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.

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LATERAL WORK: Travers

Haunches in, haunches out, quarters in, quarters out, travers, renvers – strip back the technical terms and what you are aiming for is the ability to move your horse’s quarters left or right (with bend through the horse’s body). Getting to the heart of the matter will dispel any fears you have about cracking on with this type of work, because the sooner you do, the sooner your horse will benefit from these straightforward exercises. Continue reading LATERAL WORK: Travers

Why The Half Pass Cannot Be Improved

There are many elements to the half pass which can go wrong but the good news is that 90% of the issues can be dealt with really easily.  The solution to many half pass issues is energy.  It is essential that you create sufficient energy in your horse for him to flow across the arena without labouring.  Fact is, it is simply not worth beginning a half pass if your horse’s gait is not energetic as you enter the movement, it will fade, become stuttery, lose bend and just be a ‘puffed up’ leg yield.  It is crucial there is no loss of rhythm, tempo or impulsion throughout the movement and this can only be achieved if your horse is forward and energetic.

Continue reading Why The Half Pass Cannot Be Improved

SMILE FROM THE INSIDE

I’d like to bet that the majority of aspiring dressage riders enjoy their riding.  Yet how often do you see a smile on the face of a rider whilst training?   The answer, in my experience, is not often.

Crystal System DressageA very simple and hugely beneficial tip is to relax the lower part of your face; smile from the inside.  By doing so, your face will soften, your eyes will relax, so will your jaw and it will help you to relax your shoulders and arms.

Continue reading SMILE FROM THE INSIDE

Blue Chip Feed – Competition Give Away

Gotta love those generous guys at Blue Chip Feed, following the success of their All Star Academy series on Horse and County TV – a mixture of Big Brother, The Apprentice and Pony Club involving 8 contestants going head-to-head in various equine and media related tasks to find the eventual winner, Rhi-Lee Jones they are running a competition in which one person on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter will win over £290.00 worth of products.

Mahoosive contratulations to Rhi-Lee.

Blue Chip Feed

Hop over to the Blue Chip Feed Facebook Page and give it a go!  Just gotta like and share.

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Pick Me Up

 A little PICK ME UP

Problems and set-backs in your riding are inevitable. When everything seems to be going wrong, practice asking these questions of yourself to give you a quick and easy ‘pick you up’:

 “How far have I come?”       

During a recent training session I kept dropping my inside hand in the canter a centimetre, maybe two.  It was having a detrimental effect on my horse’s ability to stay on the circle.  To Pick Me UpMark this kind of problem is like a beacon flashing at him, to him it looks like I’m dragging her round with the inside hand and he said so!  I got a little uptight about the whole thing so ‘skulked’ off after the session to reminded myself that there was a time when I couldn’t canter more than 2 circles without collapsing in an exhausted, purple faced heap and my circles were what I now call squircles (squarish circles), egg shaped or worse I couldn’t actually get my horse onto a circle without actually dragging her round with the inside rein.  (I am ashamed to confess)Embarrassed Smiley

It’s all relative, when things are going wrong, it’s hard to recognise what is going right. It’s easy to screen out the good things and only focus on the bad things. Remind yourself that some things are going right. Purposely look for the positive, even if it is something very small. Continue reading Pick Me Up

Equine Magazine – July 2016

Equine Magazine

We have teamed up with Equine Magazine to offer an exclusive package of dressage goodies including a copy of The Crystal System Book, A Blue Chip Dressage Saddle Cloth and a set of Kitt Equestrian Dressage Wraps.

The Crystal System DressageEquine MagazineKitt Dressage WrapsI am absolutely delighted with The Crystal System book review featured on Page 45 of the July 2016 Issue of Equine Magazine, they say … Continue reading Equine Magazine – July 2016

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

Muscle Memory – Dressage Practised Perfectly

You are having a lesson

Your issue is that your outside shoulder drops and turns to the outside on the right rein. Your coach explains what is happening and demonstrates how your body position is affecting your horse. You are very clear in your mind what is going wrong and what you need to do to rectify it. It’s your turn to show what you have learnt. You put yourself into position and off you go onto the right rein. You start off with the shoulders in alignment with the horse but before you have turned half a circle the shoulder has dropped and is tuned in the wrong way, exactly as you had before the instruction. You do it wrong.

Are you not trying? Are you a fool? Of course not, you are perfectly normal and have reacted exactly just as 85% of riders do. Why? Because of muscle memory. Most of us have come across this term at some point in our training, but it is not a memory stored in the muscles, of course, but memories stored in your brain. If you’re practising your riding skills over and over again, the idea is that you’ll continue to improve, after all ‘practice makes perfect’ right?Muscle Memory

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