Category Archives: Rider Training

Focused training at home – our in-house dressage challenge

A dressage test is very much a complete lesson for both horse and rider. The movements are designed to flow from one to another and present the horse and rider with a test of balance, attention, acceptance of aids, suppleness etc

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From left: Caitlin on Jasper, Sofija on Basil, Rachel on Oscar and Jazzy jumping up with joy 😉 

As such, practicing towards a particular dressage test can nicely channel the work needed to be done in order to advance the schooling of the horse and the training of the rider. There doesn’t need to be any planned competition in sight in order to create a training structure at home.

Many riders struggle with daily tasks that can lead to improvements and having a well defined floor plan i.e. a dressage test , is a perfect way to help with ideas.

OUR CHALLENGE

At the end of May we set a June Challenge focused around a British Eventing dressage test. I let the riders taking part choose the test from any of the BE90 ones and the decision was to do the BE92 test.

The reason we went for the British Eventing dressage tests rather than the British Dressage ones was simply due to us training on grass through the summer and the arena available is too small to set up a 20x40m test area.

The Challenge had two parts:

1. Train yourself and your horse towards a competent attempt at British Eventing 92 Dressage Test (the test is at a Dressage Preliminary level and is a part of BE90 Horse Trials)

2. Appraise other horse’s and rider’s performance in order to understand the requirements better and improve own “eye” for correct training.

We had 5 training sessions in total focused primarily on this test.

Session 1: Understanding your horse’s strengths and weaknesses in all elements required at the test.

Session 2: Work through your horse’s strengths and weaknesses and formulate exercises/routines to improve weak points and show off the strong points

Practice during the month

Session 3: Enclose the exercises to the vague area of the test arena and practice the patterns of the test with no dressage markers. Continue working on weak elements and showing off the strong ones

Session 4: Practice of all test movements within the arena set up with markers in place with particular focus on correct use of corners and accurate shapes of all exercises

Session 5: Warm Up for the test with all the training in mind and have a go at the test 🙂

SCORES:

Caitlin & Jasper (Judges at C: Sofija , Rachel) : 73.2 % (Eventing score: 26.8)

Sofija  & Basil (Judges at C: Caitlin , Rachel) : 62% (Eventing score: 38)

These were both very good scores for these horses and both tests were nicely presented and very tactfully ridden. Unfortunately, Oscar lost a shoe a week before the Saturday test and removed it so “well” he punctured his foot rendering himself out of contention! Rachel took part part-time riding the test pattern in walk and testing her judging skills.

REWARD TIME!

logo clearI believe training is all about little milestones and small but important achievements and as such, celebrating them is part of the game   Aspire Academy is a brand ambassador for Boudica Equestrian this year and in collaboration with Boudica the riders won the following:

Caitlin for the highest score: £20 voucher to spend on anything via Boudica’s online/pop-up store at https://www.boudicaequestrian.co.uk/ as well as 10% OFF the order with the Aspire code

Sofija for the super score with a tense pony who probably never done a dressage test of this level on grass: £15 voucher as well as 10% OFF the order with the Aspire code

Rachel for a great team spirit, superb turn out of Oscar and getting involved in the judging process: £10 voucher as well as 10% OFF the order with the Aspire code.

QUICK REFLECTIONS

In only five sessions we were able to achieve a really noticeable degree of improvement in horse’s way of going and consistency and planning from the riders. I’d recommend monthly focus sessions like that to all improvement driven riders 🙂

Thank you to Boudica Equestrian for a great collaboration on little rewards for all the riders’ efforts!

A couple of exercise routines that can transform your riding feel

By Wiola Grabowska

Even though I am a big fan of off-horse training to improve riding feel (via a better i.e. more aware use of the rider’s body) and I have participated in various sports since childhood, it wasn’t until my late thirties that I actually felt it to be a necessary rather than a complimentary part of riding training.

