Category Archives: ASPIRE EQUESTRIAN INTENSIVE TRAINING DAYS

Gemma Hill: My two days training at Brackenhill Stud. Part 2: Day 2

By Gemma Hill

To read Day 1 – see HERE
ozzy grazing day 2

I arrived slightly earlier before my lesson to take ozzy for a grass walk just so he could stretch his legs after having a busy day the day before. After 20 minutes of grass it was then time to get ready so again I made use of the heat lamps just to warm his back up before our flat lesson.
Ozzy felt great when I got on and was walking around, he felt like he was stretching in his walk and felt looser, sometimes Ozzy tends to start with a disconnected walk so he gives the feeling that he is not quite connected and his stride gets short.

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Again me and Wiola discussed what we the lesson aim was and for this lesson we was going to do a pole exercise to help with balance and canter rhythm. We had 4 poles out, one at each quarter of a circle, 2 of the poles were slightly raised. We did the exercise in trot to start with and then we did it once in canter each way. My first attempt in canter on both ways highlighted the areas in where both me and Ozzy struggle.

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On the right rein was where we struggled as his canter was more strung out and his turning on the right rein is more difficuault, as for me I tend to lean in a lot more on the right rein and Ozzy puts me in a position which when turning makes me rely more on the right rein then keeping him even in the contact and controlling more of his outside. On the left rein his canter wasn’t as strung out therefore by the second attempt he was able to find it a little easier and found his rhythm.


As a rider I found it difficult at the start as I was aiming for him to get over each raised pole and was trying to push him for a stride rather than just waiting and letting him find his own feet and balance, towards the end I got better at this and Ozzy became more established.
Because Ozzy found it harder on the right rein towards the end I put him in canter but on the outside of the circle so without going over the poles, he then settled into a canter where I could feel he was really trying and he had that bit more of a push from behind. He became a little on the forehand but I was able to support him a little more when he did this and was able to help him balance before returning back to trot.

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I was super pleased with Ozzy at the end of this lesson as I have been working on his canter and felt that we had established it even if it was just for a brief moment it just showed that he is becoming stronger and with more patience it will all fall into place.
After working so hard, thanks to the staff at Brackenhill Stud they kindly agreed to allow Ozzy to go in one of the paddocks so he could have stretch and a roll for a few hours. Meanwhile while Ozzy got to have his wind down time, it was time to do some ball exercises to mimic my errors and how to correct them. One of the exercises was to correct my turning position so making sure my sternum stays inline with the withers, figuring out how to turn the body without turning before the horse.

Groundwork with Leo. We use a combination of classical in-hand work exercises and methods developed by Equitation Science International (www.esi-education.com)

After a few hours in the field, I got Ozzy in, gave him a groom and got ready for our next lesson. Our last lesson we had a joint lesson with Kelly and Mojo and for this lesson we planned to do some grid work. While Kelly was warming up and going through some exercises I gave Ozzy a long walk and a brief warm up as by this time he was tiring.
Gridwork is really hard for Ozzy as he is slightly on the forehand so when landing he has to recover quickly enough to make the next jump, it became even more of a challenge for him as we had some bounces included so here Ozzy had to be quicker with his legs and not to jump too flat. The first few times I felt like we were nose diving through them but it was about letting him figure out his feet and how he could make it more comfortable for himself. By the end he felt bit better as he didn’t feel like he was on the forehand as much and he was being quicker with his legs and more powerful.


I ended slightly earlier as I felt he had done well but also felt like he was tired, he had worked super well over the two days and gave every lesson 100%. There wasn’t any moment over the two days where he felt like he was working too hard. We finished the two days with big improvements and more tasks to work on until the next camp in November.

Thanks to everyone at Brackenhill for having us and thanks to Wiola for the lessons and making us work hard 🙂.


Gemma’s training stay award was co-sponsored by Brackenhill Stud, a Henley base for the Academy’s training. Big thank you to Emma Brinkworth and everyone at the Stud for making Gemma and Ozzy feel so welcome 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 16.04.05We have limited availability for Full/Part/Competition Livery at Brackenhill Stud in Henley-on-Thames, a well-established and beautiful yard with fantastic facilities.
Indoor arena with Martin Collins surface, full set of showjumps and viewing area
Superb hacking
All year turn out with options for individual and small group
Solarium
Yard manager on site
Full kitchen and chill out room
Toilets and shower
Lorry parking
Onsite trainer
Option for BHS training
Competition preparation and grooming
Breaking and schooling
If you simply want to enjoy your horse and our superb hacking, or if you are a serious competitor we will cater for all of your equestrian needs in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with dedicated and knowledgeable staff.
Call Emma on 07557677163 for more information or to arrange a visit.

