Last month I wrote about getting stuck in and striving to constantly improve. This month I want to talk about when we try to do that but a big, nasty WHAT IF gets in the way. WHAT Ifs are nasty and they have a habit of breeding uncontrollably if we let them. I have a few tips to help you keep them under control. Acknowledge them. After all in small doses they are a form of self protection . But don’t let the WHAT IF take over. Use each WHAT IF as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. Isolate them. Don’t give the WHAT IF power over you. OK so you had a bad fall and are afraid of getting back on. But I bet you can still catch your horse and groom him; take him for a walk around the paddock or arena. Doing those things will stop the WHAT IF taking control until you can find someone to help. Stop them breeding. WHAT IFs are clever. They prey on your insecurities and suddenly they have multiplied and you can’t do anything with your horse. Make sure to silence the WHAT IF when it starts to intrude on other areas of your horse relationship which you know are in good health. Find a WHAT IF tamer.  I am an expert in that field as I have had my fair share of WHAT Ifs! You need a trainer who will understand your fears and can help you work through them in a structured fashion. They should be able to recognise a WHAT IF and have strategies to reduce them. Increase your comfort zone. WHAT Ifs can’t get you when you are in your comfort [...]

Never Stop Learning!

So you have the horse of your dreams and now you need a trainer to help you on your way. You ask around and start having lessons. The first few months are pretty good and you are enthusiastic and motivated. You are doing really well at training level and are getting consistent scores of 60% or more. This dressage stuff is fun! But then just as you feel you are getting somewhere your trainer says that you need another season consolidating the basics. You aren’t ready to step up and try new stuff and you must listen to them as they are infinitely wiser and more experienced than you. So you do as they say and stay at training level for another season. You keep working on a circle at trot. You bore your horse to death and lose all your love of riding. So who is benefiting from this? You or your trainer? My aim as a trainer is to have my students surpass me. I want them to do well and succeed. If that means they beat me in a competition well that’s fantastic! And if it means they go to my trainer as well as me then that’s proof that I can train them correctly. You don’t get better by doing the same thing. You get better by having a correct training plan that challenges you and your horse appropriate to your stage of training. You need to be stimulated and pushed out of your comfort zone a little bit. Your horse needs work that supples his body and keeps his mind engaged. You want to have that buzz of learning a new movement or the satisfaction of refining your aids and [...]

The Not So Perfect Rider

Hi everyone and welcome to my new column! I want to motivate and inspire you; to educate you and to make you realise that you are not alone in feeling inadequate or hopeless or unconfident! We all feel like that sooner or later when working with horses. Sometimes I think we focus too much on how “wonderful” other riders look and how “lucky” they are to have the perfect horse…. the perfect position…. the perfect stables. We forget that the most important thing is that YOU love YOUR HORSE. He may not be ever going to the Olympics but he actually doesn’t care about stuff like that. He cares that you look after him and feed him. He cares that you give him confidence and leadership. He cares that you are consistent and fair in your demands of him. And your trainers should respect that. A good trainer will find out your goals and dreams and work within the horse’s capability to achieve them. Having the most fashionable rolled sheepskin saddle blanket won’t make you do dressage any better and a good trainer will know this! I do dressage amongst “other things” and a few years ago a very well known trainer was down here to give lessons. Unfortunately, the arena the organiser had booked was unavailable so they asked if they could use mine and as a thankyou I would get a free lesson. Of I agreed as this trainer is very well known and it was an awesome opportunity. I put down the phone and then it hit me. NO NO NO! The “other things” I do are games and fun stuff with my horses. The kids I teach had spent the day [...]