Category Archives: Dressage

On a Blind Journey to Rio 2016 – a unique crowdfunding campaign with a spin at the end…

I thought you might be interested in my story” – the email said – “My name is Verity Smith, I’m a blind dressage rider and my goal is to represent team GB and go for gold in Rio 2016.


In the lead up to London 2012, my horse died of cancer and I was involved in a head on car crash – in the end I wasn’t able to take part in the qualifying events. So now I’m holding a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds to purchase my next competition horse, beautiful Oldenburg gelding Szekit. Post 2016, the horse will be sold and the funds raised on Indiegogo will be given to two great charities – Guide Dogs for the Blind and Riding for the Disabled.

The links followed taking me through to the actual campaign (see it here: The Kingdom’s Horse) and to Verity’s website and it became immediately obvious to me that whoever is behind this project is all in. Anyone can put together a website and a crowdfunding campaign nowadays but to give them personality, humour and breath of fresh air despite obvious obstacles as well as great attention to detail is not such an easy task. Perhaps you are surprised I mention these aspects of the whole story but I learnt that when you want to do something extraordinary you must do the ordinary, tiniest things very well. That’s what moved me in Verity’s story – the idea and its presentation – because I appreciate the thought and effort that went into it.

I especially liked the giving back element – the fact that the horse will be sold after the Olympics to help bring independence to many other blind people out there makes the whole project larger than itself. You might think, the romantic aspect of rider-horse relationship is somewhat lost here since Szekit won’t stay with Verity. However, he comes with a legacy message that might just be greater than a sentiment…

“I’d like to ask you – Verity wrote – “if you could help by sharing this campaign with your followers on your blog and any other social media you may use” 

It’s a pleasure to help someone who isn’t afraid to go out there and ask. I admire Verity’s spirit, determination and drive to make things happen…


What do you think? Will you help to make it happen? Feel free to share this post or Reblog if you like 🙂


Read more below:



Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro smash the Grand Prix Freestyle world record!

Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro smashes the Grand Prix Freestyle world record with a winning performance (93.27% ) at the London International Horse Show in Olympia on 17th December 2013:

Click on image to watch the video

Pearls of Wisdom from The Dressage Convention with Carl Hester, Richard Davison, Sylvia Loch, Miguel Ralão and Charlotte Dujardin

The hosts: Richard Davison (left) and Carl Hester (right)

From left: Richard Davison, Sylvia Loch and Carl Hester

Click on the image for the event’s website

Monday after a great educational event – The Dressage Convention 2013 – surely must be perfectly suited to some note taking – have a look at some pearls of wisdom from Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin, Richard Davison, Sylvia Loch and Miguel Ralão .

It seems that The Dressage Convention is here to stay and will be a yearly event which I am very excited about as I couldn’t make this one in person.

If you are on Twitter, have a look at #TDCTalk tag for various updates from the event. Horse and Hound Magazine also ran a super tweet-report live from Bury Farm and I recommend having a look at their profile for many thought provoking lines: @horseandhound

Here is a little taste for what happened at the weekend. My resolution is to make the 2014 one in person!

What are your plans for 15th of September?

Hello All!
Another of our Intensive Training Days is coming up on 15th of September. There are maximum of 4 places available (1 booked already so maximum 3 left) and the cost includes hire of horses, Racewood Equine Simulator, all facilities hire, all coaching, video feedback and some cookies if you deserve them 😉

15th Spt Poster
15th September

All levels welcome but most suitable for those riders who want to improve their skills and effectiveness.

Video from equine simulator session from our last Training Day at the venue:

Approximate times: 10am-5pm

Venue: Cullinghood Equestrian Centre (
Cost: £200 per rider per day (BRING A FRIEND OFFER – rider who books with a friend receives £15 OFF each).

Message Wiola on aspire @ outlook . com for more information and booking. If you have never trained on Aspire Intensive Training Days and have any questions please email away, always happy to advise if this is suitable Day for you.

Feel free to share with friends!

To see some photos from the same venue from Aspire June Intensive Training Day see here

What lifts You and Keeps You Balanced in Rising (Posting) Trot? (plus Video Exercise)

Let’s start with an experiment. [if you do it please leave a comment sharing how it felt:) ]

Exercise: It will only take you 2 minutes. You can sit on the floor or on your bed. Sit on your heels, upper body straight. Take your arms to your sides and move up so your are kneeling. Repeat 3-4 times. Do it side by side with a mirror if you can or rest your phone somewhere so you can film yourself doing this. Then, read on and see video at the bottom of this post 🙂 And share your views!

