Category Archives: Real Life Rider Series

ShoeSecure is a Miracle Cure

Dressage Fans,

I have a story to tell you about D’Bullit, Mark’s extremely talented six-year old KWPN gelding.  He is home bred by Olympic Ferro out of a Waikiki/Weltmeyer/Bolero/Consul Mare.

Mark and Bullit

Backing and schoolingMark waited 5 years for this horse and when he arrived he knew he was special.  He was a beautiful foal and has grown into a beautiful horse.  Every day I bought him in from the field I would look at him and say “beautiful”.  We are very proud to have bred such a magnificent specimen of a horse!

However, as the saying goes, you have to take the rough with the smooth and this is a horse who has endured a catalogue of issues; from being unable to cope as a young Stallion and subsequently being gelded late as a 4 year old, through gastric ulcers and the plethora of issues that this brings (including exorbitant medical costs), colic, skins irritations and a sarcoid to intermittent lameness which has proved frustrating and costly to resolve in terms of his training progress and veterinary fees.  This is not an exhaustive list, there’s more.

Continue reading ShoeSecure is a Miracle Cure

Dressage Tips On-Line

You may remember my guest blog from Tanja Arzberger of dressagehafl.com where we explored if it really was possible to improve your riding with only the help of internet providers.

I am delighted to share with you a fabulous note from one of my subscribers which I think categorically proves that it is not only do-able but for some is preferable.

I just wanted to let you know how delighted I am with the recent progress I’ve had with my mare. She’s 14 and I’ve had her for 8 years.  I’ve believed that she’s not cut out for dressage over the years as I’ve never been able to get her going consistently well.  I’ve been using your tips for about 6 months and the difference is huge.

Your recent post about on the bit has helped so much. I am a little loathed to say this out load (or in type!) but I think that I may have cracked it!!!

I’ve really focused on my position and for the last 2 weeks I’ve been able to get some really fantastic work  it feels amazing and for the first time ever this week she finished our schooling session warmer than me!!!

I’m doing 30 minute sessions every other day as I know it’ll be hard for her while her muscles build up. Her trot has always been nice but I’ve struggled with getting the forwardness consistently and I’ve never managed to get her to truly engage her back. I don’t have it 100% of the time yet but we’re getting to 80% in my schooling sessions so I believe we can get it to be our normal way of going once she’s strong enough.

We came 6th in an on-line championship class last month (Preliminary level) with 70.83%.  I knew when we finished filming that we could do the test better so to achieve that when we’re not at our best really excites me.

Thank you for continuing to share your advice, it’s making a huge difference to us. I haven’t had a formal lesson for over a year now and she’s going better than ever.

Why not start here! and take a good look around the blog?   Check out all my pages and see what you can find to help you on your Dressage journey.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

Precious Dressage Lessons

We all need that special someone who can guide us through the minefield, help us focus, work with us to achieve our dreams but there’s no getting away from it, dressage lessons with instructors are not cheap.  Of course, it’s all worth it for that rosy glow we get at the end and the injection of enthusiasm we experience as a result of doing something right, (or wrong and working through it) on our way to achieving our ambitions.

dressage lessonsI’d like to share with you my view of how to get the very best out of your dressage lessons because as someone who spent a long time in search of the right mentor and therefore, wasted a great deal of time, effort and money on the wrong training, I have learnt that there are a number of things you can do to get the absolute best from the precious and not inexpensive time you spend with your instructor.

I am guilty of all of these ‘faux pas’ and I’m sharing so that you don’t have to be.

1. Share your vision.

The first thing you need to do is ensure that both you and your instructor are absolutely clear about your riding ambitions.  It’s no good being disappointed with the lesson outcomes if you have not communicated and agreed what it is that you need/want to work on and agreed some medium and long term goals that are achievable.

2.Warm up.

It is right that you should expect to have somewhere to warm up and do your usual routine before you even begin to engage in your instructor’s time.  That way you won’t be spending your hard earned having him/her watch you warming up!