Gemma Hill: My two days training at Brackenhill Stud. Part 1: Day 1

 

By Gemma Hill

 

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After winning the coach award at the Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy Summer Camp 2017, I booked my 2 day stay at Brackenhill Stud sponsored by the Stud and the Academy. I enjoy having the two days training sessions as Ozzy always comes away with a big improvement.

Our first lesson on our 2 day training stay was a flatwork lesson, we put Ozzy on a circle and talked about our aims for the lesson and what we were going to work on.

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We talked about the contact being consistent and the push and reach which Ozzy creates from behind with his hind legs becoming more even. At the start it was about getting me to feel for which hind leg I felt Ozzy was pushing from more or if he felt like he was pushing evenly. We then worked on my position on a circle/turn to help Ozzy with his balance in order to allow him to have a better push.

The aim here was to improve both the rider feel for and the horse’s use of a positive thrust of energy from both hindlegs. I wanted Gem to gain better feel of Ozzy transferring the energy from his left hind all the way through left side of his body, over the poll and to the left rein and same on the right. In other words I wanted her to focus on throughness. We discussed the combinations of that energy transfer (in short: left hind to the left rein, right hind to the right rein, left hind to the right rein and right hind to the left rein i.e. direct and diagonal shifts/transfers) and how to improve on them in order to improve the quality of Ozzy’s working gaits. 

gem on app1
Illustrating the problem of “disconnect” of the rider’s outside side with the horse’s outside side by using Centaur Biomechanics “Objectivity” app. Simple and so useful, Gemma found it very helpful to see the issue on the screenshot with the lines applied and was able to make very good corrections that will need time to consolidate and become consistent. More on the app HERE

On turns and circles I have a tendency to turn before him and over turn my shoulders or lean inwards. I looked at a freeze photo from a video that Wiola took and from there we made the necessary changes.At first when I was waiting for Ozzy to turn before I did it felt like he was never going to turn but then chatting to Wiola it was just simply because Ozzy does everything in slow motion mode, so his turning was happening but not as fast as I was turning. The small correction then made Ozzy find a better way of going in order to allow him to be little more consistent while engaging from behind. Overall Ozzy felt like he had improved and that he tried really hard to make the changes, he felt more responsive to my aids and body positioning.

Our second lesson of the day was a jump lesson, I started warming up and Ozzy felt great, his reactions felt quicker and his trot felt more active and bigger. We did a small warm up as Wiola had planned some slightly trickier exercises for us to work through so I didn’t want him to be to tired, for those who don’t know Oz, he is quite a laid back guy anyway.

Ozzy day 1 jump

The exercise which was set up was poles which were set out as half a circle with “bounce” distance (3m) in between each pole. To start with we just cantered through the poles on a half circle to just see which rein was going to be harder for Ozzy and just so he could find his bearings. Wiola then started to make some of the poles on the half circle into jumps, the idea was for Ozzy to find his feet and just to treat the jumps as if they were poles on the floor and just try and maintain a good canter throughout as his canter is his weaker gait.

To watch a video of Ozzy doing this exercise, see Aspire Equestrian Instagram post: HERE

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INSTAGRAM POST

Surprisingly Ozzy didn’t feel like he was struggling as much as i thought through this exercise. His left rein was better than his right as on the right rein when jumping he doesn’t always land right, we came to the conclusion that i may have a slight twist while jumping to the right which makes it easier for him to land on the wrong lead, but we managed to get him to land correctly on the right lead at the end.

The second exercise we did was just a related distance down the long side of the school, it was set with 3 strides in-between an oxer and a vertical on comfortable 13.5m and the aim was to come off the left rein and make sure that we had a good enough canter around the turn so using what we learnt in the morning session and creating the power. Ozzy found this much easier and jumped super down the line, his canter after doing the half circle exercise felt more balanced especially around the turn to the first fence of the related.

ozzy day 1 oxer

He was then able to create enough energy after jumping the first fence to maintain his rhythm and to get a good stride to the second.

