Sunday, 19 October 2014

Oct/Nov/Dec 2014

Both of my horses are Gelderlanders (Dutch Driving Horses).
I have had some good riders sit on them, but they were surprisingly still not able to put them 'through the back' and into a stretch. If you can engage a Gelderlander, you can engage anything. They are breathtaking creatures but not everyone can get their vital 'middle bascule' to work. Without this, its a cut and shut. Hind legs may be active, front end may be up and arched, but if the energy isn't 'flowing through a soft swinging back' then the energy will be blocked and the hind legs disabled. The hocks can still go up and down (which is where a Driving Horses hocks wanna go anyway!) but not forward under the centre of gravity, due to the pelvis angle still being out behind as opposed to correctly tucked under.

I love my Alfie with a passion and I am over the moon with all his dressage achievements, he really has quite surpassed the %'s I ever thought he could get. So when the lady who owns his very very talented half brother contacted me to help her train 'Casper', I jumped at the chance.
Here's a pic of Casper winning the Elementary at the Isis Championship. I just love him.

Kate Matthews and DC went to their BE Regional Finals looking to qualify for Badminton. They are sooooooooo good enough to get to Badders but they sadly missed a few months of summer training and competing due to a giant hoof crack. Kate had a fab lesson the week before and the clever chick went out to her Regionals and got her best BE dressage score of 23! As Simon Cowell would say 'she smashed it!' One pole down in the SJ meant finishing on 27 and 11th place. Its on my 2015 'to do' list to get Kate to Badminton!

What a difference a few months good training has made to Nemos topline and bum! The first pic in March, the second two at a recent comp where Nemo got over 69% in his prelim and over 62% in his first ever Novice!
I have always liked this horse from the first time I set eyes on him. He is only a baby so his owner KJ Turner is taking it slowly yet adhering to Arthur Kottas brilliant saying 'take time but don't waste time'.
It is a difficult balance knowing how much to work/ride/train  a young horse. When I lived at The TTT, Mrs Sewell would put amazing laminated posters up everywhere to remind us (the young horse is a precious stone, take care with how you carve it'!)
I would say out of 10 young horses I see a year, 2 I think 'crikey if you keep doing that your going to break him.'  4 out of 10 that I think the owners are so frightened of breaking them that they don't train the horse correctly (they think they are being nice by not asking the young horse to do anything when they ride him, so hes just learning bad habits not good habits, your work with the horse is either correctly building him up, or breaking him down.)
So I always advise people to ride the young horse correctly, from day 1, for short periods. You need to ask the young horse to use the right muscles because if not he will use the WRONG muscles! If you lifted 20 straw bales using the wrong muscles wouldnt you bugger your back?!
By asking the young horse to carry you correctly (for short periods) you will strengthen the bridge of the back muscles. Look how healthy the Spanish Riding School of Viennas horses are well into their 20's (still performing!) . Gerd Heuschmann has taught me that those first few ridden years are vital to strengthen the hind leg suspensories in the 'pushing forward' phase, years before they are ever asked to 'carry'. Then they dont break so easily.
KJ is one of those i believe is bringing her young horse on absolutely brilliantly. He lunges, he hacks , he jumps, he works in an uphill frame for short periods and he stretches to the floor for short periods, 4/5 times a week. Then, as Arthur Kottas says, all we need is  'luck'! Luck that he doesn't slip in the filed, luck that the wind doesn't blow real strong just at the moment hes in full trot stretch etc etc! (Ha ha which KJ calls riding by the seat of your pants ha ha!)
KJ  teaches at Hall Place in Tilehurst Reading if you know anyone in need! I feel really lucky to teach at two Riding Estableshments (Hall Place and Cloud Stables) where the teaching they all pass on to all their clients is classical and correct.

July/August/September 2014

Jo Billings is doing a cracking job with her young horse Flash, out and about competing BD Prelim and Novice and BD music. I love this photo of them at Pachesham Area Festival. Jo was already a super rider when I first met her but its been great fun giving her some extra tools to play with to bring out Flash's potential and to enhance his movement and paces. The more Jo concentrates on her position and the function of her seat, back and core, the more Flash responds in self carriage. I am very excited about this combination and look forward to helping them all the way up the BD ladder.

