Tag Archives: Dressage Blog

Crystal System Dressage – Chapter 3

Having established what is driving you to do this passion of ours Chapter 3 of The Crystal System Book will help you get some clarity on exactly what it is you want and how you are going to get it.
Crystal System Dressage

Crystal System Book… Top-level athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields use the setting of goals to give long-term vision and short-term enthusiasm to their projects.  It focuses the mind and helps to, not only organise, but prioritise time so that you can make the very most of it. Let’s be honest, for most amateur riders there is a balancing act to be achieved in terms of time.  By setting smart, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in your achievements, however small. Assuming these mean something to you, you should see progress in what might previously have seemed a long and pointless grind.  Goals will make you aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, so that you can begin to improve your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.”

Crystal System Dressage

” … Are you sold on the idea?  Are you itching to scamper off and start writing stuff down? Not yet? Here’s my final pitch … Continue reading Crystal System Dressage – Chapter 3

Crystal System Dressage – Chapter 2

Crystal System BookWhy do you ride Dressage?

In the build up to the launch of The Crystal System Book on 30th November 2015, we are taking a sneaky peak at each chapter.  Starting with Chapter 1 (as you do!) in my last post.  Here we move on to Chapter 2 with just 3 x paragraphs which looks at helping to find out what is driving you …Crystal System Dressage

“… As I progressed through my training, I become hungry for knowledge about how my body worked, hungry to put that knowledge into practice, shape my position and enjoy the challenges I faced. I am hoping you will feel this way too.  It’s pretty addictive.  When you really want something, you usually get it sooner or later. I have discovered the only way to see real improvement is to re-examine and question everything we do; keep the good things and reject the bad things.  I found this because to this day, no matter what training issues I encounter, the solution is always somewhere in the basics and more often than not, in the way I ride.

Crystal System DressageThe process of finding my own rider faults, after many years of riding, took a somewhat penetrating examination of my motives, convictions, attitudes, an in depth analysis of myself in an effort to determine my true feelings, capabilities and beliefs.  This all began with the admission that I was not nearly as good as I thought I was.  I questioned everything I had accomplished, everything I thought I knew.  The anguish that is caused by this process, and the honesty which is vital for it, is immense.”

“… Success is no accident.

It needs to become a habit.  Continue reading Crystal System Dressage – Chapter 2

Retraining Of Racehorses – Dressage

I had a super message from Equipepper about my Collectives Marks series of posts and how they had helped her, so I asked her to guest blog for me on the subject of Dressage for Ex Racehorses  …

Here’s what she has to say …

How To Approach Dressage With Ex Racehorses

Thoroughbreds and ex racehorses are becoming more popular amongst amateur and competitive riders. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious being that they are usually fairly cheap to buy compared to a well-bred warmblood. However, there is no reason why a sound ex racehorse cannot do well in other disciplines such as dressage.

Why Choose Thoroughbred Ex Racehorses?

As a breed, thoroughbreds are incredibly athletic and are often very common in the bloodlines of top sports horses. Some of them also have very good movement, which is a vital base for any dressage horse. My ex racer naturally has correct uphill paces, even after two years of National Hunt racing.  Thoroughbreds tend to be quite smart. This is both a good and a bad thing when it comes to retraining them. They tend to pick up what you want them to do quite quickly and they remember it. However, if they don’t want to do something, they can be very creative at finding a way around doing it which you might struggle to undo.


Retraining Racehorses For Dressage : Considerations

The majority of racehorses will probably have no schooling experience at all. Not only this, but a jockey’s riding style is very different to that of the average rider. Therefore dressage will be a completely new experience for them and there are lots of little things you need to consider when it comes to riding them. Continue reading Retraining Of Racehorses – Dressage

Dressage Versus Office

In the battle between ‘Dressage Versus Office’ my office is winning!

After all, in the quest for expertise they say it takes 10,000 hours of practice; that’s 5 years at 8 hours per working day sitting at a desk and I’ve been at it a lot longer than that.

I’ve just read an article by Nicola Smith of foreverfit.tv which essentially confirmed what I have known for many years.  My office is killing me and utterly ruining my chances of developing my skills as a Dressage rider!

Nicola says that when you spend the average of 6+ hours sitting at your desk it is going to make you age faster, increasing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, metabolic damage and so much more. dressage versus officeOur bodies simply are not designed to be sitting all day every day. This sedentary office based lifestyle affects our natural physical make up.

She advocates that you take control of your day and ensure you do what is necessary to change things by trying to keep active – Walk before work, ride before work, do a workout! Yeah, she’s a fitness guru! Use a chair that is going to help you sit correctly and research how to get your desk set up ergonomically, and my favourite … set a timer every 60 minutes and take a 2 minute break, stand and walk.

Continue reading Dressage Versus Office

The Collective Marks – Submission

I do feel a little like I may have neglected you a little recently, what with putting the finishing touches to my book and illustrations and campaigning for Haynet Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2014 (which I won thanks to you guys – Wahay!) time got a little pushed for sharing hints and tips with you.  Thank You, script letteringThanks for your patience, to make amends I’ve got some great stuff in store for you.

