Lesson Recap: The Diagonal Pair

It’s no secret I love getting lesson from Brett Parbery, I was fortunate to meet Brett when he hosted his first Intelligent Riding Retreat back in 2016. (umm, wow, where has the time gone!) Which has been one of the biggest game changes for my training to date.

I had my first actual lesson from Brett early in 2018 through Sydney Dressage Club, which I haven’t really looked back since! I always try to get a spot on these super popular clinics, if you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend. You won’t regret it 🙂

Lesson Diagonal Pair

I thought I would do a mini re cap on our lesson, as I hope it would also shed some light for other Standardbred riders out there whom are experiencing the same training bumps as myself.

If you are a dedicated reader and have viewed over some of my other posts, you will know my history with Standardbreds and how I am a firm believer that they are born to pace. Meaning they are a 5 gaited breed, not a 4 gaited breed like most other riding horses. If you haven’t checked out my mini-series on the Standardbred Myths, sit down with a coffee and have a read! Part 1 and Part 2.

Out of all the Standardbreds I could have chosen on the property; I chose Arnie to re-educate and ride. His always had a lovely temperament and loves going places and being centre of attention. However, he is probably the one horse on the property that literally paces the most! At the end of the day it is natural for them to do it! We as riders just have to show them when and where to do so.

I was super pumped for our lesson last weekend, because we didn’t have the most positive week prior. You see, I entered a protocol day the week before our dressage competition, which was a week before the clinic. I went to the protocol day with lots and lots to work on for our competition the weekend following.

As I was riding during that week, I couldn’t paste it all together properly and I felt like I wasn’t riding well at all. I didn’t want to drive all the way down to the competition after a bad week and knowing I wasn’t giving my horse the best possible chance of doing well.  I decided to scratch and then re-focus on the lesson the following weekend.

There were two areas of our lesson that we focused on, the first one, which was the main point from my struggles the week prior. Nailing the canter transition in the 2B, coming from the free walk, quickly gathering him trot then canter. I find him a bit difficult to gather! We worked on leg yields and cutting the corner slightly and leg yielding him over and then canter transition. Which really helped! Can’t wait to ride the test next!

The second area, which I really want to share with you is the transitions. You see, because Arnie likes to pace, he doesn’t pick up the diagonal pair quickly he puts in this little thing then goes into the diagonal pair. It worked hand in hand with the previous exercises. We focused on gathering him in the halt, by this we just let him soften and yield with the rein contact. Not to be pulling forward and against the rein aid. The aim was to see the upper part of his neck to relax. It’s a simple exercise to do whilst warming up or even during your training to help re gather and to start listening and waiting  a little more, especially if they get a little longer and become a little sticky/against the rein in the contact.

While working on these little improvements, we decided to try and get his stride in between the walk and trot happening a little quicker.

Here is a clip of this part of our lesson, there is some background noise but you can hear some of Brett’s commentary. I think his training system, horsemanship and philosophy is amazing, it is well worth a watch and listen to if you can hear!

Top Tips to help keep my head in the game

Top Tips

At times we can really feel like we are on a motivation streak, that time period where you are focused, feeling refreshed and ready to take on a challenge head on. Which is probably one of the best feelings, especially being an equestrian!

But, as they say, ‘what goes up, comes down’. I’m not talking about the measurement of success by winning a dressage test at every competition for months on end then hitting a rough patch being knocked off your winning place.

I’m talking about behind the scenes, your usual day to day the stuff that keeps you motivated to jump out of bed every morning.

Now by all means, I am not a State or National champion rider. But I am amateur rider and I know how challenging it can be at times! Here are a few of my top tips that help me keep my head in the game and focus on my training and competition goals.

Sleep

Sounds simple. But it is one of the more difficult things to master and get into a routine! One wise person (my Mum!) told me once, it’s the hours before midnight that count. It is so, so true. Heading to bed at an early yet reasonable hour, even though you might not fall asleep instantly (unlike me, who falls asleep within minutes of my head from hitting the pillow!!), it’s great practise to hit the sack early. Getting into that routine early to bed early to rise. Even if you are giving your horse the day off or are planning to ride after work, it’s a great feeling getting up early and seizing the day – so to speak!

