Category Archives: Aspire Equestrian Riders

A little Before & After fun with Ferris & Mojo

By Wiola Grabowska

Blog Mojo and Ferris
Mojo, owned by Kelly Hill – 8 years old AES Gelding, backed later in life and bought from the field in November 2016. Ferris, owned by Emma Brinkworth – 11 years old Thoroughbred, ex-steeplechaser, purchased in 2016 and rested in the field.

Biggest bonus of taking regular photos and videos is that we can go back and look at all the stages of development both in the horse and the rider. Whilst it is fun to compare and see the difference over time, it is also a good lesson when working with the next horse and rider.

Important thing to note here is that both Ferris and Mojo are owned by experienced, competent riders with a lot of riding feel and ability to act on many “green moments”.  They are both challenging in the best possible way, trainable yet with good own instincts  and I think we have a good understanding of what we want to achieve through working together. I do think this is important in any coaching situation.

Top photo: 29th April 2017. Aspire Equestrian Intensive Training Camp. Bottom photo: 22nd November 2016, first time Kelly rode Mojo with me.
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Bottom photos: Emma’s first lesson with me on Ferris 8th March 2017 and Ferris’ first flatwork session under the saddle since his “let down time”. Top two photos: 14th May 2017. Ferris being ridden by one of my young riders, Sasha Eastabrook.

Both Mojo and Ferris work in-hand regularly. Ferris with myself and Mojo with Kelly in lessons and individually. I believe it helps hugely with the horses’ understanding of training and its demands, both physically and mentally.

These comparisons shots are not to show what can be done in a short space of time because with a learner ride, the same horse might take five, six sometimes ten times longer to reach similar level of improvement.  However, this is a fun way of showing that regular training without any gadgets brings good results with seemingly ordinary horses.

I believe that wellness oriented training makes any horse more beautiful, athletic and able and I love being part of the process of getting there 🙂

Both of these horses are a work in progress. Don’t be fooled or discouraged as there are many not so perfect moments happening in their every day training 🙂 They are still learning, building the right muscles and gaining experiences. Hopefully in another several months time they will have learnt to move with even more balance, suppleness and spring in their steps!

Training show at Oaklands Collage

Mairi Mackay aka Mary Macken (as the commentator decided to re-name her) and Farmer’s Boy (Gilly)

As part of the programmes for all the riders on regular Academy training I offer support at events. I do question my sanity sometimes with this as it does mean crazy amount of hours out and about but seeing the riders riding other than on home soil is pretty invaluable for any further lessons plans.

Warm ups are stressful and often the horse “does” the class well or not so well depending on how he/she is ridden before he/she goes in the ring.  From teaching point of view it is really interesting how different the riders ride in the warm up at a show in comparison to the simulated warm up at home. Day and night. Nerves, horse’s behaviour, unpredictable environment, real or perceived pressure from family and friends – everything together creates a rather buzzy cocktail 😉

The today’s show was a small, unaffiliated show – jumping show and it gave me plenty of ideas for the London gang. Note to self: take a chair next time! 


Bury Farm Dressage -choosing the right shows to go to

Mairi and The Farmer’s Boy aka Gilly – final halt at the end of the test at Bury Farm Equestrian Centre

As many of my riders will know, I personally like training for the sake of training and I am not particularly competitive. I much rather see my riders go out and do well, it’s great to see them try their best, look after their horses in a stressful environment and develop their horsemanship that way.

Having said that, I do love a bit of a challenge too so a show now and then keeps me focused on the quality of the teaching and level of my own riding. The key in incorporating shows into training is to choose the right ones, the ones that will complement the work we do at home and allow the horses and riders to learn rather than be over faced or under challenged.

There are fair amount of very good venues in our area (South East) so as a result, there are also many small, local shows as well as bigger events at larger competition centres to choose from.

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Caitlin and Gilly. Prelim 2

For training dressage at grassroots level, I personally like the well run unaffiliated shows which often have British Dressage judges involved. This gives the riders a good experience of the atmosphere and quality of the judging (useful comments that are both fair and encouraging). They are much more affordable than affiliated shows and provide a great preparation ground before going affiliated 🙂

We went for Bury Farm dressage this month and it was a fantastic education experience with Introductory tests being run in the centre’s International arena and Preliminary tests in quite busy indoor next to one of the warm ups.

Mairi and Caitlin did their first larger dressage show on Gilly and despite some first-time nerves they both had a great time. Mairi’s score qualified her for Trailblazers 2nd round so we are planning to give it a go on the 3rd of April 🙂

Mairi and Gilly. Prelim 2.

Watching the riders perform without any help or instruction is, I find, a great teaching tool as it gives me ideas on where we need to put more work into and how to plan the training so it creates a thinking and confident rider and horse.

Gilly. Thank you to his owner, Georgia, for trusting us with the lease of him. He is a fabulous schoolmaster and we can’t imagine him not being the part of the team now!

I took young Una for her owner, Kelly, and we did survive some “oh my god how big and scary is this arena” moments 😉 It was a superb experience for her and I look forward to taking her out again and in the meantime we shall work at home on staying relaxed and attentive in new environment.

How do you choose the shows to go to? Do you go for local shows or pick and mix to find the best educational experiences for your horse(s)?

Una Bury Farm Dressage March 2016
Una (Undeg Trofarth) at the end of her Intro C test (left) and in the warm up for Prelim 2 (right)


Do you run a box /lorry hire or know of someone who does? We are seeking local transport options to add to our existing one to be able to take several riders at a time to schooling sessions at different venues and shows. If you are based near Northolt, West London, give us a shout!