Tag Archives: dressage

Coming Soon! The Crystal System Book

It’s on it’s way … The Crystal System Book!

It has been what seems like forever since I began The Crystal System Book but it is finally with the printers and we are now on the build up to release.  So, in honour of getting to this point, my website will also be relaunched very soon, as I’ve had it redesigned in readiness for the book launch.  From the new website you will be able to pre-order the book and certainly within the next month I should hope to have a launch date.  Anyone who wants to register their interest in receiving the book should subscribe to the blog or email me at help@likecrystal.com.

I’m talking to a number of retailers about how to get the book to you and of course, no self respecting author can get to a worldwide audience without the help of Amazon where it will also be available.

Crystal System BookI am very, very excited to be sharing this with you.  Over the coming weeks I will give you some snippets and tasters from the book to allow you to assess if you think it could help you.  Lets begin with the synopsis about The Crystal System.

About The System

“Many horse riding training methods and systems of training are mechanical; techniques which the trainer will try to instil in a pupil.  To ride well you need ‘feel’, which is not only difficult to teach, it’s difficult for a trainer to explain and difficult for a rider to grasp.  It helps if you can develop sensitivity and tact; build your body so that it can work with the horse’s movement; understand the affects you are having on your horse and understand what is at the heart of everything you do. Continue reading Coming Soon! The Crystal System Book

Falling In

 How difficult and confusing is ‘ falling in ’ for a rider?

When a horse is falling in, it’s the horse that’s not following the track of the circle or corner, right?  After all, you have set your course, it’s a 20m circle, which somehow becomes smaller with every stride or begins to resemble an egg shape as you feel the horse fall in at certain points and attempt corrections.  Those of us who have experienced our horses falling in usually wait until it happens and then correct it.  Nothing wrong with that you may say, but there is a better way; another Eureka! moment for me in my training which requires a slight change of mindset and a good helping of focus.

Firstly, you should experiment with the give and retake of the rein to establish whether your horse can maintain his balance on a circle without you holding him there with the reins; in this exercise he should remain on the circle.  If not, the issue is from your horse’s inability to balance himself while being ridden on a circle, or indeed a straight line.  We have all experienced the centre line that starts at A and finishes somewhere left or right of C, haven’t we?Falling In

If your automatic reaction to the sensation that your horse is falling in is to push the inside rein against the horse’s neck in an attempt to ‘neck rein’ him out onto the circle or worse, if you’re crossing your hand over his neck to ‘ultra neck rein’ him out to the circle; or even if you have learned to drag the horse out with your outside rein, you have skipped a fundamental lesson in your training and need to go back to basics.

Continue reading Falling In

Consistent Contact

How many of you have had the comment “needs a more consistent contact” from the judges?

The dictionary definition of connect is to join, link or fasten together, to unite or to establish a sympathetic harmonious relationship.  In these days of social media we think of connecting as adding friends, or linking profiles, networking, whichever way you look at it making a connection with someone or something is about you putting in some effort so that you can come together.  When that something is a horse and you are thinking about Dressage riding, developing a clear, non-verbal language with your horse means making a connection and is where your dressage journey begins.

Those of you who subscribe to the blog know that one of the first questions I ask you is “What are you struggling with?”  The most frequent answer to this question is something that is absolutely fundamental to the success of your Dressage journey and that is ‘Contact’.  Without a useful and consistent contact you will be unable to communicate with your horse; you will be unable to ‘engage in any type of conversation’ or convey any message effectively.  It’s a really widespread problem.

consistent contact

Establishing the contact, maintaining the contact, making a connection, being above the bit, getting behind the bit, head tilting, head wobbling/shaking, strong contact, soft contact; there are a myriad of issues, so for those of you that need help let’s explore a little further and see if we can get you on track.

Continue reading Consistent Contact

Corner – Hands, Legs and Oops a Daisy

Do you ever feel like you want to pull your inside rein to the outside on a corner?

This is a clear indication that you are not utilising your inside leg effectively.  Ooops!  Not your fault though, what is happening is that your brain is telling your hand that you need more bend, you are not sufficiently habituated to engage the leg and so the hand takes over in an effort to prevent the horse’s shoulders from falling in.  This will happen because your leg is not pushing the ‘middle’ of the horse out or because the horse had not been trained to respond to the leg aid that says “bend in the middle”.

As humans we depend greatly on our hands.  CornerOur arms and hands are our first line of defence for balancing ourselves in everyday life.  Instinct can take over and force you to use your hands for balance as soon as you sense something is not quite right.

Often using your arms and hands to fix a problem or to accomplish your goal is so instinctive that you don’t even realise that this is the very thing that is the cause of the problem.  Instinct is very powerful, as is habit – the combination of instinct and habit will result in the over-use of the hands.  You need to make the habit a good one.

Image by www.sustainabledressage.net

In order to ‘make’ the inside leg do the work you need something to Continue reading Corner – Hands, Legs and Oops a Daisy

Fair Weather Rider

A Crystal System subscriber wrote to me because she was feeling guilty for not riding in the rain.

Hey Ho! not riding due to the weather, once in a while isn’t worth beating yourself up about.  It’s when it becomes a regular thing and is affecting your overall progress that you need a strategy to overcome any lethargy you are experiencing over, riding in bad weather.

To help you feel less guilty you could use the time to do something equally constructive towards your goal, like fitness training, stretching or stamina work maybe.  Learning or applying massage techniques that may help your horse is a good one.  Cleaning tack can be very therapeutic!  Reading the Crystal System Blog archive will always help!  Fair Weather RiderThis work is just as needed as the riding, so if you are having a bit of a fair weather rider day, you won’t feel like you have wasted the time as long as it is something that is contributing towards your dressage goals.

Continue reading Fair Weather Rider

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

Novice Test – The Centre Line

Do you incorporate riding THE CENTRE LINE into your everyday schooling sessions?

Perhaps when you are preparing for a competition or running through your test, but is it a movement that you do regularly as part of your regular warm up or schooling regime?  Because, if it isn’t, it should be!Centre Line

Your centre line will be judged on a number of factors: how confident you are on entry; straightness and suppleness; rhythm; contact; impulsion and accuracy.

A Confident Entry

In a novice dressage test the movements for entry on the centre line are …

  • A – Enter in working trot and proceed down the centre line without halting – Turn left or right
  • A – Enter at working trot and proceed down centre line. X – Halt. Immobility. Salute. Proceed in working trot. Turn left or right

You have to get into the arena but before that you to ride around the arena.  What you do in this time really depends on your horse.

Continue reading Novice Test – The Centre Line

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


Bandage BootThe very generous folks at Kitt Equestrian are giving 10% off all their already very reasonably priced products purchased before 31st December 2014.

This week I’m looking at their range of products and giving you my humble opinion on their suitability for the dressage horse.


Continue reading KITT KOOL – BANDAGE BOOT