To watch Gemma and Ozzy in the second exercise, see Aspire Equestrian Instagram post HERE

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We ended the lesson on that exercise as I felt Ozzy had used what we learnt from the morning session and the pole exercise and jumped really nicely.

gem solarium
Muscle therapy under the lamps after all the hard work 🙂
Ozzy solarium
Muscle therapy under the lamps after all the hard work 🙂

 

Read Part 2 HERE 🙂 


Gemma’s training stay award was co-sponsored by Brackenhill Stud, a Henley base for the Academy’s training. Big thank you to Emma Brinkworth and everyone at the Stud for making Gemma and Ozzy feel so welcome 🙂

screen-shot-2017-09-21-at-16-04-05.pngBRACKENHILL STUD: FULL, PART AND COMPETITION LIVERY AVAILABLE

We have limited availability for Full/Part/Competition Livery at Brackenhill Stud in Henley-on-Thames, a well-established and beautiful yard with fantastic facilities.
Indoor arena with Martin Collins surface, full set of showjumps and viewing area
Superb hacking
All year turn out with options for individual and small group
Solarium
Yard manager on site
Full kitchen and chill out room
Toilets and shower
Lorry parking
Onsite trainer
Option for BHS training
Competition preparation and grooming
Breaking and schooling
If you simply want to enjoy your horse and our superb hacking, or if you are a serious competitor we will cater for all of your equestrian needs in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with dedicated and knowledgeable staff.
Call Emma on 07557677163 for more information or to arrange a visit.

Behind the Scenes: Preparing the sessions contents for the Spring Intensive Training Camp

From the Academy’s “Admin office” by Wiola Grabowska

Usually, about 2 weeks prior the Camps, I like to have a several hours put aside to quietly reflect on what I want the riders to learn and how best to deliver the sessions so they are not overwhelming to the horses.

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Half way through brainstorming Intensive Training Camp ideas between Dr Klimke, Dr Heuschmann, Susanne Von Dietze, Beth Baumert, Major Lindgren, Anja Beran , more other interesting trainers and myself 🤓😁 It’s hard to get into a properly good , thorough thinking zone where ideas slot together and I have a clear plan for each rider but love it when it works.

I used to attend various intensive clinics and events, some were very educational, some a complete waste of money. It was obvious which trainer did some preparation and who just assumed they were good enough to ad lib on the go…With over 20h of coaching sessions a weekend in various form, I don’t trust my ad lib skills and like to have a good plan in my mind!

A few weeks before the Camp, I ask the riders to set themselves a few goals for the intensive training weekend. The goals themselves are not that important but I believe the best learning happens when a person has some ownership of the learning process. Otherwise, they are just being told what to do with no critical thinking involved. The process of thinking about what one tries to achieve is of value by itself.

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Jazz doesn’t understand Admin. She’d rather I was out there in the arena with her eating horse poop and chasing shadows 😉 

Once I receive the riders’ goals, I convert them into potential training session(s). Some riders set goals that would need 100 sessions to become a reality. Some have a better understanding of a training process but at the end of the day, they all provide me with fabulous feedback on what to teach next.

I also set my own goals for each rider and convert those into training session(s) too. Then, I find a middle ground content, something that will progress the rider, help progress the horse, be challenging but hopefully fun too.

This time I also booked Clare from RiderCise to run a 2h warm up session for the riders on one of the days.

ridercise website
www.ridercise.co.uk

Every Camp I try to mix and match off horse training with training in the saddle so I am hoping to work with many different professionals out there who can complement ridden training with rider-as-an-athlete specific exercises. Clare’s programme intrigued me so I am very much looking forward to meeting her and getting to know more about how she works with the riders.

The overall plan is now ready with preliminary timings set up. I have a large picture of what I want to work on with each group and now it’s all down to smaller details like specific exercises as well as variants of them in case the main ones don’t work. I know all my riders fairly well as the Camps are currently only for my regular riders (I do plan to open the Camps to more riders soon 🙂 ) so want to make sure the Camp sessions bring a bit of fresh set of challenges, not just a multiplied home sessions.

The intensive training weekends are also a good challenge for me. As trainers/coaches we can become reliant on what we already know and stop pursuing new ways of achieving the same thing. The research for the Camps’ sessions those few times a year keeps me open minded and always searching for answers.

