Thursday, 22 January 2009

Barney The Brave!

What a difference a year makes!!! When we stabled at my sisters last time, We had only had Barney a year and being the sensitive flower he is, he still got very anxious over things!
He was not very confident in traffic - which is a bummer when whatever hack you go on you have to negotiate a busy main road! He took a dislike to a row of houses and wouldn't walk past them in a straight line, but would try and sneak past like a crab regardless of what traffic was coming :-0 And WATER!! Just typical of a boy, he HATED water with a passion!
Since we have been back however, we have realised just how his confidence has grown, his and Amy's relationship has blossomed, and just how Amy's riding skills have devloped! He now couldnt give a hoot about traffic! And after I showed Amy how to ride past the scary cottages using a combination of shoulder-fore position, and a positive attitude - they now ride past without a care in the world! And last weekend, we did a new hack - one that involved going through a ford!! As it had been very wet, the water was quite deep too :-0 But all horses wnet through without a worry - EVEN BARNEY!! He walked through calmly and didnt try and rush through it or climb the sides of the bank lol!!
Just goes to shoe that you can teach an old-er horse new tricks!!! YAY for Barney!!!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Thinking Laterally!!

While searching on the net for lateral exercises I can be doing while restricted to walk in the yard I came across this:

Lateral Exercises

Although the little horse figures with the bulging shoulder isnt ideal!! I thought the exercises were interesting and will give them a try! Anything to widen our repetoire :-)

Would love to hear of anybodys favourites schooling exercises for inspiration!

And how it SHOULD be done!!!

I found these video clips of Bent Branderup riding some lateral movements. They have really clarified in my mind the movements that I was trying to achieve in my last lesson. I also admire the lack of tension in the horse. Although Bent does have a slightly braced lower leg!! Well thats how it looks to me anyhow! Please correct me if Im way off the mark lol!! The picture as a whole is very beautiful though ;-)

Shoulder in to Renvers


Shoulder In:


This morning, I got to the yard as normal...........Did the rugs, fed the horses as normal.................went to lead them out, as normal............AND THEN!!!

Out of the dark loomed the shape of a mini digger - and a stock pile of earth!! OMG!! THEY ARE DIGGING OUT THE MENAGE!!!!!

BOING!!! BOING!!!!! BOING!!!!!!!!!

And to top it off, I have seen the LIGHT!! Literally!!! Last night as I came out from work, it was still light - only just - but enough to give me a real boost YAY!!!!

SPRING is on its way WOOOOHOOOO!!!!

AND its FRIDAY!!! Tommorrow....................I RIDE!!!!!!!

ps - WAVES to Chrissie :-) HELLO!!!!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The Thinking Rider........................

'The thinking rider should understand the influence of each exercise on the entire training and eradicate any fault the moment it appears as the training progresses. Profound knowledge and experience together with understanding and sympathy towards his four legged partner will make the rider mature into a proffesor, and he will blossom out from an ordinary workman into an artist. As an artist, he will be awed by the creations of nature, will honour the beauty of his horse in all his movements as a gift from heaven, and despise any form of artifice. He will realise that nature can exist without art, but that art cannot exist without nature.'

From: The complete training of horse and rider - Alois Podhajsky

This gave me goosebumps!! Alois is my HERO!! Oh Alois, how I love thee - let me count the ways :swoon:

I have been re-reading this book again - so MANY quotable pages, such a true horseman ;-)

Maurus 441 - New world Champion 2009!!

The young stallion Maurus 441 became this year's WORLD CHAMPION this week at the KFPS Hengsten Keuring! He comes from Stam Line 27 - the same as Antsje's!! So we are in good company along with Rypke 321 and Jasper 366 (one of my favourite stallions!)

Here is a bit of video of the 2009 Keuring featuring Maurus among others :-)

Kampioens Keuring op de Friese HK 2009 from Coby Prooy on Vimeo.

And I cant resist adding a bit of video of Jasper either lol!!! He is HOT!!!!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Fanatical about Friesians???

WARNING!! WARNING!! Its just a little bit addictive!! I have hankered after a Friesian for years and have to say that now I own one, it has exceeded my WILDEST dreams!! They really are beautiful creatures – inside and out!
But like any breed of beauty it is so easy to get dazzled and not be objective in your task!!
I would always recommend that you consider buying a registered FPS studbook Friesian – purely because a horse entered into the studbook HAS to pass certain criteria set out by the FPS studbook, which will always be in line with their breeding programme. You can therefore be confident of a good quality horse as the FPS grading process is very strict and a surprising amount of horses don’t even get allowed into the Studbook!! After that you can ‘premie’ grades – 1, 2 & 3. A 3rd premie is a good above average Friesian and a 1st premie is a very high quality example of the breed. When a horse is graded at STER or STAR then this is an extremely good example of the breed.

It is quite a challenge to ride a Friesian horse correctly –particularly if you buy a younger horse that hasn’t had so much schooling – as I found out!! The bigger the horses movement, the more balanced you are going to have to be as a rider! The Friesian as a breed can typically be weaker in the stifle and also through the back, this makes them less predisposed to ‘stepping under’ with their hind quarters. If you can re-educate their posture and use exercises that strengthen this area, they soon get the idea as Friesians are VERY intelligent and have a great attitude to work (in the main!)

