Thursday, April 30, 2015

Improve your rising trot. Exercises to improve your balance and lower le...

Now you can improve your riding position in 30 days! It's time to go back to the basics and focus on your riding position at the Trot"

It's been a long winter here and Trudy has only been able to ride maybe 10 times in the past 3 months. Like most riders, she is probably not as steady with her riding position as she would like to be. We start re connecting her riding position by focusing on her lower leg position. In the process we work on issues that are common with most riders. To do this I have added the neck strap so that Trudy keeps her hands where they need to be to balance her seat over her lower legs. Next, we start doing different exercises that will help her to focus on what she needs to feel. At first, she is not able to sit two rise one in the posting but little by little... gets back into a more secure seat. 

To improve your riding position all you need to do is try these exercises for 30 days. 5 minutes a day. You will be amazed at the difference in your riding position. 

Let me know how these exercises work for you. Please tell us what you experience (whining is aloud...) and how different your riding position and lower leg feel after you try them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How to Get the Perfect Leg Position in 5 Minutes a Day! S1 Riding instuc...

How to get the perfect leg position in only 5 minutes a day!

Would you like to have a perfect leg position?  These are techniques used by international rider schools to teach their riders how to have a deep leg that supports their riding position.  They look easy...but will make your legs feel weak pretty quickly.  You will also become aware of what you have been doing with posting trot. When you sit two beats of the trot and rise one, you will feel if your are with the horses movement or not.  With the up two sit one exercise you will feel how you have been posting. Most riders are popping up in the saddle at the rising trot than falling back on their rump.  In the correct posting movement the rider should be rolling on their thighs while making the movement.  When they land they should land where their rump meets their upper thigh instead of their rump.. Of course, we make this even more difficult by having Camille drop her right iron.  This makes her use the left side of her riding position which is very difficult. 

All you need to do is practice these three positions at the trot for 5 minutes a day for 30 days and you will be amazed at the changes in your riding position, or your students.  When your legs start getting sore, switch to one of the other exercises. Are you ready for the challenge?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Canter. Connecting for the 3rd time! On the bit/on the aids. S4. Dressag...

"Contact at the canter. 3rd time! What happens when a horse is asked to take contact at the canter?  It's a new game and now you can watch the progress that happens as Trudy asks Ani to stay connected and on the aids for the 3rd time at the canter"

This is such an exciting time for Trudy. Ani is now ready to be ridden on contact (on the aids, on the bit) at the canter!  In the past Trudy has been allowing Ani to canter like a green horse on a loose rein and with her head up. Now, Trudy is thinking about competing in dressage and it is time to go to the next level.  Contact and connection at all the gaits.  The hardest for most riders being the canter. (with a green horse or any horse that is new to contact)  Now you can watch what happens as Trudy asks Ani to stay connected.  This is only the 3rd session that we have done this at the canter and the perfect video for you to watch if you are taking your horse or a student, through this process.

What did you learn about connecting a horse that is new to contact at the canter?  Does it make you feel better about the progress you might be having with your horses to do the same thing?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Trot. Shoulder in/leg yield. Connecting on the bit/on the aids. 1st time...

"Leg Yields and Shoulder In. Is your horse supple (soft, giving, yielding...) to your rein contact and on the aids? Watch as this young horse begins to understand how to stay on the aids/on the bit for the first time with these movements"

When a shoulder in or leg yield is correctly the horse stays connected between the riders aids from back to front and from side to side. However, the young and inexperienced horses do not start these movements on the aids. They do not know how to stay connected and we are happy if they will simply move where we want them to go. It is a big step if the rider decides to take their horse to the next level (First level for Leg yielding, 2nd for Shoulder in) while keeping them connected. Now you can watch as Trudy starts taking Ani to that next level.This is the first time we have asked Ani to stay "on the aids/on the bit" for the shoulder in and leg yields.
What did you learn from watching this video? Are you ready to try this on your horse?

Riding Position. Stop riding with your heels! How to use your lower leg...

