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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Dressage with Off-Breeds: The Failure Trap to Avoid

You know your horse isn’t the “typical” dressage horse. Maybe his breeding is unusual, or just not what we usually see in the ring. Maybe his gaits are not beautiful by nature, or maybe he has less than perfect conformation. Maybe you are proud of this, or maybe you are self-conscious about it. Regardless, he is your chosen dressage partner and together you and he are embarking on a journey. As you go along, you will come across significant challenges, and when you do, there is a danger you need to guard against. Expected Failure We all love the fairy…

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Develop Your Eye for Correct Connection in Stretchy Trot

I can’t understand the words, but I don’t need to! What a beautiful illustration! So many riders think putting the horse’s ears below the withers puts the horse on the forehand, but that is only the case if it’s done incorrectly, as the first three diagrams show. I also see plenty of riders performing one of the first three trots, totally unaware that it is incorrect work!   The fourth picture shows a correctly ridden stretch where the horse continues to reach out to the end of the reins, instead of dropping behind the contact (often the result of a…

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5 Books for Training Your Horse Yourself

There are many reasons that riders find themselves training their horses independently, whether because they simply enjoy doing it that way, don’t have a trainer they like near by, don’t have the money for lessons and training, or a million other things.  These books are my favorites for when I’m working on my own. They are beautifully illustrated and discuss each movement individually from basic to advanced. Pictures and descriptions of how each movement should look, as well as signs that they aren’t being done correctly make it easy to educate yourself between lessons, and having that background understanding will…

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A Simple Trick to Deepen Your Seat

We all want a deep, adhesive seat that keeps us comfortably in the saddle and allows us to communicate effectively with our horses. Here’s a couple of steps you can practice that will help you find that deep seat feeling.  With practice, the muscle you use to get this position will get stronger and you will build muscle memory, and you’ll ride “glued to the saddle” all the time without having to think about it! To start, at a halt or walk, lift your toes.  This will help put your heel down, but will use a different muscle group to…

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