3. Show some respect

Every equestrian has a certain level of knowledge but there is nothing more tedious than a pupil who thinks they know how to do everything.  You may not agree in that moment with what you are being asked to do, but at least do your instructor the courtesy of listening and trying out their ideas, you have to trust that they are there to get the best out of you, and have your best interests in mind.

4. Clock In-Clock Out

dressage lessonAs you enter the arena you are working.  Clock In.  Put every ounce of your energy and focus on your aids and your horse whilst in the lesson, do as instructed and try not to think too much.  As you leave the arena – Clock Off.  There’s plenty of time after the lesson for discussion, whilst riding, empty your mind, concentrate solely on what is happening in the ‘here and now’ and forget what might happen if!

5. Up your work ethic

All too often you see riders who stop to ponder what is being asked.  The horse who has been putting in all its efforts to abide by the aids is all of a sudden let down and is now standing whilst the rider gets his/her head round things.  Then its pick back up and expect to do better.  Do your very best to ride through the instruction and feel what you need to do.  My mentor’s favourite saying is “show me what you’ve got when you’ve got nothing left”.  It is in these moments that you can produce brilliance, just at the point where you think you can’t do it anymore, one more push of effort ‘et voila’ it all becomes worth it.

6. Shut up!

When your instructor is with you in the arena resist the urge to talk. If you want to natter with them, take them to the pub.  In the arena they are working and you should be too.

7. Have Fun

Try not to take it all too seriously.  Enjoy the learning process and smile.

Since adopting these strategies I have had more fun with my learning.  I’ve come out of sessions absolutely beaming and unable to sleep at night because my little horse has given me so much and I can’t stop thinking about it.  But it’s not me who benefits the most, it’s my horse and that feels good.

Anything to add?  Crystal System BookI’d love to hear of your dressage lesson experiences, please feel free to share in the comments section.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

 

 

Fighting Competition Demons – Guest Post for Dressage Hafl

It’s always nice to make contact with fellow bloggers, so when Tanja from www.dressagehafl.com got in touch and asked for assistance with competition demons it was pretty timely as I had already planned to write a piece on the subject, having been asked by another rider for advice.

So, to see another great post in my series of Real Life Rider issues click through to …

Dressage Half

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

You are not a Nervous Rider – You are Excited

In another of our series of Real Life Rider issues, Lisa is fighting competition demons.  Anyone who has experienced competition nerves will know just how devastating they can be.  Someone swapped your horse for one that is so much more sensitive, hot and strangely problematic.  For your horse it’s a case of ‘who is this person riding me and what have you done with my mum?’ (or dad or usual rider!)

nervous rider

But please have faith.  With time, patience and a grand plan, you will be able to control your nerves and ride at your very best.  But you need to work on it, like everything else that needs training, so you must look at this problem as a training issue – for you.

The thing that is at odds with this situation is that nervousness is the body’s way signalling potential dangers and protecting us from doing anything rash.  All very well if we are in a dangerous situation, but at a Dressage comp – really?  When you put it into context you can begin use the anxiety you are experiencing in a positive way.  Let’s have a look at what is happening to you.

Get Real!

Your body is releasing adrenaline.  The rate at which it releases affects your body’s reaction to it.  Symptoms can range from anxiety, doubt and negative thoughts, through to nausea, sweating, dry mouth, migraines, an increase in breathing and heart rate, even diarrhoea.  If this all sounds depressingly familiar, the good news is that nerves can actually aid our riding.  By speeding up our reactions and making us ride with more purpose. But, the bad news is, for some they make the whole competition process one humungous emotional trial.  For those of you in the latter group, you need to learn to work with your emotional responses.  But firstly you will need to understand them.

  • Perhaps you have had a previously bad experience.  Pin point for yourself exactly why you are feeling these ‘nerves’ and ask yourself what would be the worst possible outcome?
  • Are you concerned for your personal safety?
  • Is it that you fear you will not be able to deliver a competent performance in front of others?
  • Or is it something else?

