Tag Archives: rider coaching

Monday Motivation – When the SMART goals need a magic boost ;)

You know, I am sure. that for the goals to materialise they need to be specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound.

Sometimes, however, when all the maths, analysis and reason gets rinsed off with the rain, when no method seems to be working and the morning alarm rings just way too early, you might want to abandon all the usual steps and follow the one below 😉

the quest to create something from nothing-2 Hope you all had a good Monday 🙂 If you have your own magic one-liner, feel free to add it in the comments 🙂


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This project has been brewing behind the scenes for quite some time now and I am delighted to finally share the news with you all!

From August 2015, I am teaming up with Brackenhill Stud in Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire to bring an exciting new service to aspiring amateur riders.

This collaboration opens up an opportunity to like minded riders with own horses to livery and train in one place where there are fabulous facilities and a friendly and supportive group of other aspiring riders. You can join Brackenhill livery long term or come on bespoke programme basis for a few months of intensive coaching, motivation and inspiration 🙂

Please see Aspire website for more information on the coaching side of the project: Aspire Equestrian Coaching Livery with Brackenhill Stud and the Brackenhill Stud’s website for more information about the yard.

And here is a little video showing you the yard and the kind of training options available. We hope this 7min ish footage will help you decide whether our service is that something you are potentially looking for!

The Coaching Livery will work on the basis of Aspire programmes and riders across all levels are welcome. In short: 

Start Programme – it’s a lunge training based programme of 12 to 14 weeks which focuses on the seat of the rider, communication, basic in-hand work and groundwork.

Foundation Programme – novice/intermediate level riders, all-round, general coaching towards being a confident and sympathetic rider and horse person.

Development Programme – riders who focus their training on progression of not only oneself but also on athletic development of the horse. Intermediate to Advanced level, confident in all paces and able to make a difference to horse’s way of going thanks to own competence. Focus is 80% on training at home and max 20% on competition schedule.

Performance Programme – coaching for riders who train to compete. I personally focus on lower to medium levels (BE Novice, BS to 1.20m and Dressage to Elementary/Medium). My emphasis is on style, sympathetic communication with the horse and overall performance not simply on results.

Feel free to email Wiola at aspire@outlook.com with any questions you might have and please share this news with any riders who you think might want to join us for no gadgets, aspirational and inspirational training environment with many exciting plans ahead!

All the best,


BOOK REVIEW AND GIVE AWAY (Wordlwide)! Perfect Mind: Perfect Ride. Sport Psychology for Successful Riding by Inga Wolframm


How do you become a successsful rider? I’ve been asked this question many times and it’s never easy to come up with an answer. The rider, the horse, the training, the facilities, the support team – eventually all these elements need to come together to form a whole.

And yet, I’m convinced that it all starts with the rider. […]

I believe that, as riders, we’ll need to work on ourselves, every second of every day. Being patient and remaining calm and quiet at all times, regardless of whether we’re going for a hack around the block or are about to perform at a major competition, whether we’re at the top of our game or things aren’t working out quite the way we’d hoped. Anyone who wants to get to the top of their chosen discipline will have to deal with the inevitable highs and lows. They are all part of the experience: one day you’ll win an event and the next you’ll hit the deck. […]

Foreword by Mary King, Olympic three-day eventer

The above is a fragment of the Foreword by Mary King to Inga Wolframm’s brilliantly readable,  educational and engaging new book Perfect Mind” Perfect Ride.

When I first heard about this book I thought it was going to be a fairly dry and perhaps scientific material but I couldn’t be further from my assumptions. Packed with real life anecdotes and examples of experiences of top riders and amateurs alike, this book makes sports psychology enjoyably digestible and totally makes you feel like you want to try the stuff out rather than survive through a painful lecture!

Deep down, we all know that confidence makes or breaks our pleasure from riding, training and competing. The same goes for our horses. Shy, distrusting, worried and spooky horse is not one most riders would feel connected with and happy on. Yet, as riders, we could sometimes be described with exact same adjectives…

Inga’s book gives you a great tool, a starting point to sort your own attitude, develop mental skills that train your mind.