If you are interested in Friesians or indeed already have a Friesian then I think you will find these articles VERY interesting!

Guide to buying a Friesian Horse from FHAGBI (the UK breed Association)

Friesian Care guide with some great info on training at the end from Elevation Friesians.

A great training article by Sabine Schut-Kerry - sadly it seems a page is missing! But its definitely worth a read!! Legacy Friesians have some great information on there site full stop!

Hope you enjoy the articles and find them as useful as I do!! The training articles are applicable to any horse I feel ;-)

Monday, 12 January 2009

BEGONE!! You Fraught Perfectionist you!!!!

PERSPECTIVE!!! I * NEED * to find some perspective before I drive myself crazy!!!
I have to admit of being utterly despondent about my circumstances and the backwards step in my riding ARRRRGGGHHHHH!!!! I CAN see what I need to do to improve, and I feel a month of consistent riding would knock a big hole in my list of faults. BUT! I cannot do this ****WAILS****

Currently I am back at my sisters yard where we have no facilities and I am grieving for my arena with floodlights and TIME to ride! Even though we can use the field to ride, schooling is impossible as the footing is not good enough the school figures out of walk. And Antsje cannot ‘relax’ properly even to lunge – it is too slippy. The main road to get to any of our hacks has been tar and chipped and these little stones are really making Antsje stumble – as soon as she is off this road she is fine on all other surface – I am really conscious of making her foot sore by hacking out too far. URGH!

So I can see all these faults and feel powerless to do anything to improve them – how FRUSTRATING!!!!! BUT!! I AM learning! I do realise how self destructive this is and do not want to go there this year – into that pit of despair…………….

So, I am writing all I have to be grateful for and what I CAN do!

First off – an important statement.

The more you resist your circumstances, the harder you make your life – All the yearning in the world will not change a single thing – SO - work with what you have got!!!

So with this in mind here is my list of REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL!!

· I have my dream horse – many people would be thankful * just * for that ;-)
· I have a yard area that is lit where I can do Work in Hand or ridden work in walk
· The ménage has been marked out!!!
· The field is on a good slope – perfect for building up Hindquarters!!
· The hacks are very hilly – perfect for building up hindquarters lol!!
· I have to think out of the box! Success will be sweeter for the challenge ;-)
· The light nights will be here soon!
· By putting the horses out at night and in in the day will release even more time come the spring!!
· I can use this time to really confirm my goals and my theory ready for the riding
· I have the Dr. Gerd Heuschmann clinic to look forwards to!

I have January syndrome I think! Its always the hardest month! Roll on February, a nice short month and then its………………………..MARCH!! WOOOOHOOOO!! Then time can slow down a bit then …………………..please!!!! I really don’t ask for much do I LOL!!!

THANK GOD! For the .................

WOOHOO!!! I rode! Only hacking mind as the field was unsuitable for schooling, saturday to frozen and sunday too wet! Sounds like a line out of Goldilocks and the three bears! Im waiting for 'JUST RIGHT'
Went hacking with Amy and Barney on Saturday and had a play with dong a bit of lateral work along the lanes hehehehe!!! Trouble is I forgot exactly the combination of what we did in the lesson (hence the late post) so I ended up doing SI to travers and Counter shoulder in to Renvers lol!! Still, although not quite what we did, I actually had a lightbulb moment with Renvers out off Counter Shoulder In :-) I did actually find the positioning for renvers easier out of counter SI as I already had the bend and just had to change the angle. I did this by re-positioning my hips to face the 'inside', held the 1/4's in position with the inside leg behind the girth and then asked the forehand to come off the track. Does this sound OK? Im finding it hard to explain?!?!? Well, at least I have got it in my head the positioning of renver which I was having a bit of a mental block with! I actually tried some passade to Renvers succesfully! I tried doing this a while back but realised I was taking the passade round to far and doing counter SI instead!! Ive not tried since as my mind couldnt seeem to grasp renvers at all!

Antsje is in season :rolls eyes: and on Saturday she had her real obstinate head on, and was very resistant to putting her ‘HEAD DOWN’ This is always a BIG sign of her being ‘not with me’ both on the ground and ridden. I swear to god you could hang off her head and she still wouldn’t put it down if you tried!! What a madam! So I did some ‘Head Down’ Exercises which helped but she wasn’t really ‘with me’ 100% - as soon as I released the pressure within seconds up she popped again Grrrrrr!!

Anyhow, time being of the essence, I got on and off we went. One thing I noticed that without very much arguing or effort at all, the lateral suppling exercises softened her whole body and mind :-) In fact in the end, we were able to trot with left bend – then straight – then right bend with NO resistance and just from the seat. Was lovely :-) And when I got back, the head down was breeze – no resistance whatso-ever, I could just move her head wherever and she complied willingly. Isnt suppling work a wonderful thing?!?! Im hoping it will be just as effective when schooling proper!

