Our Hot Reading for October

our hot reading for october

It is no secret, I love to expand my knowledge, I enjoy reading multiple articles that stumble across under my nose on all my social media platforms. What I enjoy the most is sharing the great articles that I come across!

What I have enjoyed over the last few weeks with my own riding is focusing on myself as a rider. How to be the best rider I can be in every aspect. So, I thought I would share the top 3 articles that I have stumbled across lately that have really stood out to me and helped me learn a bit more to become a better rider, well what I feel is more an intelligent rider.

What are the hot articles for October?

I have narrowed it down to my top 3.

  1. Improve body awareness for a better seat

I have read this article by David Thind with Annie Morris for Dressage Today Improve body awareness for a better seat. Very insightful, in-depth article, breaking down self-image and body awareness with the rider.

“Self-image and self-esteem go together. Many of us have experienced being praised in a lesson, and the boost in self-esteem improved how we thought of ourselves and therefore enhanced how we rode. You can do this for yourself. Realize that your body has the potential to move like anyone else’s body”

 

  1. How to fine tune your dressage aids with Steffen Peters

I stumbled across this article by Steffen Peters with Beth Baumert  How to fine tune your dressage aids with Steffen Peters while looking for more articles to help my own riding. Wow, what detailed read about the rider’s aids. In depth explanation of the rider’s seat, leg and rein aids and what Steffen calls the remaining aids.

“The experienced rider makes dressage look very easy. The reason for that effortless appearance is simpler than many people think: The experienced rider has high expectations. He expects a certain reaction from the horse when he uses light aids. And because of the rider’s mental clarity and high standards, his horse understands what he wants.”

 

  1. How to build core stability in the saddle without becoming stiff

Loved reading this article How to build core stability in the saddle without becoming stiff by Susanne Von Dietze, I know with my own riding and training how difficult it is to have core strength. It is something I always put towards the back of my brain. Learning about positive and negative tension, how a rider can improve their own tension.

“The easiest way to distinguish between positive and negative tension is that positive tension expands. It makes the body longer, while negative tension shrinks and shortens. More collection requires and reflects more positive tension.”

 

 

As you might have guessed I’m a huge admirer of Dressage Today, their website is easy to navigate and is full of endless articles to suit all riders at all levels.  If you haven’t had a chance to get nose deep with information about all aspects of dressage then I highly recommend for you to sit back have a coffee (or wine, depending on the time of day!) and visit Dressage Today.

My challenge for you is, what is YOUR hot reading for October? What has helped you realise something with your riding and training, or could it be something that has helped the penny drop with your current training?

Happy Riding 🙂

 

Inspirational Masterclass of the Year- Part 2

Who doesn’t want to sit in on a masterclass with Charlotte Dujardin? I was fortunate to travel to the Brisbane CDI to witness what would be the masterclass of 2017. If you missed viewing part 1 of the Inspirational Masterclass of the year, you can view it here.

It is amazing to see the consistency with her teaching throughout the levels, keeping everything simple and breaking it down. Nothing seemed complicated and Charlotte was getting the best out of each horse and rider combinations on the day.

With the next horse in the arena training advanced, Charlotte brought to our attention that it is important to ensure that us as riders, we are looking up at our line and not looking down. Discipline is key with every horse, every transitions count, every movement practiced need to be to the horse best ability. Throughout this level of training, our half halts should be invisible, you should not be able to see a good half halt at this level!

However, we must remember not to hold and kick at the same time! We need to allow the horse to move forward, you can’t have both the break and the accelerator on at once! Charlotte tells us how she prefers to do the canter work first after warming up. She finds it helps the horse and make them more supple in the trot.

It is also a refreshing reminder, as riders we should be doing exercise off the horse. We should be going to the gym working on our own fitness and core strength to help us ride independently. It’s so easy to forget, we train our horses day in and day out we have set out the best routine for them to ensure they are on the right path to achieve the best in the arena. The horse is classified an athlete, as they should. But is it so easy to forget to work on our own fitness off the horse, our diet, our fitness program to ensure that we are also achieving the best we possibly can.