“Stop using your heels to ride!  Now you can discover new ways to fix this common riding challenge in yourself or your riders with these proven techniques”

Some riders have been taught or have gotten into the habit of using their heels to get a horse to move forward or sideways.  If you are using spurs, you might also have gotten into the habit of using your spurs instead of your lower leg.  What can you do to fix this common riding challenge?"

The facts are, when a  rider uses their heels, they often are riding on their toes, their heels come up and their entire leg rolls off the saddle from the thigh down as the rider uses the back of their leg instead of the inside.  When this happens, it is impossible for the riders to keep a secure, anchored lower leg position.

Watch as I show Trudy Adams how to focus on changing a habit that most riders have.   She has been using her using her heels for years.  It will be easy for you to see how this affects her lower leg position

What do you see changing as Trudy gets a more secure feeling with her lower legs?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Straightness in Warm up Trot. On the bit, on the aids. Connecting for the 5th time!

"Staying straight in the warm up trot. What if... your horse is wobbling all over on straight lines and on circles?  Would you like to know how to show your horse to stay straighter  by using using your leg and rein aids? This is only the 5th session where we have asked this horse to stay connected like this"

Once a horse is past the "green horse phase" we are ready to take them to the next level of connection. In this session we are warming up at the trot. After a few times around we go right to connecting. This was the first time we have asked Ani to connect from Trudy's legs to the rein in the warm up.  To do this we are using the Steps to Connection. Trudy begins by checking to see if Ani was staying supple (soft, yielding) to her rein connection. Next she makes sure that Ani is really responding to her leg which causes Ani to arch her neck slightly as she lifts her back. We continue by adding curves so that Trudy can feel how to use her leg and rein aids on the same side to keep Ani from falling in and out on a circle.  It was a great ride!  In the next session we continue with what happened when we added leg yields and shoulder in's from the center line.

Can you see how this process works?  Are you ready to try the Steps to Connection on your horse?  Let us know how it works for you!.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How are you using your reins and legs? Is your horse really supple? What do you need to know?

What are you doing with your lower leg when you use it? Many riders hold their legs on the horses side consistently when they are using their legs. This is what causes a horse to become numb to the riders legs. Other riders hold the rein consistently and forget to supple or soften the horses jaw and poll as they are riding.  What about you?"

In this session we focus on how Trudy is using her lower legs and hands to connect to Ani.  To do this we focus on the Steps to Connection so that Trudy is always asking herself if Ani is soft on the reins in her jaw and at the poll. From there I ask Trudy to feel when Ani is not staying between her legs on a circle or curves. This is a big change for Ani and the 5th ride where we have asked her to stay connected between Trudy's legs and rein connection. In the next sessions we continue with the trot work and connecting at the canter for the 3rd time.

The next time you go out and ride, check to see, how are you using your lower legs to connect with your horse?  Can you balance your horse between your legs and reins so that you can keep them from falling in and out of circles?  Tell us what you are experiencing. 

Bad horse. #2 My horse is bucking and running out of the ring. What should ...

"What do you do when your horse starts acting up? It took me years to understand that a rider does not need to ride a horse that is having issues. Sometimes, it really is better to just get off and do something different" This is Part #2. Look at the posts below this one to see Part #1 from yesterday.

This was from a few years back. Ani had been under saddle for about 6 months and was not happy to be separated from the rest of her herd. A few weeks before this session she started acting up. She would buck, rear and bolt out of the ring. This could have led to some very serious and possibly dangerous issues and so I started asking Trudy to get off and lunge Ani when she was having a temper tantrum. This was the third week of that process.
The good news is that Ani did get past this stage. It took about a month. This video is from the lost vidoes from the first year where Youtube deleted that account by mistake. I lost many of those videos and had only saved 70 or so to my hard drive.
What did you learn from watching this video? Can you see how this is a safer technique than riding a horse through those issues?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Bad horse. My horse is bucking and running out of the ring. What should ...

"What if... your horse starts to buck or threaten you with behavior that could be dangerous to you? What should you do?"