On Sunday morning my friend Helen came to visit - was GREAT to see her (((HUGS)) In the afternoon I hacked out Antsje on my own – which I LOVED!! I haven’t done this now for months and it was just a lovely hour spent with my horse. Again we practised some of the lateral movements and used the stretching into the contact to make a nice transition into trot! We don’t seem to get quite so sticky out on hacks – whether this is because Antsje is naturally more forward on a hack or whether its because I’m more relaxed and care free about it (guess which one lol!) Im not sure, but we seem to flow better.

Again, the work had really relaxed her up mentally and she was nice and ‘soft’ when we got back home :-D

We have a new horse at the yard – a 16.2 TB, which I had a little, ride on Saturday. Does make me realise how BIG Antsje moves – although this horse is bigger than Antsje she was FAR easier to ride and to keep in balance with! Antsje will train me to ride ANY horse I think!

With a little help from.................

MY FRIENDS!!!! More followers and comments! So grateful of the moral support folks 9(((hugs)))
So a BIG hello to JVT, Helen, Danni, Lin and Cabruze :waves:

Lesson 04.01.09

Well, its took me a while to write up!! We did quite a bit of new stuff and not being able to ride since the lesson until this weekend has made it difficult to crystallise my thoughts!! I ended up asking my long-suffering instructor Mike for clarification lol!! (poor Mike!!) And as his descriptions are so more lucid than my own I have stolen them Mwaaaa haaa haaaaa!!!!

Quoted from Mike Aylmore:

We worked initially on shoulder in, 10m circle, then continue in travers. This works well as the shoulder in gives a natural position to move onto the circle and you are also in a perfect position for travers as you return to the track. The shoulder in and travers have the same bend but you are right, they engage different hind legs. I always find this makes it harder to move from one to the other without a circle in between, it just doesn't seem to flow. When we were changing between exercises on the long side we would have gone from shoulder in to renvers and counter shoulder in to travers. In lateral work, the general rule is that the hind leg that steps in front of the other is the one that is being engaged. So, on the right rein for example, shoulder in is engaging the right hind. If you change the bend, then you are in renvers position, still engaging the right hind. Likewise, counter shoulder in on the right rein (essentialy shoulder in left!) engages the left hind. Change the bend to travers position on this rein and you are still engaging the left hind. This is why I like to combine the exercises in this way. As you move from one to the other you aren't changing the hind leg that is engaging, just changing the bend. The exercises just seem to flow better. It is particularly useful for Antsje as you are stretching one side, then changing the bend and stretching the other while engaging the same hind leg. For a horse that finds it hard to reach for the contact, being able to encourage the stretch down one side, then the other, will be very useful. The other reason I want you to become familiar with the exercises is so that you find it easier to correct her when she twists in the trot work. As she finds the work harder to the right, she will probably carry her quarters to the left i.e. a natural renvers position on the right rein and travers position on the left rein. To help correct this you need to ride her in an "opposing" position. i.e. "think" travers on the right rein, and renvers on the left rein. Obviously you can only do this if you are familiar with the full range of straightening exercises. In this way, every time you feel her twist and warp and lose the connection to the contact, you can quickly apply a combination of corrections to counter-act the warp!

My thoughts!!!

Well, this was a hard lesson for me and Antsje – neither of us having done Travers or Renvers before!! It was like the blind leading the blind lol!! In actual fact I had been playing a little with travers coming out of the circle, but not having ridden the exercise before I haven’t done too much for fear I was doing it all wrong!! At times I knew I was doing more a leg yield t the wall, rather than travers DOH!!! But it seemed I was not too far away in what I was doing which helped my confidence J Antsje is familiar with moving laterally in the opposite direction to the bend as in leg yield and SI but is not quite ssure WHAT to do with her feet when asked to move laterally into the same direction of the bend as with travers and renvers!! Looking at the video it was quite amusing to see her hovering with her feet really * thinking * where to put them. She does try hard though, and like me, once she UNDERSTANDS the concept she will try her best to do what is asked J She wass getting a little ‘sticky’ at times with the movements but Im sure this will improve with her understanding and physical strength. As for me! Well, I can see I need to be far more helpful to Antsje – but again, difficult when Im learning too L Things I SHOULD be doing is keeping a better position with my seat for one. I am trying TOO HARD and it is affecting my position to the detriment GRRRRRR!!! I have to think more about a relaxed longer leg, as I am gripping up with the effort lol!! I also have to stop holding my leg away from her body for example in the travers, I am pushing with the outside leg and holding my inside leg away from her body instead of wrapping it around. I also have to learn that the energy is produced by the inside leg and the outside leg just ‘holds’ the ¼’s in position, as at the moment Im trying to push her over with the outside leg and I feel this is one of the reasons we are getting ‘sticky’ and loosing forwards.
Mike stressed to me that the exercise doesn’t HAVE to be perfect for it to have the required effect! Do you think he could tell I was trying too hard hehehe!! It was interesting watching the video how after straightening back up after the exercise how Antsje stretched into the outside rein. It is here where I need to be quicker with my reactions and allow her to come through and use the energy created by the lateral movement. I could see I was blocking this at times. *sigh * It was also encouraging to see how the trot improved when asked for directly after straightening after travers! Although my trot was horrendous as by that time my legs had gone numb lol!! I thought the activity in the hocks was much better.