With this level we stated to look at the canter pirouette exercises, on a circle start riding travers then into shoulder fore, then back into travers again. By moving the horse in and moving the horse out, we are controlling the horses body. Another exercise we witnessed, K X half pass right. On the centreline move into shoulder fore, half ten meter circle right in travers to the long side. Then back into half pass right to X again.

As we progress with the horses training and the advanced movements, we must remember to give the horse a break.

The next horse we see in the arena for the Riders xoxo Masterclass, a beautiful mare that is currently training and competing Small Tour. Instantly Charlotte mentions during warming up, to do easy lines, use leg yielding to get your leg on, especially on a hotter horse. At this level the sideways movements need to become a lot steeper. By using a steeper leg yield, we can prepare for the steeper half passes.

At all times during our training the rider must be in control of the horse, not the horse being in control of the rider. We need to keep asking the horse questions during our training. We need to change it around, ride on a bit and ride back a bit, we need to create the rideability of the horse. Charlotte mentions through out any part of the horses training the rider must be so disciplined, we must never accept anything that is less than the best of the horse’s ability.

The crowd witnessed more canter pirouette exercises, this time starting to work on the canter working forward and working back, testing the horse. Charlotte explains as riders we mustn’t let the horse take over and start to turn when we ask for a smaller canter. She also explains to the crowd, who might I add have their eyes glued to the center of the arena taking every single word in. That even during the canter pirouettes when the canter gets smaller, we must keep the canter jumping, keeping that hind leg active.

Moving on from the canter pirouette exercises, Charlotte works the combination through a few trotting exercises. The crowd witnessed a breathtaking extended trot from the beautiful mare, Charlotte mentions that in the extended trot we need a good push from the hind leg and a good reach with the foreleg. The extended trot must cover ground.

For a horse that wants to collapse in the downwards transitions, it is handy to ride a lot of half transitions then go forward. This encourages the horses from anticipating the ‘stop’.

Our next and final horse we witness at the Brisbane CDI Masterclass is the Big Tour combination.

Charlotte ensured the crowd that Grand Prix movements are very difficult! Especially if the movements are worth double marks, a mistake could be very costly. The movements come at you quickly, the rider must be thinking quickly. It comes down to your training, and making it a habit to be on the ball, thinking quick. In particular, with your training, the training is so important leading up to this level, you do not want to be fixing mistakes! As Charlotte pointed out, you are NEVER too good to learn.

Charlotte worked the combination through the half pass, she insisted the shoulders need to be leading at the start of the half pass. In the trot take the shoulders first then think to slow down the forelegs just slightly. Then to work on keeping it parallel during the movement. While working on the canter zig zags, she mentioned as a rider to think of sweeping up the school not sideways.

While Charlotte was working on the passage, she mentions to keep the horse quicker in the hind legs not slower. Think of changing your leg aids to both, alternating between left leg and right leg. While working from passage into piaffe, it is important to have a smooth transition, ease in and ease out of the movements.

Charlotte tells the crowd to ride forward in piaffe, not just an on the spot piaffe. It is so important to be in control and to have gears. Keep it forward thinking while developing an on the spot piaffe.

 

My top tips from Charlotte from the Advanced to Big Tour horse:

Remember as rider to exercise off the horse to work on your core strength

Half halts should be invisible

Look at your line

You can’t have the break and accelerator on at once

You are never too good to learn

Charlotte masterclass

For anyone who attended the Masterclass at the Brisbane CDI would agree when I say it was the more than an inspirational masterclass of the year. We are so fortunate Charlotte made the special trip back to Australia to fill our minds with knowledge and to leave us inspired with our training and goals.