Having said all the above, the content is not just or all about nerves control as such. It is also an insight into elements of a roadmap to essential mental qualities that any rider needs: commitment, focus, ability to deal with adversity, controlling moods, constructive approach to analysing performances.

Through conversational style, Inga sparks your interest in various concepts rather than simply telling you about them, which I personally found very captivating.

Imagery. It’s all about seeing yourself perform, right?

Wrong. Or at least, not quite right.

Remember the descriptionists’ explanation for why imagery works? It is our language that makes an experience come to life. But words don’t merely paint a picture. They also describe how something might sound, smell and taste. Most importantly though, the words used during imagery should describe how an experience might feel.

What does it feel like as your horse engages his hind quarters? What does it feel like when he is soft in the contact? What do ‘keeping a rhythm’ or ‘collection’ feel like? […]

The book will also help those who always strive for perfection not just in their riding but also in other aspects of life – for me, it helped me with understanding and easing off pressure I put on myself to deliver best possible lessons and blaming myself if the rider isn’t doing as well as I think they should. There is a fine line between healthy desire for excellence and unhealthy expectations that don’t deal a hand of responsibility evenly.

Physical fitness isn’t much without mental fitness. ‘Perfect Mind: Perfect Ride’ is like a jolly, personal mental trainer with whom you will get to know yourself in ways you perhaps did not consider before…a trainer who will take you for a fascinating session in understanding that confidence is not something you have or don’t have, it’s something you work on every day.

AND THERE IS MORE 🙂 Inga and her publisher – Quiller Publishing – has kindly sent me a copy of the book and I would love to offer it as a Give Away. If you feel you would benefit from reading ‘Perfect Mind: Perfect Ride’ here is how to snap it! 🙂 

1) Share this blog post either by Re-blogging it, sharing on Twitter or Facebook or by emailing link to it to your friends.

2) Email me at aspire@outlook.com with a few sentences about why you would like this book and mention how you shared the post.

The deadline is 16th July 2015, 10pm UK time and I will email the lucky winner to ask for address and contact details by Monday 20th July.

Look forward to hearing from you and letting the book fly to someone who will make a great use of it 🙂

If you already read it, please share your thoughts in the comments!


Photo Report from Aspire Grassroots Clinic at Stajnia Sabat, Poland. JUNE 2015

-To have and keep in one's grasp- held

Alison and Gejzer over a simple cavaletti exercise in walk – he takes the “no touching the rails” very seriously 😉
Agata and Galka – here in a self carriage exercise in a very short trot leg yielding towards me. Testing rider’s suppleness and coordination of aids.
Short session with 4 years old PRE mare
Flatwork session with a lovely “heavy” horse who moved as if he had no idea about some cold blood crosses running through his veins 🙂
Flatwork session with a lovely “heavy” horse who moved as if he had no idea about some cold blood crosses running through his veins 🙂 
My cousin, Karolina, working on similar exercises as Agata and Galka. Learning about being precise and accurate with shapes of circles and figures of eights to improve self – carriage. The horse chooses his frame to some extent but the rider has to maintain line of travel, tempo and rhythm.
Ola doing some fun coordination exercises to improve the feel for diagonal use of aids.
Chatting with Dominika about her super mare 🙂
De-brief after flatwork session
The Sunday jumping session – working in a line that can be ridden for 3 or 4 strides depending on the length of canter stride chosen by the rider. Here Dominka went for shorter stride that didn’t fit either option leaving Falkata to decide and go for a long one. Very athletic little mare.
Myself with my lovely Mum and 4 years old niece 🙂
Tea time 🙂
More tea time 🙂 
Jumping session – understanding a feeling of “uphill canter”
Jumping session de-brief
Karolina and I working on ironing out a postural crookedness through her upper body
Eye to eye with Krater. I am using the whip to touch Karolina when she collapses her upper body to give her proprioceptive reminder about where her seat becomes weak and ineffective.
More posture corrections – here with one stirrups very short and the other foot out of the stirrup to wake up different feels through the pelvis in relation to back motion of the horse.
Flatwork session in the sun 🙂
Ania and Zarys. Jumping session – planning a dog-leg to improve rider’s ability to ride a correct line and tempo – here ending up too close to the left wing.
Jumping session – same line and exercise as with Dominika and Falkata.
Same dog-leg line as above – testing the ability to plan a line and tempo of the canter for most optimal take off before the second jump
Natalia and Jaron – flatwork session