Eight days to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Think Of This? Please share your Feedback and Views…

I would love your feedback on this first microsite version for our 2014 services…Is it easy to follow? Is everything opening and showing ok on your screens? Do you like it? Is all info you would look for included? Please help me make it good and serve riders well…

Link to the microsite: http://aspir1.wix.com/aspireequestrian2014 or just click the image below:

aspiremicrosite2014

You might be thinking why I wanted another site since we already have a main website and this blog for Aspire…well, I realised that providing something different to what is widely available within the industry comes with a challenge of explaining clearly what is it that is actually being sold. Having been committed to an on-going improvement of the coaching services from the word go isn’t helping the above either because it means the offer undergoes yearly changes and upgrades.

It therefore seemed like a natural step to start a series of yearly microsites that will be fully and only dedicated to the Aspire coaching offer for each year. This way I will be able to direct all riders to [hopefully] a very transparent and conveniently gathered current information instead of them going through detailed descriptions of the programmes on the main website.

The microsite is now live and working (but ready to be updated after any feedback and comments!) so if you would like to sign up to Aspire’s special offers and news on a big educational project coming up this year, head over to the site and pop your email address in the sign up box 🙂

Feel free to share your views in the comments below, I would love to know what you think.

Thank you,

Wiola

Spring Training season commences

It seems like flooding and downpours are the thing of the past in the UK and the first day of our 2014 training adventures at Cullinghood Equestrian Centre welcomed us with beautiful sunshine and warm, gentle wind 🙂

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Intensive Training Day at Aspire Development Programme level

What’s better than the crisp, fresh, intensive, Aspire training air ? :)

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Beautiful sunny day at work (thank you to Emma for pictures 🙂
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Working on lateral flexibility in – hand. Emma learning how to improve the school pony’s ability to bend. She is asking the pony to walk in a shoulder fore position to help him step under his centre of balance with his inside hind leg, contract the left side of his body and relax the right (tight) side.
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Emma and Orpheus earning his pat for a few good steps
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Emma and Orpheus later in the lesson. She stays out of the saddle to help the pony as he tends to drop his back and basic engagement. She is learning to feel for more quality steps that in turn help Orpheus with his balance.
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Gemma on straight lines mission…Learning to ride the horse straight in light seat and on a given line without overusing the reins for steering
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Working on suppleness in sitting trot

Continue reading What’s better than the crisp, fresh, intensive, Aspire training air ? 🙂

Equestrian version of eat in and take away…what kind of rider are you? What kind of rider would you like to be?

Picture this on your day off:

– a coffee shop with comfy sofas, wooden floors, lovely scent of freshly grounded beans, catch up chat with friends or just a long solitary, me-time with your favourite book…Your coffee or tea in a real cup, hot and delicious.

– a coffee shop, quick, efficient queue, convenient paper cup for you to grab, run and enjoy on your way to another place of your choosing.

Now, out of curiosity, what kind of rider are you dear reader? If riding experiences were coffee, would you eat in or take away? 😉

Jo tacking up
Rider on Aspire Intensive Training Day learning to tack up her horse prior to lunge lesson. Start Programme.

In my job I meet both the ‘eat in’ riders and ‘take away’ riders. The former like my intensive training days and the 2 hour sessions when they get to groom the horses, be with them in situations other than the riding moments and get to join a long term experience. The ‘eat in’ riders appreciate effort that goes into every detail of training, they are curious, inquisitive and often emphatetic. Teaching these riders is a life long adventure, it’s educational for a coach not only for the student as well as being a process in which horses are the most important element.

They like to see their horses off either by grooming after the ride, taking to the field, rugging up etc If they own a horse they will most likely keep it on DIY or part livery basis if only their work life allows them. Continue reading Equestrian version of eat in and take away…what kind of rider are you? What kind of rider would you like to be?

Proud Moments…

Let me tell you a little story 🙂

29 September 2013

 

Rewind

Almost 4 years ago I took a phone call from a mum desperately seeking someone would teach her daughter. After many bad experiences in various riding schools she was looking for someone who would treat her daughter’s ambitions and riding dreams seriously even though she had no own horse at the time and was only able to ride once a week at best.

At the time I didn’t take on children on Aspire Programmes because I didn’t feel they were suitable for youngsters. Before I amended the teaching structure in late 2011 my cut off age was 13 but I agreed for the girl to come for an assessment lesson. I reckoned that if her mum made an effort to read through my site, understand the difference my approach provided and call me I ought to meet the girl at least!