During the day, Charlotte made a special point on how Dressage is an individual sport. But it is most important that we work as a team. Having someone to train with, if you don’t have someone to train with mirrors are extremely useful. Or having someone on the ground videoing your training can be beneficial. With Charlotte explaining how each and every day when she trains with Carl, she feels inspired by him day in and day out. It really makes you appreciate all the hard work and dedication they have towards the sport. True role models for all riders around the globe.

The spectators on the day were under strict instruction there was to be NO photographs of the riders or of the Masterclass.  Photos are before the event commenced.

Most common myths surrounding the Standardbred: Part 1

common myths surrounding the standardbred

I have long wanted to write about the most common myths about Standardbreds. Having grown up my whole life around them, enjoyed seeing their whole life. From breeding, breaking in, race prep, racing, retiring and starting under saddle.

Which I consider myself fortunate to be a part of many aspects of the breed during their life. I have an understanding about the breed, the mechanics of the breeding and have an understanding and respect for training after racing. Which is the main reason why I have held off for so long on having my opinion about what I believe are the myths about the breed.

Common myths surrounding the standardbred
All Smoked Up and half brother All The Rhythm

I’ll be honest, it used to grind my gears reading the absolute hogwash on social media about the breed. It is unfortunate to witness this hype as many people out there that know little about the breed are quick to pass judgement.

I have learnt to just keep scrolling past, when it comes to any discipline with horses you always are going to find people who are completely left field to yourself. You must learn to respect their way of thinking and way of training, and just put your block eyes on, keep hustling and focusing on your training system and your own horses.  For me this has taken a lot of time and self-discipline to be able to achieve.

So, I thought to myself, why not just put these myths on the table for discussion. I wanted to break down what I believe are the top three myths surrounding the Standardbred over three separate posts. Covering each myth in a bit of detail. I have previously posted a quick overview on the origins of the Standardbred, which I always find fascinating!

-Most common myths surrounding the Standardbred-

-Standardbred’s are trained to pace and trained not to canter-

I hear this one way to often.

To begin, Standardbred’s are a 5-gaited breed. Walk, trot, pace, canter and gallop, naturally they can canter without difficultly. The standardbred is a special breed of horse, thanks to scientists at Sweden’s Uppsala University who discovered a gene called DMRT3. Explaining how Standardbred’s have this DMRT3 gene which allows them to have the ability to pace. New York Times has an interesting article about the discovery of the DMRT3 gene.

Over the last few years learning about self-discipline also my own personal development with my training system, my reaction has changed. I used to dismiss such claims that ‘Standardbred’s would never make a riding horse as they do not have the ability to canter’.

But as I have learnt we are all different, we all have our own views nowadays, I just nod and smile and keep on scrolling on social media. If life has taught me anything thus far, all riders train differently and all horses learn differently. However, you cannot go past the fact that scientifically the horse is a 5-gaited breed.

I hear this comment from two different groups.

One, people who are not involved with the breed and have formed a misconception of the Standardbred.

Two, people who are involved within the breed but only from an “after racing” situation.

What we should remember (or learn for any new Standardbred fans) is when the Standardbred is in race training they’re not hoppled seven days a week forced to pace around and around the track forever and a day. Depending on the trainer and where the horse is up to with its training, they can be “fast worked” 2-3 times a week.

This is mixed up during the week with various training such as incorporating jogging up, swimming, galloping and a day off etc. With the various exercises the Standardbred becomes a fit athlete, capable of trotting, pacing, cantering and galloping.

I believe that many Standardbred riders out there are all individually trying hard to promote the breed with life after racing.  That’s why it is important that we support each other with our journeys, because it is damn hard to get the rest of the equestrian community to sit up and take notice. Especially to take you seriously in open competition.

common myths standardbred

Looking forward to sharing the next two parts to common myths surrounding the Standardbred.