In my career with horses I have seen riders who felt they had to ride a horse through anything.  Myself included.  When I started coaching professionals I realized that there were a lot of people getting hurt, or worse... who thought they had to ride a horse through every issue.  This changed me forever.  I realized that a riders safety must come first and that in many situations it is better for the rider to get off and do something on the ground with the horse than for them to try to ride that horse through what could become a very bad situation.  During the time of this filming Trudy's horse, Ani, had just started being ridden.  She was about 6 months under saddle and very opinionated.  She wanted to be back in the herd and wanted nothing to do with the riding ring.  She wad having temper tantrums and had started bucking, rearing and running out of the ring.  Even though Trudy was used to green horse behavior I knew that if Ani learned she could intimate a rider, that she was going to get much worse. In this session you will see that I ask Trudy to dismount and lunge Ani when ever she started acting up. Which as you can see, was beginning to happen often. It took us a month to get past this stage in Ani's behavior, but we did it safely.

What do you do when your horse acts up?  Have you thought about doing something different when they do?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Trot/transitions. Does your horse respond to your aids? How do you know?...

"What does it mean? Is your horse on the aids? Now you can use this simple "Yes, No, or Maybe..." awareness test to find out"

I was thrilled to have been able to film this part of the training process as many people have never see it happen with a horse and rider. This is Trudy on Melody. We are now asking Melody to stay more "connected" so that Trudy can balance her differently. In this session we focus on if Melody can hear Trudy's aids for the trot and trot walk transitions. Trudy also continues "riding the shoulders" which really made a difference in how Melody is trotting. Those who have followed Melody's training progress know that this is really amazing. Melody is a very nervous and hot horse. This is one of the first times that Melody has remained relaxed and is connecting with Trudy.
Are you ready to try this on your horse? Let us know how it works for you. The riders and I love hearing your feedback and comments.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to connect your seat to the reins trot #2 Riding from your elbows. ...

"Contact. Riding from the elbows to the seat. Would you like to see what happens with a rider who is connecting their horse for the first time at the walk and trot?"

Before this session Camille had basically been riding Polo on the trail. She had gone to a dressage show and for the first time saw what a horse looks like that was connected. She decided she was ready to try it. Neither her or Polo had ever done this before. In fact, before this session he would root on the reins and pull her out of the saddle when she shortened the reins. We started with Part #1 ( at the stand still where I showed her how to feel the reins through her elbows and seat. From there, we were ready to move forward. Since this was new to Polo he was not sure why she was holding his mouth and Camille had to learn how to get him to respond to her leg aids asking him to move forward into the connection. Camille weighed 90 pounds at the time and just tapping or squeezing her legs was not working. So I asked her to "kick" Polo with her inside calf muscles. It was not her strength that got him moving, it was the intent of her legs. You will see that once Camille has him moving into her contact that he quickly changes his shape and begins to connect with her in new ways that they had never achieved before.
What did you learn from watching Camille work through this process?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Contact. How to connect your seat to the reins. Riding from your elbows Part #1

"Are you confused when you hear that you should be riding more from your seat and legs to get your horse "on the aids" or "on the bit?"  You are not alone.  Now you can see an exercise I use to show riders how to ride more from their elbows which connects the rein contact to their seat"

When a rider, like Camille in this video, first start connecting with a horse they really do not know what to do.  It is easy to hear the words, but not so easy to get the feeling of being connected.  Now you can see what happens as Camille becomes aware of how to ride Polo (the first time for both of them) so that he is under her seat at the halt and walk. This is a result of the connection from her hands, though her elbows and seat bones.  (and lower, but that will take a little more practice)  In this series you will see Polo transform his movement.  You will also see Camille's seat and riding position change as she becomes more aware of how to keep Polo connected under her seat.

You can practice this on your horse by having some one stand near the front of your horse and holding the reins.  You will be surprised at how much you can feel where the reins are really coming from in your riding position.  Try it and let us know what you experience.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The basics of contact with a new rider. Is your horse supple? #1 S1 Ridi...