Perhaps a reality check is in order.  Try this:nervous rider

  • How many times did something negative happen at a competition venue and you didn’t die?
  • How many times did you get asked to leave a venue because your riding was so bad?
  • How many times when you thought you rode badly did you NOT get asked to leave a venue?
  • How many times did you witness a crowd of people standing pointing and laughing at your lack of ability?
  • How many times did your friends walk away, refusing to acknowledge that they know you as a result of your riding?

See where I am coming from?  If you are nervous because you think everyone is watching, remember people are more concerned with how they are doing than with watching you. Even the spectators are more concerned with who they are there to watch than with how your test is doing.  The next thing to do is to establish precisely what is happening to you.

  • Are you creating pictures of everything that might go wrong?
  • Are you playing out a running commentary of negativity in your head?
  • Are you creating a drama that doesn’t exist?
  • Are you making excuses for failing before you have even tried?

Your body will not differentiate between what is real and what is imagined.  Therefore, what you are thinking and feeling is reflecting throughout your body.  Think about replacing the word nervous with ‘excitement’.  You will be amazed at how your brain will adapt and generate a totally different state.

The very best way to help your brain relax and not feel the need to press the alarm bell is to try to keep your body soft and relaxed; you will find it hard to generate anxiety from a relaxed body.  How? – Breathing.  Learn to ride with slow breathing based low, behind your belly button.  If you get really good, you can synchronise your slow breathing to the horse’s strides in any pace, this will help you maintain your breathing and a good rhythm.  Really practice this as part of your training at home so that it becomes second nature to you at the competition.  Holding your breath unconsciously will cause tension and you could even become light headed.  When you concentrate on your breathing your jaw will relax.  If not, open your mouth very slightly and keep your jaw ‘floppy’, by doing so you are telling your brain that you are relaxed and it will react accordingly.  Also try smiling through your test. Smiling can help you to feel more positive and it looks good to the judges.

Use your peripheral vision.  Something else you can only do when relaxed and therefore you can trick the body into thinking that you are relaxed is by putting yourself into a soft, blurry gaze where your eyes remain firmly fixed on one spot out in front of you whilst taking in everything around you by way of vague shapes, colours and movement.  Learning to ride like this makes it difficult for your brain to generate a negative state because it is not natural. It will also improve your balance and sense of feel and again you should master this at home before the competition.

Why not have a caller for your test if it’s allowed, certainly until you get over the problem.  A word of caution; don’t use this as a substitute for learning the test in advance.  Not knowing your test will exacerbate the nervous condition.  Having a confident and calm friend there with you will help boost your confidence and keep you focussed. Stay away from nervous people. Both are contagious!

nervous riderFocus on your test, each movement individually and how you are riding.  Do not rush.  There’s no hurry to finish.  If your self-talk is all “this is horrible, I can’t do this, my horse is going to run out of the arena, I can’t sit the trot, I don’t belong here, I am useless, I can’t ride” simply banish it.  It is emotional baggage and needs offloading.

Why would you put your energies into this and not learn to stay rooted in the moment, concentrating on what is actually happening underneath you – right now?

Being more positive will decrease the adrenaline secreted in your body and will help with breathing.  It is important to explore what the most helpful thoughts are for you individually before you ever get to the show.  “I can do this.  I’m so proud we got here.  How beautiful is my horse? We are developing a really good partnership.  We have come a long way together.”

Try to remember a time when you were on your horse and felt the best you have ever felt. Attach a word to that memory and bring yourself back to that feeling through the repetition of the associated word(s).  This will re-affirm that you have done it well before and you can do it well again.  This is a tool that many top level athletes use.  So I use the words “Clint Eastwood” whenever I feel tense.  nervous riderFor me it is a memory of one canter in a warm up at a local competition, when I just felt like it all came together.  Even now as I write, I am smiling and I feel a very warm, proud feeling – it really was good though!  … and I am feeling this because I said ‘Clint Eastwood’ and remembered the feeling of that canter.  Clint would have made a good Dressage rider – so relaxed and at one with a horse.