I received this lovely email from one of my clients Helen Rance, who is transforming her riding in such a short space of time.
"Tracey thank you for your kind words. I seriously couldn't of done it with out you and the way that you teach. You actually make me like dressage. Something that I never have because I simply didn't understand it. In the horse world many people belittle others and confuse others with there Techno language and if you don't understand your made to feel stupid. Where as you have never made me feel like that. I feel like I could ask you anything and you won't laugh in my face. And because you break things down so simply and make it very visual I understand what your saying so I can go on and do it. You are a very very good teacher. So thank you xx".
I love my job. The art of teaching is being able to share the knowledge. But everyone sees, hears, learns, feels things differently, so to be a good coach you have to work out how to explain a million different things, in a million different ways, to a million different people (and if you cant do that then you shouldn't be a coach/trainer/teacher!)
Sometimes the explanations I make are subtle, sometimes they are incredibly graphic!
Its not rocket science, but so many people have been so confused along the way before I met them that I can understand why they are lost and I love helping them find their way.
Helping Helen train her horse from being a little hollow, with his back not yet part of the ring of energy (no one teaching Helen how to find his back!) to this beautiful round dancing event horse is such a pleasure. Here's an amazing collage of Helen and Ricky looking gorgeous taken by Su Burrows from Desk Jockeys Su does AMAZING videos as well as photography and often comes to video my clients lessons so they see and hear how to improve. Check out the desk jockeys website or FB page. I wish Su could be at every competition myself or my clients are at!


Sara Malpass has had an awesome summer.

Basil went to the RC National Qualifier and came back covered in rosettes with 81.8% in the riding test, qualifying them for loads of classes at the RC Nationals! Up at Lincoln little man Bas got 65% in his Novice, team of 4 were 5th and team of 6 came 3rd!

A super ride for Sara on Pingo at the BD Prelim Regionals scoring a whopping 72.17% coming 4th overall. Just out of qualifying for the BD Nationals at Stoneleigh on the day but then they were given a wild card! (after all the Regionals have finished, Southern, Central, Northern etc, a select few of the highest non already qualified %'s from across Great Britain are given a wild card to the championships) With a 72.7% at the Southern Regionals, Sara really did deserve a place.

Pingo was awesome at the Nationals and I could (and do!) watch the video again and again. So proud and so pleased for them.

He was also a very clever boy at the Pachesham Area Festival Novice Champs coming 3rd (this was only his 3rd ever Novice!) with 67.6%.

A very successful dressage career lies ahead of this super pair.

Sara is in the process of setting up her own freelance training business so hopefully the next time I log onto here I will be able to give you Sara's website address!

After Lou Koslicki and Oz received some demoralising feedback and % from an unlisted judge at an unaffiliated dressage show, I convinced Lou to do Listed Judges only! At least then I could have some faith in the comments and % especially if it was a judge I knew of and respected. Low and behold under the brilliant List 4 Judge Scilla Lown, (whom I have seen give a range of marks from 50% to 74%!) Lou wins her class on 74.5%!!!!! Thats more like it!
Lou wont mind me telling you that when I first met Oz, he didnt move like he does now. They have both gone from two unhappy souls, not really enjoying it, feeling like it was all too much hard work to both quite literally squealing with delight and next lesson we finish putting together Elementary 59 and the previous lesson we did travers and half pass! I could barely get Oz to trot on a circle myself on our first few lessons!
What a difference.

My beautiful Alfie was Reserve Champ at the Medium Area Festival at Patchetts. Tricky summer with his feet falling apart from the dreadful wet spring we had so although he had qualified for the Medium Regionals he just wasn't ready for the 70% needed at Regional level to qualify for the Medium Nationals, so i opted for Areas instead.  A lot of people asked me why i didnt keep him in and i adid argue with myself a lot over this. He needs to go out in the field come rain or shine for both his brain and his body and that's more important to me so that he can be a happy horse. He loves his field, he loves his grass and now he loves playing with his friend.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

April / May / June 2014

Beautiful ginger squirt won himself four mediums! Fab clinic with Stephen Clarke at the TTT. This little horse just gets better and better!

One of my clients emailed this to me today and I loved it so much I thought I would share it with you. 
"Put together my top 10 reasons why I love lessons with Tracey Lawson - 
1. My lessons are always fun, I love them so much I have to wear a tena.
2. She doesn't just tell me what result she wants, she tells me how to get there. 
3. She always makes me feel I can achieve anything if I trust her and persevere. 
4. She is the only trainer I know who looks at everything, the horse, conformation, shoeing, saddle, the whole package. 
5. She uses amazing metaphors. 
6. She doesn't just look at the individual lesson, she looks at the end goals. 
7. She focuses on solutions not the problems. 
8. She understands the limitations of the rider and looks to find ways around them. 
9. She breaks things down into manageable goals. 
10. She teaches me how to communicate with my horse, rather than shout louder in a language that she doesn't understand."
I, Tracey Lawson soon to be Tracey May (woop woop!) wholeheartedly promise to try to keep every lesson to this standard. Mmmmm, but in order to be able to do that I am going to have to cut down on the amount I teach, so as to ensure I have sufficient energy for everybody. So from August 2014 i will be working a 5 day week Monday - Friday only.
Sorry to the people that can only do weekends :-(