Happy Training 😊

Lessons learnt during our September competition

Arniwho APD

What a month September was, time as seriously flown by. I was fortunate enough to attend the SPPHA NSW Training Day with Kate Taylor-Wheat, Kate is our coach who I try and have lessons with at least every 2-3 months (time slips away a little too much!). I always look forward to a lesson, I love to see how far we have come from our previous lesson and where we are currently at working towards our goals. Plus Kate makes Arnie feel very clever! Such an amazing horse to work with. During the beautiful day at Suntori Park at the SPPHA NSW training day, we worked through our lengthening movements. You can read the full lesson recap here. 😊

So, when it came to our competition the following weekend I was more than ready to set my goals! I entered two unofficial Novice tests with 3 main points in mind.

  1. Improve our scores with our lengthen trot
  2. Improve our scores with our lengthen canter
  3. Improve our marks for the 10 m trot circles and 15 m canter circles.

I’m so proud that we managed to tick 2 out of the 3 off from our competition! We improved our lengthen trot to get both 6 & 6.5 in our tests put a smile on my face! Our circles were pretty sharp also 😉

Unfortunately,  while I was reading over my test paper beside the car before we left the grounds this sad feeling came over me when our overall score sunk in. I thought Jesus, can I not catch a damn break. Why can’t I get a better score? Our tests felt better, I feel like we are slowly turning a corner and getting somewhere. I’ll admit, it did take a few extra minutes (or maybe it was the car ride home) to evaluate the test and realise what areas really let us down.

It was point number 2. Our lengthen canter. In a novice test, you are scored on the lengthen canter but also on the transition back to working canter. If you don’t show a nice bold lengthen canter,

A) you won’t achieve a great mark and,

B) because of point A, you won’t get a great score for your transition back to working canter.

When I saw a nice 7 and 6.5 then followed by a 5 or even a 4, its EXTREMELY deflating. BUT what I set out to achieve at the competition I managed to score better than my previous competitions. While i was reflecting back on our rides during the day I realized it’s one of the main reasons why I love training and competing in dressage, I have my goals each competition that I wish to achieve. To keep training and improving our work to keep ticking our goals off! I always have to remember at the end of the day, did I achieve everything I set out to achieve?

Arniwho APD

I appreciate techniques of different sportsman and sportswomen, I follow and read about so many different individuals… Including Rugby players. What I love is the different techniques and how I can apply them into my riding and competition training. I mentioned briefly in my previous post “what’s on my book shelf” about Richie McCaw. Huge fan, naturally own his book and watched the movie Chasing Great. The most important thing I learnt from his movie is how he mentally prepares for each match.

I adapted it to suit, I mean I can’t convince the judge to take the 5 back and give me a 7 😉 while smiling….. (non Kiwi rugby fans might get that!) Before each competition I go through my tests, the night before I write down key points on what I want to achieve. I have my overall score, and I also have key points such as the 3 mentioned above.

Arniwho APD Cuddles

How have everyone’s September panned out? Let us know!

 

Happy training 🙂

Improving your dressage scores

improving your dressage scores

It might not be the end of the world, but it might not have been the best performance at the last competition . It might be the fact you could’ve ridden parts of your test better. Just because you ride that circle a little lop sided, or just that your horse isn’t soft underneath you during your transitions. We all tend to be our own worst critics, especially when we are out under the watchful eye at a competition, which can be both a positive and a negative.  Trust me, it is not the end of the world… even if it might feel like it!

But if a few things didn’t go to plan I guess the first thing we need to evaluate is why? (even after a few tears and before the glasses of wine) Why did you ride that terrible short side? Why didn’t you set up properly for the next movement? It’s easy enough to walk out of that arena and to have that attitude of “I knew that was going to happen because he does that at home”. Well honestly, what else would you expect if you are allowing these mistakes from home hang around with you on your competition day.

Think about it, we all enter a competition with the aim of achieving something. It could be the aim of scoring a certain percent, the aim of scoring certain marks in movements, or if we are on young or green horses, the aim to get around safely and have a good relaxed warm up. It is important we stick to these aims when we enter ourselves at competitions.

