Friday, December 20, 2013


I love it when I have an Epiphany in my riding! Sometimes things just fall together and an elusive concept suddenly materializes. I had one of those days yesterday and am so excited! Putting together several concepts I have heard over time from several different trainers, trying to hit on a certain feel, but never quite getting across the point. I think it all fell into place yesterday. It started with lungeing first and getting the horse to "disengage" the hind end (as put by some natural horsemanship trainers), which to me is actually the ENGAGEMENT of the hindquarters, getting them to step up underneath of themselves with the inside hind leg. This is a very important concept if you would like your horse to get balanced, bend through the rib cage, keep their shoulders upright, and be soft and supple. How do you make all of that happen on the ground? Well, it starts with getting the horse forward and then teaching them to move their hindquarters and forequarters and to keep their focus to the inside. Lots of hindquarter engagement, and leg yields, changes of circle size, and pushing them faster and slowing down within gaits. Really watching for balance and getting the horse over their back and supple is important! Then when I got on, I was combining the theory of hind-end engagement started in the groundwork and trying to transfer it into the saddle work. Snapping the heel down and back, snapping the leg OFF the horse to use the "leg" aids, thereby activating the seat, finding that there is actually a "diagonal" even in sitting trot. Doing LOTS of work at the walk to get the same supple balance found on the ground when engaging the hind end. And then practicing it in the sitting trot, pushing evenly through both legs when going straight, and pushing more through my inside leg when turning or circling. That was when I discovered that I must also be in sync with the trot diagonal! What a revelation!! Then I applied the concept in the canter and found that I was better at pushing through my inside leg on the left lead than on my right. Something else to work on! So, it was a combination of groundwork ("disengaging" the hindquarters, doing leg yields on the lunge, backing, balancing, etc), things instructors had said over the years ( go slow, bring the shoulders to the inside, make your inside leg like a post for the horse to bend around), and a lot of watching horses and riders, that finally led me to my epiphany in riding and I am so excited to see where it takes me and how I can help others!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Getting Good

Tamarack Hill Farm I don`t think that learning how to ride is all that "tricky", but there are some basic "rules of engagement" that those who adhere to will discover will ease the process: 1. Become at least a reasonably fit athlete. If you are "The Blob That Ate Chicago", unblob yourself. 2. Get in a place, mentally and physically, where you can ride a lot. Can`t get good without practice, can`t practice without access to horses. 3. Find competent help. If you practice the wrong things, you will get better and better at doing it worse and worse. 4. Study what makes you tick. Find out about yourself. Figure out what you have that will let you become a good rider, things like patience, perseverance, a work ethic, perhaps, and figure out what things you will need to change, things like easily frustrated, perhaps, or timid, or non assertive. 5. Try to gain a support network, even if it`s one single friend, who believes in you and bucks you up when it gets hard, which it will. 6. Become a horseman/horsewoman on this journey. Riding is vastly much more than what happens after you climb on. 7. Be ready for a long journey---it`s a marathon, not a sprint. Good luck---

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bludgeon me with basic basics

Tamarack Hill Farm - Denny Emerson "Bludgeon me with basic basics" THAT is what we all need to ask our teachers to do. Like "heads up-heels down." We need to say: "PLEASE----don`t baby me, don`t coddle me, don`t patronize me, don`t be a "ching ching" cash register teacher who says, "Wonderful---Great Job" next rider, please. Tell me what I need to improve. Don`t treat me like a war criminal if I can`t do what you ask right away, but treat me like you would treat your best student, even if I`m not. And DO NOT let your d$%#@ mother get on your instructors case if she yells at you sometimes----Intensity is a big part of the deal.

The difference between great riders doing dressage

When a great rider does dressage and everyone else, his thinking process is different. - Bill Hoos He not only thinks about what movement is coming next, he thinks about what aids he's going to apply to get it. Think ahead, know what aids you are going to apply, what the correct answer is. Know what the wrong answer may look like, and how to fix it. Keep thinking ahead, not only to the next movement, but how you're going to get it.


Walk Walk and then walk some more - Bill Hoos Not a wandering, disconnected walk. A purposeful, stretched, on the bit walk. With a lot of swing and connection. You need to be able to walk for 45 minutes a day like this. It will do your horse more good than anything else. It might be boring, but do it. Build up. Start with 15 minutes, then 30, then up to 45 or even an hour or more. Pay attention, keep the horse between your aids, round, connected. Then do something with it, work on turns, zigzags, rollbacks, leg yields. Keep the horse engaged and get a quality walk!