Category Archives: Real Life Rider Series

Hands Still Moving – Help Me

The Real Life Rider Series

From our video coaching service we received the following question.

Can you see if you can pinpoint why I struggle to keep my hands relatively still?”

This is a really common problem where a rider will recognise this problem and concentrate on trying to keep the hands still, believing that somewhere in the arms and hands lies the problem.  Fact is that the issue is coming from the centre of the body and is nothing to do with the extremities.  Simply put the rider’s ‘centre of balance’ is off.

From the video provided by the rider she had a slightly forward positioning of her upper body, throughout her ride.  Her horse was naturally built uphill but even so, he was finding it difficult to engage his hindquarters as well as he might due to the riders balance issues.

The first thing we noticed was that for the majority of the ride the riders toes were pointing down, and her hands as she rightly pointed out ‘moved too much’.  Her horse was ‘on the forehand’.   Now there’s ‘on the forehand’ and there’s ‘on the forehand’.  This horse was not dragging himself around with the front legs, but he is technically ‘on the forehand’ because, firstly the rider had explained that  she feels he is too much in her hand most of the time and secondly we could see from the video that the horse was trailing out behind with too much weight on the shoulder.  He should ‘sit’ more.

What to do to keep the hands still?

Continue reading Hands Still Moving – Help Me

Para Dressage – I can, I will, End of Story

Para Dressage Rider, Johanne Picken looks back and updates us on the progress of her dream.

Some of you will remember back in November 2013 when I introduced Johanne Picken to you.  My blog post, called ‘As Long as you have Passion, You are Unstoppable’ created quite a reaction due to the struggles Johanne had overcome simply to be in the saddle.  I caught up with Johanne again recently.  Here’s her memories of where she was back then … Continue reading Para Dressage – I can, I will, End of Story

What Rio 2016 Olympics Means For Dressage

Rio 2016Did you know that our beloved sport is under threat as an Olympic sport, as are all the equestrian disciplines?   Imagine that, just as Team GB get up there as a force to be reckoned with in Olympic Dressage they pull the rug from under us!

I don’t think so, certainly not if we can help it. Thankfully there is something we CAN do to help.

Continue reading What Rio 2016 Olympics Means For Dressage

Trust Yourself To Train Your Horse

Real Life Rider Series

A recent message touched a nerve with me and I thought it would be a great subject to share.

My biggest hurdle is trusting myself that I can do it. I trust my horse but not myself.”

As I read this a quote from my book came instantly to mind …

 “Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think” – Benjamin Disraeli

It’s not easy to fully understand the specific issues from just one sentence so I hope my advice hit the spot.  In any event, it’s a good read for anyone not feeling particularly awesome about their riding just now.

iMPOSTER sYNDROMEPerhaps you feel like you’re a fraud, an imposter, or simply not good enough?

The dressage fraternity can do that to you. I was surprised to learn that the vast majority of successful people feel like impostors from time to time; it’s actually a positive sign.  Feelings of faking it are usually associated with intelligence, diligence and, paradoxically, competence.  Slackers, blusterers and the genuinely incompetent tend not to stress about feeling like fakers.

Try to re-frame your thinking: Continue reading Trust Yourself To Train Your Horse

Focus – A Big Hurdle

Real Life Rider Series

“Being able to focus is my biggest hurdle.  It is so easy to go off the wagon.”

I received this message from a new subscriber today.  I found myself nodding and staring at the words, remembering my own struggles.  I sympathise, I really do.  A common problem that many of us are guilty of is to think about how hard something is to achieve.  Just thinking about it makes you tired. I have been known to talk myself into being so tired that I couldn’t possibly put in the physical effort required to train my horse only to find that if I dig deep and do it, the riding actually energises me and I feel so much better afterwards.Breath

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started”– Mark Twain

Instead of thinking about how hard something is, think about what you will get out of it. So, don’t think about how tiring it is to go to the stables, tack up and ride, instead focus on how good you’ll feel when you’re done.  The fruits of your labour will help to energise you.  When you dig deep into your ‘drive reserves’ and make the effort to ride you often get your best results.  This always amazes me and is a scientific fact.  There are small organs (look up Mitochrondria) located within our cells that work like tiny power packs to produce energy and the more aerobic exercise you do the more energy becomes available to you via these tiny organs.  Just Wow!