More homework …

  • Take a few minutes three times per day to mentally rehearse yourself riding confidently.
  • Be extra prepared before the test, know all the movements of your tests by heart
  • Be sure that all your equipment, tack and horse are ready before the show so you have less to worry about.
  • Be on time and know the way to the show venue (in case you have to leave in a hurry! Hahaha)
  • Do some physical exercise that morning or the night before to reduce anxiety.
  • Have a hot bath or shower before you leave for the show to help relax you.
  • Don’t eat too heavily before you go. It will sit in your stomach like a rock and make you feel worse. Have something light and nutritious and bring some healthy snacks with you.
  • Stay hydrated.  Plenty of water to keep the anxiety monster at bay.
  • Repeatedly watch your favourite rider in person or on video.  Recently neuroscientists have discovered ‘mirror’ neurons in the brain that activate when you watch someone do something that you are actively learning about.  Very interesting stuff.  The idea that I can ride like Charlotte Dujardin just by watching her is pretty exciting, don’t you think?
  • Take on board Charlotte’s philosophy – “I always look at it as the same old centreline, just another arena,” Or as she more directly and more famously said, “‘same old shit, different arena.”

If all this fails …

Rescue RemedyYou can get a little help from nature.  Before the show, visit with your doctor, pharmacist or health food store for something to help calm your nerves the day of the show. Rescue remedy is a flower essence that is a great help to many riders to keep them calm.

Remember, confidence is like a muscle, the more we use it, the stronger it gets.  It’s serious fun!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

If you enjoyed this post you will love The Crystal System Book

Buy Here Crystal System Book

 

HELLO, MY NAME IS PATRICIA AND I’M A RECOVERING SLUMPER!

EvolutionHave you experienced any difficulties with your turns and circles?  I have because years of bending over a computer has left me with a tendency to round my shoulders and a fractured left clavicle (the horse rider’s injury) which did not heal well, means I am unable to keep a correct alignment of my body without me actually thinking about it!

I was told that now I have decided to do something about it, I am a recovering slumper! which appeals to my sense of drama about the whole thing.  I was also told that I need to think about fixing myself off the horse, because that is where the damage has been done.

Continue reading HELLO, MY NAME IS PATRICIA AND I’M A RECOVERING SLUMPER!

RUN THROUGH YOUR CHECK LIST

Tracy from New Zealand has been in touch – she says …

“There were 3 main things that have really helped me since subscribing to your blog. When I train I often catch myself in a state of ‘trying too hard’. This results in tension in me and also in my horse. Whenever I feel this happening I focus on just 3 things that I’ve learned from you that I know make a difference to my riding (and automatically improves my horse)…

  • Relax and don’t hollow lower back. This really does help me get my leg down and on the horse’s side.
  • Relax arms and let them hang at my sides. As soon as I do this my horse softens through the neck and jaw. And I also feel better because my shoulders aren’t creeping up and up and up….
  • Un-clench my jolly buttocks! A favourite of mine, especially when I’m doing upward transitions or asking for more activity.

Check List

I learned as a teenager when learning to ride, to push with my seat. It is so automatic that I can’t help doing it but I instead I am now trying to squeeze with my legs and follow with my seat.

There are many other things that have been helpful but I find it hard to retain a lot of information so I just focus on those 3 things, and
then hopefully they will become automatic too”.

Cheers

Tracy Arrowsmith

Thanks to Tracy for her very positive feedback and for taking what essentially she sees as the priority key elements of her rider faults and locking into her psyche the tools she needs to deal with them.

The lesson from Tracy then is, with all this information at hand, pick what is important to you, use it, work with it, make it second nature and then move on to something else.

Well done Tracy, you’re clearly doing a great job!

And don’t forget to scan the “99 Checks to Self Assess your Progress” report that you got when you subscribed, to see if there is anything in there you should be concentrating on.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

Posts related to Tracy’s training issues …

Well Heeled, Throw Away the Rulebook, Max – Relax & Get Heavy Buttocks, Install a New Habit, Up In Arms  

 

ON THE BIT

on the bitHello there Dressage enthusiasts …

I have received a message from a ‘Real Life Rider’ who is “struggling with a green horse curling at any contact and getting anxious and rushy when asked to rebalance and slow the tempo”.