Nutrition

Now I call it nutrition, but I don’t want to call it diet. As diet to me implies just that, dieting, limiting or restricting the food intake. To be completely honest with you all, I’m not too sure what to call this part!

This has always been a yoyo with me. I eat great then not so great, then great again. I am no way qualified in this area, but when I start to get into the routine with my sleep, getting up early to kick arse in the day. I tend to eat ‘well’, by this I mean a decent amount of fruit/veg during the week. Less chocolate and less snacks during the day. Because let’s face it, we never feel like riding horses after we’ve had a Big Mac meal from McDonalds!!

Training Plan

I really enjoy scheduling out my week with the horses. From Monday – Sunday. I like to kick my week off on a Monday, I know some who enjoy Sunday being the start of the week…. (who are these people?!)

I map out on a white board in columns and rows with the horses I have in work with the week. I have letters symbolising lunging, riding, hacking and days off.  I know at the moment being winter, I’m not going to have much luck during the week after work. So, I usually plan my weekends both as riding days. At the moment (weather permitting) I usually plan around 3-4 days riding, with 1-2 lunge days and the rest days off. Riding during the week I usually keep them short and sweet and have longer rides on weekends when I can focus on a few areas.

I find by mapping it out and planning it really takes some stress off my mind, especially if I start panicking that I missed a day. I can just work around it.

Rest Days 

One of the most important things! Resting. Know when to rest, know when to take a day off, take a break. If you’re feeling stressed or burnt out, chances are so is your horse! If you really don’t want to take a day off, then go do something different. Trail ride or a nice hack out!

Of course, all these things work great when you get into a routine. Getting into a routine and making it a habit.

What are your tips for helping you stay motivated? Would love to hear them!

Team Standardbred

What it means to be an Amateur Dressage Rider

In this day in age in our wonderful world of our beloved sport of dressage, we are fortunate enough to see the beginnings of the recognition of an Amateur Owner Rider division. The beginning of a new competitive edge with our fellow ambitious equestrians who look up to our fellow professional riders within the game.

But firstly, what really is an amateur?

Well, when we type it into our search engine the first hit we discover the meaning defined as a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid rather than a professional basis’ my second hit reads ‘a person who is incompetent or inept at a particular activity.’

Personally, I feel as though both definitions sell us short. Because we don’t train and ride full time doesn’t mean we are not passionate about our sport. It doesn’t mean we treat this sport as a hobby that we can just pick up and leave at any time. It is full time around the clock, looking after our beautiful animals that we always put first.

I like to call it a lifestyle choice instead of a hobby for this very reason.

Amateur Dressage rider

What does it really mean to be an amateur owner rider?
  • 5am starts to feed your horse/s, if you’re lucky to not hit snooze on your alarm 5 times and head out to the stables on time to actually have a ride before you have your first coffee and your real work day begins.
  • If by some off chance (or maybe 3 during the week) to hit that snooze button to only have time to go out and feed your horse before going to work. It really sets you in a crappy mood for the work day! Look out co-workers…. Keep the coffee coming.
  • To arrive at work looking like you have been partying all night to have bits of feed in your hair, to mix it up from that helmet hair you rocked the day before.
  • To arrive at work after having a horrible ride to be grouchy at everyone for the rest of the day.
  • Pretending to be busy at work while scrolling through your daily search on Nominate for the upcoming competitions.
  • Talking to your non-equestrian co-workers smiling and agreeing with their boring conversations to only be thinking about your ride that morning, what sale is on at the moment for the latest gear or if the weather is changing and if you put the right rugs on when you left them this morning.
  • Prioritising your wages for lessons and competitions. If you’re lucky perhaps After Pay that new bridle you have been eyeing off.  Then to pay the bills.
  • Getting home late after tucking your horses into bed with multiple carrots after telling them how perfect they are.
  • Arriving home after spending time at the horses just in time to miss out on cooking dinner. (or is that just me!? Conveniently have to have a shower when it’s washing up time too?!?)
  • Spending quality time with your partner watching TV after a day at work to only be focused on visualising  your dressage tests for that weekend or to mentally plan out our competition schedule for the month.
    • Take my advice, only pick your phone up twice during the TV show, otherwise they will eventually realise your mind is elsewhere! Cover blown.
  • Instead of counting sheep to fall asleep you visualise riding down that centreline and tracking left perfectly like in the 2A.