Let’s kick off with a reminder about the Collective Marks series of blogs I bought to you in 2014 …

… and pick up again with a brand new blog about The Collective Marks – Submission.

You will know by now that my view is that very few trainers give real weight to their pupils understanding and focus on the collective marks.  Forgotten about and often viewed as something that just happens because it is just ‘in there’.   Quite simply, if you do not have a full understanding of what the judge is looking for when awarding The Collective Marks, you do not have a full understanding of the aims of your test.

Continue reading The Collective Marks – Submission

In The Stirrups – January 2015

 In the Stirrups Magazine – January 2015 is out.

My article entitled ‘This Business of Dressage’ is the second part of a two part series looking at a business like approach to your training.  It is very motivational can be found on page 29 through to page 31.  I have, however, replicated the article below for you, but please take a look at the magazine, it has some great stuff, including …


and much, much more …


In my last article I made a number of comparisons between business values and how they can be applied to your dressage journey.  This month I am continuing that theme with BIG thinking.  I have been relatively successful in business and it occurred to me that a businesslike approach to training would not only bring a fresh look at everything but also might just be a little thought provoking.

Continue reading In The Stirrups – January 2015

Strength Training in Dressage

Recognising that your horse may not have the strength to perform the work you are asking for is key to ensuring he remains sound and willing throughout his Dressage career.

StrengthConsider this: If you embarked on a program of stretching, joined a yoga or pilates class or even joined a gym how would you feel after your first session?  Perhaps a little sore, perhaps a little tired.  How long could you do and how often would you need to go before it became easier and enjoyable?

What would happen if you jumped in at the deep end and did the ‘body blast’ class?  My guess is you would be laid up for a few days and probably wouldn’t want to go again.

Why Use Strength Training?

Continue reading Strength Training in Dressage

7 Ways to Listen to Your Horse by Horse Listening

Dressage Enthusiasts!


I get so many messages from riders experiencing problems where my response is  “Ok, step back, take a good look at what is happening, try to get to the heart of the matter”.

Often it is not what the rider thinks is happening, the signs were there but they did not see them.   For this reason, I am absolutely delighted to be able to bring you an extremely popular blog by the the hugely popular Equestrian Blogger Kathy Farrokhzad giving you 7 ways you can listen to your horse.


7 Ways to Listen To Your Horse

Horse Listening

Photo Credit: NBanaszak Photography

Listening to your horse is such an important part of riding and horse ownership. In fact, the rider who is ignorant of the messages her horse sends is missing out on sometimes vital information. Knowing how to understand and correctly interpret the signs and behaviors of your horse allows you to know when something is off. The information can inform everything from general health care, to training and conditioning programs, to your horse’s mental well-being.

How can you learn to listen effectively, in a way that positively affects your horse? Here are a some ideas.

Continue reading 7 Ways to Listen to Your Horse by Horse Listening

In the Stirrups – Dec 2014

Just realised I didn’t share December’s edition of IN THE STIRRUPS MAGAZINE with you … Doh!

Here it is for your belated enjoyment.  My article is shown on pages 27 – 31 and in all it’s full glory below.



As the year comes to a close, we become reflective and looking back I have been relatively successful in my career, starting out as a secretary and moving through first line management to middle management and now reaching the dizzy heights of Director.

Turning to my dressage ambitions, it occurred to me that what separates ‘the wheat from the chaff’ in the equestrian world is a burning desire, a thirst for knowledge, structure and a businesslike approach.   This has clearly been applied in my working life but until recent years has been sadly lacking in the approach I took to my riding.   The burning desire was there but no structure.   Success then is a philosophy, an attitude, it’s a state of mind and it is available to each and every one of us.  So if you want it, but can’t get the leverage you need, I’ve put together a three part series, beginning with business values that can very easily be applied to your approach to your training and help you get the focus and motivation to achieve your riding goals.


Continue reading In the Stirrups – Dec 2014

NOVICE TEST – 5 Questions for the Novice Dressage Rider

2015A New Year often brings new ambitions, reinvigoration of our aspirations and thoughts about how we will make the most of the very precious time we spend with our horses.

Some of you will be thinking about competing, possibly for the first time or with a new horse or maybe like me, you are thinking that 2015 will bring you opportunities you have been working towards.

With this in mind I have been looking to the requirements of the Novice Dressage Test and the essence of what the judge is looking for.  I have compiled a check list of 5 questions you might want to consider and which will hopefully help you to focus on what is important.

The Novice DressageTest

It is all about the horse’s way of going and obedience.  The judge is looking to see if you are on the right track with your training and by asking yourself these 5 questions, but more importantly, by being honest with your answers, you will be able to assess for yourself, before you even enter the competition arena if your work at home is up to standard.

Novice DressageSo, ask yourself … Continue reading NOVICE TEST – 5 Questions for the Novice Dressage Rider