So things for me to bear in mind:

· Horse and rider have to be relaxed for their bodies to function efficiently! STOP trying and let it happen! :rolls eys:
· Think stretched relaxed calf to deepen the leg & seat rather than heel down – this seems to help me stretch rather than force! STOP Trying and let it happen!!
· Keep hands, elbows and shoulder soft – STOP trying blah blah blah!!! :rolls eyes:
· Be quicker with my reactions to be able to help Antsje and get more benefit from the exercise ie, don’t BLOCK by being rigid…STOP trying blah blah blah…………
· Hips to the inside (of the school) for shoulder in and renver – hips to the outside for travers and counter shoulder in.
· Inside leg (of the bend) for bend and impulsion – outside leg for positioning.

Is there a running theme here lol!!!

So for the video:
Please note that this is just the BEGINNING – it is NOT the finished product in any shape or form * blush * I realise my riding needs improvement, particularly with relaxing my seat (but HECK it was COLD!!) but sadly I am out of practice L Also my hands are to rigid, for same reasons! So please keep your comments constructive and help retain the fragile bit of positivity I am desperately holding on to!!

SI – Circle - Travers

Travers on the right rein!

Travers showing the stretch into the rein when straightening

Trot after travers

EDIT - added links as I failed to embed the video Grrrrrr!!!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Summary of 2008!

Well, 2008 was an eventful year for me! We made a lot of progress this year and I have personally learnt a lot! The begining of the year I was terribly frustrated with my riding and my seeming inability to influence Antsje with my position. Then I made two fundamental breakthroughs with my riding this year. One was the concept of riding from inside leg to outside hand - Although I thought I was doing this correctly I really wasnt! And although many different people have tried to get me to understand this, it really didnt click until I went for a lesson with Peter Maddison Greenwell. He got me to ride one handed on a circle keeping the inside bend - I was hopeless at first but suddenly we got it!! And all of a sudden I FELT what it was like to have the horse 'in' the outside rein and turn with the inside leg and outside rein! It was AMAZING! And has made a massive difference to my riding :-)

Secondly was a comment from one of my friends who gives great critique! She noticed how I relied on my reins for balance and asked how would I ride without reins?! So I tried the 'without reins' riding and was shamed and horrified how much I relied on them :-( So the end of 2008 has been about me practising an 'independent seat'

 We have been doing a fair bit of hacking and some schooling in the field over the xmas holiday. I even got chance to hire out an arena for a proper schooling session but have to admit that both of us have lost some of the finnesse we had built up towards the end of last year **sigh** Still, I have learnt that frustration gets you nowhere other than a hiding to nothing, so I am POSITIVE that we will regain the lost time quickly as long as I remember all the things I learnt last year :-)
Here is a bit of video as a starting point for this year - I was a bit despondant when I watched it, but hey! Things can only get better right!!!
I am starting off the year in a positive way and tommorrow I have a lesson with Mike Aylmore who I have been training with for nearly 2 years now!! I get such a lot out of his lessons so be prepared for a mamoth post tommorrow lol!!!
Oh! And a BIG HELLO to my two followers Trudi and Claire :-) I can be rest assured that I will get some good feedback on my ramblings :-) Thanks guys!

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann

WOOHOOOO!!! I am so excited as I this year I am going to attend a conference with Dr. Gerd Heuschmann and Dr. Svend Kold all about training the horse in relation to its biomechanics!! I have Dr Heuschmanns book 'Tug of War - Classical versus "Modern Dressage' and can highly recommend it! For anyone interested please follow the link for the CONFERENCE

Horses Inside Out

Another fantastic Demo from 2008!
Date: 31.03.08
Venue: Witham Villa, Broughton Astley
Arranged by: Hinckley Dressage Group

