Tag Archives: rider education

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.

BBP_4367
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”
BBP_5943
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

BBP_5945

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.

BBP_5941

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 🙂

BBP_6055
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.

BBP_6034
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

Gemma Hill: My two days training at Brackenhill Stud. Part 2: Day 2

By Gemma Hill

To read Day 1 – see HERE
ozzy grazing day 2

I arrived slightly earlier before my lesson to take ozzy for a grass walk just so he could stretch his legs after having a busy day the day before. After 20 minutes of grass it was then time to get ready so again I made use of the heat lamps just to warm his back up before our flat lesson.
Ozzy felt great when I got on and was walking around, he felt like he was stretching in his walk and felt looser, sometimes Ozzy tends to start with a disconnected walk so he gives the feeling that he is not quite connected and his stride gets short.

gem yellow 1
Again me and Wiola discussed what we the lesson aim was and for this lesson we was going to do a pole exercise to help with balance and canter rhythm. We had 4 poles out, one at each quarter of a circle, 2 of the poles were slightly raised. We did the exercise in trot to start with and then we did it once in canter each way. My first attempt in canter on both ways highlighted the areas in where both me and Ozzy struggle.

circle 1

On the right rein was where we struggled as his canter was more strung out and his turning on the right rein is more difficuault, as for me I tend to lean in a lot more on the right rein and Ozzy puts me in a position which when turning makes me rely more on the right rein then keeping him even in the contact and controlling more of his outside. On the left rein his canter wasn’t as strung out therefore by the second attempt he was able to find it a little easier and found his rhythm.


As a rider I found it difficult at the start as I was aiming for him to get over each raised pole and was trying to push him for a stride rather than just waiting and letting him find his own feet and balance, towards the end I got better at this and Ozzy became more established.
Because Ozzy found it harder on the right rein towards the end I put him in canter but on the outside of the circle so without going over the poles, he then settled into a canter where I could feel he was really trying and he had that bit more of a push from behind. He became a little on the forehand but I was able to support him a little more when he did this and was able to help him balance before returning back to trot.

gem yellow 4gem yellow 3gem yellow 2

I was super pleased with Ozzy at the end of this lesson as I have been working on his canter and felt that we had established it even if it was just for a brief moment it just showed that he is becoming stronger and with more patience it will all fall into place.
After working so hard, thanks to the staff at Brackenhill Stud they kindly agreed to allow Ozzy to go in one of the paddocks so he could have stretch and a roll for a few hours. Meanwhile while Ozzy got to have his wind down time, it was time to do some ball exercises to mimic my errors and how to correct them. One of the exercises was to correct my turning position so making sure my sternum stays inline with the withers, figuring out how to turn the body without turning before the horse.

Groundwork with Leo. We use a combination of classical in-hand work exercises and methods developed by Equitation Science International (www.esi-education.com)

After a few hours in the field, I got Ozzy in, gave him a groom and got ready for our next lesson. Our last lesson we had a joint lesson with Kelly and Mojo and for this lesson we planned to do some grid work. While Kelly was warming up and going through some exercises I gave Ozzy a long walk and a brief warm up as by this time he was tiring.
Gridwork is really hard for Ozzy as he is slightly on the forehand so when landing he has to recover quickly enough to make the next jump, it became even more of a challenge for him as we had some bounces included so here Ozzy had to be quicker with his legs and not to jump too flat. The first few times I felt like we were nose diving through them but it was about letting him figure out his feet and how he could make it more comfortable for himself. By the end he felt bit better as he didn’t feel like he was on the forehand as much and he was being quicker with his legs and more powerful.


I ended slightly earlier as I felt he had done well but also felt like he was tired, he had worked super well over the two days and gave every lesson 100%. There wasn’t any moment over the two days where he felt like he was working too hard. We finished the two days with big improvements and more tasks to work on until the next camp in November.

Thanks to everyone at Brackenhill for having us and thanks to Wiola for the lessons and making us work hard 🙂.


