What is your Riding Ambition? – Equestrian Blog Hop

I’m delighted to join in and be part of this month’s Equestrian Blog Hop run by Bridle & Bone. The topic for November is, what is your riding ambition? Do you have one? As I sat down and thought about what my riding ambition is and if I have a riding ambition, I started doing a little research and reading about ambitions.

 

Ambition is defined as “a true desire to do or achieve something”. Now, after some reading I believe if you have a passion, such as riding, there is no doubt that you would have a desire to go out and be with your equine partner. You do have ambition and desire to achieve the best you can.

“Ambition and love are the wings to great deeds”- Goethe.

You could say my ambition started from an early age. Being surrounded by horses, riding and competing at shows, qualifying for royals. The desire to achieve my best in the show ring soon developed into my harness racing days. My ambition shifted to become a better driver and achieve the best for the horse. Again, my focused shifted as I made the change to get back in the saddle again after a break. This is when I found dressage, which has become my love and passion ever since. I have found a discipline that allows my riding to grow and develop into a better rider.

Arniwho Riding ambition

The early morning alarms, saddling up while the sun is rising just so I can get a good 30-minute ride in before heading off to work. Walking through the front door after the sun has gone down after exercising horses after work. Falling asleep on the lounge after dinner while watching TV. Non-equestrians really sit there scratching their heads wondering why on earth we do it and what possibly could we gain out of it.

Love is why we do it, ambition keeps our head in the game. The ups and downs, tears and laughter, equestrians wouldn’t have it any other way. No matter what discipline we are all set out to achieve something.

 

Riding Ambition

For me where I am with my dressage journey, no matter how far down the path I go. It’s the burning desire to become a better rider that keeps me heading on my merry way. The path will never come to an end, you will never stop learning. Most importantly, you are never too good to learn.

How do I stay on the path? I have two main things that help me.

First one, I currently I have 12-month goal set out on a poster written up the very top. I have the months broken down underneath in headings, I plan out parts of the 12 months. Such as, lessons, competitions, time off, body work etc. Basically the building blocks heading towards that end goal.

Second one, surrounding myself with like minded people. Whether you surround yourself with positive like minded friends or even having your social media feed positive and inspiring. Chatting to the other dressage girls inspiring and motivating each other to keep striving to do our best each ride. Or simply following the top riders and trainers in our sport, aiming to be that person you follow religiously online.

 

It begs the question, what are your riding ambitions? What is your burning desire with your equestrian partner?


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. 

The Competition Checklist

It might seem so simple to some but having a checklist before a competition could be a life saver! Well… for me anyway!

When I’m doing my daily (yes that’s right daily) scroll through nominate on the upcoming competitions, what is coming up soon to add to my calendar of events, tests that are lining up to the work I’m currently doing at home.

The different clubs and locations trying to see where I want to go for the tests on offer and the quality of the grounds. Of late I have become a little “fussy” on the grounds on where I compete my horses, Arnie I can take anywhere do anything kind of horse however, he is a little fussy on the grounds. I do enjoy the grounds that have sand arenas which also can be a negative if they are too deep for him to work in. So, you could say my daily scroll through nominate is a little limited on what I can enter.

What I like to have running in the back of my mind while I’m scrolling through is the grounds and what tests are on offer, but also if I enter that competition is that benefiting towards my dressage journey. Is this helping me achieve my goal?

I guess you could call this the beginning of my mental checklist.

  • Club location and the grounds of the competition
  • By entering this competition is this benefiting towards my dressage journey goal
  • The test on offer is what I am working on and achieving with our work at home

Arnie is currently competing EA novice, he has achieved so much. I’m super proud of him and we still have so much more to work towards. I’m 100% comfortable with the 2.1 and the 2.2 but if I see that 2.3 at the moment I go back to the events page and keep scrolling for another comp! The only thing now that I feel is holding me back is that bloody canter loop! The leg yielding with the two 10m circles I’m comfortable with. But that canter loop I feel the depths of Mordor open up ! I shouldn’t sell myself short…. Our canter loops are O.K…. However, we have much to work towards with these! Canter loop left and even our counter canter left, tick, tick. Happy days! Canter loop right and counter canter right… mediocre tick. Which is completely fine and acceptable with our training, it IS something we are working towards. Once we start becoming more confident and achieving our training goals there will be more things for us to achieve and become more confident in our work with.