Get Focus – Finding The Drive Reserves …

Continue reading Focus – A Big Hurdle

The Bit UK – Rider Tension

Rider TensionThe Training Bit

The Bit UK welcomed expert trainers to offer their help, advice and support to their readers across all disciplines, including Dressage, Show Jumping, Eventing and Polo.  I was honoured to be included as one of The Bit UK’s trainers.  They describe me as …

“bringing my ground-up opinions and advice to those who look to self help”!

Black Horse
The Dressage Tipster
– Rider Tension

NICOLA DOLBY asked – “I think my main hurdle is rider tension. It effects all aspects of my riding including making me grip, reducing my feel and not taking a consistent contact. This of course has a detrimental effect on my horse’s way of going. This book would really help me sort out this annoying problem!”

My response:

Continue reading The Bit UK – Rider Tension

 How to get … and keep … your horse sensitive to your aids

How to get, and keep, your horse sensitive to your aids.

You will all, by now be more than aware that I am an advocate of keeping things simple. My favourite Bruce Lee quote is “Simplicity is the Key to Brilliance”, but when I say simple I realise that this can be misunderstood.  I don’t necessarily mean ‘less’ when I say keep it simple I mean ‘reduce to its heart’.Sensitive to your aids

I had a note from Angie who asked me a question relating to the mechanics of getting her horse sensitive to the aids.

I am a big believer in putting the leg on and then always immediately off – a squeeze and release.  This assumes that your legs are hanging gently at your horse’s side and only being used when needed and not clamped on for dear life.

Continue reading  How to get … and keep … your horse sensitive to your aids

Tension Mnemonic

I had a note from Anna who is struggling with tension in her horse and all the associated issues and whilst I have regularly written on the subjects of Rhythm and Relaxation it occurred to me that I have not really addressed tension and how to deal with it.

The enemy of harmony is tension; rhythm and relaxation are at the base of the dressage training scale and the biggest challenge to relaxation is tension.  It is both mental and physical the tension that causes tightness in a horse’s body which in turn makes the horse uncomfortable and unhappy.

T – Train

E – Extra Work

N – No Doubt

S – Shallow Loops

I – Inhale, exhale

O – On the side

N – Nurture

The little mnemonic above might help you remember some strategies whilst you are riding, that will assist when the dreaded tension creeps into your riding.

T is for TRAIN

As you ride be aware that you are sitting on your horse’s spine and that spine extends from poll to tail without interruption; just as the muscles do.  The muscles of the top-line: neck, back and croup merge into one another and besides their individual function, work as a whole. Continue reading Tension Mnemonic

Catch Up with Johanne

Some of you may remember the very inspiring blog post that I did back in November 2013 called ‘As Long As You Have Passion You Are Unstoppable” which featured aspiring para rider Johanne Picken.  Turns out Johanne is unstoppable.  I recently caught up with Joanne and she has an update for us …

becoming-unstoppable-desktop-2Hi everyone! In the last blog I wrote for Patricia, I told the story of how I found my best friend/teammate/soulmate/horse in a million, Loriot. I also touched upon my various health problems and the challenges I have as a rider because of them.BDI had applied to be graded for Para rider status and also to join my local RDA group. I’m pleased to report that I’m now a Grade III Para Dressage rider, and will be riding with my local RDA group as of January 2016. Until then, I have been getting regular training sessions with a trainee para coach to continue improving my riding.

Continue reading Catch Up with Johanne


Blue Chip Pro Plays Significant Part in Bullit’s Recovery

Blue Chip Pro

Who’s that handsome chap?

Blue Chip Pro

Calm Down Blue Chip’s new product is here:

A revolutionary new balancer.  The balancer incorporates the beneficial ingredients in Blue Chip Original along with the powerful combination of Blue Chip Karma.  How cool is that?  Click on the tub to place a launch offer order.Blue Chip Pro

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster