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 [...]

How to be Brave

What ifs…….. They consume us and dominate our thoughts and deprive us of the thing we love . And they also isolate us. In February I drove into the showgrounds for the South Island Dressage Champs. It was a lovely sunny day; beautiful warmbloods were everywhere looking fluid, impressive and imposing. The riders looked posh and elegant and in control. I very nearly turned around and drove home! What was I thinking ! I shouldn’t be here with my little, finely built Arabian…..and he’s chestnut with lots of bling…..and he makes up these quirky arab dressage moves AT THE WRONG TIME… and I can’t ride….and  and and!! I got out and walked slowly to the float and opened the door. Charlie gave me a little nicker as if to say “come on! We can do this!”. So I unloaded him and we went for a walk. Feeling a little better I led him over for arena familiarisation. A couple of riders were coming out and they stopped and asked me if I was really going to be riding an Arabian here and were they even allowed to do dressage. My confidence hit rock bottom. But then I stopped. I put into practice what I tell my clients. Be prepared, Do the training at home and get a trainer who believes in you even when you don’t believe in yourself. Break your goal into bite size chunks. Have a progressive plan that gets you to the end result. Surround yourself with positive people. Do it for you! Compete against yourself and aim to improve each time. Ride a horse you love and who suits you. I had made competing Charlie at the South Island Champs my [...]

Grace’s Journey

Pennbretti Amberlight (Grace) Grace is without a doubt the most photogenic of all our horses! She loves being the centre of attention and is always happy to pose for the camera. Grace was purchased by Flying Horse as a 10month old weanling. She is a partbred Welsh Cob bring by Trevellyn Firefly out of a station bred pony. With the death of my lovely mare Blondie we were on the lookout for another mare to take her place. We looked at quite a few horses but nothing really appealed to me until Grace. What we wanted was an unspoilt youngster with a trainable nature and flexible joints coupled with good conformation. Karen Burrows and I wanted to use this young horse to showcase our training and bodywork methods. We wanted to do all the work ourselves using the methods we had developed so people could see the results of combining training and bodywork to get a well adjusted, confident horse with well developed muscles. Grace as a yearling As you can see from the first photo ( taken the day Grace arrived) we had our work cut out! Grace was sweet natured but had no muscle tone and no neck!! Her first year was spent growing and playing; learning from the other horses and having a short inhand session once a week. Karen worked on her every couple of months; this was very important as Grace grew very unevenly and would be quite sore in her hamstrings and back after a growing spurt.   In-hand showing An important of Grace’s education is competing inhand. The show preparation gets young horses used to washing, grooming, rugs, travelling etc .We are careful not [...]