"Teaching a new rider how to supple a horse through the reins. You have heard that term, "supple your horse" but may not be sure what it means. Many riders become aware of when their horse is supple by feeling when their horse softens its jaw, poll or neck by releasing to the pressure of the rein. This is a confusing concept especially when your horse may not have any idea what it means. Now you can watch what happens with a horse and rider who have never done this process before find out how it can work"

During this time Polo had the tendency to "root" on the reins and pull Camille out of the saddle. Instead of using the word supple I showed her how to feel when Polo was locking up on the reins, or unlocking them and allowing her to influence his head position with an elastic feel on the reins. At first, Camille is not sure what to do or even how much to do. Polo was also not sure how to respond. Now you can watch what happens as they connect at a different level. As a result, Polo becomes more submissive to Camille. This is from 2012

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rein Contact at the Trot. Are you bumping the horse in the mouth at the rising trot? (starting on t...

"Contact with the reins at the trot. If you are like many riders, they are bumping your horses mouth. What can you do to make your rein connection lighter and start getting your horse "on the bit" or "on the aids?"

A common issue for riders is that in the rising trot, is that they are unconsciously leaning on the reins to support their riding position. In fact, any trot work is where many riders find it difficult to keep an even connection on both sides of the reins. Now you can watch what happens with Trudy as she focuses on her rein connection at the trot.

What do your hands do when you are trotting your horse? Are you ready to practice keeping them lighter?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Contact. Going back to the basics for the horse and rider. Walk. S4 Ri...

"Contact. What does it really mean? What if you could finally... keep an even, following rein connection with your horse? What steps can you take to make the difference? (Hint. Check out this video)

In this session Trudy focuses on keeping a light connection with the reins on Melody at the walk. Watch as Trudy becomes aware of what she is doing with her reins, when she (or Melody) drop the connection (even feel on both reins)
Are your hands following your horses movements? Are you ready to try it on your horse?

Friday, April 17, 2015

What is happening with your hands in the canter trot transitions? S3 Riding instruction

"Your hand position at the canter and trot. What if... you could finally find a way to keep your hands quiet so you can have more elegant transitions in and out of the canter? Watch this video and see what I do with Trudy"

In this video (part 2) Trudy become more aware of how often she has to adjust her hands to keep that following rein connection at the canter and trot transitions.

What did you learn from this video that you can use the next time you ride your horse?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Canter. Improving the quality by shortening and lengthening the stride. ...

"Would you like to improve your horses canter?  This is an exercise that you can use with any horse.  All you need to do is either slow down the canter or let the horse flow while keeping the horse "on the aids" or "on the bit"  Ok, this may not be as easy as it sounds but it is a technique that you can play with"

Adjusting your horses speed and balance at any of the gaits is a great way to become aware of what the horse is doing, what it knows, and to be able to take them to the next level.  In this session we are focused on the balancing the canter with Susan and Darrien, her new horse from last year. Now that he is more comfortable with the training process it is time to get him to stay connected and on the aids (on the bit) where he will  "sit down" more and lift his back as he"engages" his back. This is still new to him as he tendency last year was to disconnect by dropping his back and rooting on the reins.  For this exercise we are using the canter pirouette canter (a collected canter where the horse "sits down"  than allow him to flow forward more in the canter while keeping him connected. You can do this exercise at any of the gaits by making sure your horse stays connected and on your aids as you slow them down or ask for a more forward movement... while keeping the same rhythm. To do this, you will be balancing your horse between your leg seat and rein aids.  At first your horse might be confused but with practice you will find that you will be able to ride them in ways you may not have imagined before.

Can you see how Darrien's balance improves as Susan rides him through this exercise?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Do you have a horse that thinks it knows more than you? Than you have a schoolmaster. It might know more... if not, it is time to take it back to the basics so you can connect at another level.

"Schoolmasters. My horse thinks he knows what to do. Re training for a real connection at the canter and trots"

We start this session with canter trots. Darrien is not pleased as he thinks he should canter into a walk or halt for his level of training. Now you can watch as we re train his brain so he listens to Susan instead of doing what he knows he should be doing. At the trot, Darrien also tends to "flip" his toes. A horse that flips its toes in dressage gets counted down in their score in dressage as they are not really using their back or engaging. This was the trend in the dressage rings years ago and Darrien probably learned how to do it than. In this video Susan becomes more aware of when Darrien is going into "robot mode" and doing what he thinks he should be doing or "flipping" his toes at the trot.