Gemma’s training stay award was co-sponsored by Brackenhill Stud, a Henley base for the Academy’s training. Big thank you to Emma Brinkworth and everyone at the Stud for making Gemma and Ozzy feel so welcome 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 16.04.05We have limited availability for Full/Part/Competition Livery at Brackenhill Stud in Henley-on-Thames, a well-established and beautiful yard with fantastic facilities.
Indoor arena with Martin Collins surface, full set of showjumps and viewing area
Superb hacking
All year turn out with options for individual and small group
Solarium
Yard manager on site
Full kitchen and chill out room
Toilets and shower
Lorry parking
Onsite trainer
Option for BHS training
Competition preparation and grooming
Breaking and schooling
If you simply want to enjoy your horse and our superb hacking, or if you are a serious competitor we will cater for all of your equestrian needs in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with dedicated and knowledgeable staff.
Call Emma on 07557677163 for more information or to arrange a visit.

Gemma Hill: My two days training at Brackenhill Stud. Part 1: Day 1

 

By Gemma Hill

 

screen-shot-2017-09-21-at-14-31-02.png

After winning the coach award at the Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy Summer Camp 2017, I booked my 2 day stay at Brackenhill Stud sponsored by the Stud and the Academy. I enjoy having the two days training sessions as Ozzy always comes away with a big improvement.

Our first lesson on our 2 day training stay was a flatwork lesson, we put Ozzy on a circle and talked about our aims for the lesson and what we were going to work on.

screen-shot-2017-09-21-at-15-19-01.png

We talked about the contact being consistent and the push and reach which Ozzy creates from behind with his hind legs becoming more even. At the start it was about getting me to feel for which hind leg I felt Ozzy was pushing from more or if he felt like he was pushing evenly. We then worked on my position on a circle/turn to help Ozzy with his balance in order to allow him to have a better push.

The aim here was to improve both the rider feel for and the horse’s use of a positive thrust of energy from both hindlegs. I wanted Gem to gain better feel of Ozzy transferring the energy from his left hind all the way through left side of his body, over the poll and to the left rein and same on the right. In other words I wanted her to focus on throughness. We discussed the combinations of that energy transfer (in short: left hind to the left rein, right hind to the right rein, left hind to the right rein and right hind to the left rein i.e. direct and diagonal shifts/transfers) and how to improve on them in order to improve the quality of Ozzy’s working gaits. 

gem on app1
Illustrating the problem of “disconnect” of the rider’s outside side with the horse’s outside side by using Centaur Biomechanics “Objectivity” app. Simple and so useful, Gemma found it very helpful to see the issue on the screenshot with the lines applied and was able to make very good corrections that will need time to consolidate and become consistent. More on the app HERE

On turns and circles I have a tendency to turn before him and over turn my shoulders or lean inwards. I looked at a freeze photo from a video that Wiola took and from there we made the necessary changes.At first when I was waiting for Ozzy to turn before I did it felt like he was never going to turn but then chatting to Wiola it was just simply because Ozzy does everything in slow motion mode, so his turning was happening but not as fast as I was turning. The small correction then made Ozzy find a better way of going in order to allow him to be little more consistent while engaging from behind. Overall Ozzy felt like he had improved and that he tried really hard to make the changes, he felt more responsive to my aids and body positioning.

Our second lesson of the day was a jump lesson, I started warming up and Ozzy felt great, his reactions felt quicker and his trot felt more active and bigger. We did a small warm up as Wiola had planned some slightly trickier exercises for us to work through so I didn’t want him to be to tired, for those who don’t know Oz, he is quite a laid back guy anyway.

Ozzy day 1 jump

The exercise which was set up was poles which were set out as half a circle with “bounce” distance (3m) in between each pole. To start with we just cantered through the poles on a half circle to just see which rein was going to be harder for Ozzy and just so he could find his bearings. Wiola then started to make some of the poles on the half circle into jumps, the idea was for Ozzy to find his feet and just to treat the jumps as if they were poles on the floor and just try and maintain a good canter throughout as his canter is his weaker gait.

To watch a video of Ozzy doing this exercise, see Aspire Equestrian Instagram post: HERE

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 15.35.27
INSTAGRAM POST

Surprisingly Ozzy didn’t feel like he was struggling as much as i thought through this exercise. His left rein was better than his right as on the right rein when jumping he doesn’t always land right, we came to the conclusion that i may have a slight twist while jumping to the right which makes it easier for him to land on the wrong lead, but we managed to get him to land correctly on the right lead at the end.