My Advice: 

Maintenance of the contact or for your horse to ‘accept the bit’ she must have total trust and be relaxed with your hands (via the reins) in the mouth.  To truly have a horse on the bit or to have your horse accept the bit will take many months of hard and sometimes frustrating work.

Curling, or over-bending is the lesser of the evils associate with bad contact.  You must keep your horse going forward and as you say work on the tempo. However, don’t be tempted to slow too much with a horse that over-bends; much better that you stay forward, even TOO forward initially until the curling is sorted.  Slowing will just settle the horse into a false sense of security and will be more difficult to deal with.

So, send her forward and give forward slightly with the rein from the elbow.  If she leans or pulls – work on transitions.  You should, as soon as possible, take a light but positive contact with the reins.

You should work on short bursts of hard work.  Take up the contact, send her forward, be real steady in your hands, hold her in position, work the arena to keep her thinking and then, back to walk and drop the contact to the buckle end allowing her to stretch.

If she has worked hard enough her nose will hit the floor!  This will start to build the top line and musculature she needs to hold herself in the contact.

If your horse pulls on the reins in an effort to go faster, then you should do many (and I really mean many) downward transitions and repeatedly give and re-take the reins.  This will encourage balance and rhythm on a lighter contact.

Use the exercise of spiralling in and out of a circle laterally. i.e. Making the circle smaller, say 10 meters, with the outside leg, then make the circle bigger, say 20 meters, from the inside leg and a soft or giving inside rein.

on the bit

Change the rein often.

When you feel your horse has stopped pulling on the inside rein, use your inside hand with the inside rein to stroke your horse’s neck. This has two benefits.

  • Firstly it rewards the horse for not pulling on the inside rein.
  • Secondly it will prove to you that you do not need the inside rein to bend or turn your horse.

If you are struggling with contact issues, enter the word ‘contact’ into the search at the top of the page and you will get all my posts relating to this issue.

Here to help!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

As long as you have passion, you are unstoppable

Johanne Picken is passionate about Dressage.  So how does someone who has seemingly wrestled with obstacle after obstacle overcome them and keep going?

After meeting her on facebook she asked me for Dressage advice and I couldn’t help her! Essentially  because her difficulties were outside of my area of expertise, a few communications later I was intrigued by Johanne’s story.  In a twist of fate she has actually helped me – I have found myself questioning my resolve and the meaning of the word difficult!

We all have issues with our riding that we need to overcome.  So what’s stopping you from achieving your dreams?

  • Not enough money for a horse of your own?
  • Major spinal surgery with complications and having to learn to walk again?
  • Clinical depression that keeps you housebound?
  • Weight issues?
  • Blood and/or respiratory disorder requiring constant medication?
  • Loss of your 4 year old horse under tragic circumstances?
  • Body parts that are physically unable to do what your brain asks?
  • Fellow Equestrians’ disapproval of you and your horse?

How about all of the above?

Here’s Johanne’s story.  It’s not short.  I tried to edit it but it’s all so relevant that I couldn’t take any of it out.

Read on, you will be inspired …

…“I fell in love with horses at the tender age of 3, after being sat upon my Aunt’s thoroughbred.  After that, all I could think about was horses.

574485_344202789016912_2083413380_n

My dreams were filled with my own beautiful steeds and for a very long time that was all I had  – the wistful dreamings of a little girl.

Coming from a single parent family, and being an only child, options for ‘extra-curricular’ activities were limited, but I managed to pester my long suffering mother into submission, and at the age of 7 got my first riding lesson.  I was fortunate, my cousins had horses, and I would spend summer holidays on their farm, playing gymkhana games and riding through the fields and round the village. I loved every last second of it.

From the age of 17, I had problems with back pain. It became so bad that I had to give up my job.  At 26 I underwent major spinal surgery, as the very last disc at the base of my spine had prolapsed, and was pressing on my spinal chord; if I didn’t have this operation, I would lose the use of my legs.  Very straightforward – the removal of the disc – fusing of the gap which would be left with orthopaedic cement.

