Category Archives: In Hand Work with Horses

Working the hind legs – leg yield in-hand

Ferris leg yield
Ferris, an ex-steeplechaser, beginning to coordinate leg-yield in-hand. He’s a quick learner.

There are many different reasons why leg-yielding is beneficial in any horse’s training programme and here is one of them: creating more even use of each hindleg.

I like to start it in-hand because the biggest benefit is when the rider can ask for leg-yield from the saddle with minimal aids. Strong use of legs contort the rider and often braces the horse’s back so the overall goodness of the exercise decreases.

The horse that learnt a movement in-hand, has a much easier job understanding the request from the saddle later and so the rider is able to act with more subtle aids.

The roles of the hind legs in the leg-yield

  • Inside hind leg: flexes, crosses over and under (engages) and creates push
  • Outside hind leg: carries weight, stabilises the weight

Performed in both directions and adjusted to the horse’s natural crookedness, it is a nice and relatively easy exercise to help the “pushing hind leg” develop more “carrying skills” and vice versa.

Also great exercise for riders to develop feel, coordination and body awareness (how it can communicate with the horse).

To see video of Ferris the ex-racehorse learning leg-yield on the wall see our Instagram HERE.

Dancing in the rain – a few positive sides of rainwater and puddles!

Helen1Late August in England is a bit like an opening act of drizzles inevitably followed by countless rainy days – you better learn to like them or you enter a season of awaiting for drier months to return. My boots are already saturated and it’s barely started to truly rain 😉 If you know of any good waterproof clothing and footwear that I can try, please comment below! Not many that I tested have lasted continuous battering of wetness over the years but there are so many different brands out there that I may have easily missed the gem that keeps one dry while trekking the arenas! 

Now onto the positives!

No flies. You can’t argue with that one and it’s a huge relief not to have horses being eaten alive. 

Great opportunities for harder work out for your horse! Simple groundwork over varied terrain improves body awareness, proprioception and muscle tone and is rather fun too 🙂 

Joker over puddles


Test for your grit and determination! I find that the riders who continue their lessons over the winter and in challenging conditions, are the ones who are truly committed to improvement and reap the benefits of their work. There are conditions in which riding is not fun and schooling not really fair on the horse, like high winds and driving rain, but many challenging weather variations can generally be trained through. It certainly brings a special sense of accomplishment and most horses work well in not-so-perfect environment as long as they are focused and kept interested. 

Helen 2

To the point 😉 We tend to keep the sessions shorter and certainly very focused when strolling around in the sun admiring the view is not an appealing option. This teaches good planning and tests rider’s ability to maintain focused as well as engaging horse’s attention. It’s also a good chance for an instructor to test the commitment of a client 😉 


Working on the posture – both of the rider and the horse…

Rainy days are perfect for biomechanics bootcamp and I am yet to meet a rider who didn’t enjoy our sessions on Racewood simulator. They are intense but fun and allow the rider to fully focus on own body awareness and effectiveness. 

Collage Racewood simulator


All these little indoor spaces that are normally only suitable for very small horses or ponies can now be very handy for in-hand work and groundwork with your horse to help them with their own posture, muscle use, suppleness and flexibility.

Moira in hand with O

Or alternatively just brave the outdoors and come for one of Aspire workshops 🙂 You never know, the sun might come out for long enough to have a great few hours of learning 🙂 

in hand workshop


What do you do in the autumn (Fall) when the weather becomes challenging? Do you continue your lessons/riding as normal? How do you alter your training? Do you like riding in the rain? 🙂 

All the best,


2014 Aspire Coaching Offer


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

ESTIMA. An ex-race horse re-training video diary. Part 2: Dancing with the Flies!

Part 1 can be found here:

Little ex-race horse is making slow but steady progress. She now moves away from touch when asked on both sides of her body (although as you will see on the video below, going from right to left is still more difficult for her than from left to right).


She also now calmly remains on circle on both reins without turning in or falling out, the latter being a problem on the right rein not only because of balance issues but due to her need to be with other horses and dragging Magda there as much as she could. She stopped doing so which is a good sign of her accepting her work without stress.

Together with the heat come flies and some are rather creative in their variety. For this reason the work is at times challenging both for the horses and for handlers!

I am including a video of Estima learning to yield to pressure on both sides and move around the handler.

Continue reading ESTIMA. An ex-race horse re-training video diary. Part 2: Dancing with the Flies!

Photo Report from Aspire Equestrian Coaching at Cullinghood, Berkshire

Fresh off the camera as I have just returned from sunny Berkshire!


The riders really enjoyed the mechanical horse sessions and the value of those has surprised me. We were able to pinpoint several interesting points to work on in all riders and then work on those in real life situation on horses these riders never sat on before. Superb tool as far as seat work is concerned as it allows the instructor to observe the rider in a way they would not be able to do otherwise.



Continue reading Photo Report from Aspire Equestrian Coaching at Cullinghood, Berkshire



On the Hay-Net’s Equestrian Advice page, one member have recently asked a question about loose schooling and mentioned that her horse lunges well but it can get repetitive and boring. You can see my own and some other replies to her HERE but as it’s quite a common issue with many horse owners I expanded on the subject a bit more below.

I like to think of lunging as a crookedness-banishing part of training and as such it is a fascinating training tool.
Before you start more purposeful lunging, teach your horse turn around and on the forehand in-hand. This will require some body language training as well as gymnastic training. If you are not sure how it should look like have a look at this video:

Continue reading LUNGING AS A CROOKEDNESS-BANISHING Part of Training