Those who have been following the progress of Susan and Darrien know what we have gone through this past year Darrien is Susan's newest horse who came to us with a few issues including "rooting" He is now 18 years old. We are not sure where those issues began in his past Most of last year we kept him in his usual double bridle (he is an upper level dressage horse) mainly for safety reasons. Darrien has been in rehab since than as he injured a ligament. Now the vet has cleared him for riding and Susan is back in the saddle and we have picked up where we left off last year. The good news is that Susan is now able to ride him in a snaffle and Darrien seems to be much less frantic with the training process. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Contact with a horse that roots on the reins. 2nd year. Walk Trot S4 H...

"What if... your horse is rooting on the reins (pulling you out of the saddle with the reins) what can you do about it?  Now you can watch Susan as she continues to work through Darrien's issues with contact and staying connected"

Darrien's back!  He has been in rehab this winter and has now been cleared for riding. Some of you might remember him from last year when Susan added him to her herd. Darrien came with a few issues. One of them was rooting on the reins. It was pretty serious and when ever Susan asked him to do anything lateral to the left he would "root" pulling her out of the saddle, rear and bolt. For that first year we kept him in his double bridle (he competes in Prix St George and Intermediate 1) just for safety. We started him in the snaffle bit towards the end last year and hope to compete in it this year. As you will see, he is still rooting but it is much better now. In this session Susan asks him to stay on contact by keeping him connected from her seat and legs.  Even though Darrien will show all kinds of behavior to avoid that connection it is good for you to see as this is what other horses might also be doing who tend to root. 

A horse that roots can be a problem. Now you can watch what we are doing to help Darrien get past that issue and move forward in his training progress.. It will take time and now that he is being ridden again you will see the changes happening right here.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

"On the bit" A new level of contact with the Shoulder in and Haunches in...

"Can you keep your horse "on the bit" (contact) while riding the shoulder in or renvers (Haunches in) ? It's not as easy as it might sound. Now you can watch what happens as this horse and rider connect at a new level"

This was such an exciting session for us. Beau is finally allowing Susan to take up the contact while she is schooling him, even in the lateral shoulder in and renvers.  We were not able to do this even last year as Beau simply did not want to go "on the bit"  He would keep his head where we wanted and even stretch... but, he very seldom would let Susan take up a feel of his mouth and ask him to step into it from her leg and seat.  Now you can see the difference and see the process we used.  We are very excited with this new connection and how nicely Beau has matured.

What did you learn from watching this series?  Do you have a better understanding of what contact and "on the bit" means?

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Contact at the canter. What does"on the bit" feel like?" S4 Riding in...

What is meant by riding a horse "on contact" or "on the bit?"  This is a mysterious concept that many riders are not sure about.  Now you can watch what happens as this rider asks her horse to stay connected and on the contact at the canter"

This was a big day for Susan and Beau.  It was the first time we have really asked Beau to stay on the contact.  Especially at the canter.  He would much prefer to be on a looser rein but now that he is showing in 2nd level needs to have a consistent contact.  We were very happy with the results.  By the end of this video you will see that he is starting to except the contact as he steps forward from behind into the rein.  He is finally starting to seek the contact!

Can you see the changes that are happening?  Beau is starting to like the training process!  He is still working through issues but those are the kind that any rider might have that is working on this level of connection with their horse.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Contact at the trot. What does on the bit really mean? S4 horse training

What if... you really do not understand what contact or "on the bit" really means?  You are not alone.  Many other riders are also confused with the concept"

Now you can watch as Susan rides Beau to a new level of "on the bit"  In the past Beau has often looked like he is on contact, yet the reins were often slack and a little loopy. That is where he felt comfortable. Now that Susan is competing him in 2nd level that is no longer acceptable.  Beau needs to stay on the contact with a steady rein. Now you can watch what happens as Susan becomes aware of how Beau is communicating through the reins. This is the first time we have focused on asking Beau to keep the rein connection "alive" as Susan asks him to step up into the contact from behind.