Fabulous weekend. I ended up doing 18 lessons in two days as we added a couple as we went and I am seriously considering investing in a portable sound system that I can use during clinics. We worked in a large outdoor arena so to limit my shouting I walked all the time which gave me a serious amount of steps per day in a rather deep surface 😉

All the riders worked so well and are so eager to learn, I wish I could teach them more often. Alas, next meeting is in October so they have plenty of time to practice what we did during the weekend.


Through coach’s eye: Reflections Before a Clinic

I know of trainers who can just turn up and teach 20 riders over couple of days without much preparation and I do envy them! 😉 Although I could do it, I always think that a little reflection and some thoughts on the riders I only see twice a year helps me do my job better. Perhaps it’s an illusion and perhaps I run the same content I would have if I didn’t prepare at all but somehow looking through videos from previous clinics and my notes on each rider gives a peace of mind and a feeling that I have done what I could to offer best coaching help I am capable of.

Tomorrow I will hop on a plane to Poland to see some lovely riders whom I last saw 27-28 September 2014 (see photos from the clinic HERE) and meet some new riders who joined the livery yard this year. I can’t prepare much for the new riders since I will see them for the first time but I am spending today re-watching the video footage from September (another great bonus of filming riders! I don’t trust my memory so much to remember what I worked on with each person in detail!).


Here is what I make mental notes of: 

1. How each rider and horse worked over the weekend – general overview (were the exercises useful, was the horse relaxed and content with work load, was the pair challenged enough/too much, what homework did I leave them with etc etc)

2. Skim through details of each exercise so I can see what improvement have been achieved when I see them this weekend

3. Rider’s seat – what did I work on with each rider, what effect it had on the horse. This again lets me compare with the now and make sure I don’t make assumptions.

4. Main training issues of the horse – many a time riders describe a plethora of issues and problems they want to work on but it is not possible to help with them all in one or two sessions so I normally focus on 1-3 aspects that I think have the biggest bearing on other problems. When I re-watch I look with a fresh perspective so when I go now I might have an idea if we focused on the correct thing at the time.

10648431_10152446397027659_5638156908634626799_o5. Main issues of the rider – as above in horse’s case but although I listed it as fifth, this is the most important focus of all of my clinics. I believe strongly that it’s the rider who needs to know what to do and how to do it in order for the training to have much meaning once the weekend is over.

6. Riders’ goals, ambitions and training needs. Although I have fairly good overall memory of riders’ I teach and once I see them I can recall the core training stuff we did in the past, I do like to reflect on the fact whether MY coaching met their needs and if not, how I can change that.

If you run clinics yourself, how do you prepare for them? If you attend clinics, what are your motivations on joining them? Always curious of your views and ideas 🙂 Please comment away!

All the best,


ONE YEAR ON: Foundation Programme Rider’s Progress on video

CAitlin progress

You might remember a 3 months progress tracking video I posted last year of one of my lovely young riders. Since it is now a full year from her first assessment lesson (26 April 2014) with me to today (26 April 2015) I think it’s only fair I posted a little compilation of clips from her recent training.


One of the groundwork sessions – learning to communicate with the horse from the ground and help him move in a comfortable, functional posture

VIDEO: From Assessment to One Year on in 5 min and a few seconds 😉 

From September this year I would like to slowly transition Caitlin to Development Programme and make 60% of her training horse focused and remain 40% Foundations focused to prepare her for horse ownership in near future 🙂 We have some fun training adventures planned for the spring and summer with more jumping training and flatwork to music as well as more challenging groundwork sessions.

Being only 15 years old she has plenty of time to develop her skills and I am really looking forward to seeing her progress further!