Let me share a couple of routines from my Equestrian Pilates sessions with Natalie Monrowe that are really fun to try and play with 🙂

LYING DOWN ON A ROLLER

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I found it useful for: 

  • finding “neutral spine” which is a must for upper body control in the saddle. Many grassroots riders ride on horses with a “hollow back”. This often can give a feeling of sitting in a hammock which sends the rider’s lower leg forwards and shifts the overall weight of the rider behind the movement of the horse. This can be very slight and make consistent throughness tricky or be very obvious, like getting left behind in rising trot and ‘double bouncing’. Developing a good feel for own neutral spine can help the rider develop the same in their horses.

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  • pelvis stability. Lifting alternate legs shows various weaknesses in the use of core muscles which can be worked on separately.
  • neck and head alignment. Riders often struggle with their neck alignment (head down, too much left or right, straining neck forward etc) and I find this to be a very simple way to gather proprioception for the spinal alignment throughout entire spine (base of the neck to tailbone)
  • awareness of own straightness. Aligning the roller with own spine gives a very distinct feel of how much of each side of ribcage, shoulders, pelvis is on each side of it. Just lying down in this position for some time increases awareness of where your centre is and that is such an important skill to have when schooling horses of any level. Ability to maintain own straightness on a crooked horse in order to help them move better is the key not only to effectiveness but also to injury prevention (in both horse and rider)

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JUMPING POSITION ON A ROLLER 

 

I found it useful for: 

  • Balance 😉 As the roller moves a little it creates a situation in which we practice stability via mobility and that replicates the balance skills needed for riding. Standing on the floor is not quite cutting to the chase 😉
  • Awareness of weight distribution forward and back, left and right. One sided weaknesses have a strong voice in this exercise and provide a very good feedback to the rider
  • Independence of hand. Moving your arms in various directions without that movement affecting stability of the rest of the “seat” is important for jumping but also, in a miniature version of it – for all rein aids. Without suppleness in the arms it is very difficult to give supple rein influence. Many riders think they aren’t using reins for balance but it can be a real eye opener when you try to ride some movements without the reins. This allows you to check how much effectiveness there really is in the seat, how much we want to rely on the reins for corrections that ideally should be delegated to the seat aids and how switched on the horse is to the seat vs reins. Rein influence is important for overall connection but the less of it there is the more we can wake up our own seat aids. The more attentive the horse becomes to the seat, the more influence we have on small adjustments.

I do believe that the minute we sit on a horse for a purpose other than travel, we are training. No matter if it’s learning to do rising trot for the first time or polishing details of canter pirouettes. We are training our bodies so they are not a burden to the horse’s movement. A few minutes a day can transform that training 🙂

Many thanks to Boudica Equestrian for my fab “yard to gym” leggings 🙂 

How not to override but still be effective – an experiment in ‘active’ and ‘passive’ riding

 

By Wiola Grabowska

We can probably all relate to the situation in which a horse does more of what we don’t want the more we try the opposite and then “out of the blue” offers a behaviour we wanted when we no longer care about it.

It’s relatively “easy” to over-ride a horse with our aids without noticing as well as not to do enough to guide the horse into desired behaviour and we all do a bit of both now and then.

I’d like to chat with you about an exercise in ‘passive’ and ‘active’ riding.

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We often talk about effectiveness when training. I believe true effectiveness starts in ability to “not disturb” the horses in the job we are asking them to do…Whether on the flat, over poles or over the jumps.

When I say passive I don’t mean a slouching rider travelling on a horse but one who shadows horse’s movement while remaining as balanced as possible. This is often a much harder task for a rider than it seems because to follow every movement with every part of your seat without acting upon the horse in any way is much easier said than done. The biggest issue I find is riders’ ability to maintain an absolutely neutral rein connection – most common are two extremes: riders who feel the need to constantly fiddle and those who ride with dropped reins out of belief they interfere too much. Neutral, non-disturbing connection that can become meaningful is hardest to achieve but I believe forms a great starting point from which to start an influence that has biggest chances of acceptance (by the horse).