What kind of contact is your horse allowing you to take?  Did you learn anything from watching what Susan is now doing to get Beau to take up a different level of contact and connection?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Contact. What does that mean? How do you know if your horse is really on the bit? S4

"Oh, what fun it is to feel your horse seeking the contact of your reins!. How to you know when your horses is seeking the contact from your hands?  You can feel it in the reins.  Now you can watch as Beau begins to understand that concept and allows Susan to feel the life energy in the rein contact.

Contact comes in many layers as a horse and rider become more connected and aware of each other.  At first a horse needs to be comfortable as we position his head and supple their jaw or poll to keep them loose.  Next, we start positioning the horses head where we want it.  For some, there will be a magical moment when the reins become more than a tool, they take on a feel that I like to call, "coming alive".  This is when the horse and rider are communicating.  The horse is on the aids, in front of the aids, or whatever you might call it.  

Now you can watch what happens as Susan feels Beau becoming alive through the reins.  This was a very exciting session for all of us.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Canter. Keeping a hot nervous horse connected for the 2nd time! S4. Hors...

"Is it possible to keep a hot or nervous horse connected at the canter?  Now you can watch as Trudy asks Melody, a horse with a history of issues that also include being hot and nervous, begin to connect at the canter  for the 2nd time."

It has taken us several years to get Melody to this point and we were thrilled when she responded to Trudy asking her to stay on the bit and connected at the canter.  Of course, since it is new to Melody she could only hold it a few strides, but each stride was like a miracle for us.  Now you can watch the process Trudy went through and how she is using half halts and the Steps to Connection to keep Melody's attention and to make a difference in her balance.

Those who have been watching the progress of Melody know what an achievement this is.  This gives hope to anyone who has a hot or nervous horse who may feel their horse may never be able to connect.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Keeping a hot nervous horse connected at the walk halt. #2 4th lesson. ...

"What if... you have a hot or nervous horse?  Do you feel like you will never be able to connect with it?  You are not alone. Now you can see what Trudy is doing to keep Melody’s  attention and keep her connected to Trudy’s aids (as much as possible)  in the walk and trots"

 Trudy is cooling Melody down after our first session and it is the perfect time for her  to really become aware of when Melody is connecting or disconnecting with her. Trudy can feel  Melody disconnect at the walk and trots as she  starts looking around mentally and physically drops her back and connection between Trudy's leg aids and the rein contact.  Now you can see how we use half halts and the Steps to Connection to keep them connected.  This is the 4th lesson where Melody has allowed Trudy to keep her connected like this.  These techniques work even for horses that do not have these issues.

Can you see what you can do to keep your hot/nervous horse more connected?  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Keeping a hot nervous horse connected at the walk trot. 4th time. S4 Ho...

"Do you have a hot/nervous/complicated horse? You will love watching what happens between this horse and rider. Of course, these techniques will work for any horse..."

This is Trudy and Melody. Melody was a mess when I first met her. She had come back from a trainer and was what I would consider, unsafe. She paced at the walk and rushed around like a rabbit in the trot. Her canter was even worse, she was unable to hold the lead behind and would run like a race horse. Mouth open, tense and unresponsive. It has taken us 3 years to get her to this point. She still has a few issues, like Mockingbirds, but as you can see is now connecting with Trudy and responding to the aids. We are thrilled with the changes that are happening now. This is the 4th time we have been able to ask Melody to stay connected between Trudy's leg aids and the reins.

Are you ready to focus more on the connection you have with your horse? It may not take you as long, or it might, but since most of us love our horses it is really you that will make the choice to focus on the basics. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"So many people have asked me about my background with horses. They are often surprised that I came out of such humble beginnings. I was so lucky as it really was the horses who taught me about riding and life. They led me into a journey that took me places that I could never have imagined"

Check out this months issue of Sidelines Magazine. I was so honored to have Lauren R. Giannini write a feature that shares some of my life in the horse world.  Click on the link below to read it: 

Sidelines Feature Randi Thompson Horse and Rider Awareness