Ran by Gillian Higgins it was a talk about the arrangement of bones and attachment of muscles in horses and how exercise affect them - it was FASCINATING! They paint the bones onto a REAL horse on one side and then paint the muscles on the other. The first part of the demo is a lecture using a slide show presentation and was just so interesting Particularly about the effects of exercise on the muscles.There are two ways a muscle can work, Dynamic and Static. Dynamic is like rising trot where you are using 'pairs' of muscles for movement. The second type 'static' is more a 'holding' of position like the 2 point seat or jumping position. Gillian got some volunteers to simulate rising trot and the 2 point seat - the rising trot was far easier to maintain over a long period - the static muscles had to work far harder!Within a muscle there are groups of muscle fibres and they all take turns to work - like on a shift system - so the muscles can work over long periods of time without getting tired. When a muscle works there is 'micro-trauma / damage caused to some of the fibres - fibres around the damage will contract around the damage to support it- this is quite normal in hard work, but in prolonged hard work without time to relax and stretch, this can cause a build up and then you get problems like tight contracted muscles and muscle spasms.Static muscular contraction is harder work and therefore creates more damage inthe muscle fibres.Muscular chains:Muscles work together in 'chains' The Dorsal Chain are the muscles above the spine and these extend the muscles.The Ventral Chain or the muscles under the spine and these create flexion of the spine and hip.Without the Abdominal muscles there is no back!!! as muscles work in pairs, the abdominals MUST contract (or shorten) for the back muscles to relax (or lengthen) and therefore allow the spine to flex and arch upwards like a bridge.The thoracis muscles (serrated ventralis) are like a sling and when they contract they 'lift' the thorax UP between the scapula (or shoulders) and lift the withers. This helps the horse 'grow' The more work that muscles get, they will start to become shorter and firmer and therefore begin to hold themselves together - for example if you did your sit ups everyday, the tummy muscles would start to contract and shorten and hold everything 'in' even when resting.LONG AND LOW. The reson this is a good exercie for young horses and as a warm up / warm down for more established horses is it is a good way of stretching the muscles. The swinging hips in trot generates energy in th egluteal muscle which in turn moves the energy through the longissimus dorsi (the back muscle) and helps lengthen and stretch the back muscle, the lowered neck 'out and down' will stretch the nuchal ligament which will help to bring the back 'up' This will recruit the abdominal muscles and will support and encourage best posture of the back The under neck muscles work to lengthen adn extend the neck, the 'topline' muscles work statically to hold the neck vertebrae up. We know this is hard work, so frequent breaks and stretching is good practice.Gillian was asked about her thoughts on Rolkur - she explained the theory behind it - it stretches and brings the back UP. But she did observe that when in the exagerated position of hyperflexion the muscles were in 'overstretch' which wasnt best practise. She thought that bringing the back up could be done in other ways with better results.The horse was then lunged in various gaits on both reins so we could watch the effect of the muscles in motion. The horse at first was encouraged to work in a free long and low stretch, then after he was warmed up, side reins were used to encourage the horse to work in more of an outline. It finished with the horse popping over some jumps!It was a BRILLIANT demonstration and one I found fascinating from start to finish. One thing stuck in my mind - the muscles that were in constant use began to shorten - GREAT if you are working correctly, not so good if the horse is working hollow and developing all the wrong muscles! It has certainly made me think carefully what I am doing, and also made me very aware of rest periods with plenty of stretching between work in an outline.

Erik Herbermann Clinic August 2008

One of my most inspirational clinics of 2008 and one that I hope to repeat this year was auditing Erik Herbermann :-) The man is just amazing!! I thought Id copy and paste my notes from the clinic on here for reference. I cant seem to find anyway of uploading a word document to my blog?

Date: Sunday 31.08.08

Venue: Arrow Equestrian

1st lesson

Lady on fairly new warmblood horse. EH talked to her about her position and her general demeanour. He stresses the importance of the ‘Elegance within you’ at first this is something that you ‘put on’ but after time it BECOMES YOU! Ride with elegance and poise.
To improve the lateral work the horse has to be content before it can be truly supple.
To improve the canter – think about how you can ‘HELP YOUR HORSE’ in otherwords preparation, preparation, preparation. Don’t aid for canter out of an unbalanced walk or trot. Set the horse up to succeed. Apply INTELLIGENCE and HEART to your riding. It is not what you do it is HOW you do it – what HEART? What SENSITIVITY? What FEELING?
Remember in lateral work the aids – Halt – Move Over – Light
In otherwords, balance the horse before the movement with a half halt, ask the horse to move over, then lighten your hands to ALLOW the horse to move.

Halting Aid – When using a ‘halting aid’ the horse understands that you the leg means ‘move over’ and not rush forwards. HALT –separate- MOVE OVER –separate- FLOW…….. Don’t give contradictory aids – don’t halt and use the leg at the same time, it makes no sense to the horse.

To rebalance the horse, say from trot:
This was a running theme throughout the day. It elicits a genuine response from the horse and rider when you think ‘walk here’ rather than ‘halt halt’ which can encourage JUST a rein aid. It should be a whole BODY aid from the rider.

You MUST expect an immediate response to your aids. Your aids have to be ‘HOT POTATO AIDS’ or for more sensitive horses ‘WARM POTATO AIDS’ LOL!!! You have to teach your horse to respond enthusiastically to your forward aids. If the horse doesn’t listen to your leg ‘TAP TAP TAP’ with the stick. Do as little as possible but as much as necessary to get an IMMEDIATE response. Classical riding is NOT ‘ootsey cutsie’ but it DOES respect the horse in EVERY SENSE.

If the horse is against the hand, it could be that the rider is to mechanical or the forward and balance of the horse is not in rhythm.

Legs should be of EQUAL VALUE for straight forwards. After a Halt on a rein, BOTH reins soften.

2nd Lesson

Lady with OTTB mare. Horse is very sensitive and I gather they had been working on de-sensitising her to rider movement during the clinic. The mare tensed and held her back whenever the rider moved – the rider ended up barely moving or breathing to keep her calm. EH said while he LIKED the fact that the rider was so quiet, for this horse she had to move around more in order for her to relax. He got the rider swinging her legs from side to side – reaching and patting her neck, twisting and patting her croup. I could tell from the groups reaction at the end of the lesson that the horse was very different to the one at the start of the week.
Think about what you can do to ‘help her’ today NOT what she has done in the past.
Stay away from strain and tension.
Always choose the GAIT, the SCHOOL FIGURE and the EXERCISE – we must ride with a purpose. The horse doesn’t have a purpose – WE must have the purpose!