The second exercise we did was just a related distance down the long side of the school, it was set with 3 strides in-between an oxer and a vertical on comfortable 13.5m and the aim was to come off the left rein and make sure that we had a good enough canter around the turn so using what we learnt in the morning session and creating the power. Ozzy found this much easier and jumped super down the line, his canter after doing the half circle exercise felt more balanced especially around the turn to the first fence of the related.

ozzy day 1 oxer

He was then able to create enough energy after jumping the first fence to maintain his rhythm and to get a good stride to the second.

To watch Gemma and Ozzy in the second exercise, see Aspire Equestrian Instagram post HERE

screen-shot-2017-09-21-at-15-42-32.png

We ended the lesson on that exercise as I felt Ozzy had used what we learnt from the morning session and the pole exercise and jumped really nicely.

gem solarium
Muscle therapy under the lamps after all the hard work 🙂
Ozzy solarium
Muscle therapy under the lamps after all the hard work 🙂

 

Read Part 2 HERE 🙂 


Gemma’s training stay award was co-sponsored by Brackenhill Stud, a Henley base for the Academy’s training. Big thank you to Emma Brinkworth and everyone at the Stud for making Gemma and Ozzy feel so welcome 🙂

screen-shot-2017-09-21-at-16-04-05.pngBRACKENHILL STUD: FULL, PART AND COMPETITION LIVERY AVAILABLE

We have limited availability for Full/Part/Competition Livery at Brackenhill Stud in Henley-on-Thames, a well-established and beautiful yard with fantastic facilities.
Indoor arena with Martin Collins surface, full set of showjumps and viewing area
Superb hacking
All year turn out with options for individual and small group
Solarium
Yard manager on site
Full kitchen and chill out room
Toilets and shower
Lorry parking
Onsite trainer
Option for BHS training
Competition preparation and grooming
Breaking and schooling
If you simply want to enjoy your horse and our superb hacking, or if you are a serious competitor we will cater for all of your equestrian needs in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with dedicated and knowledgeable staff.
Call Emma on 07557677163 for more information or to arrange a visit.

Through coach’s eye: Post Summer Camp 2017 reflections. Day 1 of 3

This Summer Camp 2017 was the first one of upgraded versions of intensive training camps I have been organising in the last few years. We incorporated a training show into it with Life Savings as its Patron (more on the Show later), added sponsored awards and much more focus on the rider’s technique than ever before. I loved it and the riders seemed to as well. We already have bigger plans for next year but for now, let me reflect on this year’s experiences in stages…

DAY 1 – FRIDAY

AEC_0069 (1)
Emma on Merehead and Lou on Robyn – discussing seat effectiveness vs rider’s balance with great help of the mirrors 

Knowing the steps

In the process of putting together the content of this Camp, I came across a very clever way of describing skill acquisition. At first, everything we are trying to do seem IMPOSSIBLE. Whether it’s an ingrained asymmetry that prevents the rider from sitting well or a horse struggling with own straightness, everyone will have their “impossible’ tasks. In the process of training we convert the ‘impossible’ to POSSIBLE. 

But that’s only a start…Once a skill enters realm of ‘possible’ , it simultaneously begins a seemingly never ending journey towards EASY. There might be some strong reluctance in all of us to work for something very hard because it’s much cooler to just have a talent for something. Working hard is not a glamorous process that was advertised up to be. Even more problematically, converting the ‘possible’ to ‘easy’ takes a damn long time. Months and years.

AEC_0138
Building awareness of passive resistance vs pulling; finding muscles that replace the active backward pull on the reins. 

Then again, getting to easy is not the end of the road. It’s only a beginning of yet another stage of converting “easy’ into EFFORTLESS/ELEGANT. In riding, it would be that look where nothing seem to be happening yet a hell of a lot goes into that nothing. A whole history of impossible moments, buckets of “easy sweat” and years of patient refinement.

I personally find, through my teaching and riding experience, that the biggest frustrations come from the attitude that assumes that we can take an Impossible and make it into an Effortless/Elegant in ONE effort. This expectation of oneself and of the horse is what often causes such tension in either rider or a horse or both that it hinders their progress or stops their learning altogether.