So, once I enter the comp that I feel confident with I have the test diagram saved on my iBooks on my iPhone. Which I refer to about 20 times a day, I mentally ride the test while I’m on the phone to customers at work, I mentally ride the test while I’m drifting off the sleep at night and I even mentally ride the test while I’m driving around.  If I can’t mentally picture myself riding the test it just won’t happen for me. Visualisation is a strong powerful tool.

As the competition starts to get closer and closer I start to run through the daily list leading up. Two days before I like to have a good long ride really running through the tests and ironing out the kinks that I need to. Leaving that day feeling pretty good A+ workout. The day before the competition I like to have an ‘easy’ ride making everything I do damn achievable, I have this overpowering sense of perfection days leading up to a competition (I’m certain I’m not the only one 🙂 ) that’s why I came to the realisation that the day before needs to be a relaxing one, I’ve put in the hard yards leading up before I enter the competition, I’ve put in the hard yards once I’ve entered the competition, I have a strong feeling on what areas of the test I need to pay more attention too and ride better and more accurate.

It’s always the night before I feel a little stressed, bit flustered, it’s the day I clean my gear, pack the car, wash and plait Arnie. I’m bound to forget something ! Don’t worry I have! I like to visualise, when I’m packing the car I make sure I visualise all the gear I need for the day. Saddle – check, what else goes on the horse. Girth- check, saddle cloth – check, half pad- check, bridle – check.

This is why I have created (a very brief version) of a competition checklist, for all the dressage dreamers out there! Who are just like me  🙂 We are all here to help and inspire each other.

Please  CLICK HERE to download the checklist.

There will be more resources available soon for everyone to share. 🙂

 

Happy Riding 🙂

What’s on my bookshelf

I have to admit I’m a bit of a horder.. Especially books. To be honest I use to hate reading back at school, personally I think it’s because those topics never interested me. But now anything about horses and for my own personal growth. I’m all for it. With age comes wisdom right!?

I’m not really an impulsive person either, it’s been 12 months since I have decided I wanted to do an equine body work course. I must admit I did to a taster early last year and passed with flying colours, I don’t know what is holding me back pressuring my dreams. There are many types of courses out there that I would just love to do.. and I want to do them all!

So, over the last 12 months my collection for books has grown… a lot. I love to expand my knowledge, I want to learn something new every day, even if that is learning from my mistakes in my training. I always want to be pushing myself to be a better rider. It has been just over 12 months I really have made an honest commitment to expand my knowledge by starting with understanding the mechanics of the horse. To learn, understand and appreciate on how the horse moves its body, why and how I can achieve the best out of them.

Currently I have the well-read edition Equine Injury, Therapy and Rehabilitation by Mary Bromiley, it honestly looks like I’ve read this every day for the last 10 years. Well partly because I took this book away on holidays to Botswana in my backpack last year, but it is also a well-read book. Which it is, I use this as a reference all the time. When you have that fantastic book that pretty much covers a-z is a good feeling. Explaining the musculoskeletal system, injuries – causes, effects, a well detailed therapy section (great reading by the way), rehabilitation and common rider injuries.