Feb 2011 Academy Training Young Riders
February 2011. Hall-Place Equestrian Centre. Anne patiently and regularly letting me drill her basics. She was all about jumping but never complained on number of lunge lessons in her training plan. Superior own balance is a corner stone of every good rider’s seat.

We met shortly after that phone call and a few years of great training adventures followed. To this day I have not met such a committed, focused, intuitive teenage rider and it’s been such a pleasure to be part of Anne’s riding education. I am usually hesitant to say I am proud of someone’s progress because it seems as if I was somehow increasing my own importance in the process. The truth is, 80% of the progress is down to the rider, their mentality, their willingness to learn, to try and to believe in my system. The other 20% are many people involved in training, the silent supporters: parents, friends. And horses.

But hell, I am very proud of Anne nevertheless 🙂 She put hours and hours of practice into the ABC of her riding education juggling it with highly academically demanding school and she continues to do so. It makes me smile to watch her compete now and develop further into an always aspiring rider she wishes to be.

Anne in hand
Aspire Intensive Training Day at Cullinghood Equestrian Centre. Anne learning how to influence shifts in weight (balance) in an unknown horse. Work In-Hand. June 2013
Anne March 2012
Aspire Intensive Training Day March 2012 at Checkendon Equestrian Centre. Anne (in burgundy) and Emma (in green; another rider who made superb progress over the years) after their jump training.

 

Keep training guys. Amateur riders rule 😉 

 

Aspire Training Day at Rockley [Farm] Rehab Reunion 2013 – when reasons come from purpose…

Aspire at Rockley Rehab Reunion 2013

As I mentioned in my yesterday’s blog, I had a great day teaching fabulous Rockley “graduates” at Milton Keynes Eventing Centre this past Saturday. Normally I like to have everything organised well before the day but this time some riders confirmed their attendance last minute and some joined in on the day so this coupled with the fact I was compressing 3 days of content into one day made for a grand improvisation 🙂 I think we managed to get main points covered but I am hoping we can run a repeat with more coaching time next year!

As always I start with a chat with all riders to get to know them and their horses. As most of us follow Nic’s blog on rehabilitation processes with all the horses, nobody seems a total stranger.

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Even a little chat with riders can be revealing regarding the real reasons for various riding issues. It’s important not to waste time on trying to sort out various symptoms. It’s the causes that need addressing for the riders and horses to benefit from long lasting effects. The biggest downside of very limited time is that many things just cannot be covered and worked through.

We did my ABC (awareness-balance-connection) workshop in the morning which I would normally do on a Friday when running the training as a full weekend event (you can read about the main principles of it in my post: Show me how you walk…). We had plenty of fun with that 🙂

Continue reading Aspire Training Day at Rockley [Farm] Rehab Reunion 2013 – when reasons come from purpose…

Using Equine Simulators in all-round rider development

Emma
15th September: using Ithacus to help the rider achieve more confident, effective jumping technique. Emma’s comment after training day: “Definitely feeling the muscles today The practice on the mechanical horse before getting on the horses is great for a workout and getting in the practice without worrying about what the horse is doing. Thank you for a wonderful training day!!”

It’s been crazy two weeks with an especially busy last weekend so it’s now back to the blogging board with updates 🙂 On Saturday 14th I had a pleasure to run a training day at Milton Keyens Eventing Centre for a fantastic group of riders whose horses underwent rehabilitation at Rockley Farm. I will write a longer blog about this tomorrow as it deserves a proper write up on its own.

Today, I will chat a little about the Sunday 15th training day during which I used a Racewood equine simulator again. I am becoming increasingly fond of Ithacus, the mechanical horse, because he is showing me his fantastic value in training of amateur riders. As I am sure you can gather from this blog, my particular coaching interest lies in training a kind of “in between” type of rider…The clients who tend to find their way to Aspire are not professionals but neither they are average recreational riders per se (even though many would be classified as such in theory).

Over time I realised that the riders who enjoy Aspire ethos are those who, like me, love exploring their own abilities, knowledge and skills. They are seeking riders with inquisitive minds. They work hard to both understand and help their horses develop physically and mentally, to help the animal be in best shape for carrying a rider.

Teaching riders like this makes me too feel challenged and encouraged to enjoy learning everyday.

Mechanical Powers

Ithacus is a many riders’ dream horse. He never colics, he never has back issues, his legs and feet are never a problem. He doesn’t buck, rear or bolts. He is a perfect body awareness schoolmaster…

Continue reading Using Equine Simulators in all-round rider development