AEC_1483
Aisha with Prince and Angela with Boo having their session in tropical rain 😉 

With all this in mind, I wanted the Friday sessions to be about letting the learning happen via slow start with some details explained in more depth followed by fast paced second part where you “just listened and did it” without too much analysis – just learning to catch moments and “feels” the horse offered, then analyse it later.

Friday Collage 1
Making small corrections, getting rid of “chair seat” and rein reliance tendencies. Possibly most “popular” seat fault out there but very much correctable with some decent focus. 

Taking the Steps

It might seem “easy” to just do things but it’s not. Many a time riders are more preoccupied with things they can’t do, things they were once taught/learnt by themselves, or questions they have in the very moment or focus on other hang ups unrelated to riding than giving another “unknown” feel a go.

Having said that, the Friday effort was fabulous. I was (happily) surprised many times that day because of the way above average application to the tasks. It definitely helps to get out from home arena and immerse oneself in a learning/fun environment.

Gemma, the rider on the bright bay (Ozzy) won the Coach’s Award at the end – she had put herself in the lead from that first Friday session and didn’t lose her focus or attitude until last minute of Sunday. Paige, the rider on the grey (Oscar), won Bronze Medal Award and had some superb breakthroughs with her riding on Friday. Kate, the rider on Welsh Pony, rode the ride of her life. If she continued her focus throughout the Camp I’d have had a hard time deciding on overall Trophy Winner 😉 

Converting goals into actionable steps

One of the tasks I always give a couple of weeks prior the Camps is goal setting. Each rider sets themselves some aims for the 3 days of training and once I receive them, I try to figure out how realistic they are in relation to timescale we have and if not possible to achieve in 3 days, what milestones or skills are best to focus on in order to get closer to those goals.

Once I have the above, I put together more detailed sessions content for each rider, match it with that of main idea for each day of the Camp and then match it again with closest goals of another rider (in order to put riders together in most compatible way).

Kelly and Mojo, the Silver Medal Award & Surprise Your Coach Award winners. Here on the Friday having some issues with sheep peacefully grazing in the field next to the arena 😉 The training photos are not great as Mojo never quite relaxed in that first session but it was possibly one of the hardest lessons for the rider in terms of the lessons tasks and she gave them a go with no excuses, ifs or buts. 

Own goals & challenges

Teaching groups is my biggest challenge, mostly mentally as I find it very hard to switch between varying learning styles especially if they are different from my own. In order to prepare better this time I put as many compatible riders together as I could (to create 2 to 4 riders sessions) in several weeks leading to the Camp and it definitely helped.

Friday Collage 2
Caitlin and Mollie (bay in royal blue) had an amazing start to the weekend with this Friday session but sadly circumstances out of their control put them out of running for the Awards (more on this later)

Bringing the best out of each horse & rider is probably most rewarding part of this job for me so running the same way of teaching for all seems like a waste of time. Another interesting aspect of the Camp scenario was that exercises themselves were often very similar, just the way we approached them differed.  

 

 

 

AEC_1516
Angela, my fantastic assistant for the Camp having a short lesson on Aisha’s Boo. We are searching for different feels through her leg here so she can figure out what position gives her best balance that is independent of any problems the horse’s might have in her posture. 

My main focus was on the following areas:

  • functional seat with core muscles working correctly to create stability – finding muscles that help with back to front stability and left to right stability;
  • integrity through entire leg, lower leg stability, use of thighs/role of thigh position and weight distribution through them in horse’s ability to work “over the back” , maintain rhythm and energy (use of thighs and core muscles for speed control);
  • passive resistance when using the reins;
  • “own” balance which allowed the rider to remain independent of the horse’s back hollowing/inverting as much as possible within riders’ current skill level;
  • connecting groundwork with ridden work in cases of severe resistance/misunderstanding/inability to follow rider’s aids;

Helping Merehead, an ex racehorse, to turn his outside right shoulder in order to improve his left turn. Converting groundwork to ridden work.