I enjoy to have a few books in the mix to quickly glance over before I go to sleep. I honestly enjoy reading over Equine Massage (A Practical Guide) by Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt he is amazing. I even downloaded a few videos! He honestly explains everything you need to know in great detail that you can relate to. He covers everything about massage, stress points, hydrotherapy, areas of stress specific to each discipline (FYI for our dressage horses depending on the work, hind end, shoulders, chest, upper neck and even the base of the neck) and a great chapter on saddle fitting.  I also enjoy flicking through Stretch Exercises for Your Horse by Karin Blignault this is a very detailed book. Extremely easy to follow and find what you are looking for, its great I honestly never thought of a few of these stretches and how they can help improve the horse. (if only I had the patience to follow one for humans!)

Now the best book I must admit which I LOVE to read although it is my very own journal from Brett Parbery’s Intelligent Riding Retreat. I know that might seem a little strange being my own notes, but it was a wonderful opportunity to attend the retreat and what I have learnt I will (hopefully) remember and put towards my training for many years to come. I have a few pages that follow on from the retreat when I had my comp with Arnie last year, I have noted down what I need to remember for the test. Each part of the test I would struggle with. Pace Control- Set up lengthen, go forward rock him back into working canter/trot. Watch Feet Control- set up my leg yields, straight, over, go forward, reward.  Don’t go too deep into the corners coming out of the movement but use the corner going into the movement.  The best part is I have ENJOY after all my notes, at the end of the day you need to enjoy yourself and the horse needs to enjoy himself.

I should admit I am a bit of a rugby fan and a huge admirer of Richie McCaw (umm who wouldn’t be!?!) After watching the movie Chasing Great (totally inspiring regardless if you are a rugby fan or not) It was then I got the idea to write down my notes for each comp the day before then review them on the day before I ride. This is what Richie implemented into his rugby matches knowing the opposition, having a strategy for the set plays, the breakdowns, knowing what he could get away with and best of all Richie always wrote enjoy at the bottom.

After watching the movie, I really thought to myself wow maybe I can create the same way of thinking towards my dressage competitions. I found it helpful writing down my weaknesses. Having them on paper to review then while I was riding thinking about what I have to do movements before. Making sure I was on the ball, setting up all my movements making sure it was flowing. It really paid off as I achieved my goal of 65% and first place, fingers crossed I can transfer this from a training day result into an official competition result.

Just thought to share a picture of all my books I currently have been reading through!

Happy Riding 🙂

It’s not about being the best, it’s about being better than you were yesterday

I always feel super my first ride at home after a lesson, I have that “don’t worry, I’ve got this” feeling when I get on. Honestly I’ve been having so much fun working with Arnie lately, time literally passes so quickly in the morning.

My day usually starts out jumping out of bed energetic around 5am knowing I have enough time to ride Arnie before I’m off to work. Best way to start the day.. Am I right !?! Don’t worry some mornings are a real struggle. I’ve put it down to these are the days Arnie has off and therefore not motivated to get out of bed. Arnie and I are most defiantly creatures of habit, we have a set time in the morning that we work. We are usually all over the shop on a weekend when our rides are in the afternoon, it’s just not part of the routine! We are both a bit lazy I guess you could say 🙂

One of the advantages to working Arnie straight out of the stable early in the morning is he has energy and lots of it, I just have to direct it! Without a doubt I have a bit of a laugh to myself when I ask for our first walk- trot transition its huge, it’s a power lift off see ya later moment. So, since my lesson it’s been great confidence boost to keep playing with the tempos. I have to be honest he pretends not to register what I’m asking for the first dozen strides. Then he soon comes back and listens.

I feel like we are in a good place at the moment with our training, I feel slowly we are getting everything together bit by bit. Can’t rush these things right!? The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, Arnie and I are going to be part of the life after racing display on Miracle Mile night at Menangle Paceway. Can’t wait I’m super excited! I got interviewed as part of an article coming out in The Land this week too! Oh My Gosh! I was so nervous I honestly cannot recall what I even said, so I’m a tad nervous to read the article when it comes out. I just hope I answered all the questions the best I could, I kept playing the questions back over my mind a few days after thinking geez I could have had such a better answer to that! It was my first interview I’m pleased the way it went, if I ever do another interview I have some great answers lined up now – lol!

Not only have we got the promotion of the life after racing happening at the moment, I decided to bite to bullet and enter for Equifest.. Why? Honestly I have no idea, I’m probably going to get the biggest wake up call. But the other side of my brain is saying, well why shouldn’t we enter. Arnie and I have been working super hard and everything is falling into place bit by bit each ride, each week I feel like we are getting stronger and getting somewhere, getting closer to achieving those scores I’ve been visualising about.  Nevertheless, it’s going to be a huge learning curve one way or another!

I just have to remember each day. It’s not about being the best, It’s about being better than you were yesterday. Such true words.

Happy Riding 🙂

Make 2017 the best year yet – 12 month planner

Another year has come and gone, quite frankly a little too quick.

How many of you each new year’s set goals and resolutions but don’t end up sticking to them? I know I can put my hand up..

Did you know research suggests only about 8% of those who set new year’s goals achieve them? Bit of a poor statistic isn’t it !?

It wasn’t until I attended the Intelligent Riding Retreat with Brett Parbery that I realised how unfocused I was. There is nothing better than to be surrounded by like-minded people, listening, learning being inspired.

Keeping motivated and continuing with being inspired is hard, you must keep your mind focused on that goal.

It was here that I started working on my road mapping skills.

On a poster, I wrote in big letters what my goal is, for Arnie it is to achieve 65% in Novice (official EA). I know to qualify for DNSW State Champs it is 68%, but if I can reach 65% I know it could be possible to push forward the next 3%. Providing we keep working hard.

Underneath the main goal I have the next 12 months broken down, I have things under each month some I have the same every month. For example, I have training system under all of them, under training system I have a few points noted what is involved with my training system. It’s more of a reminder, making it simple and something I can read and see each day I look at my map.

I have a few training days in there for the beginning of 2017, I also have a competition or two. One of the things I have to keep in mind is not to over compete, I want to make sure each competition I attend I have a clear purpose and we are working well towards our goal. I don’t want to compete for the sake of competing if its not going to help me work towards my goal. I have planned mini breaks for Arnie. I also have notes under the months when I feel he should get some body work done (Chiro, massage etc).

I’ve decided 2017 is going to be MY year. MY year to achieve my goals, MY year to earn success for all the hard work I’m planning to put into my training.

I developed Dressage a Standardbred’s Tale to Success to share my dressage journey with everyone, which has been a fantastic journey so far! Which made me think about that next step further.

I feel it is SO important to have a strong support network within the Standardbred community. We should be encouraging, motivating and supporting one another while we raise the bar making this breed noticed in open competitions.

SO, I developed Dressage Dreamers. A place where I can help create a strong support network.  I want to share as much knowledge as possible. I want to make people think about their goals, I want to help people think about their training, I want to encourage people to help reach their goals. The journey is more enjoyable when you have people to share it with also 🙂

I would like to share one of my resources I have available on my website, it is a 12 month planner where you can note down anything you want to. Put down those training days, those competition dates. Put down where you want to me in 3 months time, the put down where you want to be in 6 months time.

2017 Planner jan-june

2017 Planner July-dec

I will be slowly adding to the resources page on the website, I will write up a post about each resource to make full advantage of it.

 

 

Working off that Christmas belly!

It’s hard to comprehend that Christmas 2016 is done and dusted, new year is just around the corner and it will be 2017. I think the years are flying by too quickly for my liking !!

I trust you had a fabulous Christmas, Arnie enjoys getting into the Christmas spirit 😉 

I gave Arnie approx. 2 weeks off to freshen up, he deserved a mini break after all the hard work he has been doing lately. I was more then ready to start working him again yesterday!

I always start off lunging for a few days, depending on how big a break the horses have (and myself for that matter!).

An easy lunge over a few trotting poles, I love using the WHOLE arena. I set up 2 sets of trotting poles. One set (of 2 poles) for 1 stride in between and the next set I have set up for 2 strides in between. Arnie struggled with the 2 strides in between, but he managed in the end.

Today I tried something a little different, thanks to the Horseland sale just after Christmas I bought a nice new roller and a nice GREEN lunging lead. I warmed him up and then did a few different things with him today. I’ll be honest its been a while since I have used two lunging leads on a horse and worked on any in hand exercises!

It works well for my fitness too so it turns out! Arnie has a pretty big trot… I did have to step into quick jog to keep up – LOL !

We had a pretty fun morning, it was good to work on a few things like a bit of yielding, changing direction, figure 8’s and touched on bringing our trot right back focusing on the centre of gravity Was a bit difficult to master from the ground, but I’m very happy how we went today.

A few more lunging days and we will be back under saddle again chipping away at our goals!

The year that was… the year it will be

Wow I can’t believe in a few weeks I’ll be typing 2017, honestly it does not sink in! Only 2016 just seems real!

Did I achieve everything I wanted during 2016… nope… big fat old NO. Hopefully I’m not the only one. However, if you were to ask me did I achieve everything I wanted in the last few months… YES definitely YES. If only I was in this mind set at the start of 2016.

Finished off 2016 with a training day at one of our local clubs, I ran myself short on time warming up for our first test and it wasn’t very pleasant to ride. So, I would imagine it wouldn’t have been too great to watch!  I was honestly DISAPPOINTED in myself for it!

I made sure I had a better warmup that I needed for my second test…… I was really happy with my warmup and confident to go into our second test. We ended up winning 65.43% the Novice 2.2, even better we scored a 7 for one of our leg yields something I have to admit we STRUGGLE with!

 

Let’s reflect on that positive last few months, which have been amazing. I feel so focused, I feel like I have my goal in mind and its reachable. Each session I have whether I’m riding or lunging I want to have in mind that I am always training, I want to have a purpose.

It’s so damn easy to just go around in circles and not be in the complete zone and just be exercising the horse thinking what should I be doing next, what should I be working on. I’ve felt over the last few months that when I get on I need to focus on myself, my position before I worry about what Arnie is doing. Even when I’m working on different exercises and something isn’t going as smoothly as I have hoped I guarantee it’s my position or my aids that I am using not clearly enough or I am just over complicating it!

I love to read and learn a lot, I have that many books that I have purchased over the last 12 months, and that many links saved that I have watched or waiting to watch. I now feel now over the last few months that I have that confidence for me to do all these different exercises, push outside my own comfort zone to try something that little bit different, yes it might be ugly but hey that’s training! It’s helping both of us in the long run, in that bigger picture. Plus, I’ve been enjoying playing around with all the different exercises…. It’s kinda fun! GP here we come 😉

 

So, where will the beginning to 2017 be taking me? Well, I’m certain I will stay this focused for the start of the year. I want to keep training, keep working on my exercises, keep working through what I need to improve on to make myself better. I really hope to catch up for a lesson (or clinic) before Christmas and then again early in the new year before any of our next dressage comps.

Besides the training in the saddle I’m hoping to have all the things I’ve been working on behind the scenes ready early in the new year. I have this pretty new kick arse website I’ve been slaving over the last few months! It will be ready live before Christmas, I ALMOST have everything ready 🙂  It’s going to be fantastic! With the growing number of Standardbred’s out there in their new life after racing I feel it is important to have a strong support network within our Standardbred community, encouraging, motivating and supporting one another while we raise the bar and making this breed noticed!!!!!!

Till next time, happy riding 🙂

3 Things my OTT Standardbred has taught me!

Arniwho_Standardbred

It has been an amazing journey so far with my beautiful Standardbred boy, but I STILL feel like I have yet so much MORE to accomplish!!  I PLAN to accomplish so much more! Remember no such thing as “I can’t” !

I swear every 3-6 months I look back and reflect on our training and progress, I feel like I know so much more in that 3-6 months then the prior 3-6 months… and so on…it’s a continuing cycle of knowledge.

I honestly feel that Arnie is that “one in a million” horse for me, I’m not talking about scores I see on the result board (that’s a bonus). I’m talking about the journey as a whole, I have never come across a horse that has taught me so much & shaped me into a better rider and still continuing to do so… Also, he has that  “I wanna be human” personality that brings a smile to the stables every day 🙂 Yep he’s pretty cute !

Arniwho_ Standardbred

So here are my three things my OTT Standardbred has taught me!

1. Patience 
Yes patience, it might seem so simple… But patience! Teaching an individual his new career after racing in harness is exciting. BUT it also made me want to pull my hair out at times! In the early days when I just thought to myself… WHY, why can’t you just understand what I’m asking !?! It honestly can’t be that hard!?!
Why can’t you move your shoulders this way, why can’t you leg yield this way and why do you struggle so much cantering on this lead!?!
But as I have learnt over time bring it back to simple terms, simple to me means most effective!  Short and simple! After all it’s all NEW to him!
I have to say one thing to my fellow standardbred riders… DO NOT stress about the pacing, its natural. It’s up to you as the rider to teach them when to use it.
Think of it this way, I’m asking a question and he’s giving me a multiple choice answer. His first answer might not be correct but it’s up to me to let him search for the correct answer and reward.
It might take that little bit longer for him to understand how and why you want him to move his body in this way. But he will soon figure it out, the light will turn on, the penny will drop. It all takes patience, every individual is different, this goes for both horse and rider! Everyone has a different learning style. 🙂
2. Relax and enjoy the training and the progress
Relax, probably a thought far in the back of your mind when things are all going pear shaped. Those sloppy transitions, those pacing strides in between canter and trot…. But funny enough when you relax take that deep breath and think about what you are doing, the hose relaxes.  Just remember to SMILE, it helps 🙂 trust me ! He is only reverting back to what he feels is natural and what he feels is correct!
Thinking about WHY you are asking something and HOW you are asking.
Does he UNDERSTAND what you are asking, make it achievable & enjoyable.
Keeping the aims within reach each session and keeping it positive definitely helps boost his confidence.
For example for me at the moment leg yields and shoulder-ins. Don’t make it hard! Pick a few strides at a time, pick a line, choose an achievable angle, control the pace- keep the impulsion going in a positive way. There is always NEXT time round to start asking for more angle.
3. Reward, Reward, Reward!! KEEP IT POSITIVE !
I always want things to be PERFECT, it frustrated me not having everything “perfect”. . NOT everything is perfect really ate away at me…I use to dwell on my rides, It really did! All I wanted was perfection!  I wanted perfection without putting the hard yards in!HOWEVER as I have learnt over the recent years….nothing is PERFECT, no horse is perfect, no rider is perfect. You have to TRAIN and WORK HARD to make your self close to being perfection!I NEVER use to reward, crazy isn’t it. Such a simple training aid and I wasn’t even considering having it part of my riding!?! Needless to say I reward so much more now! As it has given me more positive results !Even the small things, for example an ordinary transition. Still ” gooood boy” followed by a pat, he tried.. the effort was there, the intention was there.
99% chance it was the rider (yes me!) not setting up and/or asking the transition correctly. As one wise rider (Charlotte, my idol) would say it’s the case of pat the horse slap the rider. BUT I will do the transition again, and again until we make progress or should I say I make progress and it reflects in the horse!?!
I ensure each time I make that effort to reward, rewarding to me is encouraging the horse, letting him know YES you are doing a GOOD job! You want to encourage him with his work, after all it’s a foreign language to him.
Riding isn’t suppose to be a chore, you are to enjoy the journey… otherwise how is your horse suppose to enjoy it!?
Happy riding 🙂
Arnie & I always enjoy a selfie 🙂
 Arniwho Selfie Standardbred