Sunday, 16 September 2018

Halt at X.

Credit: Dana's Doodles

Like bookends to the dressage pattern’s rhythm and brilliance, the halt is a moment to compose beforehand and reflect afterwards. This week Jill Irving reflected on her FEI WEG performance regarding the challenge of the halt. She was so proud that her horse stood quietly, despite outside distractions and internal adrenaline. “It’s hard when you fire them up to do other movements, then say, ‘Oh, by the way, you have to stand still.’”
 Do you ever feel you’re running on adrenaline? Overwhelmed? Overscheduled?   I’m becoming convinced that humans were designed to halt at X – to pause, turn off work and turn off the phone. 
I multitasked my way through a 10 year stretch I call the running on adrenaline years.  I felt like there were not enough hours in the day. I’d opt for a full-service gas station, efficiently using the unscheduled five minutes to make a call or write a cheque.  Every time I stopped I'd start to doze off.  So I tried not to stop.
I noted, while judging and teaching riding clinics in Israel, that everything shuts down for the Sabbath. Activities, businesses, even horse shows! The directives from God in the Scriptures to work hard, then carve out a day to rest, reflect and recharge are still observed – religious or not. Psychologists confirm that people and families seem to thrive on a regular rhythm of work and rest.
Any ideas to take “mini-Sabbaths” within the week or at regular intervals through the day? Turning off tech, going for a walk, sitting down to eat, praying, opting for a look in the eyes conversation with a friend instead of a text.
“Do not be conformed to the standards of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  From the book of Romans, the Bible.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

4 Areas To Improve Horse Welfare

What are the welfare challenges facing pleasure and competition horses? A four-year research study, led by academics at the University of Bristol’s School of Vet Sciences set to find out. I thought it was cool that experts from across the equine industry contributed to the research- vets, farriers, trainers, welfare charities, breed and competition associations. As we know, these groups are often at cross- purposes!
The priority welfare challenges and solutions identified in the study include:
·       Unresolved stress or pain behavior: educating horse caregivers about signs of stress and pain

·        Inappropriate nutrition: especially, overfeeding and obesity
·        Inappropriate stabling and turnout: limited turnout, social isolation and poor grazing conditions
·        Delayed death:  owners might keep horses alive inappropriately resulting in prolonged suffering of a horse in pain

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Equitation science

I love this thought from Clinician, Chris Sorensen at the recent EC Convention (Can. Equestrian Team) “One of the most amazing things that you learn as you train with top people around the world is that almost all of them practice basics every day. We all think that these famous riders are going to teach us magical tricks that are eluding us, but the fact of the matter is that riding is a very difficult sport, but it’s not that complicated.”
Agreed! I think of riding as less like magic and more like a fascinating science.
If “equestrian science” can be distilled to a theory, I’m going to give it a try!
Love of learning + HOW to apply physical aids + understanding WHY the aids work + applying those skills skillfully and automatically = happy horse.
 Tested in the lab of the show ring before experimenting in the show ring!

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Jumping horses as little as possible?

On the benefits of installing lateral “buttons “ on competitive horses, while “jumping as little as possible.”

“I do lots of flat work. A work a lot of poles on the ground to replicate the same kind of training that’s required for the course, but over a rail on the ground instead of having a jumping effort. It just minimizes the impact on the horse. I have a dressage trainer who works with me full-time… [lateral movements ] make my horses really in tune with my aids. They become really responsive off the legs, and that’s useful for what we do.” U.S Olympian show jumper, Kent Farrington.
Jumping is fun. Fundamentals…less so. I know that makes me a “less fun” coach at times, but being on course or in a crowded warm-up ring on a distracted horse without fundamentals is about as fun as being on highway 401 without steering!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Riding with confident humility.

Humility - The professional horse trainer who joins in to help set the trail course. The champion who uses his moment in the spotlight to share his own life challenges as encouragement. The clinician who includes the novice riders along with the experienced. The judge who smiles. The winning rider who claps for everyone – even when in 2nd place. The rider or coach who encounters a roadblock and before turning up the volume, asks – could it be ME, miscommunicating more than THEY not getting it?
Reminds me of a story I read about the rabbi, Jesus, the night before He’d die, stooping down to wash the feet of His student disciples. It’s a good reset for me to remember I’m here to serve my clients and meet their needs. Why did He do it? The account says it’s because He knew who He was, where He came from and where He was going.
Maybe that’s a kind of “swagger”. A quiet confidence in one’s own identity, ability and destination.  Nothing to prove. Nothing to defend. Free to shine the spotlight on someone else.