Opening the poll

BEHIND THE VERTICAL Often we see horses being ridden in a posture that is too 'round', 'curled under' or 'over-bent'. It may be due to lack of rider knowledge of how to work the horse correctly, or it may be the horse avoiding the contact and trying to hide behind the hands. If the horse has at some stage been in side reins, ridden with fixed or low hands, or with a martingale or some other restrictive gadget, it is quite likely that this habit is present. It may be the rider

Relaxation, balance, impulsion... first priorities.

Relaxation and impulsion are an interesting combination when working with horses. If there is too much impulsion and forward energy, the horse is not relaxed, it can run through or ignore our aids. On the other hand, if there is too much relaxation, the horse can lack impulsion and reactivity to our aids. We need a balance between these two states. That is, in itself interesting, because when we have equilibrium of relaxation and impulsion, we can help to create balance for t

10 'Handy' habits to find contact.

Is your horse unsteady in your hands - resisting contact? When young or green horses have issues with contact, (ie coming above or resisting the hand) many riders tend to automatically or unconsciously fix the hands low or in one position in an attempt to prevent the horse's head from moving. To be fair, many riders genuinely think this is helpful. They may be trying to keep still for the horse, not to interfere with the erratic head movement, or trying to stop the head from

The Elbows have it

The angle of the elbows Is something to attend Keeping soft and grounded Floating in their bend. Elbows offer hands to horse Fingers gently aid Carried hands guide a course With balance to create Fingernails turned in Pinkie under thumb Elbows rest beside the waist Swinging like a plumb Straightness in our arms Blocks the hand and wrist, then Tension in our shoulders Makes a horse resist. Hands create a dialogue Not to fix and hold The elbow angle is th

To do or not to do dressage?

It is a strange idea I think. Sometimes when people write or say that they don't do, or their horse doesn't do dressage or like dressage, I'm puzzled by this thinking. I think, conceptually, that all horse training has the potential (when done thoughtfully with care and kindness ) to be "Dressage" - no matter what discipline we are doing, what obstacle we are negotiating, inside or outside the arena, what clothes or tack we are wearing, or mindset we are thinking - if we ar

To plan or not to plan

Do you have a plan when you want to work with your horse? Do you decide what to do before you start? Or do you work it out as you go along, depending on how the horse feels from moment to moment? Or maybe you have a rough plan - and modify it if needed, to cater for the horse's behaviour on the day. Today I was planning to work on canter balance while changing neck position, ie from a higher neck with shorter strides to a longer neck with longer strides, and back to higher a