Well… that’s what was supposed to happen…

After the op, the surgeon explained that things were not so straightforward.  When he removed the offending disc, he found that my spine was so unstable he’d had to bolt it onto my pelvis with 4 titanium screws. I was left with a 6 inch scar, a terrible amount of pain, and a lot of rehabilitation ahead of me.

Over the next few months I had to learn to walk again.  Although my spine was now stabilised, and the offending disc removed, I was left with nerve damage and numbness in my left leg. Something I would just have to learn to live with.

I was housebound 90% of the time and due to my immobility I put on a lot of weight.  I became depressed.

A couple of years later, I contracted pneumonia and pleurisy, and subsequently ended up in hospital.  It was during my hospital stay that they discovered that I also had pulmonary embolisms.  Further tests revealed that I have a blood disorder – Factor V Lieden Deficiency. This means that my blood clots too quickly, and my immobility and weight had caused clots to build up in my lungs.  I was given Warfarin (a blood thinning drug). Despite this I had 2 more episodes of pulmonary embolisms, so I now have quite a high dose to stop it happening again and will have to take it for the rest of my life.

I soon realised that, in order to minimise the chance of getting more clots, and to ease some of the pain I still had in my back that I HAD to change my life for the better, starting with some form of exercise.

After a lot of soul searching, and long, tearful discussions with my wonderful mum, I needed to come up with something I could do that I enjoyed; something I was good at, that would help turn my life around.  That was when horses came thundering back into my life.

Horses were my first love, and despite having not been around them for some time, I knew, somehow, that horses were the answer. Unsure as to whether or not I’d be able to ride again, I decided to take up carriage driving.  Finally I had a reason to leave the house, something to look forward to, and was enjoying being with horses again. Over the next couple of years, I gradually lost weight, going from a size 18 down to a size 8; I came off the antidepressants and slowly began to feel alive again.

My life had purpose.

I was a bit fitter, not as heavy, now I wanted to try riding again.

I first tried riding a friend’s horse, and found, to my immense joy, that I hardly had any pain at all when in the saddle, and my passion for riding was thoroughly rekindled.  I was able to move around freely, run, and fly, the horse being my legs and my wings.  Something I thought I’d never feel again.

This fuelled my passion even further, to the point where eventually, with my doctors blessing and my mum’s help, I got a horse of my own.  At 34 years old, my dream of having my very own horse had finally come true!

He was a piebald cob, whom I named Jonesy.  Sadly our time together was only to last a few months, as he was diagnosed with chronic  Uveitis, which causes blindness, shortly after I got him.  Despite my vets and my best efforts to curtail the progress of this dreadful disease, I had to make the decision to have him PTS – he was blind and in a lot of pain. He was only 4. I was heartbroken.

After the loss of Jonesy, I made a passing comment to a fellow livery at the yard where I had kept him, saying that if she heard of any horses for sale that might suit me, to let me know. Turns out that she was selling her 15 year old bay gelding… That’s when I met Loriot.

Johanne2 - CopyWhen I first met Loriot, or Lolz as he’s affectionately known he was fat.

Most people didn’t think he’d amount to much. But something inside me told me that, he was something special.

Over the next year, with the help of my vet and an excellent equine phyiso, Lolz lost the weight and became fitter and a whole lot happier – just as I had done.

He was transformed from a fat wee boggle of a horse, into a shining example of his breed, which I had discovered thanks to the brand on his left thigh, to be Hanoverian.  Looking deeper into his past, I found out that he was of impressive pedigree, and after getting in touch with the Hanoverian Verband, and his previous owner via Facebook, I found out that he had been bred in Germany and brought over to the UK for a particular purpose – Dressage!

Dressage was something that I had never been particularly interested in, and therefore knew nothing about.  Lolz however, knew all about dressage. He’d been very well schooled in the art, and without my even realising, he began to educate me.  I soon found myself doing shoulder in, leg yield, and extended trot – which is his forte!  And, to my surprise, I really, REALLY enjoyed it.  So, I started taking dressage lessons.

