Quite why I am unable to recreate all the good work I do when my coach is standing in the middle of the manege has always been a bit of a mystery to me. It is a sad fact that I rarely put in as much physical effort when schooling alone and it is the encouragement of my trainer that tends to galvanise my resilience and fortitude, but instructor dependence can be soul destroying.
It seems that those riders that do not have an issue with this have trained their brain to retain the instruction and have a mind-set that creates a hugely powerful incentive to adopt certain behaviours or choices that are critical to training success. No matter what has gone on in their day they have the determination to put everything aside for the ride.
But how do you retain that instruction?
Continue reading 8 Tips To Help Your Brain Retain Instruction
Here’s the thing – You simply cannot pull your horse up off the forehand, so if you have a horse that pulls down on your hands, barely uses his hind legs let alone pushes from them, is heavy, hard to manoeuvre and thoroughly unpleasant to ride; if you feel like your horse would fall on his face if you were to release the contact … then you have a horse that is on the forehand. Continue reading On The Forehand
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 Mark 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)
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
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.
“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
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’.
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
Chapter 13 – Overcoming a Crisis
In this final chapter I talk about what to do if and when you hit a crisis.
On understanding the inevitable
“… The new habits you form are often very fragile and it is for this reason that you need to eliminate any source of resistance that may lead you astray. When the inevitable ‘curve ball’ is thrown into play, you need some strategies to deal with the unexpected. Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but having the ability to deal with them”.
On Competition Anxiety
Continue reading The Crystal System Dressage – Chapter 13
CRYSTAL SYSTEM DRESSAGE – Chapter 12 – DO – Rider Focus Plan
So we move to the penultimate chapter of the book, pulling together all you have gleaned from previous chapters, this post gives you a few sample paragraphs, quotes, tips and illustrations that are included in Chapter 12 to see you if think it might be for you.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellent then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
“… Evaluation and re-evaluation and a systematic progressive plan will ensure that the inevitable recurring plateaus can be dealt with. You may feel unable to ride, you may feel like what you are trying to achieve is just not achievable. This will continue until you become secure and master the new way of working. Often riders get to thinking ‘it’s like learning to ride all over again’. In the long term, the cycle of breakthrough, plateau, re-evaluation will never end, no matter how accomplished you become.
However those ‘bad’ rides, after which you think that you will never learn to ride skilfully can and will be overcome if you continue to analyse and figure it out for yourself; no quick fix, no shortcut, no easy way – only diligent practice.”
Continue reading Crystal System Dressage – Chapter 12
Chapter 11 – Do – Suppling Your Horse
Snippets from Chapter 11 to give you a feel for what The Crystal System offers you.
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Be curious” – Stephen Hawking
“… The critical aim of the preliminary training phase is looseness and by this I mean relaxation of all of the joints and muscles. Only when your horse is supple can he create impulsion, be straight and have balance with a swinging back and self-carriage. Looseness is not achieved overnight, particularly if you have started with a horse that has a degree of stiffness anywhere in his body and/or legs. It will take a minimum of six weeks
of patient work for you to re-train any ‘bad’ muscle memory and a further six weeks for the muscle to develop and become strong. Laterally your horse should be able to bend his body from poll to just behind the saddle without falling in on the shoulder or swinging out the haunches. The only means you have for acquiring lateral suppleness in your horse is lateral bending.” Continue reading Crystal System Dressage – Chapter 11
Chapter 10 – Do – Influencing Your Horse
More snippets from The Crystal System Book …
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill
“Of course, everything we do influences our horse’s way of going and it is worth taking on board my primary message to you ‘If you get the right response when you ask correctly, it surely follows that if you get the wrong response, you may not be asking correctly”.
“… The novice or untrained horse (whatever the age) needs time to develop strength and flexibility to accomplish the desired ‘roundness.’ It’s important that every time you take a walk break, you should give a loose rein and let your horse adopt any frame he wants so that he can relax his muscles. The length of time you ask your horse to work ‘on the bit’ depends on the individual horse. Always consider his age, fitness, and temperament. Clearly, if you do too much and make your horse sore because he’s using his muscles differently, you’re not only going to have a sore horse, but also a horse that becomes quirky and resistant. So the trick with anything you do with a horse is to bring him up to the limit, and then take the pressure off. As soon as your horse shows signs of resistance because he’s either physically or mentally tired, back off. Build up day by day.
Continue reading Crystal System Dressage – Chapter 10
Crystal System Dressage, Chapter 9
“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi
“… There are a number of essential elements to the way your horse works which are fundamental to your dressage success. They are forwardness, rhythm and relaxation, tempo and straightness. Without a clear understanding of their importance and a basic knowledge of how to achieve them you simply will not be able to perform a basic training test and unquestionably you will not be able to progress the levels. ”
“… Imagine your horse ambling along in walk, jogging instead of trotting, stumbling through a test constantly breaking the three beat canter. Not often do you see all of these faults in one horse but sure as night follows day you will experience these faults, at least to some extent, if you have not focussed your training on rhythm. Because in this small, rather oddly spelled word (should be ritham, right?) you have wrapped up a whole host of skills you and your horse must master; energy, even tempo, clear and regular paces, balance, contact and so on. If you consider that impurities or irregularities in the rhythm, tempo and stride length are serious flaws in your horse’s ability to perform you can begin to appreciate Continue reading Crystal System Dressage – Chapter 9