  • challenging the riders with tasks they found most difficult (as examples: turning from the seat on a strongly one-sided horse, canter-trot-canter transitions for riders who need to upgrade reaction time without becoming tenser by the minute in the process, light seat for riders with tendency to lose balance on a hollow horse etc.)
AEC_0840
Gilly being fresh and playful with Lauren 😉 It’s not a “keep me” photo but I wanted to include it because Lauren won Gold Medal Award for the Camp and one of the many reasons she did was because she overcome her nerves with this playful chap to the point where she gave him a lovely XC session on the last day 🙂 

Saturday Reflections coming very shortly: 

  • flatwork for jumping
  • jump seat balance
  • gridwork & course riding

Until then 🙂

All photos copyright: Becky Bunce Photography

20819664_10154756517437681_2806340587166434445_o

 

 

 

 

Leopold The Last – Educational Fund

There are those who believe everything happens for a reason and those who think this concept is a silly idea.

I’m somewhat in the middle. I believe we participate in many life changing events, both sad and joyfull, and sometimes it is helpful and maybe even healing to create a reason…

In case you have not heard much of of the back story, before I move on, you need to meet Ceri and her very special four legged friend, Leopold The Last (Leo). If you have ever had anything to do with horses, you will know they can form a strong bond with their owner and rider. Leo sure had one with Ceri.

10974194_10153047520906308_6012243490566043336_o

In the summer 2016, a 38 year old Ceri received devastating health news. Secondary cancer.
When she asked me for help with rehoming Leo I thought I would take him on whilst she was undergoing treatements and together we will find the right solution for Leo.
I thought I would keep him so she had him close by, a comforting presence throughout gruelling times.
I thought being able to see him, even if not able to ride him, would give her strength to keep fighting.I’d like to tell you that she is still here and having a chance to survive but this is not the case.

Ceri passed away a week after I picked Leo up and promised to secure a good life for him.

When something means so much to someone, as this little horse meant for Ceri, it is especially important to make sure the promise is kept to the best of my ability.

This is where this Fund comes in. This is where you come in. You can help me give Leo an opportunity to do something meanigful and important.

Who am I…

I’m a horse riding instructor and run a coaching programme – Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy – aimed at people of all ages who have deep interest in ethical equestrian sports, who want to ride and train horses with knowldge of their biomechanics, anatomy and psychology.

Ceri’s dream was to learn as much about good, wellness focused training as possible. Her dream could live on via Leo’s work within Aspire Academy. 

For this reason, the primary aim of this fund is to secure at least 1 year of regular training and care for Leo and create a series of educational sessions for those riders who would otherwise be unable to afford quality tuition and training but who could learn from Leo. 

For me to be able to continue caring for Leo in best way possible and proceed with his educational role, I need to secure money for:

– Leo’s care (hoofcare, veterinary care, saddle checks, health checks)
– Leo’s livery fees
– investigations of Leo’s small performance issues which Ceri had started to address before her death

I would love to have you on board and part of #LeoAspireJourney. Every tiny little contribution helps.
You will be able to follow Leo’s story via Aspire blog, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

There are some incredibly sad stories we all have within us but some of them can also give life to projects that can bring smiles instead of tears.

Your contribution will help me keep Ceri’s dream alive and let Leo educate many who meet him. I will keep updating the Fund page as often as possible, I will aim to do it daily.

leofund
Click the image for full campaign info 

All the very best and a huge thank you in advance for your contribution, however big or small 🙂 You can also help by spreading the word via social media or by good old word of mouth 🙂

Thank you ❤

Wiola & Leo

***NEW*** ASPIRE COACHING LIVERY in collaboration with BRACKENHILL STUD

Untitled design

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,

Wiola

Gain control over your leg position, joints suppleness and weight distribution through the seat

You will need fluffy socks for this one.

It was Mariana who first shared this exercise with you on here and ever since I’ve been looking forward to trying it with a suitable “rider-subject” 😉 It’s ingenious in its simplicity as it simply takes rider’s awareness of the stirrup iron – ball of foot connection to the next level.

eve

You might think, stirrups are not that important for the good seat, but there is this curious desire in many riders to let that very seemingly unnecessary stirrup dictate their leg position.
When the rider becomes tuned in to the placement of the stirrup iron, they can in turn dictate the position of the stirrup leathers and the iron through small changes in weight distribution through the thighs and lower leg.
The other benefits include improved suppleness through ankle joints and a better command of the foot in general.
I loved the effect this exercise had on my rider.