The seat is the anchor for the reins – when EH rides everything he does is to do with the SEAT!! Halt halt – we need the reins, but they are INCIDENTAL! Halt from the SEAT!!
Show the horse what you want then LEAVE THEM ALONE! If its not right CHANGE IT! Do not suffer, the horse doesn’t know what is right or wrong – The rider should show them honestly and straight forwards.

3rd Lesson

Double lesson – chap on large Grey horse and Lady on PRE horse (I think!)
A lot of this lesson was concerned with creating energy and keeping the balance.

Balance and flow – let the horse find the rhythm. ANIMATE the horse and MONITOR the rhythm. If you control the rhythm you will KILL IT!
Say ‘Balance’ and ‘YOU do it’ to the horse.
Always both reins, BALANCE – FORWARDS – LIGHT – in other words, rebalance your horse using the ‘walk now, Ive changed my mind’, ALLOW forwards and lighten the hand.
Warm Ups – these are IMPORTANT! Don’t just dawdle around. The horse may be on a long rein but it HAS to be walking purposefully and feel fluid.
Energy Scale – the horse should be ‘animated’ to a level 8, regenerate the energy at 7 – don’t let it get to 3 or 4 before you do anything about it!! As you pick up the reins the horse should stay REACHING FORWARDS – only shorten up reins if the horse is reaching. The RIDER intensity must be ‘UP’ and energetic and expect the same from the horse.

Balance is a tiny spot!! Animating and rebalancing should be like Building a mountain under the saddle. Sit on your SEAT not your laurels!!
The rider must trust the horse to keep soft – DON’T keep holding!!

Give him [horse] a place to come to – DON’T hold the rhythm – rebalance and LEAVE HIM ALONE!! Bend / Rhythm – Cause it to BE, then SIT on him [horse] don’t HOLD him.

There was a big change in the Grey in particular at the end of the lesson – I had to smile at Erik as his parting advice was:
‘Often time the difference between success and failure is a tiny veil’

Lesson 4

Lady and PRE Gelding

I gather from the group that the lady has been having problems with ‘attentiveness’ of her horse. He is quite highly strung and lacks concentration on the rider, constantly worrying about what is going on ‘around him’
EH recommended riding on a LONG rein – ‘holding’ these types of horses is unproductive – it creates a higher cycle of anxiety in the horse. They had been working on a small circle on a long rein, making corrections when the horse became distracted and praising and ‘leaving alone’ when he was concentrating. The work with the rider was about not getting emotionally involved and joining in the ‘panic attacks’

When in trot, ride like you are on the buckle (As in using your seat) Make aids LOUD not sharp.
Ignoring is a powerful instrument – Show them [horse] what you want and ignore a great deal LOL!!

Inattentive - Don’t look at what they look at!! Don’t get involved!! Aid, Aid, Aid – change rein often. Don’t get emotional, what is he looking at? ‘I don’t care!’ What is he doing? ‘ I don’t care!! Why is he so silly? Answer: I Don’t CARE!!!! Let the horse have NO purchase on your person – its impersonal.

Nature CANNOT resist our quiet, patient, consistent discipline.

This was EH’s mantra all lesson – quiet – patient – consistent discipline WILL win the day, it CANNOT be resisted, EVENTUALLY the horse will settle (quiet) EVENTUALLY the horse will GET IT (Consistent) EVENTUALLY!! (Patience)

DO NOT HOLD!!! Aid and release – PREVENT NOTHING!! Correct and release.
NO does not exist in horsemanship – show him [horse] what you DO want and not what you don’t.

RIDER – don’t get ‘tight’ when riding. When it starts to get easier – DON’T get sloppy in the mind. Rider should be fully focussed ALWAYS. Give the horse the purpose [exercise] in a way he can accept.

I enjoyed this lesson – was lovely to see how calm and attentive the horse became towards the end. EH was hilarious too! To gain the horses concentration he kept saying, make it interesting for him, LOOK! LOOK! Look at the pretty flowers in the middle of the circle, look at the kittens playing in the circle LOL!! And at the end he got up and danced around the school waving a scarf! And to the riders and horses credit – NEITHER of them looked – they didn’t CARE LOL!!

Lesson 5

This was the same lady from lesson 2 and her other horse a dark bay warmblood.

Again, the importance of a forward flowing warm up, particularly with a stuffier horse. This horse was in stark contrast to her other horse – the rider had to find ways to SENSITISE him to her aids rather than de-sensitise. Back to the HOT POTATOE aids again!

Eric singing ‘I keep on knocking’ LOL!!

Keep nagging is like working like a common labourer and not a CEO – WHY? A CEO knows how to delegate! The responsibility for the horse moving forwards is THE HORSES! Riding in this way, we ride in a WORTHY way – the horse is NOT stupid, and ridden consistently will learn quickly. Rider should be relaxed, any ‘holding’ of any part of us stresses the sensitive horse.

Don’t HOLD / Don’t PREVENT / LET the error happen and ADJUST IT – DO NOT PUNISH – Adjust, show the horse and PRAISE!

