Monday, 24 January 2011

London Horse Network Meeting 3: Your horse spooked because of something you thought about, before you thought it...How the coach can influence the rider, how the rider can influence the horse, training bursaries and Look Forward


Photo: Nosing around the lovely mini yard (see these trees so very close to the buildings? well, one of the stables has one of those trees in the corner of it :) My camera has no flash so I didn't take a photo but it looked rather interesting!)

At yet another inner-city riding centre- the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre, the London Horse Network organised it's 3rd meeting.

Hoof Ride London. The London Horse Network Training Workshop

The Network is definitely growing more into what it aims to be: a facilitator of communication between London's equestrian businesses and instructors. I was looking forward to today's meeting and it was definitely worth coming to. The first guest - Andrew MacFarlane of Lead Change, gave a very interesting talk about "How the coach can influence the rider".  Coaching Psychology is absolutely fascinating because you realise that with the right approach you can achieve more than you ever thought you would. 

As coaches we have to learn how to change people's behaviour and/or actions to help them become who they want to be as riders.
However, it seems that change is a very complex key to improvement! Andrew quoted some medical statistics to us.
How many of every 10 heart surgery patients do you think change their lifestyle when they are told they will die if they don't?  
One. Out of ten.
Change is so difficult than even when facing death threat these patients were unable to alter their lifestyle. 

Andrew then proceeded to explain how we can help the riders to make the changes needed for improvement. It's something I am really interested in and read a bit about and I found the talk really insightful. 
We can't change something on the level it happened. We need to consider all the levels: the environment, behaviour, skills & competences, values & beliefs and identity. The latter constitutes the top level and that;s where the change has to start if we are to succeed in it. 
Andrew also talked about mental maps and the role of unconscious mind in actions of the conscious mind. This is another thing about learning to ride I am fascinated about. Horses are extremely perceptive animals. I've taught people who would try to convince me they weren't nervous or worried and yet their horse would be spooky and fidgety. A man can fool a man, you can try to fool oneself too but you can't fool a horse ;) 
Our conscious mind is way behind our subconscious. It's like when your horse spooks before you thought it might spook. In fact, your subconscious thought it before you became conscious of the thought itself...

We also talked about learning styles, what blocks the rider's progress and how to teach so we don't overload with information. 

Click on the below photo if you would like to read more about Lead Change. 

Next on the agenda was identifying the training aims of the London Horse Network. We divided into small groups and discussed our views on the challenges of running equestrian businesses in London. I have a feeling something really positive will come out of the LHN actions...

The next guest speaker was Janet Coe, the BHS London representative. It looks like BHS London has £12.000 to spend on Training Bursaries which will be available in form of £250 worth of training aids. From what I understood this will only be available at BHS Approved riding establishments and to be spent on training with BHS qualified instructors. There is no details as yet about the ways of choosing who the bursaries will go to but the ins and outs should be decided in February. 
I am keeping a watchful eye on anything like this as I would love to be able to take some more days off work to go and train with Anna R-D!

The closing talk of the day was by Minnette Rice-Edwards. 
The first time I've heard of Minnette was in 2003. I was hacking with a client whose horse had had to be put down some months previously and she was trying to keep up with the riding. I told her I wanted to sort my seat out and get into dressage more but I didn't know where to look for a trainer (it was just after I came over to the UK). She said "You just must go for a lesson with Minnette Rice-Edwards". My English wasn't very good back then and although I asked her to repeat the name I couldn't understand her accent and had no clue how the name should have been spelled. I found lots of other people under the name I thought was right but none had anything to do with riding ;) 
So now, in 2011 I actually got to listen to Minnette and all I can say is I wish I asked that client to write the name down. 

To learn more about Minnette have a look at her website: 


Fortunately, a year or so after the hacking conversation I came across a Centred Riding instructor who taught me many of the training techniques that Minnette uses. I would still love a lesson with her though! 
Some of her sayings I've never heard before and I'm sure they would be helpful for many riders. For example, many riders know they need to "let go" in the neck muscles to allow the shoulders and back to widen and release the lower back. However, it's not always so easy to do it in practice. Minnette discovered that you can imagine the roof of your mouth being like arches and thinking about it automatically releases your neck muscles (she did say it might not work for everybody but it did for me). 
Another one is for kids to keep their heads up and sit straight: imagine you have rabbit ears growing up and up and up ;) 

Not sure about my rabbit ears but my eyes are closing down, early night then two very packed days with late night teaching for me. 

Speak soon :) 

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