My instructor, as well as Lolz himself, helped me learn the correct aids to ask for the different movements. With my left leg being quite numb, I find leg aids a bit more difficult, and I have to exaggerate the movement in my weaker left leg in order for Lolz to fully understand what I’m asking of him.  In June this year, we started competing in unaffiliated competitions.

We achieved 61.3% in our very first Intro test

Johanne 1 - Copy

There are people out there who think I’m completely off my rocker. They wonder why on earth I choose to participate in a sport where I run the risk of being injured, on a horse that is far from easy, especially with my disability and various other health problems.

The answer is simple. I do it because I want to. 

I’m at my happiest when I am in the saddle, and we only get one shot at this thing called life, and I want to live mine to the fullest.

Sometimes I can get frustrated with myself, angry at my left leg for not doing as it’s told, angry at fate for giving me degenerative discs in my spine, and I’d be lying if I didn’t sometimes wish that I didn’t have a disability, that I was “normal” like everyone else.

All I do to snap myself out of thinking like that is to remind myself of all the Paralympic riders, many of them have greater disabilities than mine, and also, to a lesser  extent, I remind myself of the handful of people who said that Loriot and I would never be anywhere near good enough to compete in Dressage.  Being a bit of a stubborn mare, I’m determined to prove those people wrong!

I’m currently awaiting an appointment to be assessed and graded as a para-rider, after which, I will be affiliating with British Dressage. In the meantime, we continue to compete in unaffiliated competitions, and we’re doing quite well. We’ve recently moved on to prelim level, and I can’t wait to move on up the grades.

I’ve even gone so far as to put some feelers out to try and gain some form of sponsorship.  Like my mum always told me, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get!”

For me, it took the hand of fate in the form of a major life changing health problem before I was able to turn what was once little more than a pipe dream into reality.  My journey has taught me to never give up. You never know which direction life could take you. As long as you have passion, you are unstoppable.”

Johanne Picken

My personal thanks Johanne for sharing her story with us.

The very humbled Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

If anyone out there can offer anything by way of sponsorship for Johanne please message me via Facebook and I’ll put you in touch

UPDATE May 2014:  Johanne has achieved her para-rider status and is now competing affiliated.  Onwards and upwards Johanne.  For more in the real life rider series take a peek at …

Keep Calm and Ride   /   Anne’s creepy legs   /   A Back to Front Problem   /   Canter Depart – Strike a Leg   /   Is it me or is it my Horse?   /   Heavy on the Forehand   /   Improving the Canter to Walk Transition

 

 

Improving the Canter to Walk Transition

A Facebook comment has prompted this short post on how to improve the canter to walk transition.

Question: I can get walk to canter easily, but cant get a relaxed canter to walk, any tips?

Answer: 

Your horse needs to carry much more of his own weight onto his hind legs and your weight also, into a forward transition to walk.  He will find it tricky if he has not built up sufficient strength gradually over a period of time.

To help your horse develop the strength and balance to perform crisp canter-to-walk transitions, perform the exercise on a large circle.

In this instance, good very much begets good.  You will not get a good walk unless you have a good canter.  The canter should be relaxed and forward before you ask for the walk transition.

If the transition is rushed, walk until you are happy with the quality of the walk, only then ask for the canter.

Repeat the process, with the goal of shortening the interval between transitions. At first it might take several circles of the canter before you are ready to ask for the walk and vice-versa.  It will also take several weeks of working on this exercise for a few minutes during each ride, before you will have built the horses strength to be able to consistently canter a half circle and walk a half circle.

Canter to WalkFor you it is a matter of ensuring that you are using your core strength to hold yourself up and keep out of your horse’s way whilst he does what is asked of him in the transitions.  Often riders collapse through the middle which shifts their weight and centre of balance forward, hindering the horse’s ability to sit.

But at least you don’t have to carry his weight too!  Be patient, it will come.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

 

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