Sure, we can over commit and aim above and beyond of what we are capable of at the time of our training. But that is also when expectations harshly meet reality, if we are not prepared to take that next leap in our training. As we all have that desire to be the best rider we can possibly be, at times we may have taken that leap into the next level a little too early.

So, what do we do when we don’t achieve the results we desire. I mean, we have all been there throughout our riding careers. Frantically reading over our test marks and comments, and I’m sure a few of out there have re added up the scores on the test. (Yes, I totally do this. I have been correct on one occasion. Which was my first elementary test!) You know, just to check the scorer did a good enough job. Taking that deep breath, carefully read the judges’ comments and digest the remarks made picturing that moment in your test they are commenting on.

If the scores and comments are a little deflating-  I can speak from experience it can be hard to be motivated to get back in the saddle and train to aim for the next competition. This is when we need to put our emotions aside, roll our sleeves up and nut out a plan on HOW you can achieve that desired mark.

Decide commit succeed dressage meme

The big question, HOW. Well, for me I’m a visual person. I LOVE to write everything down. I feel very old school, I have a poster and textures and I write it ALL down.  Considering how terrible my hand writing is, I decided to create a printable PDF. I enjoy breaking things down bit by bit.

I have created this awesome Improving your dressage scores printable (totally free, don’t stress!) I enjoy sharing what helps me with my riding and training with others. By breaking down your marks one by one I find it incredibly helpful just WRITING down parts of my tests I need to work on. Helps bring it into reality when you jot down those words.

You can download the PDF from the store by clicking here. 

Inspirational Masterclass of the Year- Part 1

You could call her the queen of dressage, but if you have had the privilege to sit in on a masterclass or have read any articles about Charlotte Dujardin, you know she has worked bloody hard to get where she is today. She deserves every success.

This is why without hesitation I jumped out of bed at 3am to make my way to the airport to see what would be THE masterclass for 2017. I loaded myself up with coffee eager to catch that early morning flight to Brisbane.

Once I arrived at the Brisbane CDI patiently waiting in line for the gates to open with many like minded ladies, wondering what spoils of knowledge we will all walk away with at the end of the day. As I was standing in line the first thought that crossed my mind was ‘have I really been awake for this long, I hope to god I don’t look as bad as I feel!’. But as I had the courage to look around with my sunglasses on, it was the amazement of the amount of people who came out to see Charlotte. I mean she is the golden girl of dressage, she is number one in the world. It’s crazy to think that person, that figure I follow religiously on social media I’m going to see in the flesh.

Us crazy dressage fans, us strong Charlotte supporters couldn’t be more thankful for the fantastic opportunity from Dressage Queensland and Brisbane CDI to invite Charlotte back out to Australia to show this part of the country what her training system and frankly really what dressage is really all about.

I must admit I was a little envious on how beautifully turned out all the horses and riders were, this is all thanks to Ridersxoxo, there really isn’t a substitute for quality. I was fortunate to have window shop around at their trade stand and unfortunately for my bank account, I have a very large wish list! A very large KEP Helmet wish list actually..

Masterclass Charlotte

The morning commenced with two beautiful young horses both four-year olds. Charlotte explains her training with the young horses, not ‘sitting’ on their backs keeping the rising trot. The horse isn’t strong enough to carry the weight of the rider yet.  It’s the trainability of the horse that you need to look for when purchasing a horse, it is so important, you need to find a horse that is willing to work with you! Once aspect that Charlotte loves about dressage is there isn’t a “type” of horse that can-do dressage, it is for all horses which are all different shapes and sizes and that’s the joy of it. It’s the training system that makes the horse amazing.

It is interesting to hear that Charlotte and her team don’t aim for their horses to compete in the young horse classes, you need to build their confidence and make the arena a positive experience for them to go out and work in. She mentioned that herself and Carl take their young horses out to clinics and demonstrations for experience in different atmospheres as they do not want to over compete at this stage.

At this age keeping the training sessions nice and short 20 minutes is enough, but we must remember the walk is not just a break, you must keep training the walk. After all it is worth double marks in a test. Hacking a horse out is a great way to develop the walk, making them walk out up hills and helps mixing up their training.

