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 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

 

How did Dressage Dreamers come about?

I was tossing up the idea of having a Facebook page dedicated to my horse Arniwho, as there are several similar pages out on Facebook people have created to share their own journey with their Off The Track Standardbred, from track to hack for example. However, I’m not follow a trend – more hang out in the background watching and listening to what is going on!

So, I thought honestly is had come a time to break into the Facebook crowd, show off my Standardbred and our dressage journey. Because we all feel like we are all that little bit different from each other but share the same goal in promoting our special horses to that big wide outside world.

I can admit it, I’m so happy I decided to take that leap to create my page “Dressage a Standardbreds Tale to Success” to promote MY dressage journey with MY Standardbred. Since creating the page back in October 2015 we have slowly built up our audience to just over 1,130 followers – which is amazing! Honest to god I never dreamed of having anywhere near that amount of people following our journey, the support shown through messages and on posts is incredible.

As I’ve opened our little world to everyone through the Facebook page I decided to go that one step further and have a website. It wasn’t until mid 2016 once I had the website running a little more I started putting thought to keyboard and writing about our training, competition and just everything in between. This is how my blog developed and I named it Dressage Dreamers… for the pure and simple fact I’m a dreamer! But hey, dreams do happen am I right !?!

As the months carried on I became a little more tech savvy in the website department and make the quick decision I need to revamp the website, I need it to look a-maz-ing, it needs to be A1! I must admit there were a few touch and go issues, a few “pour another wine to get me though” moments but I can proudly say the website is awesome. I still have a few things I would like to add and change over time to make it that little extra bit extra special. But for now it’s something I’m proud to have on display.

As I continue this wild dressage dreamers journey not knowing where it will take me, I have (like most things I do) slowly developed an image for Dressage Dreamers. My aim (for the moment) is to transition the website into a directory to have boutique, one of a kind, support small Australian businesses listed in all areas in the world of dressage. It is important to support our local equine industry, I suppose you could say my aim is to create a “hub” of information, from businesses, information, articles and everything else in between.  After all dream big, right?

For the moment I’m enjoying the journey, the website making, the positive meme sharing and creating on Instagram and Facebook, the training, sharing my dressage journey with my Standardbred, the writing, the competition riding, beginning of my EA Coaching course, the designing shirts and rugs to show off! Because this dreamer likes to look professional 😉

 

Happy riding 🙂

Standardbred Training Survey Results

A while ago a few might recall I had a survey on training with your Standardbred. I have had the time to sit down and really go through the results, thank you to everyone who took part in the survey! It is amazing to put some of these stats together about our training with these beautiful animals.

I would like to share the overall results and break down the results with my detailed thoughts over the next few blog posts. Which I’m TOTALLY looking forward to writing!

Here are the following questions asked that were happily answered by fellow Standardbred riders, thank you again it wasn’t easy for me to put feelers out there and to get an amazing response like this was fantastic!

What is your main concern with your training at this point in time?

Canter transitions – 35%

Getting a balanced trot- 35%

Having trouble with pacing – 25%

Maintaining the canter– 5 %

In addition to the above concerns more specifically people mentioned.

Improving the quality of canter

Struggles with right canter lead

Starting under saddle and transition from racing in harness to pleasure harness

Proper collection, canter transitions are fine

Refusing new jumps

Cantering under saddle

Getting a nice steady trot.

 

How long has your standardbred been under saddle?

Not yet started under saddle – 5%

Under 6 months- 20%

6-12 months– 15%

12-18 months– 10%

18-24 months– 15%

24 months and over – 35%

 

How did you come across your Standardbred?

Through an adoption program (eg SPPHA)-  25%

Purchased from a non-racing home– 45%

Family or friends involved in the industry– 25%

Sourced straight from the track- 5%

 

What State do you live in?

NSW– 30%

VIC- 25%

QLD– 15%

TAS– 10%

SA– 10%

WA– 5%

Other-5%

This next question I REALLY enjoyed reading the answers! 🙂

What is your overall goal with your Standardbred, what is it that you want to succeed at?

I had several people comment with Dressage (riders out of my own heart! High five!).

But with a mix result from endurance riding, adult riding club, a few shows, eventing, low level eventing, high level show jumping, ridden show horse, ambassador for the breed (love this one! ), breed gaited horses and to promote Standardbreds for the gaited horses under saddle, pleasure riding and cantering, and a bit of EVERYTHING. It’s great to read the versatility of disciplines that riders want to succeed at I honestly find it inspiring going through everyone’s comments. It keeps me motivated to keep doing what I’m doing with my riding, training and promoting the breed to the best of my ability.

A few other comments from people in the survey.  Exercises to help with balance and suppleness. How you started, flash back Fridays (Love this one 🙂 ), Anything to help with calming my Standardbred so i can take her to shows, tips on re-training Standardbreds, Re-training Standardbreds and reducing the pacing. How to train them under saddle.

Happy Riding !

🙂

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 🙂

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