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Ignore the Dressage Judge?

In a previous blog, “Tips for Tactical Test Riding”, I detailed some ways riders can squeeze every last mark from the dressage judge. However, in this article, I am going to backtrack a little and say that the judge’s marks and comments are not the be all and end all and here’s why… To set the scene; you have just finished your test, which you feel went quite well. No major errors, you stayed within the white boards, you both remained at least semi focused! You are cautiously optimistic ahead of the results but when they arrive, you are heavily … Continued

Why You Can’t See A Stride…

We’ve all been there, turn to a fence and wait to see a good stride… we wait and wait and without realising it, we are choking the life out of the canter. We are now meeting said fence, not only without having seen a stride, but also lacking the necessary energy to deal with it. This is when we usually kick and hope for the best. I am writing this article as it is an issue that seems to get into rider’s heads (speaking from experience!) and when I asked my followers and readers of The Grassroots Gazette what they … Continued

Why Slow & Steady Wins THIS race

Training a young horse is exciting! With dreams, aspirations, goals and lots of potential, it’s a great position to be in.   However, where do you start?    In this article, I am discussing the mindset of a horse during the early stages of the breaking / training process and highlighting the importance of allowing each horse to set it’s own time frame for learning.  Horses by nature are flight or fight animals and it never ceases to amaze me that they allow us to work with them at all. This innate characteristic needs to be respected as we go … Continued

My Top 10 Exercises for Young Horses – Flatwork

As we all know, training young horses is a process that not only requires a lot of patience, it also requires plenty of "thinking outside the box" moments and plenty of "WTF" moments too! My general motto when working with young horses is to work little and often, keeping it all as varied as possible while all the time, chipping away at the elements of the training scale. We need to remember that their baby muscles are weak and need lots of time and gentle repetition to grow stronger. Our training of these young horses must be so that we … Continued

Does Your Horse Drift out Through its Shoulders?

Does your horse have a tendency to drift out through one or both of it’s shoulders?  This is such a common problem so please know that you are not alone. It can also show itself at the higher levels of training so maintaining your horse's straightness is always on the agenda for training. If you have been encountering some issues with losing the shoulders, then keep on reading as this blog post is packed with tips and exercises to help you improve your horse's straightness.  Tip #1: Forwardness One of the most common causes of a lack of straightness, is … Continued

Lunging Strategies – Case by Case

Lunging has so many different functions with one of it's main benefits, being used as a training tool for young horses.   Each of my horses will have a different relationship with lunging so I thought it may be interesting to talk about them case by case. I will explain why I lunge, or do not lunge, as the case may be. I will detail what I am looking to achieve with each horse and how sometimes, the benefits of lunging are not just physical, they can be mental too.  Before I do that, let me highlight some of the positives … Continued

Leg Yielding – What, Why & How!

Have you ever heard the words “leg yielding” or “lateral movement” and thought “ugh, no, no dressage stuff for me thanks”?  There was definitely a time when I would have said those words myself. Especially as a rider who’s no1 love is for cross country and thinking that any of those sideways fancy moves were just for show, with no place in the jumping phases. However, we are all aware of how our sport has changed and as riders we now understand taking some training elements from other disciplines, can be hugely beneficial to our horses. But do you know … Continued

5 Top Tips for Setting Goals in 2021

While the beginning of a new year would normally have us feeling full of hope and motivated, this year is different. 2020 has challenged us and if you are like me, you may not be feeling quite ready to plan ahead yet as you just don’t know if it will be a fruitless exercise. I am going to reframe by typical goal setting and here are my top 5 tips on how to plan for success in 2021. Tip #1: Set Training Targets - Not Competition Goals Normally, at the start of the season I will select competitions & events … Continued

The Training Scale Checklist

The Training Scale Checklist Throughout our journeys as riders, we will undoubtedly encounter challenges in our training.   For many of these problems, the diagnostic solution lies in the practical applications of the Training Scale. Here is a brief training checklist, focusing on the first three sections of the training scale: Rhythm, Relaxation, Connection. Riders should refer to these often to help them identify and subsequently fix any training issues which may arise. (I should caveat this and say that each horse / rider case is unique and the advice given here, should not take the place of individual professional coaching … Continued

Counter Canter – How It Can Help You & Your Horse

  Counter Canter is essentially being able to maintain a balanced canter on the "wrong lead". In this blog post I talk through some of the benefits of riding the Counter Canter especially on younger horses. As this can be a difficult movement to master, prior to attempting the Counter Canter on a young horse, you must ensure that the true canter is well established, you are sitting correctly and that your aids are guided by the canter lead itself and not by the direction in which you are travelling. As a guideline, your horse is ready to attempt counter … Continued