Genius and simple.

If you do try it, please share your observations – there are many little aspects of joint use that become apparent in this exercise 🙂 

Wiola

#NoStirrupsNovember with a difference!

No stirrups exercise

Just a little video exercise for you today! It helps with mechanics of rising trot, with rider’s balance, stability, core strength, symmetry, independence of stirrups in case of loss of balance/loss of stirrups to name a few benefits.

If done correctly, the rider should not grip with the thighs. Thigh muscles remain snug against the saddle but don’t exert inward pressure. It’s the outer thigh muscles that are the dominant stabilising muscles.

It can be done on a quiet, well balanced horse on the lunge but I really like doing it on a simulator because rider’s struggles have no adverse effect on the horse 🙂

How to do it: 

1. Start in sitting trot without stirrups. Make sure you sit in neutral pelvis position with your spine just naturally elongated and core muscles engaged appropriately to your horse’s trot movement (flat moving, smooth trotting horse doesn’t require much effort from core muscles of the rider but big moving, happily swinging horse will give a rider a run for their core if they are to look as if they are doing nothing)

2. Starting from your knee, move your lower leg too far back from it’s normal position. Feel as if you were kneeling on the imaginary stool, one under each knee (your seat weight should feel nicely distributed into left and right thigh i.e. evenly onto horse’s ribcage)

3. Start rising 🙂 It will feel very alien at first but try to simply use the bounce of the trot, the leverage of your thighs and up-forward movement of your hips to maintain the rise.

Emma rides on Aspire’s Development Programme and makes this exercise look easier than it is for a beginner or novice rider but rest assured, it can be done by all levels of riders with great results 🙂

Happy practice!
Wiola

While we wait for the arena…

CAITLIN3
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.

FrancescaJewel1
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.

jordanandcaitlin
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,

Wiola

New website in progress HERE

Photo report from Aspire Grassroots Clinic at Lindrick Livery, Ripon, North Yorkshire

I have just returned from teaching on Aspire Grassroots clinic at Lindrick Livery and what a great weekend that was! I hope the pictures tell the story well and that you enjoy the wonderful set of them taken by Ceri of Pure Essence Photography (Check her website HERE if you would like to book a photo shoot 🙂 ) I will be writing more about the exercises shown on below pictures in Aspire’s bi-monthly newsletter coming up on the 14th October so if you would like to read some of my thoughts on those simple body awareness techniques, sign up HERE 🙂