Value of changing diagonal without changing rein prevents horse and rider getting SET – it helps promote a LOVE of balance…………….providing you do it by choice!!

An Inattentive rider can ‘dull’ a horse – rider must be MINDFUL and consistent. We must be clear and consistent about our goals and purpose.

If we wish the horse to CONTRIBUTE we MUST have Enthusiasm!! Rider has to be on the ‘ball’ – if anything is OK, we will get any old results

Enthusiastic riding mad a BIG difference! EH was ‘enthusing’ about animating your horse and just his voice and his energy made an impact on the horse! When the rider joined it was AMAZING!! The horse came to life! EH’s comments were – DELEGATE ‘ YOU do it boy! Im just coming along with you!!
“Double ups” are good for creating energy – halt to trot – walk to canter
“Single Ups” better for an unbalanced horse
“Triple Ups” – Excellent for animating established horses – Halt to canter

Really think ELEGANCE – Good Posture is paramount.

AID & LIGHT, AID & LIGHT – Holding builds unnecessary tension. [both horse & rider]
The horse HAS to contribute for beautiful work – ‘squeezing’ work out is ugly!!

Another brilliant lesson to watch – the horse came in as a rather ‘ordinary’ horse. You could see he had nice gaits but he was just ‘going through the motions’ and kind of looked a bit big and heavy and lumbering. Once we had the enthusiasm, well!! He just came alive!! Heightened still by a spectator dropping something and making a BANG LOL!! MY GOD this horse could move! He finished looking like a TOP dressage horse, and because EH insisted on the NO HOLDING, and Aid and Light, the work really was free of tension and was really beautiful – I mean REALLY beautiful! We were all smiles!

Lesson 6
A lady with a very nice PRE Stallion ;)

The combination wanted to work on ‘impulsion’ as the horse can be a little too laid back at times! They did some work on ‘flowing’ particularly in walk as that is the hardest pace to create impulsion naturally.
Again EH stressed the importance of ‘Delegating the task of going forwards to the horse’
Keep an energy level of 8, never let it drop less than 7 – its too late when it gets to 3!!
The ‘Enthusiastic riding’ was touched on again.
Every cell in your body should say ‘Ahhhhhh LETS GO!!!
Don’t let your hands get stagnant – keep your hands ALIVE
Your horse reads your attitude – the rider must be POSITIVE and praise the horse when he gives the correct answer.
The horse says ‘ I LOVE your [the riders] appreciation of my contribution’
Riders seat needs to be LONG then the walk will be LONG. The seat directs and forms the energy that the legs generate.
Inside leg AND outside rein and leg. Both outside aids to receive the energy that the inside leg creates. The outside rein should bend gently around the neck. Don’t take the outside rein AWAY from the neck.

Its amazing how much one knows without knowing – trust your FEEL!
If we want ‘fine’ then we have to approach riding wirh finesses by REFINING our aids.
Don’t bend your horse WITH your leg but AROUND it! It should be a passive post for bending.

You need ‘FORWARDNESS’ for the outside rein to have its ‘framing’ effect. Without forward the outside aids are meaningless.
Bending and Guiding are tweo separate subjects – they may be combined but they are Separate!


Forward – gather – forward builds energy.

Use your aids honestly – and trust the horse to respond correctly.

Again, another very interesting lesson to observe. The faults were minimal, but what an improvement when corrected! Particularly the issues with the outside rein. Great to watch.

Lesson 7

Chap from lesson 3 on a nice chestnut ‘hunter type’

I missed a lot of the lesson (gabbing!) which was a shame as I gather there were a few issues at the start, but they finished in a real good place. EH’s comments were you went from Hell to Heaven in one lesson LOL!!

Again, the work was very much in the balance of the horse and building the energy. With lots of ‘Walk here’ and ‘Oh, Ive changed my mind’

You need Energy in the Piggy Bank before you can Spend!!

Lesson 8
Lady on an Arrow school horse on her first lesson with EH.

Lady was a little crooked so EH worked on this issue and the problems this caused for the horse.

Square in seat and position

Bend versus Guidance – KEEP SEPARATE!!
Don’t get so ‘tight’ relax – Nothing to it – JUST DO IT!!
Forwardness is the key – without it the horse cannot know what the outside rein and leg is for.

Both sides of the horse should have equal value – if the horse is cutting in or out then the horse is not straight between the aids, most probably caused by the rider.
Keep the neck STRAIGHT!! Bend is Bend, Direction is Direction. Keep the horses neck straight on a circle.
Outside leg should always be ‘on’ passively when the inside leg is being used as a support for the horse.


EH showed us the importance of the outside leg. He stood behind you and put his hands either side of our waist. He then aided with the ‘inside’ leg with the ‘outside’ leg as support. Then he aided with BOTH legs, very irritating actually but I could be ‘ignored’ if you switched off! Then came the inside leg aid with the outside leg away from the body – UGH! What a weird feeling! It felt like you were going to fall over! For saying how lightly the supportive ‘outside leg’ was held, I couldn’t believe it made SUCH a difference. Was a good lesson as I have a bad habit of not keeping my outside leg on particularly in lateral work when obviously it is VERY necessary!

