel what's going on in this horse when it does x,y,z in front of/after/in between the jumps'.
The way I see it, every horse gives you feedback, in the very first second you sit on it. Riding on the flat, I am sometimes deaf to that feedback and go through what you might call 'trying to explore/investigate a horse' period. It can last 10 minutes or a few days...
A jumper on the other hand...the moment I point it at a jump I can "feel" the information I needed and that took me days to discover on the flat.
The "feel" is only the starting point though. Acting on it is what in my eyes at least, is what we are learning all our riding lives.

This is why the Educate Not Instruct is what I find very, very difficult part of my teaching. It's also the part I like the most - the explanation of how to and why act on different feels.
There is a lot of people out there with so called good eye who can tell you what to do to make things better. What I personally find the most challenging is to what to tell the rider so they 1) understand why I am saying what I'm saying 2) why this might be better 3) how will this change the horse 4) how to replicate this when I'm not around.
The latter, that ownership of knowledge is so important. I had some amazing lessons in the past and my horses went the best they ever did and yet I could never repeat that performance at home. Maybe it was just me lacking in skill but whenever I teach I hate sending riders away not knowing the How-To and the Why.

Another big one amongst riders is the feeling of confidence. In both themselves and the horses.
Totally understandable. However, riders don't like to be protected and told all the nice lies. They like the truth about their skills, their horse's ability and they like to know what they need to work on. The problem is, often the answers is LOTS...It's easy to lose your confidence when you're told how it is and how much talent your horse is, well, lacking.
So, to give accurate assessment and yet inspire the greatness - yet another teaching challenge.

There you go, a bit of random thoughts while I try not to think about the sore throat and the insanely running nose! Feel free to comment on your experiences with different trainers...

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Lungeing Videos From The last 3 Days - Kingsley

Photo above: Kingsley today.

We are to lunge him 20 minutes a day encouraging correct outline and better balance.
Problem 1: Kingsley's idea of lungeing is to check how upside down a horse can get and how fast can one run...
Problem 2: He still isn't totally sound

These two things in mind, here is Video 1, from 31st of March. He seems much happier and more even in trot BUT:

* he pushed on a chambon so much he basically went around inverted (there was no more option to shorten the straps unless I knotted them into some intricate patterns which I decided not to do)
* he ran around as fast as he could and I shouldn't really turn him on small circles so not that much of a slow-down option...

nd April

I swapped chambon for side reins and after a lot of patient work bringing him back to walk if he zoomed around etc I got there in the end. This video shows the very beginning and how resistant he was to the side rein contact. My camera died after this video so couldn't film the nicer work at the end.
The whip you see me waving is me trying to keep him on a bigger circle as he was in my face through half a circle, then away on the other half. This is mainly as he is still very tight and finds it difficult to bend and stay supple.

3rd April

And finally, today. He is getting the idea and I am really pleased with him. I will swap back to chambon when he is a little bit more balanced. I also need to find a shorter version of it as the one I have is 'full' size and Kingsley is only 15.2hh.
Excuse the video operator. Pauline was kindly filming me using my phone and trying to figure out the settings...

So as you see, still not as balanced as we would like and some uneven steps now and then but it's nice to see him moving like an equid...I do have videos on the other rein too but it takes ages to upload them all so will post them next time.
I'm on a mission for an early night, not feeling too great, some annoying cold is daring to try to slow me down!
More news after the weekend :)

Friday, 2 April 2010

Waming Up For Dressage with Anna Ross Davies

Anna Ross Davies gives her thoughts about the warm up in her demonstration on Pegasus MK.



And a couple of videos of Anna competing. I don't think I will live long enough to ever ride like she does but I guess you've got to aspire the highest you can :)

March 2010 Pegasus MK Grand Prix Freestyle

2009 Regionals Medium Freestyle

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