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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 🙂

Where did the Standardbred originate from!?

If you have a Standardbred like myself, you’re probably wondering where the breed originated from. I’m sure we have all had comments on our beauties having a striking resemblance to a Thoroughbred or even an Arab. If we are lucky even a Warmblood 😉

I thought to do a little research and a quick summary on the Standardbred history, even though I’ve lived around Standardbred’s most of my life I always find it amazing when I learn something new or even just refreshing my mind.

So,  let’s go back to a horse called Messenger (1780) an English Thoroughbred imported into the United States back in 1788. Who once on arrival into the United States was bred to mares of every type, description and variety. Messenger is the grand sire of a horse called Hambletonian (1849), who’s blood flows through our present-day Standardbred’s. Another standout was a grey mare Lady Suffolk who became the first trotter to run a mile in 2:29 1/2  this was in 1845. Lady Suffolk had previously trotted 2:26 mile under saddle, this wasn’t uncommon to see both harness and saddle races.

While the Standardbred has influential breeding from the Thoroughbreds, there is also quiet the influence from the Morgans. With producing horses, such as Ethan Allen, Justin Morgan and Daniel Lambert. Who produced many fine trotters back in time, however the Morgans had a few faults of their own. They were well known for their small size with most only topping at 14 hands high, also, being trappy-gaited, trotting with virtually a straight up and down action.

Another big influence early on developing the Standardbred was the Barb, influential family of the mid-19th century was the Clays who descended from a Barb stallion what was imported from Tripoli in 1820. He was called Grand Bashaw, from a mare of thoroughbred breeding including one cross to Messenger.

But why are the called a Standardbred?!

Quite simply really, as the breed began to mature and eventually reach a point where it became obvious that something new and exciting was bursting into the equine world. A dedicated farmer John H. Wallace created the American Trotting Register which was first published in 1871. There had to be a standard within this register for all the horses, which, if the horse could meet the standard of speed, trotting a mile in 2:30.

The Standardbred was born. 

The Standardbred breed characteristics reflects similar to the Thoroughbred. Standardbreds don’t stand as tall, on average around 15.2 however with a slightly longer body then the Thoroughbred. The head is refined set on a medium sized neck, the hind quarters  are muscular but sleek. With clean legs, set back well.

As you may have noticed there are two types of Standardbreds, we have trotters and pacers. Pacers are most commonly bred through out Australia.  Paces move their legs on one side of their body in tandem, left front and rear, and right front and rear.

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 🙂

Balance

I was so excited to have my first lesson for 2017 at the KTW Dressage Clinic run by Warringah Dressage Club at Pindari Stables. Thank you for the amazing lesson Kate, Arnie and I always feel like stars after our lessons!

I feel like Arnie and I have been working pretty well leading up to our lesson, I’m starting to branch out and feel more comfortable doing different exercises I wouldn’t normally do. However, there are a few rides that I’m sure everyone can relate. When you are riding alone day in day out you tend to fall into this trap where you do the same thing day in and day out. Not meaning too. For me it’s the shoulder in and leg yielding, I was slowly losing control over his shoulders even the more and more I tried to control them I kept losing them to the outside to the right! So, it was great I had a lesson when I did, as I was becoming slowly frustrated with myself…

It was super-hot on Saturday at Pindari, my heartrate on my Fitbit went into overdrive! I’m so fortunate I have a horse that is so willing to please and is more than happy to get the job done regardless on the weather.

Once Arnie was all warmed up we started to work him through a few exercises, we touched on our spirals making the circle smaller make him wait and keeping him balanced. I use to hate doing spirals it was my weak spot, but now I love them! I’ve realised the benefits they have in our work. I do them all the time at home now. It’s actually one exercise I’ve been working on at home in the canter. It’s a great exercise for me to focus on the line I’m riding as I have that awful habit on looking down!

It was great to go over our upwards transitions, walk-trot. This is something we will always have to work on totally our weak spot, also our transitions from canter-trot. Arnie just LOVES to throw in that hind leg into pace. We had a few nice upwards transitions from walk to trot, it does help when I just let him do the transition and I don’t have such a firm aid, it’s almost like he has to figure out which leg he will lead with, it’s that half stride in between the gaits where he thinks about what he needs to do… Slowly getting there, I’m happy we are improving.

I didn’t have a problem with his shoulders during our lesson, I’m so happy. At the same time, why have I been having so much trouble? BALANCE that’s why. I have thrown him of balance, I wasn’t supporting him. I was trying to correct his shoulder but I was making the problem worse, I was literally doing the opposite! Duh- don’t I feel silly!

At home, I was having the troubles to the right with our trot work, I was also experiencing our right canter not being as strong as our left. Same problem. Why? My body is turning left as I’m on the right rein, I’m cantering right but my body is saying let’s canter left Arnie. No wonder why he got a little confused. Arnie is probably glad I had that lesson on Saturday – lol!

We worked on our canter getting that active inside hind, wow he felt amazing during our lesson! Playing around with our tempo in the canter, slowly getting there. He is getting more confident in our canter work.

After a well-deserved walk break we touched on our leg yielding.

I’m so happy how we are progressing, however there are times he just wants to run across. I must say I wasn’t helping him with my shoulders being so unbalanced! The heat did get to me a little bit…  when I had to drop my right shoulder, and raise my left to even and make myself square… I did the opposite. At that point in time with the sun, sweat and determination to ride I completely lost bearing of my left and rights… how embarrassing! It’s ok I managed to fix it. After this I felt more square, which is something we went over at the intelligent riding retreat with Brett Parbery. Focus on yourself being square from the moment when you get on. For some reason my alignment must be out of whack, I honestly feel square but I’m not! Something that I personally need to work on to improve my riding.

As always, we finished in some nice stretchy trot, keeping the tempo changing it making him wait. Just because it’s time to wind down doesn’t mean we can forget about our tempo!

Such an amazing lesson. I can’t wait for Warringah Dressage comp that we have entered for later this month!Fingers crossed 🙂

More photos from our lesson… cause I’m so proud on how we went!

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