Erik also did a ‘contact’ demo with a lunge line for reins. You basically followed Erics ‘contact’ as he moved the line about and then all of a sudden he ‘dropped’ you! People were most surprised how disconcerting this was! Especially as EH said that people do this as a reward for the horse!! Both ‘feels’ were very light and subtle and were very ‘comforting’ but when taken away abruptly it was immediately noticeable! It has made me think more carefully about just how ‘light’ a feel can be and remain effective and how important it is to be consistent.

Lesson 9

Arrow owner & employee double lesson with two nice warmblood types.

In lateral work – Leg Yield and Shoulder in, AID – Light – Aid – Light, releases energy in your horses shoulders. If you hang onto the rein its like shoving the horse through wet cement! Horse must be flowing forwards – PARAMOUNT!

Leg on side of the evading croup – rein on side of evading shoulder for correction.
Reins EQUAL – one active rein, yet other rein needs to be present (passive) to keep the neck straight.

ELEGANCE!!! POSTURE!!! Heavy shoulders, droppable elbows.

Halting – confirm inside rein / Half halt outside rein / soften BOTH reins.
The horse has to be made Active so it is right up to the hand – that way the hand need barely move at all, the contact is truly forward and elastic.
ANIMATE / Halt / Netral (with hand) / FORWARDS!
TRUST the horse in the softening of the contact – address the hindquarters at ALL times! Its never about the front, its about the REAR!
Play it between GO and WOAH without doing either completely – this way the horse will be in balance and ‘on’ th eaids.
Use the corber as a receiver as well as the aids to ‘re-collect’ the horse.
ENERGY and LIGHT is the key – balance your horse on the aids.

Some lovely work again. I have to say Susie (arrow Instructor) is a beautiful rider, she has LOVELY hands.

Lesson 10

Susie and Grey Spanish horse
Just a short lesson as horse is being brought back into work.

Warm up – can be more definite from the start. Always start 5 mins on the buckle, then START WORK!! On the aids from the start – Balance the horse and GO!!

Flying changes ‘just tricks’ it’s the Quality of the Canter that is the KEY!

RIDER – Correctness is NOT stiffness, it is restful – relaxed hips, knees and ankles. Rib Cage elevated, nape of neck into collar. Think “ELEGANCE”
‘REST’ in the deepest part of the saddle – When we tense it causes ‘pinching up’ and we loose the connection with the horse. Riding is 50% legs and seat and 50% legs and seat LOL!!

Use animating aids ‘honestly’ – ie use leg first before stick.

Rushing is easily remedied – you can just rebalance as the horse is ‘calm’
Rattled or worried, is harder as the horse is not open to the rider’s aids. Therefore keep tension out of riding.

For a soft halt – don’t DRIVE into the halt continually – Halt / drive / halt / drive / HALT!! No contradictions, you cant push and stop at the same time!

Feel the rein in your lower back for an effective halt, then NEUTRALISE, not release! Don’t just throw it away!

The halt work was really interesting, something Im going to try myself!

I cannot tell you how FANTASTIC the clinic was – I only wished I could have observed for more days! I really ‘clicked’ with Erik, and although eccentric at times, I didn’t find him eccentric for eccentric’s sake, meaning he was genuine. His passion and enthusiasm is extraordinary! He really does want to see people ‘get it’. He is very observant and he can ‘see’ so much! He doesn’t ‘sugar coat’ his observations! If you did well he says it – without reservation! If you need to make a correction – he tells you – without reservation!! Some of his comments I feel are to genuinely ‘lighten up the atmosphere’ some are said to JOLT you into reality. For example ‘you have to think ‘ELEGANT’ you are many things right now but that aint one of them!!!’ But I have to say that phrases such as ‘ Good Job’ ‘Good for you’ ‘I agree with that decision’ are far more common place.
There was no evidence of BTV yesterday – we may have had a fraction of a second of a ‘curl’ with an immediate ‘FORWARD AND LIGHT’ instruction form EH!
EH encouraged ‘honest’ riding – don’t cover anything up, prevent nothing, allow the mistake to happen and then correct it. Very liberating but quite challenging I should think! He encouraged the rider to ‘Trust the horse’ at every opportunity. Don’t HOLD was the order of the day – that and the rebalancing.

Thoroughly enjoyed the day – worth every penny!!!

What I also like is that Erik records the lessons for everyone – how good is that!!! What an invaluable resource as literally every word out of his mouth is solid gold! Honestly, I was just :-0 as I listened to him spouting out one brilliant adage after another!

Antsje the Cabbage Slayer!!!

One of my most memorable events in 2008 was attending a 'Skill at Arms' day!! We learned to use swords on horse back and deystroyed a couple of cabbages lol! We also had a go with the lance trying to spear a few hoops - an interesting slant on hook a duck lol! and finally we had a go at jousting the 'Quintane'
It was just such a fantastic day and Antsje was AMAZING! It was just as if she had been doing this all her life! Richard Maxwell who is an ex cavalry man also took her through her paces and I was just speechless at how professional they both looked for saying Richard had never ridden her before and Antsje had never done anything like this before in her life!!

What a clever girl!
And for some video!