Conversely, when I say ‘active’ I don’t mean in any way ‘busy’ but simply becoming in charge of direction, speed, shape of the horse’s body, amount of impulsion he or she creates etc.

Here’s what we did at Aspire Equestrian Spring Camp 2018 (full blog post on the Camp coming up later this week)

The WHY

We work on the below skills in order to create a situation in which the horse finds our ideas easy to understand, logical to obey and enjoyable to partake in (assuming horses tend to gravitate towards harmonious movement).

The lesson objectives:

  • to increase awareness of degree of influence the rider’s actually have on a horse,
  • to increase awareness of “doing too much” or “not enough”,
  • to build a feel for moments when the rider needs to allow the horse to listen, understand and act without being “busy” with own posture
  • to increase awareness of “own anticipation”
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MEET THE RIDERS: Derek on Boo and Sasha on Ferris – the horses decided to travel from one corner of the arena to the other and sometimes just stood in one of them observing 😉

The how

I asked the riders to drop the reins and allow the horse to make choices about directions. The riders were to stay completely passive (as if they wanted to simply shadow the horse’s movement) yet stay in as good a balance as they could. They were to stay in walk and trot but act if horses became in any way unsafe.

Game on

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First of all it turned out to be a one funny session although I admit I did not plan it that way 😉 Horse that notoriously avoids corners for various reasons gravitated towards them like a magnet, the one we thought would be worried and stressed (an ex-racehorse) turned out to confidently stroll around, relaxed and happy leading the other horse most of the time. The mare that normally avoids the arena ends, took herself out of the arena and climbed a small mound 😉

I wanted to get the riders to feel how easy it is to anticipate something and how difficult it is to “do nothing at all”. For example approaching a corner most riders will have a set of automatic behaviours they don’t even think about that prepares the horse to turn. This can cause various muscle engagement patterns in the horse that leads to inverting away from corners, running on, avoiding bend/flexion etc etc I wanted the riders to make sure they listen to the feedback from the horse and it was much easier to do once they experienced the passive rider game.

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Second part of the session

I asked the riders to slowly include their influence but in a very tactful way i.e. do as little as possible but as much as necessary to ride certain figures and exercises I asked them to do. The difference in the horse’s attitude, relaxation and ease with which they did the exercises was significant. The riders found it very enjoyable and as we know, we do learn best when having fun 🙂

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Very good attempt at neutral rein connection in canter

Their handling on reins and frequency with which they used them improved too – the rider who tends to override rode with much more awareness of that and the one who tends to to leave the horse a bit too much without guidance, rode with more attention too.

Maintaining a perfectly neutral rein connection that neither drops or holds unnecessary tension in three basic paces of walk, trot and canter is a skill I consider one of the most important for all my Foundation & Development programme riders. Without that relaxed stability, rein aids rarely can be truly independent yet harmonious with the rest of the seat.

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Sasha in a very good attempt at following the contact in trot – she could perhaps show a little more carriage of the hands (as they dropped a bit here) to truly show that rider’s hips, elbows and shoulders are as supple as can be but very good job nevertheless.

Please note: One of the riders has taken up riding a year and half ago as an adult, the other had a 7 months old break from riding due to University commitments, both are very aware of their riding seat issues which we are working on so please try to avoid riding critique from the attached photos 🙂 

All photos in this post are copyright of Becky Bunce Photography and Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy

A few notes and reflections from the training day with Luca Moneta Horsemanship

By Wiola Grabowska

It seems to me that the most difficult clinics, demos or forums to find are those that explore training methods which can produce a sports horse without traditional systems of dominance, submission and fear training.

It is one thing to train a well mannered happy hacker/typical pleasure horse with non-bullying methods, another to train a lower level eventer, show jumper or a dressage horse. Nearly every single CPD type event I have attended or training session I watched (some with top national/international trainers and riders) in the last five years used some form of “must do as told right now” method whether in foundation training of the horse or later in specialised schooling.

