Category Archives: Horse/Rider Relationship

Riding in Windy Conditions – Spooky !

SpookyA very here and now topic under discussion in the forums is riding in windy conditions.  Whatever the time of year the weather can suddenly turn windy, which can and often does result in spooky horses, but the weather we are experiencing here in the UK at the moment is enough to make the bravest of horses spooky.  You can’t really blame your horse for being on high alert; it’s so much harder to detect by sight, smell or movement those predators lurking behind the muck heap!

There is only one way to keep your horse calm, whatever the weather, where ever you are, whatever you are doing and that is to build his trust.  If your horse trusts you he will come to you as soon as he sees you; allow you to touch him everywhere; will move confidently where you ask him to and take comfort from your calmness.

If your horse is spooky when it’s windy so much that it is creating a dangerous situation, your problems are not really about the wind they are about your horses confidence – in you.

Spooky !

Continue reading Riding in Windy Conditions – Spooky !


Bandage BootThe very generous folks at Kitt Equestrian are giving 10% off all their already very reasonably priced products purchased before 31st December 2014.

This week I’m looking at their range of products and giving you my humble opinion on their suitability for the dressage horse.


Continue reading KITT KOOL – BANDAGE BOOT

12 Dressage Tips for Christmas 2014

In 2013 I bought you 12 tips over 12 days on The Dressage Tipster Facebook Page.  This year I have amalgamated all 12 into one post for those of you who had not discovered The Crystal System last year.
A bit of festive fun and some useful stuff in there too …dressage tips
On the 1st Day of Christmas the Dressage Tipster said to me

Guess“Above all else ensure that your horse is forward. As long as the horse goes forward, he will not have time to think of evasions. Whenever you get a problem of any description, think of my favourite ‘F’ word” 

 On the 2nd day of Christmas the Dressage Tipster said to me …

8 Things Great Riders Do …

Great riders have a mindset that is so established, it creates a hugely powerful incentive to adopt certain behaviours or choices that are critical to their training success.  In this context the mindset is the set of assumptions and methods that are ingrained in the way that they work, each and every day.

Great riders are shrewd, skilled, progressive, genuine, clever, sensitive, sympathetic, scholarly; acting purposefully in everything they do.


The shrewd rider is realistic in their goals and expectations.  To steal a jumping phrase, there is no point in ‘over-facing’ yourself, set small achievable goals that make a pyramid to your end goal – like the training scales. Continue reading 8 Things Great Riders Do …

Z – IS FOR Zzzzz

ZPreserving the horse’s health and well-being and promoting a longer working life means a healthy mind and body.

It is not uncommon for the Dressage horse to become bored with its daily routine and as a result become stale in the arena.  If this happens, it can be very difficult for you to motivate your horse to work well for you.  To stop your horse from getting into this mindset you should allow him time in the field, on the walker, grooming etc, have some quality time with him outside of the arena.  Where possible, you should follow your schooling sessions with a small hack, somewhere safe where you can allow him to relax down and enjoy the environment.

Here’s what to do … to spice up your horse’s life if you feel he may be getting stale.

  1. Do some in-hand desensitising work, flappy bags, tarpaulins, umberellas, flags, flowers.  You will need to ensure that your horse can cope with all of these when you get to national level competition.
  2. Set up some poles and/or cones and work around and through them
  3. Put some music on
  4. Pick a goal and achieve it.  Ensure that you are both working towards the same goal and you are working together.
  5. Work with a friend.  Perhaps run through some test moves and do a ‘pas de deux’

BoreeIt is not a nice feeling when you know that your horse is not enjoying his work; when you have passion for Dressage but your horse does not, it is vital that you introduce something else to ‘pep’ your horse’s interest.  If you don’t you may damage your friendship and that would be devastating.

This post concludes my Tipster’s A to Z.  I hope you have enjoyed the series, now I need to get back to The Collective Marks series and finish the post on canter that you’ve all been waiting for.  If there is a subject you are particularly interested in, please feel free to leave a comment on Facebook, leave a comment here or email me at

The Crystal System is coming along slowly and will be released in book form when I will also be introducing ‘Crystal’ a cartoon dressage horse based on my own Lusitano mare!  Lots to do, and all good fun!

Ride well and enjoy.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

And for your own motivation, I have written many, many posts … Here’s a small selection


As long as you have passion, you are unstoppable








HAVE WHAT IT TAKES? 3 Things you need to be a successful Dressage Rider





The rhythm that a horse maintains in all its gaits and paces is fundamental to Dressage riding.

Rhythm and relaxation go hand-in-hand because it is nearly impossible to have rhythm without relaxation.

When considering relaxation of the horse we must think about the horse’s mental state; calmness, without anxiety or nervousness and the also his physical state; the absence of muscular tension (other than the contraction needed for optimal carriage) strength, range and fluency of movement.