Happy Aspire Anniversary Caitlin! 🙂


NOT TO BE MISSED :) One training space available on Aspire Development Programme in London

JASPER From mid May 2015 I will have 1 training space available for a rider wanting to train at Development Programme level (good basic seat and learning to school the horse sympathetically) on a lovely, young cob. Location: West London (near Ealing Broadway). Training time: Saturdays. Adorable horse, 16hh gelding, very easy to do, quality show cob in the making. Great opportunity for someone who loves to train regularly and is after consistency, progress and “own horse” experience 🙂 As usual, minimum 3 months coaching and weekly horse share commitment required (but longer preferable for this lovely chap). How it works: http://www.aspireequestrianacademy.com/#!riding-programmes-for-non-owners/czxg For more details please email Wiola at aspire@outlook.com Funny video of Jasper last month:

UPDATE 25 April 2015

Jasper is now taken following a successful assessment of the rider who is now joining us on Development programme 🙂 Wishing you wonderful time with Jasper, Indra!


Devil’s in the detail…Free video series: 2015 George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session

You might not agree with everything he says. His ego is not small. He likes things just as he likes them, end of. Whatever you say, there are 1001 lessons to be learned from George Morris training and you can watch it all free thanks to USEF Network.

Click here http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2015GMHTS/ or image above to watch the videos

A must watch for all my clients who sometimes think I am a little strict 😉 You might re-define the word strict after watching that video material..

Great watching for long winter nights in when you’d rather be riding or if you need some motivation, inspiration and discipline in your training 🙂

London riders – places on Aspire programmes are coming to you :)

***Apologies for those of you who are waiting for Part 5 of the Gift Guide! I am on limited internet at the moment so uploading the pages is tricky! It will be up as soon as possible!***

Caitlin on Tilly
Trial lesson at a London yard. Caitlin on Foundation programme.

In the last few months I have been receiving more and more enquiries from London based riders who for one reason or the other can’t make the journey for Reading lessons. The challenge was on to find a place that would be accessible by public transport, had at least 2 to 3 horses available for share or loan, had an all-weather arena plus ideally some field riding and hacking and also be do-able for me to travel to regularly.

Having tried a couple of places and them not meeting the criteria, this weekend myself and a couple of my lovely clients tried a little yard not very far from a hub of public transport at Ealing Broadway. The initial trial went well so we are setting off with several places available from December 2014 🙂 More information will be included in our Newsletter tomorrow and details are available via email at aspire@outlook.com.

I will continue to search for more opportunities in and near London so if you don’t manage to get a place at this yard, rest assured I am on the case! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email any time 🙂 Wiola

Emma Z
Trial lesson at a London yard. Emma on Development Programme on a newly backed youngster.


While we wait for the arena…

Young rider on Foundation Programme – field based flatwork session

I love to work on good surfaces, who doesn’t, but the many voices of riders who have their lessons with me in a large field at Aspire’s little base while we are awaiting the new arena to be constructed saying how difficult it is to ride on uneven ground, made me feel grateful for this temporary situation… Here’s why.

Rider on Intensive Training Day working without stirrups in trot and canter

When a rider learns to ride in the arena on fantastically, artificially non-slippery, perfectly stable and beautifully raked surface, 99% of the riding theory can be as artificial and empty as the surface itself. The rider rarely experiences the “punishment” they apply to a horse with sharp use of aids or wobbly, unstable seat or rough turn to the same degree as they can when riding in a field. Every stiff movement causes plethora of issues that simply go unnoticed on an immaculate surface.

The same goes for the horses. When worked through basic paces and small jumps, the variety of surfaces teaches them to look after themselves, to pick their feet, to be aware and watchful.

Foundation Programme riders cooling down bareback in October sunshine 🙂 

Planning lines and corners becomes a necessity if any form of track can be ridden and thinking ahead is starting to have a different meaning too. Reaction time increases and so does body awareness in motion.

My Foundation level riders don’t notice it yet so well but these weeks on grass already has had a great impact on their riding and although partially I can’t wait for the construction to start, the other part of me is very happy to have had to adjust to the situation.

In fact, I will now make it a part of all monthly sessions to have at least one field session whenever possible!

How about you guys? How often do you school out hacking or in a field? Are all your training/lessons done on artificial surfaces? What is your opinion on how often should we vary the surfaces for rider development and for the good of the horse?

All the best,


New website in progress HERE