I personally dabbed in many different ways of schooling horses during my twenty + years of active involvement in this industry and I became plain bored with many and demoralised by most of them. The perpetuating nature of the UK coach training system where changes are hard to implement straight away added to my professional frustration.  Ever since setting up the Academy 7 years ago I have wanted to get to know many other ways of combining thorough foundation training of a horse with its athletic training for grassroots sports. Searching outside of mainstream took me on a great learning journey and I feel like it will probably never end.

Today, I will share a few notes from a clinic with an International Show Jumper – Luca Moneta.

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Nicknamed the ‘Carrot Man’ due to him using Parelli Natural Horsemanship tools in his training, Luca Moneta is currently one of the top show jumping riders in the world. I read this interview with him several years ago (to read see: The World of Show Jumping – Luca Moneta) and his methods intrigued me because I have not come across anyone combining any form of “natural horsemanship” at top level of show jumping before.

I used “natural horsemanship” term in inverted commas because many a time, it’s simply common sense, understanding of how horses learn and interact with us and how to communicate with them so both parties understand each other. It so happens, there are people branding those concepts. 

The clinic consisted of two days training, day one being round pen focused and day two was a continuation of foundation training but on the flat and over jumps. The riders riding in the clinic were of varied standards from novice to coach/competition rider level.

I didn’t attend the Day one but as I am familiar with the concepts it didn’t seem a problem for me to follow the continuation on Day two.

Simple (but not necessarily easy) 

 

Luca’s training method is simple: everything we do with the horses must makes sense to them, keep them calm, focused, light and responsive.

The day started with groundwork which was alike a fast version of the in-hand work I know. Turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand, rein-back, go, stop but all in a much quicker succession, more attention to release under stronger “pressure”.

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It was especially interesting to watch the riders who were unfamiliar with the concept and who attempted the work on the ground. I am not surprised that methods like Parelli often have bad opinion when witnessed at various livery yards because quite frankly, when the rider is just learning the timing and reactions, it isn’t a nice viewing. However, Luca worked with each horse by himself too and the importance of quiet, non-emotional approach was immediately clear as was the relief and relaxation in the horse’s bodies following his work.

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“The more the horse doesn’t respond, the more he is showing us that there is a problem. The more we ignore the problem and leave the horse alone, the bigger the horse’s problem become.”

In real life terms this might mean never letting the horse run after the jump, never letting them become emotionally distressed with the situation to the point of no response.

“We need to help the horse come back from that emotional situation.”

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He also puts big emphasis on the rider being quiet in the saddle. He likes limited amount of aids with full results. One of the tasks the riders faced was to carry a young rider on their back. At first the girl was told to just sit quiet while Luca gave commands – go forwards, turn left, turn right, back up. Then the girl was asked to become “busy”, lean left and right and back as much as she wanted which immediately disturbed every single step of the person carrying her.

The jumping work was all based around light, quick and calm responses. If you had a light and quick response but the horse was stressed, you need to try again. And again. Until you learn to combine all three elements.

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Whilst all the above was familiar to me and it was just very interesting to watch the logistics of teaching it and doing it from a slightly different angle, one element of the day really stood out for me and I wish I learnt his way of looking at it sooner (when I rode competitively myself). 

Luca discussed the feel the rider has in front of the jump as he was setting a small course  for the riders. He told them they must know when a particular jump was making them scared and tell him to lower it. He said they needed to know how to control their emotions in front of the jump and not take on an impossible challenge. However, when they felt a reasonable level of challenge, they needed to keep coming until they learnt to control the emotions (nerves, excitement etc) in themselves and in the horses.

He described one way of thinking about it: 

You normally think that in Show Jumping there is a horse and there is a jump. But you can also think like this. There is no horse and no jump. There’s just energy. My energy, the energy of the horse and the energy of the jump. I just send the energy of the horse in the line that puts the jump in the middle. Then the energy of the horse will tell me, I am confident, I respond light, quick and relaxed, that’s it. But maybe we find resistance in this energy, maybe the horse arrives at the fence and stops. Maybe he will try to avoid the jump. Then I just teach them that it’s all about going straight on, on that line of energy, back to basics.

