How to Overcome Blaming Yourself or Your Horse to Improve Your Riding Today

Riding is, by definition, an activity that involves a partnership between horse and rider.  Is it then the horse or the rider that deserves the credit for the good rides, and the blame for the bad ones? Examining your answer to that critical question can lead you towards consistently better rides. It can be nearly impossible to separate horse and rider and see what part we are contributing and what part the horse is contributing, and how the part we contribute affects the part the horse contributes, and vice versa. So most riders fall into one of two camps more due to their…

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How Your Half Pad Can Make or Break Your Ride

dressage saddle and pads on horse

So many of us use them, and for so many different reasons. Whether you choose your half pad for the softness that offers extra cushion for our horses’ backs, the pretty colors that contrast our saddle pad so beautifully, or the inserts that offer extra shock absorption or the ability to shim up the saddle… half pads are becoming almost as much of an art and science as saddle fitting! This is good news and bad news. On the one hand, buying a half pad is a much smaller investment than buying a new saddle, and for the almost-fits-perfectly saddle,…

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Getting Control of Your Horse’s Shoulders with the Leg Yield Hexagon

leg yield

Leg yielding can be such a useful exercise, but one of the most common things that goes wrong is the horse falling over his outside shoulder instead of stepping across his body with his inside hind leg. Here’s a simple exercise to help improve the quality of the leg yield you are getting and give you control over your horse’s shoulders by encouraging him to hold himself up instead of falling on the forehand. To begin, if you need to review what a leg yield is or how to do it, you can read about it here. The other easy…

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A Tool For Times Your Horse Makes You Nervous

bay horse trotting

My sixteen year old student did something the other day that I just loved. It was an easy and very effective way of working through the type of resistance from her horse that often makes her nervous. It’s a tool everyone can use anytime they need it. They had taken a little walk break, and  she was supposed to be getting him back into a trot and onto a circle so we could work on her right lead canter transition, which can be a little sticky. Maybe there was already some hesitation in the back of her mind just knowing…

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Proof the Horse Does NOT Do All the Work

FitBit Heart Rate Data from a ride

How many times have you been told horseback riding is not exercise, all you do is just sit there while the horse does all the work? Our sore legs and abs after a good lesson tell us otherwise, but it’s hard to help someone understand that without putting them on a horse. And I’ve never had a way to compare just how hard I worked when riding to other types of workouts, like running or biking.  Now with my Fitbit I can easily track just how hard I’m working while I’m riding, and track my rides over the course of…

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Video Analysis of My Ride and How to Make This Tool Work for You

Remy gets pats

This video I took to establish a baseline on where my horse and I are at riding different movements. There are plenty of mistakes, but I wanted to share it to discuss those mistakes for learning purposes, and to show how to use video as a powerful tool to improve your riding. Hopefully this doesn’t get taken out of context! The horse in this video is my 10 year old off track thoroughbred, Remy (Jockey Club registered as Mr. Painter). I’ve had him since he was 4. He raced a few times but was too slow, and retired young and sound,…

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How I Focused My Look-y Horse To Get Good Work Instead of Spooks

It was one of *those* nights – early spring, nearing dusk, with a slightly gusty breeze… and of course, the indoor arena now had all the windows opened up after the long, cold winter. Alone in the ring, my normally quiet, sensible horse was on edge as he examined the new openings all around the ring, surprised each time he felt the wind blow INSIDE the arena, listening to previously muffled sounds that now added a constant murmur of background noise to our usually silent work space. Birds were chirping, cars were cruising passed on the road, and a train horn…

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Becoming a Better Rider By Becoming a Serious Student

horse books

The best thing a rider of any level can do if she wants to make progress with her riding is to become a serious student.  It doesn’t have to cost much or any money, and it can fit into your schedule where ever you can find a little time. There are opportunities for learning all around us, and especially with all the information on the internet now, it is very easy to pick up tips and integrate new ideas and information into your ride, if you’re open to learning.  The trick is to balance the open-mindedness with some critical thinking…

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