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.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The confident rider – how much is too much?


Our prime minister set off a national conversation about showing more "swagger" as entrepreneurs in business. So as a riding coach I was thinking - what's the role for swagger in the horse world? Is riding different than in other sports?  Some describe it as an expectation of success. Others, cockiness. Does  an "Own the Podium" attitude, get in the way of some riding disciplines and get ribbons in another? Hmmm... I wonder about swagger's effect on human  (and even horse) relationships. Maybe a happy medium between humility and smug-over-substance. What do you think?

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ever wonder…Why does the horse jump? For the love of it? Or simply easier to cooperate?


Just thinking through what it’s like to be a horse is bound to make us better riders and appreciate our equine partners!
Consider, for example, a horse and rider preparing to jump a four-foot wall. Jumping serves the rider’s interests—recognition and a ribbon! The horse, however, takes a risk by jumping, and given a choice most horses would probably take the safe route and go around. An important question is, why does the horse cooperate and jump? Does it trust that the rider will ensure his safety? Or does he jump to avoid discomfort that might result by not cooperating?” Dr. Andrew McLean

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Nosebands – how tight is too tight?


Standard equipment in English disciplines. Training equipment in western.  While nosebands are designed to prevent bit evasion, in the horse business, we’re inclined to default into thinking “If a little is good, more is better! Are we masking bit evasion without asking WHY the horse might be resisting?
The International Society of Equitation Science responded to the dilemma of cranking nosebands in equine sport with a study and by designing a noseband gauge for competition ring stewards:
“Some equestrian manuals and competition rule books propose that ‘two fingers’ be used as a spacer to guard against over-tightening, but fail to specify where they should be applied or, indeed, the size of the fingers.” 
“When this device was used to check noseband tightness on 737 horses at a variety of national and international dressage and eventing competitions, 44% of nosebands were found to be too close to the horse’s face to accommodate the tip of the taper gauge under the noseband.  By extrapolation, this revealed that we are routinely preventing swallowing, chewing, yawning and licking in the name of sport.” I.S.E.S.