Super day and a privilege to learn from people like Luca Moneta.

P.S. Huge thank you to Mairi for arranging for my ticket for this clinic for my birthday 🙂 

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Mairi and one of the horses taking part in the clinic – a Lusitano x TB, 20 years young

Gridwork: “Staircase” exercise

By Wiola Grabowska

Riders:
Caitlin Thorpe on Nugget
Sofija Dubianskaja on Jack

Who for

Really good exercise for both young/inexperienced and older, more experienced horses as well as riders learning to jump.

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Sofija and Jack. You can watch them in action over this exercise on our Instagram video: Sofija and Jack

Benefits for the horse

  • improves athleticism & reaction time
  • encourages the flexion and “tucking in” of the pelvis to produce a better bascule over the jump over time
  • quickens reactions of “slow” horses
  • encourages thinking and focus in “quick” horses

Benefits for the rider

  • focuses the rider on straightness on the approach and in the grid
  • improves the jumping seat as it magnifies any issues like unstable lower leg, busy upper body, fixed hand, stiff knees, overall anxious behaviour between the jumps to name a few
  • teaches the rider to stay out of the way of the jumping horse
  • is fun!
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Caitlin and Nugget. An ex-racehorse, Nugget has a very different jumping style to Jack, is slower through the grid and with repetition this exercise can be very useful for him to help him jump less hollow and with quicker reaction time. For Caitlin it was a great exercise to improve her jump seat. To see them on video, check Aspire Instagram here: Caitlin and Nugget

The set up

You’ll need three jumps of which the first and the last can be in form of cavaletti as they won’t be changing heights and should be kept low (60cm is plenty).

The distances between the jumps are bounce distances and need to again be adjusted to individual horse. I usually set mine at 3.5m.

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In this exercise you don’t want to be increasing the distance but it can be beneficial to shorten it to encourage a more experienced horse to work harder.

The middle jump can be adjusted in height to suit the experience of the horse and rider but should be higher than the other two to create a “staircase” like effort. Or think of dolphins jumping in and out of the sea 😉

If you do go for a higher middle jump (like I set for Jack and Sofija) don’t additionally shorten the distances because a bigger jump produced by the horse will automatically land him closer to the next element.

Have fun 🙂

Jack landing

Length of stirrups – how to choose it and why. PART 1: SHOW JUMPING

By Wiola Grabowska

For every horse, saddle type and rider there exist an optimum length of stirrups that brings the best out of the rider’s seat. For anyone who ever experimented with riding at various stirrup lengths will know that some options give better ability to follow movement, stay with it, stay secure, stay out of the horse’s way and let the horse do the job well.

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Gem and Ozzy – she generally likes to jump on a longer side and loses the security of the lower leg at times but a good result here bar her lower leg moving back a little too much which can mean some difficulty and delay in gathering the canter back together on landing. Photo credit: Christine Dunnington 

Even for riders’ with zero interest in the biomechanics of the seat it will be clear when their reaction time is quicker, their back more supple, their joints more able to absorb movement, muscles more engaged where they need to be and more relaxed where they need to be.

Having said that, the below views on stirrups length are drawn from my own teaching of hundreds of riders according to my own preferred riding styles so it might not suit everyone 🙂

SHOW JUMPING

For relaxed, athletic experience, a jumping rider needs a decent range of motion in the seat. By that I mean:

  • conditions for a comfortable three point/full seat that is a little “lighter” than a full dressage seat but always able to have full influence on the horse’s balance (used when bringing the horse’s centre of gravity back in front of the jump for example)
  • conditions for a two point/light seat/”jumping position” – the seat where the rider is able to comfortably stay out of the saddle without compromising own balance and suppleness
  • conditions for supple, calm, balanced actual jump seat on take off, flight and landing that allows the horse to perform an uninterrupted jump
  • able to quickly yet calmly change between this three as and when needed

In the below video, which I put together for another post (you can read it HERE), you can see me riding an unknown horse over a few jumps from 1m to about 1m20/25. You can see that as I learn to find the right canter to each jump that will suit that horse our take off points change but I have enough security through my seat to be able to follow the horse reasonably well each time.