Building a solid foundation at this stage of the horses training is most important, you need to have a house with good strong foundations otherwise it will tumble down.  Keeping everything simple for the horse, after all they don’t understand what you are asking. Making all your aids and transitions very clear and positive. When you need to make a correction, must be quick. Thinking one step ahead. Make that correction and let go again.

Charlotte makes a valuable point that you don’t ride the young horse backwards, they have their whole life ahead of them to collect, it is important to develop the willingness to work forward.

Next in the arena we see the next level up into the Elementary/Medium stages, first Charlotte covers the importance of leg yielding. It is the first lateral movement we teach, we must remember no bend. Just sight flexion moving the horse off your inside leg, it is important we don’t lose the horse through the outside shoulder by having too much flexion.

Charlotte explains how beneficial leg yielding is at the canter, most of her canter work is leg yielding rather than working in half pass. It helps keep the horse supple through their whole body. The best way to start training the leg yield is on the diagonal line, a few steps then go into leg yield.

It is completely acceptable to ride your lateral movements in rising trot at the start of your sessions. Next, Charlotte works through exercises with shoulder in and travers. What we must remember as riders that it is shoulder-in not hindquarters out! It was great to see transitions ridden within the movements. Ride the smaller trot in shoulder-in then transition into riding a more forward trot.

This could quite possibly be my favourite quote of the day “If it’s not easy, work on it, make it easy”.

My top learning tips from Charlotte from the young horse to the Elementary/Medium Horse:

When finding a horse, train ability is the most important

Transitions, transitions and more transitions!

Dressage is for any horse, any shape or size

Shoulder in not hinds out

Train the walk

 

The spectators on the day were under strict instruction there was to be NO photographs of the riders or of the Masterclass.  Photos are before the event commenced.

 

Brisbane CDI Charlotte

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Charlotte Dujardin Masterclass 🙂

Happy training !

Training day: Working on that Lengthen

working on our lengthen

Last weekend Arnie and I participated in the SPPHA NSW Training day at Suntori Park. The training day was with our super coach Kate Taylor-Wheat. It was a beautiful spring morning in Arcadia with a stunning backdrop behind the arena to match.

Arnie was excited with an extra little spring in his step, he seems to feed off new arenas, especially with mirrors at every corner. Personally, I think he just enjoys big fancy arenas and looking at himself!!

I’ve been super focused on our lengthening work, after a few of our last tests, this really hasn’t been ‘shown’. I really want to improve our marks with this work, as we really are lacking! With a horse that has a slightly more than average trot it really is all about controlling his body and compressing before and after the lengthening. Making that clear difference within the trot and transition.

Our Lesson

We went over a few exercises on the 20-meter circle, compressing his body, making the distance between his poll and tail slightly shorter. Never thinking backwards, but for him to think lift his front legs a little higher. After the first 10 minutes, he really had me working up a sweat! We worked through a few transitions into a forward lengthening trot and coming back again.

Thinking tuk, tuk at the girth to go forward. I have the worst habit (if you could call it a habit, it feels very unnatural!) in not moving my legs forward or back enough. Recently, I had a video of my ride a few weeks ago and I thought I was really moving my leg back, but on the video, I would have only moved it a few centimeters. I guess I can feel a little relieved that I have more control over my legs then I think I do! 😊

Arniwho Training Day Standardbred 1

Working on our canter

We had a look at our canter, which I must admit in tests it can feel very big and up front. When I look back on photos or even some videos it doesn’t look ‘as bad’ as it feels. So, I was excited to work on our canter and work through things that I’m doing, and how I can help Arnie a little more.  It was super clear in our canter work to think slight shoulder-fore, soften on the inside rein. I have this huge desire that comes over me to let the inside rein just sit there, (perhaps have a cup of tea) and to let my outside rein do all the work.