10446047_850754418270939_8240837237604280591_o
When schooling we communicate with a horse via diagonal aids (inside leg – outside rein, outside leg – inside rein) to help with balancing the horse (prevent over use of either sides). For this communication to work well, we need to be aware of cross-coordination in our own body…
10636852_850752924937755_6792208407534361832_o
Fabulous, little 3 year old ex-racehorse in early stages of re-training. Learning to move like a riding horse.
775249_850752771604437_3897846382599301479_o
Addressing posture and effectiveness of the leg
1015202_850749318271449_6835814916612123592_o
Intro to an exercise which helps with control of the horse’s shoulders
1015202_850753741604340_52210872725990323_o
When schooling we communicate with a horse via diagonal aids (inside leg – outside rein, outside leg – inside rein) to help with balancing the horse (prevent over use of either side). For this communication to work well, we need to be aware of cross-coordination in our own body…
1492204_850749941604720_3324165962601968109_o
When we sit on a moving horse, we don’t always feel how physics and motion disorganise our position and as a result destroy our balance. Testing Olivia’s front to back stability here.
1529867_850753614937686_2627744433582820772_o
When schooling we communicate with a horse via diagonal aids (inside leg – outside rein, outside leg – inside rein) to help with balancing the horse (prevent over use of either side). For this communication to work well, we need to be aware of cross-coordination in our own body…
1606434_850753948270986_4401638516022198691_o
Introduction to a simple yet powerful exercise: “monkey” position – which helps with getting the idea that joints need to be relaxed for the posture to become effective, it’s the muscles that need to work…
1606467_850754578270923_4003784637587447384_o
Awareness of own crookedness is a first step to understanding schooling of the horse – simple exercises can awake muscles that we didn’t know existed 🙂
1898784_850752071604507_1495455506525119946_o
Learning about horse’s posture via becoming a horse 😉
1956742_850752751604439_6865054722101020103_o
Another version of the “monkey” position – which helps with getting the idea that joints (hip, knee, ankle, elbow, shoulder) need to be relaxed for the posture to become effective, it’s the muscles that need to work…
1960886_850753241604390_248134402414301278_o
In-hand work to help with crookedness
10003685_850751671604547_5882488606477776482_o
3 year old ex-racehorse Casper learning to yield from the “leg” in-hand
10257720_850753914937656_3311727336624229351_o
Laura having a go at “monkey” exercise
10321627_850750258271355_8400762502831025056_o
Searching for strengths and weaknesses in rider’s body as far as balance in the saddle is concerned 🙂
10348816_850751704937877_978472619404188734_o
Cantering on foot to address excessive shoulder movement – fun and very effective to build awareness 🙂
10476124_850755498270831_6944323807238779792_o
As Ceri, the author of the photos said “Never too early to start 😉 ” My cracking little client – grand age of 5 – on his pony, preparing for simple and fun coordination exercises.
10511675_850754814937566_9011121484379711148_o
Everybody understand various instructions differently. How do you soften your hand/elbow/shoulder? What does it mean “give” with your hand? Here Louise is feeling the difference between locked and “soft” elbow.
10537186_850751254937922_2912798093346031530_o
Quick video feedback before proceeding with exercises. Visual feedback never lies and helps immensely with speeding up learning process.
10557556_850750614937986_6057567527294347593_o
Every movement of the horse needs to be absorbed by rider’s joints. If one or more joints “block” the motion, harmony can’t be achieved. Here the rider is experimenting with passive joint movement to determine which of her joints (hip, knee or ankle) is the one she blocks the movement with.
10661982_850752728271108_700253440743221498_o
Learning to move on large circles in balance and relaxed posture without the rider. A 3 year old ex-race horse Casper – I can’t wait to watch his improvement over months to come. He has wonderful brain and fantastic attitude.
10683560_850755048270876_1011293252483996465_o
Learning how rider’s crookedness affects turns and circles – and finding ways to correct a few issues 🙂
10683580_850752054937842_8700990648377244934_o
Short in-hand sessions for 3 year old Thoroughbred, Casper.
10708529_850749658271415_4178478576162079186_o
Posing with a lovely young rider and her wonderful pony, Mouse, who sadly decided not to smile with us here!
10708770_850754354937612_6867620290721551814_o
Louise and the lovely Henry – great partnership! Henry is now 3 months into post kissing spine operation and looked and worked very well!

1974364_850755088270872_262656619619476023_o 10380876_850752918271089_3787740938506940638_o 10387123_850750248271356_8175520524209818867_o 10468224_850753631604351_2745997880992656077_o 10476546_850749634938084_8379256872659721217_o 10494974_850751531604561_3228644420229482741_o 10517434_850754284937619_3643896323960043923_o 10553850_850751478271233_969552286972361365_o 10629489_850750208271360_7062139187551678395_o 10644699_850749134938134_8360102193832010068_o 10648411_850753454937702_1587310824371994639_o 10649039_850755064937541_6849400744764043476_o 10658606_850755201604194_3368935229029540607_o 10661676_850753638271017_5093104651112197786_o 10668974_850753974937650_2321356657293841538_o 10669093_850749921604722_892729432622518753_o 10679577_850750978271283_9210769147794380155_o 10682318_850749401604774_5019241371754263971_o 10687473_850751001604614_8155518548008624894_o 10688394_850751668271214_6364645424303577517_o 10704204_850754014937646_4754450288433203666_o 10708501_850751881604526_6559052781263935866_o 10710339_850750991604615_4872978448570015069_o 10710344_850753484937699_3894644881679085017_o

If you would like to organise similar clinic at your yard, give Wiola a shout! Anyone welcome 🙂 More details below:

http://issuu.com/aspireeq/docs/aspire_grassroots_clinics_overview?e=8118509/9629742