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 [...]

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 [...]


By Julia Latham With autumn here and winter on its way, now is the time to give your horse and gear a “warrant of fitness”. A lot of people turn their horses out for the winter and give them a rest, especially if it has been a busy season with lots of shows, tournaments or trail rides etc. Rather than blobbing out in front of the telly why don’t you take the time now to get your horse or pony, yourself and all your horsey gear up to scratch so when your riding time does roll around again you are all ready to go and have fun. Make sure your horse’s cover is suitable for the winter. Check all the straps. If it needs repairing do it now as your saddler will appreciate a dry cover far more than trying to sew a wet, muddy one. Check that it still fits the horse – especially if you have a young horse that may have grown – as nasty rubs can soon develop. Is it still waterproof? Again this is easier done on a nice day with a dry cover. If your horse or pony hasn’t had a cover on before don’t assume you can throw it on and just let him go! Terrible injuries can occur from a terrified youngster blindly bolting away from the “monster” on its back. Take the time to introduce a cover to your young horse. Do this on a calm day and give yourself plenty of time. Fold the cover into three and gently place on the horse’s back. Once he is used to this, move it up and down and unfold it so it covers him. Make sure you [...]

Introducing the Flying Horse Grooming Range

Here at Flying Horse we pride ourselves on the appearance of our horses. People always comment on the lovely shiny coats and flowing tails. We firmly believe that good feed, a relaxed environment and correct training go a long way to achieving this. Regular grooming is important too. Even the horses not in work are brought in once a week for a good check over and groom. The horses in work are groomed every day and tails are washed and conditioned once a week. If sweaty after working they are hosed down and dried off. With the arrival of our latest horse Charlie, we had to rethink what we used in grooming products as he is super sensitive. His nose was cracked and bleeding while his coat was dull and lifeless. He reacted to the shampoo we usually use and came out in huge welts which added to his discomfort. So we decided to start making our own products; Julia trained at Southland Hospital as a Manufacturing Dispensary technician back when the hospital made all the creams and shampoos etc . After sourcing the high quality ingredients we set to work making various potions and testing them on ourselves! No humans were harmed in the making of our products so we know they are safe for our precious horses! Charlie is the proof that they work as he looks amazing now and his nose is covered in soft fur instead of being cracked and weeping. The products are: FH Bit Balm Contains olive oil, castor oil, NZ beeswax, vitamin E, coconut oil . Green apple scent. Soothing and moisturising, our bit balm is great for the sensitive nose and lips. The coconut oil is a [...]

A day in the life of a fire-fighting pilot

Perth, WA Fire 03/02/14 Mon 3rd Feb 11:50 am Called out to a scrub fire just to the south of our base at Jandakot Airfield, Perth, WA;  just two Helitack aircraft initially, however due to the increasing wind and close proximity to houses and a whole southern suburb we eventually had in the air simultaneously the following aircraft … 6 x B214B1     Helitacks  --  Capacity  2500 lts each / load 1 x Aircrane    Helitanker   --  Capacity  7000 lts  Load 6 x AT 802     Water Bomber Fixed wing   --  Capacity  3000 lts each / Load 2 x Air Attack Helicopters ( AS350 Squirrels)  -- Basically directing response and  air traffic control 1 x Air Intelligence Helicopter Transmitting live video feed of fire operations to ground controller 3 x Media Helicopters from the 3 major TV stations All the aircraft are operating at different 500’ altitudes with ourselves the heavy fire attack helis at 500’ and below, Fixed Wing Bombers at 500’—1000’, Air Attack at 1500’, Intell at 2000’ and Media above 2500’, with a mandatory no fly zone automatically in place for any other itinerate aircraft which occasionally blunder through. The fire eventually burnt through 500 Hectares of land and overran multiple houses and properties, however with relentless air attack and a huge number of Fire crews, Appliances and Bulldozer, Loaders etc, NOT ONE HOUSE WAS LOST, some minor damage to a few and of course smoke and water damage to some. We flew over 8 hours that day, fairly intense aviating, and had a great result which was very satisfying, as was the beer that night! By Dave Latham (More information on the Helicopter work can be found on http://flyinghorseltd.co.nz/helicopter-services/) Action photos:

Jumping for non-jumpers!

Here at Flying Horse, we have clients from a variety of backgrounds.  Some have been riding for years and wish to up-skill, some would like to further develop the relationship with their horse, some are just getting into riding, and some are building up their confidence, often after a fall. Many of our clients jumped as children, and we have others who haven't jumped at all.  So today, we arranged for a low-key jumping day primarily for our non-jumpers, or those wanting to build their confidence around jumping. We started off with poles on the ground.  Some started off leading their horses, others rode in walk and trot over the poles.  We progressed during the day to some of our 'dressage' and 'western' riders jumping over crosspoles. We had an awesome time, with many of our clients achieving their goals for the day; some photos are shown below: (for future jumping days, keep an eye out on our events page!)

Who said mounted games are just for children?!

by Eirlys Beverley-Stone At the riding stables where I rode regularly for a number of years (and where I fell in love with the haflinger breed) we participated at games in every ‘lesson’ – even as adults.  The horses enjoyed it and we also enjoyed it.  A win-win situation! A few months ago we had an adults games night session at Flying Horse and everyone had an absolute ball, there was so much laughing and I realised how much I missed games!  We’re going to be running another session soon and will do so every month or so during the summer season – keep an eye on the events page for details on when they will be running. If you’re not sure about participating – here’s 10 reasons why it would be a great idea to give it a try!  And the best thing is – you don’t even have to be on horseback as you can participate in most of the games by leading your horse – a lovely way to build up your relationship on the ground. 1)      Endorphins – when you laugh it releases endorphins – so, as we can guarantee you WILL laugh, you will get some of those lovely endorphins that make you feel so great – simple! 2)      Social – we can’t help but natter in between games! 3)      Dressage moves!  Yes that’s correct; you may be surprised when your horse shows his/her natural ability to do flying changes in the bending race and an extended trot in the trotting race! 4)      Reduces spookiness – we use a variety of objects in the games and the exposure to these will helps them cope when they are unsure about similar [...]