I am currently helping two very talented Event Riders. Both could easily be British Dressage winners as well as BE Riders.
Ladies first - Kate Matthews owns and runs Angel Farm in Chertsey. Already a super rider before she started working with me but i am loving how the horses are all so truly connected now, that when Kate wipes a little perspiration off her nose with her reins one hand, or does one hundred double handed give and retakes, the horses stay completely round in the three bascules - the haunches, the back and therefore the neck - proving the engagement was from behind, not artificially manufactured in front. This also means the horses paces are being enhanced and amplified, not just the frame. This engagement is vital both for a physical physiotherapy point of view and a winning competitor. A horse is either in the correct posture of a bridged back to carry and support the rider, or its in the wrong posture of a hollow back and may or may not have been twiddled down in front. Quite simple the horse ridden with a hollow back will break more easily from carrying the rider in an incorrect carriage and deportment. The engaged horse with a toned and tucked pelvis will have a longer healthier ridden career. The same for us if we keep in the correct posture say for example unloading a hundred straw bales, if you do it in the correct posture to protect the back for a human (bend knees not back) your back will last longer. Simples. From the competitive point of view, the quality of Britain's horses natural paces are continuously improving and to beat our competitors in the dressage section, the horses have to move with lift and swing and throughness and ground cover and jump and elasticity and power and calmness and harmony etc etc etc. That doesn't come without an engaged postural ring from the horse. Twiddled in head just wont cut it any more and your horse is more liable to break. ER NO BRAINER!  Some of Kate's horses she has bred, some she has brought to improve and sell onto a brighter future and some with huge talent for Kate's own competitive career. What a horsewoman.

Natalee Wiggins is also one of my Angels and is really getting the feel for this dressage thingy!
Her seat is getting deeper and more functional, legs are now longer and further back under her seat to bring the back up and a much improved elastic contact. Her horses muscles develop and improve every time i see them! GO NAT!

 Karen and Jazz Merrifield are a fantastic mother and daughter team that i love working with. We really do have some fun on the lessons but underneath our giggles, i know they both take their riding and horses and competitions very seriously, so i set very high goals and expectations. I then explain how and what they need to do to achieve these goals. To which they always deliver!

Adam Harvey is my second Event Rider good enough to do pure Dressage! His BE achievements this year are too numerous to mention. If anyone is looking for a young rider to event their horse then check out Adams website
Adam has international potential, talent and backing, but he is also super with baby horses and just bringing out whatever talent each individual horse has. Horses love working with Adam, he is brave but quick to reward. He wants the horse to be happy and willing as priority over just winning, which is why the horses do exactly that and go win for him! 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

January / February / March 2014

Wow Alfie got 75% in  Medium 73!!

He felt amazing in the warm up and did his best ever test. Very proud of ginger squirt. I had taken him to East Soley the day before (won his last x2 Elementaries, out of Ele points now) so he was  lovely and calm and relaxed at Snowball having already been out 'in the real world' the day before. Gosh i remember a couple of years ago when he wasn't strong enough to even be schooled 2 days in a row, let alone compete 2 days in a row.

And got his sexy bum in H&H again!

Katherine Davies and Longdean Waterworld received their much deserved wild card to the restricted Medium Area Festival Finals at the BD Winter Nationals at Hartpury!
Im so pleased for them, they have been working so hard. He is a lovely hot horse and Kate is so amazing with him, knowing when its right to just still and be patient and when its right to turn the pressure on and ask for a little more.
Thats true horsemanship. Fabulous partnership they have but i believe Kate brings this to all the horses she trains in her stable, importing talented young irish horses to bring on and sell to their lucky new owners.

Im very very very proud of Annie Kingston and Mo the very stunning intelligent cheeky Haflingerout and about competing and bringing me home frillys every time.
Mo is learning that it is really good fun to put your energy into actually doing the dressage movements on the test sheet, as opposed to where his energy used to go which was more of a freestyle that Mo invented at the time! Love him! But it was not necessarily what the judge was looking for on her test sheet. 
Its been such a lovely journey for both of them. Annie still gives me some funny looks when i take her out of her comfort zone on the lessons (hee hee) but thankfully she trusts me that its always within hers and Mo's capabilities. I like it when a client says 'are you having a laugh' in reply to a task i have set them. Lets me know they feel stretched and thats good as we are there to do 2 things, 1 - to have bloody good fun and 2 - improve the horse and rider to their maximum ability within a 45 minute session. 
We cant change the world within that set time but as long as my riders understand the goals we have set and understand how to gradually make these improvements as their homework, then you will do as Annie does, which is to improve every single session. 

That beautiful smile says it all. xxx