I often see riders riding quite long and struggling with effortless jump seat. If you are a Novice rider learning to jump, stirrups on a longer side, the length that you might hack in for example, are a good call. They give you a little more basic stability overall in case things don’t go to plan as you have “more of your legs” around the horse and you are only likely to be jumping small fences.

Shorter stirrups do come with more of an “eject” mode in case of trouble (as your legs come higher up and have less ability to hold) but to me, they are the preferred option for a more advanced rider. Shorter stirrup length helps close the hip and knee joints which can then open swiftly on the take off without unnecessary throwing of the upper body forwards (no leg work = upper body work to compensate). The “quieter” the seat, the better the jump.

I often hear riders saying about having an “unlucky pole down” but I was always taught that 99% of the time, there’s no such thing as an unlucky pole. Unless the jump wasn’t adjusted properly after another horse knocked it a bit or perhaps strong wind blew etc, there was something in the way the rider approached the jump or how the horse behaved in the air that threw that pole. The air time can be very much improved by the rider staying out of the horse’s part of the job.

Finding your own anatomically friendly “jumping angles” comes via trial and error. What might be visually correct, might not work in practice so it’s important to keep experimenting. Different shapes of the horse’s ribcage, different styles and shapes of the saddle and the size of the horse overall will all determine how to adjust the stirrup length.

To sum up, when assessing the rider’s stirrups length for jumping I look at:

  • their riding experience/skill

  • whether they can easily go into light seat and stay in it without problems in halt,walk,trot and canter for several minutes.

  • whether they can sit in the saddle in trot and canter and still have good command of the horse’s way of going (without unnecessary tension through their body)

  • whether they can happily change between the above seats every few strides when asked

 

 

 

 

Jump training – dressing the jumps

By Wiola Grabowska

This must be one of the easiest and most cost effective ways of transforming your plain jumps set into a proper colour and pattern challenge!

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We’ve dressed several jumps with the Jumpstack and been using the covered bales for all sorts of jumping exercises both ridden and on the ground.

The covers for the bales made fantastic fillers, you just need a good tape to secure the openings as if your jumps are outdoors, the stickers that come with the covers won’t be strong enough to stay on.

The pole covers are great for transforming plain poles and do a super job used on raised poles as horses being vary of them, pick their feet up neatly.

We are looking into adding some yellow and green patterns now. It makes training interesting and helps the horses get used to variety of different jumping challenges. I find some fillers are more of a rider’s frighteners so it helps the riders to become accustomed to jumping more than simple poles.

The covered bales are also very handy for creating gymnastic set ups like small grids to work on technique – improving quality of the canter and rider’s position.

When used for groundwork, they provide a low level distraction for the horse  habituating him/her to situations where they need to ignore slight worry and go forwards when asked.

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Photo: Christine Dunnington 

To purchase the bale covers and more, see www.jumpstackandmore.co.uk

Warm up idea before jumping lessons. Stress control, balance control & muscle workout in one

By Wiola Grabowska

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Mairi and Gilly. Photo copyright: Christine Dunnington Photography

Everything happens fast between the jumps. Small losses of balance on route from one jump to another can become big issues when getting closer to the fence. Here’s just one scenario: breathing becomes shallow (some riders seemingly stop breathing altogether!) and/or fast, muscles brace, tension creeps up the shoulders and inhibits soft hands. Nerves can be overwhelming but so can the speed with which decisions need to be made: a little more impulsion, a little less, wide turn, sharper turn, shorter stride, longer stride, light seat, full seat…then there are things around the arena the horse can spook at. Jumping filers that can cause run outs and stops.