Arniwho Training Day Canter

Much like our trot exercises, to think go forward, tuk, tuk at the girth. Boy, oh boy. Did this feel unnatural, putting my legs forward thinking ‘forward like you’re going to touch his shoulders’. No I didn’t touch his shoulders but did we get a super controlled lengthen canter! All about thinking of him coming through. Everything started falling into place.

It’s amazing on how much our bodies influences the horse. We also touched on our leg yielding, I have this horrible right shoulder that really, and I mean really, enjoys coming up and thinking it belongs somewhere around my ear! It’s always on my mind to put my shoulder down.

Sometimes after I ride, I have this niggling pain in my shoulder. I think to myself, what on earth have I done now. Oh yes, that’s right, putting my shoulder down to where it’s supposed to be… next to my other one! Kate told me something that made complete sense. ‘Just think to yourself, is the distance between your ears and shoulders the same?’.

So, naturally with my wandering shoulder, my body turns the opposite direction. It was extremely helpful thinking in the leg yield to have my shoulders pointing the opposite direction we are travelling. This helps Arnie to stay straighter in the shoulders instead of falling into the direction of the leg yield.

Arniwho Leg Yield

Overall, I was so proud of our achievements in our lesson- like I always am. I’m feeling confident for our comp this weekend, it is unofficial to give me the confidence in our work before stepping up to official again. But we are starting to feel great and slowly turning a corner. If we can keep chipping away at our work and achieving our goals, who knows one day (before we get too old!) have an Elementary start! We are starting to get pretty darn confident in our counter canter.

Happy Riding 😊

Why I can rely on my HKM boots to deliver

HKM_DressageDreamers_Blue

I love my HKM boots. Ride after ride, day after day, complete maximum usage and they still wear brand new all the time. My HKM boots are the most reliable boots I have had in my tack room. This is why I can rely on them to deliver day in and day out.

I’m absolutely obsessed with new gear for the horses. But I guess what horse person isn’t!? It’s so easy to fall in love with different tack (especially tack that is on sale). However, I honestly haven’t purchased a set of boots in AGES. Want to know my secret? I purchased a GOOD quality set of boots and haven’t looked back since.

18 months ago I purchased my first set of HKM Protection Boots, thinking to myself I finally I have a blue set of boots to work around at home with and I can buy a blue pair for both my horses.  Little did I know at the time just how fantastic and how much of an asset they would become around the stables.

HKM_DressageDreamers_Blue

As you can see they are well loved and they still have the perfect fit and provide the protection I need each ride. Bonus they are easy to tack up on those freezing cold winter mornings.

 

Here are a few reasons why I highly recommend HKM protection boots to be a valuable part of your tack room.

-Excellent fit

-Lightweight and breathable on your horses legs

-Designed to prevent injuries and to support the horses leg

-Fun colour combinations available

-Ridiculously well priced, so you can buy each horse their own pair.

 

HKM_EquizoneOnline_BootBlue

You can shop online while your still at the stables from Equizone Online. Equizone Online is run by dedicated equestrians to provide the very best equestrian gear around the globe.

Happy Shopping 😊

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read the disclosure policy for more information.

 

Why we need to spoil ourselves and update our saddle pads: Elysian Saddle Pads

I have recently purchased a beautiful saddle pad designed from Elysian Saddle Pads. I am blown away with the amazing craftsmanship and creativity on my new snazzy saddle pad!

 

I first met Andrea who is the creator behind Elysian Saddle Pads at the very first Brett Parbery Intelligent Riding Retreat in November 2016. Not only did I learn and expand my knowledge with developing my own training system but I also met a lovely group of like minded ladies. Luckily for me I now have a growing obsession with saddle pads!

 

I’m sure all of us have one (or quite possibly more), tack room items we are obsessed with. I for one have always fancied a smashing saddle pad, I have to admit it is not one tack item I have been frequently purchasing. I think it is for the pure fact I can be a little fussy. But creating my new tack room obsession was a simple progress with Elysian. I am more then happy with the end result.