I think it is fantastic that the dressage organisers are rewarding us fellow amateur riders with our own division. Us, what some would call crazy– people who live and breathe the sport who go to this ‘other place’ for the majority of the day to pay for our passion. We live and breathe the sport much like our fellow professional riders. Who we are incredibly fortunate to be inspired day in and day out by their work ethic.

But let’s face it, this is our lifestyle. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Training Plan

The Training Plan

I’ll be the first to admit I used to have a horrible plan when it came to organising my weekly sessions. Even more so when they were leading up to a competition. I used to drill, drill and drill until I stressed myself out, made the horse tense and then felt like throwing in the towel for that weekends competition.

Perhaps have a little sob on the inside… and outside.

It can be so easy to spiral down into a rut when you feel under pressure. I haven’t been into the competition arena for over 7 months, while this might not seem like a long time for some it was an extremely long time for me! I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a perfectly planned week leading into it. But it worked out pretty well on the day.

Why?

Because I didn’t stress out. I stuck to my usual weekly plan.

I had a paddock ride on the previous Sunday, Monday was a day off, Tuesday was a lunging session, Wednesday I had a super ride in the arena, Thursday was day off, Friday was a lunging day as was Saturday.

Things come up during the week and the days get shifted around or I simply run out of hours in the day.

The day of the competition I made sure I got on and had a good strong walk around the indoor to warm up, followed by a forward trot and canter. Then I ran through our transitions within the trot and canter. Made sure he felt positive, forward and was listening to my aids.

The training plan

My goal on the day was to score over 60% and I achieved this goal. I felt focused, I felt like I rode positively towards that goal. Of course, there is always something to work on and to strive for better marks, a few miscommunications and not well-prepared transitions during the test. But that is what this sport is all about, setting a plan to achieve your goals to progress through the levels.

Ideally my weeks would be to ride 3-4 times a week, lunge at least 2-3 times a week with 1-2 days off. Of course, being an amateur owner/rider, the days can change with work and weather etc. The days I ride I mix it up between the arena and the big paddock. I don’t like to do the ‘same thing’ two days in a row. Mixing it up is beneficial to the horses’ mind and body.

The training plan

 

It is all part of our training system that we are forever evolving and shaping into something better. Every rider is different, every rider runs their stable differently and every rider trains differently. But we are all in this sport together, wanting to achieve our goals and become better riders to advance up the levels and get the best out of our horses. While keeping them fit, healthy, happy and enjoying the work.

the training plan

 

I honestly enjoy reading about other riders training systems. How many days a week they work the horses, what kind of work, what body work the horses have, what training gear they use, how they recover the horses after the work and what they focus on with their horse within their weekly routine. I find it so fascinating finding out even the smallest detail of the way they run their own stable.

When you really think about it, it is everything and everyone involved who contribute towards your training system, your weekly plan and your success to achieving your goals.

For me most importantly besides the training aspect, I ensure our horses body work is once a month. Which, since setting their body work on a regular basis. I can see a huge difference not only in their performance but also in their posture and their work ethic. I also have set homework of stretches for the horses to help improve between their sessions. But I have to admit, I do try and be an A+ student! ? it truly is satisfaction seeing the horses improve between visits knowing how well you have been doing your homework!

So.

How does your training plan look? Do you have a plan, do you wing it, do you feel stressed out week after week or simply play it by ear?

I’m one of ‘those’ people who enjoy reading a book that as paper pages, I enjoy printing things to highlight important details. That why I have a small basic planner to help you think about your weekly aims and goals. I find it beneficial to sit down and put pen to paper and write out things.

The basic weekly planner can be downloaded from here, completely free! It is emailed directly to you after check out! (it’s my way to keep tabs on how many are downloaded ?, any problems let me know and I can send it to you directly!)Basic weekly training planner

 

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 🙂