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Caitlin and Mollie. Photo copyright: Christine Dunnington Photography

It is difficult for a one horse rider to create enough training challenges to work on various training behaviours with sufficient repetitions so if you are a learner rider learning to jump or you find some of the above issues apply to you, have a play with the below exercise as your warm up.

You will need:

  • a gym ball
  • something to hold on to
  • distractions for further challenge 😉

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  1. Stand on the gym ball. This in itself will give you a raised heart rate and muscle workout similar to being taken off with on a long one and landed with the reins flapping 😉 Don’t give up if you can’t do it at the first go. Keep climbing on that ball, hang on to something near you and don’t let go!
  2. Once you can remain with both feet firmly on the ball for several seconds, assume a light seat/two point seat position and try to become aware of the tension through your upper body so you can release it by breathing and consciously relaxing your shoulders/neck/arms.

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You want to remain in this position coordinating tiny shifts of weight that need to happen in your body in order to stay put. The feeling of the world slipping from underneath you is going to be there with you but don’t give up, breathe, consciously look around, smile, check if you can move your arms as if releasing the reins.

Benefits: 

Calmer, more aware state of mind when in the saddle. Heightened awareness of where the tension is in the body and how to release it. Stronger core. Stronger mind.

If all goes well, you can introduce variety of distractions 😉

Have fun 🙂 

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All photos in this post are copyright Christine Dunnington Photography

Photo Report from Arena and XC hire at Rosehill Equestrian

Text by Wiola Grabowska. All photos copyright www.cdphotos.co.uk  Please respect those rights and do not copy any photos from the blog. Thank you!

Now that I have Christine on board working with Aspire, I hope to be able to take you all on little journeys with us via the moments captured by her lenses 🙂

This photo report here is from last Saturday trip to Rosehill Equestrian.

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Form left to right: Sasha & Boo, Sofija & Jasper, Lou & Robyn, Mairi & Gilly and myself with Jazz 

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We try to organise to take horses for an away training sessions or shows once or twice a month. It’s not always easy to coordinate all the logistics with horses being stabled at two different yards and riders based anything from 30 minutes to an hour and a half away but we have managed a good few great outings already and it gets a little bit easier each time 🙂

Our most failed attempt was to try to coordinate the two yards trip to a dressage show organised by South Oxfordshire Riding Club. We didn’t quite realise how popular the SORC shows are and ended up with a few riders entered and the rest left starring at “entries closed” screen. Lesson learnt! We re-routed some horses to East Byshe Arena & XC which turned up to be a great venue with a mixture of XC jumps and show – jumps in a superb, spacious arena.

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Sasha & Boo and Sofija & Jasper
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Jazzy loves playing in water jumps 🙂 

Everyone (including my mad Springer) always has an awesome time although I must say I enjoy it all the most once it’s all over and horses and riders are all safe and sound relaxing during a de-brief chat 😉

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Lou & Robyn 
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Kate & Jack
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Paige & Oscar

Our next trip is to RAF Halton Sponsored Ride  at the end of March. If you are based at a lovely venue in Berks/Oxon/Middlesex/Hampshire/Surrey available for hire or know of one you’d love to recommend give us a shout in the comments – we are always on the look out for interesting places to train at!

To Aspire riders: all the above and many more images are available for purchase from Christine so if you’d like to grab any, please chat with her when you see her on the yard or email her via www.cdphotos.co.uk 🙂 

First Event Horse sought for a young rider to fall in love with Eventing!

Looking for a genuine, dependable first competition horse for Caitlin – a 16 year old girl who has been training on the Academy programmes for the last 2 years and is now ready go out there and fall in love with Eventing!

The horse must be brave and sensible XC, able to help on SJ course but happy to work on flatwork if needed. 16hh + and ideally no older than 11. Budget in the region of £6k but significantly negotiable for the right horse. Professional coaching and care provided.

Serious enquiries please to Tatiana Thorpe on 07809148716 or email Wiola at Aspire Equestrian on aspire@outlook.com

caitlin