 

Here are a few reasons why I recommend Elysian Saddle Pads:
– Simple and easy process on designing your new saddle pad. With a vast range of colours available it was comforting to know I could get a saddle pad made in my exact stable colours.

– I was sent a mock up image of what my new saddle pad was going to look like. – if you are like me, I am a visual person. This made my decision a lot easier!

– Excellent craftsmanship- the materials are second to none and the detailing is fantastic. Also, with options on different materials to suit the needs for your horse.

– Supporting up and coming Australian made businesses. Most of us (including myself) do what we do because we have passion and dedication in what we are trying to achieve. This is something I truly believe, we need to support each other in our equestrian community.

The only downside is now I have an obsession and want a whole tack room full! 😉

But you can see just how beautiful the saddle pad is for yourself, here is my newest addition to the tack room! Photos by Elysian Saddle Pads

GreenSaddlePadElysianSaddlePads
Photo by Elysian Saddle Pads
SaddlePad
Photo by Elysian Saddle Pads

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Why we need to hack out more

I must admit I do not hack my horses out as much as I should. But when I do, I find it the best therapy for both of us, mixing up our day to day work and heading out on a relaxing stroll.

Being from Australia I do envy seeing posts and photos circling around on social media from England and how they hack their horses out across the beautiful countryside. One day, this is on my bucket list, to go hacking like a true English lady across the countryside! However, until then I must hack out like a true-blue Aussie.

Now, there is a difference for me between hacking out and going on a trail ride. My trail ride I like to also refer it as ‘bush bashing’, I LOVE to make my own trail up to the top of the hill where it meets up to the main fire trail in the state forest. Hanging on the reins in one hand and pushing branches away with the other. Nothing quiet gets the heart racing and smile on the face. This takes a lot of effort and skill of the horse – and no doubt the rider too. I use this a completely different exercise. As it is quite physical, whereas my version of hacking out is a quiet stroll along the flat and a few hills. Keeping it relaxing and putting the horses in a different environment away from their usual arena work.

I’m sure I can relate to a few, day in day out arena work. Even though we might mix up our exercises throughout the working week we are still going around in that 60×20 arena. After a while it can start to feel mentally draining on the horse or even yourself, beginning to switch off and left wondering how you’re going to freshen up your work the next day.  It is important to keep everything in your training fresh and positive (because who wants to be a negative Nancy every day!). Adding hacking out once a week or even twice a week to your program helps to keep your horse and you as a rider mentally fresh. Take that break from the ‘normal work’, sit back and relax with your equine partner, enjoy the scenery, take a beautiful easy stroll around. When I hack my horses out it’s only ever at a leisurely walk. It’s relaxing and enjoyable to have no pressure, long rein, keeping them relaxed and happy. Getting them out of the 60×20, keeping their minds fresh, keeping the work positive. Happy horse, happy rider.

Hacking out is also a great way for your horse to become more confident in different surroundings. I am fortunate where I am situated, I have the advantage to hack my horses around the property and out on a quiet road. It’s fantastic exposure, seeing different environments. It was only the other morning on my ride along the road I said hello to a fellow neighbour who I doubt I’ve ever spoken to before in all my 20 odd years living along the same road. An energetic good morning is simply enough to make a positive start to the day. It was also a good experience for the horse as I now know he is completely fine with rubbish from a plastic bag being tipped into a big rubbish bin!

Hacking out is also beneficial to the horse’s fitness, if your horse is coming back into work, or even during their prep or towards the end of the prep before a spell. They’re interested in the new surroundings, motivated to work forward into the direction of the ride. Hacking them out over different ground, slightly up hill and along the flat helps them build and develop muscle.

Even if you only squeeze in a 10-15-minute hack out around the property or even down along the road. That is 10-15 minutes of a new relaxing exercise, enough to break up the normal work and recharge for the next day.

Now the question is, when was the last time you took your horse out on a hack?

why we need to hack out more