Exercise 1
Exercise: Sit on your heels, upper body straight. Take your arms to your sides and move up so your are kneeling. Do it side by side with a mirror if you can or rest your phone somewhere so you can film yourself doing this. Then, see video at the bottom of this post 🙂 And share your views!

Let’s have a think now…

In basketball, there is a clear difference between bouncing the ball up and down against the floor, and throwing it up and forward on a nice arch so it goes through the net. Different body position and use of limbs, back, shoulders, fingers must be assumed for either.

In equestrian, in rising [or posting] trot, there is a similar difference between an up and down rise when we use the bounce of the horse plus push from the stirrups or forward and up rise & sit when hips of the rider travel on an arch and we lift our body without changing neutral spine posture. Different use of back, abdominal muscles, hips, feet and..thighs.

So, which way is the right way, and why?

You might think, hey I’ve been doing rising trot for so long I don’t even remember when and how I learnt it but if you have issues with your horse’s forwardness, impulsion, straightness, back roundedness, connection back to front, consistency of contact to name just a few, stay for a little longer, it would be great to hear your views!

Over the last 20 years I taught over 14.000 complete beginners or novice riders to ride (I am actually slightly overwhelmed by this number as I decided to under calculate it as not to exaggerate!) and sadly, half of those I would have taught by an up-and-down mantra. In 1997 I came across Centred Riding and changed my ways slowly until I was able to eliminate the need for up-and-down instruction from my teaching vocabulary.


Rising by using your back, upper body motion and/or by pushing up from stirrups (standing up on them) has a huge effect on rider’s ability to stabilise own body, achieve independent hand, encourage free, forward movement in the horse, use their lower legs independently of upper legs, ask for greater collection later in training and the list goes on.

Random freeze frames

I typed in You Tube: ‘my horse riding lessons’ . Below are random freeze frames from some public videos showing what most of us assume is a stage “we all have to go through”. But do we really?


rising trot bad 1
To make things worse these frames are from a video titled: how to ride posting trot. You need to be very selective in what you watch if you are a novice rider seeking to learn on You Tube…

Continue reading What lifts You and Keeps You Balanced in Rising (Posting) Trot? (plus Video Exercise)

Dressage Riders – Which Convention Would YOU go for?

“Forum contributors have declared that every rider should be able to watch a trainer and decide whether or not that trainer’s methods suit them and their horse. A valid point, but, we must not forget that the majority of BD members are made up of grass roots riders, with prelim and novice being the most well supported BD classes. Therefore, is it not the responsibility of British Dressage to present their membership with trainers who embrace the scales of training, the welfare of the horse and importantly compliment the examples set by our current Olympic champions?”


Dressage enthusiasts in the UK have an interesting dilemma this coming October. I wrote recently about a new dressage National Convention that is going to be presented by Carl Hester, Richard Davison and Charlotte Dujardin with guests speakers: Sylvia Loch and Miguel R. Duarte.

This convention is not organised by British Dressage who instead is running its own National Convention with…Adelinde Cornelissen. I admire her journey from a school teacher to international dressage rider in the same way I admire and feel inspired by anybody with passion, drive and courage to go for their dreams. I am also all for learning from various sources. However, I don’t agree with sacrificing legacy and welfare over results. Sadly, Adelinde is one of the riders who use rollkur training method.

Continue reading Dressage Riders – Which Convention Would YOU go for?

Carl Hester, Sylvia Loch, Miguel Duarte and Richard Davison present…[Don’t Miss This One if Classical principles are what you are after]

I spied this information on Sylvia Loch & The Classical Riding Club (CRC) open group of which I am a member and which is a fabulous wealth of information and an opportunity for discussion on all things classical dressage.

It transpires that Carl Hester, Richard Davison, Charlotte Dujardin, Sylvia Loch and Miguel Ralao Duarte of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art are bringing in a one of a kind event this year – The Dressage Convention 2013…

Continue reading Carl Hester, Sylvia Loch, Miguel Duarte and Richard Davison present…[Don’t Miss This One if Classical principles are what you are after]