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

Intelligent Riding…

 

I have had the most amazing week!!
I spent 3 full on days learning from Brett Parbery’s Intelligent Riding Retreat ! Totally amazing!

Learning and listening to Brett & his A Class Team was inspirational.  A massive thank you to Brett, Nat & the team for organising the most incredible experience.

I have to admit I was more then a little nervous when I arrived, not knowing anyone else and spending a full on 3 days learning with everyone was exactly what I needed! Completely out of my comfort zone!
I am so privileged to have met another 13 lovely like minded ladies, no matter what level you are at everyone was so supportive!

I don’t think I have ever taken in so much information!
From inspirations, motivations, body awareness, training knowledge to road mapping goals & everything else in between I have NEVER felt so inspired and felt more on track and have direction towards my goals.

I have a clearer training system & I feel like my riding has been more productive.. I feel more of an intelligent rider 😉
I really enjoyed watching Brett ride in the masterclasses, putting what we have learnt together on the horse.

Plus it’s pretty amazing to see these horses & to watch Brett train!

I met the most lovely 18.3hh warmblood! PPH Zeppelin aka Led, just a gentle giant ! Was amazing to watch him work! A genuine, honest & VERY expressive horse !

I look so tiny next to Led!!!

 

I’ve spent the last few days back at home thinking and going over my goals, plans, motivations, and my training structure.
I’m very happy I have managed to so far adapt and implement what I have learnt with my own horses.
I feel like there is so much more I have learnt at the retreat I’m yet to reflect with my own training. Small steps… Small steps!! Nothing happens overnight !

For example one new training tool I’m going to be adapting ASAP, starting from today actually! Besides focusing on my own riding position and training individually, once a week I am aiming to have my Mum (who more then happy volunteered!) being my eyes on the ground watching and critiquing my training.
Hopefully videoing my rides as well to help me!
So yes I will hopefully be able to put up some more RAW footage of our training, just like it is to share with everyone!

In the meantime here is a little arena goals for us all!

Wouldn’t it be nice to sip away on some bubbly everyday !?!

Till next time.

Happy Riding 🙂

knowledge

The last few weeks have flown! It’s actually not that long until Christmas, where on earth has the time gone !?!

I’ve slowly been bringing Arnie back into work, slow and steady getting him fit and strong, slow and steady wins the race right !?

Lots of lunging, lots of pole work at the trot.  Introducing the pole work at the canter, which he is slowly understanding & gaining confidence!  Encouraging him to engage his core, I always enjoy warming up and cooling down in the same manner. Stretchy trot, always encouraging him to take his nose out and stretch downward while maintaining the impulsion.
Touch wood and whistle everything really seems to be falling into place the last few weeks. I have really kept our training sessions, be it lunging, schooling in the arena or even working out in the paddock, I have kept it short and sweet. Always maintaining the goal and keeping it within easy reach every ride. He really gains a lot of confidence through my encouragement. We have a lesson coming up next week which I’m REALLY looking forward too !!
I’m hoping we keep a clear mind and achieving our goals for a training day at the end of November, realistically there isn’t many days left this year for competitions! Might have to take him to a sneaky hack show in between, for a Show Hunter and a few Standardbred classes ! 🙂

I have just included a picture I found in my news feed on Facebook, I think it really gives a clear picture! Love doing this working on a spiral and leg yielding out when we are cooling down. Arnie just loves it ! Next week it might be something else as our favourite ! 🙂

 

Also, as you might have noticed I have given a new look to my website ! Slowly, very slowly coming together I don’t think I could ever be 100% happy with any design, I always change my mind and like to update to strive for something better !
I have also included a sign up section to my Dressage Dreamers something which I have just launched. Up to date information on our training, training ideas & exercises (from my experience that I find most helpful along the way with my training with Standardbred’s) straight to your mail box !
As my aim (and always will be) sharing our journey with everyone and bring an insight to the ‘outside world’ on how fabulous the Standardbred can be for a life outside racing. Also to any fellow Standardbred riders, bouncing around training ideas that have helped me.
Guaranteed on a daily basis I’m scrolling through Facebook literally stalking the dozen pages I strongly follow for any new training articles. I love to learn, and expand my knowledge in the best way possible. I believe there is always something to take away as knowledge. I hope I can pass on my knowledge on a regular basis.

Till next time, happy riding !
🙂