RhythmRelaxation of the horse’s emotional and physical state also goes hand in hand.  Rhythm is the first element of the training pyramid and contributes significantly to work at the upper levels.  Preparing the horse mentally and physically is vital to your horse’s future as a dressage horse.  No exercise or movement can be considered good if the rhythm falters.

Developing rhythm and relaxation

Your training should be designed to gradually strengthen the horse to be able to do the movements that will require great physical strength later in the training.   It is this looseness that enables the horse to work free from tension or constraint.

Suppleness plays an equally important role in the horse’s relaxation. A horse that is stiff or rigid in any part of his body will not be capable of utilizing his body effectively, thus resulting in irregular gaits, unwillingness and a general displeasure in his work.

What to do … The first major test of relaxation is to find out if your horse will stretch its head and neck forwards and down in all three gaits.  In order to work effectively on R&R you need to work on your own balance and not rely on the reins or gripping with the legs for support.  (long and low)

As ever, have fun with it!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster



Dressage is a thinking sport, riding is about strategy.  Following on from my P is for Preparation post – what do you consider to be the most important aid on a horse?

No, not your legs!

It’s your brain and how quickly you are able to process the huge amount of information you need to ride and perform Dressage and indeed work your body at the same time!  You have to be quick and sharp.  In a dressage test there are a succession of movements, one after the other, all requiring different thought processes, aids, body movements in which the aim is to do as little as possible.

Here’s what to do … be a mind-ful rider, be alert and focused, constantly evaluate and re-evaluate the merits of what you do.  A non-thinking rider is mindless! Proof is found when you stubbornly stick to one solution, even if it does not appear to be working!

You need to take steps to increase your awareness; think about why the exercises and skills you need are important; learn why you need to do what it is you are doing; take responsibility for yourself; keep track of your goals; try to be open to different and creative problem solving; be in charge of your own riding destiny.

1 brainIt takes time to develop confidence in your own decision making and problem solving ability,  just as it takes time to exercise the muscles of the body so it takes time to exercise the brain … don’t be too harsh on yourself if you don’t think you have developed these skills yet, it will come.  You will get quicker!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster




HarmonyHarmony is to fit together, to join, like the relationship between different pitches in a song.  One note on its own is good, two notes with slightly differing pitches together sound better.  (More musical connotations).

In your training you are aiming for a harmonious picture, but what does this actually mean?  Well, think about being equal in thought, attentive, sensitive, listening to each other where every muscle you use, every thought you have results in a reaction, either by the horse or you.

What the judge is looking for and therefore, what you should strive for is HARMONY.

When this is achieved, the communication between you and your horse is barely perceptible; Harmonyyou will appear to move ‘as one’.  The horse should be reading and responding to your body language, his heart rate will rise and fall with yours.  The two minds, that of your horse and your own fully synchronised.

Imaging then that you are frustrated, angry or anxious – this will, without doubt, have an effect on your horse. How important then for your mind to be quietly focussed in the present moment? – The Here and Now.

So, how do you achieve this state of mind?  There have been many studies on the subject of sports psychology and as always the answer is through practice; you cannot stop the feelings of frustration or anxiety so you should notice them and without being judgemental about yourself, control your reactions to them.  It is when in a relaxed state of concentration that the sense of effortlessness comes.  Only then can you become fully immersed in the feeling of the ‘Here and Now’ because you are not reacting to the feelings or thinking of the consequences.  This is called being in a ‘flow’ state.

HarmonyNo matter how you are feeling, learn to say ‘Hi’ to those feelings but pay them no attention.  Park them and continue with your training.  They can sit and watch you ride well!

Here’s what to do … focus wholly on the current exercise, this will serve to optimise cooperation and harmony between you and your horse.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster


To Spook or Not To Spook ? – The Decision is Yours

I noticed recently an Ad for training horses not to be spooky and it reminded me of my old boy, a typical thoroughbred.

One time, whilst out hacking with my partner riding the TB and me riding another horse, we heard the roar of motor-cross bikes on the track ahead, but because of a sharp bend we were unable to see them. More to the point, they were not going to see us.

Soon enough, a couple of youths appeared riding the bike, hell for leather and screeched to a halt a few yards away from us. My partner was so incensed that he turned the TB towards the bike, kicked him on, cantered straight up to them and with the horse peering over the handlebars of the revving bike, gave them a piece of his mind! That done, he turned and trotted back to me.Spooky

I was aghast! Not because of the incident but because Mr “I will spook at my own shadow” thoroughbred appeared completely un-phased by the whole thing.

It’s a simple state of mind. The horse will reflect whatever your state of mind is … if you are confident, so will he be, if you are thinking he will spook … so he will!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster