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 🙂

 

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 🙂

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.