Sunday, 11 October 2015

October/November/December 2015

Often I will sit on a horse or pony to either show the rider something or to give the horse a better feel for what we are asking. This can really help the rider get the 'conversation' going when they get back up as the horse will feel upgraded in the connection and engagement. The horse and rider can then get a better feel/taster for what the next stage is.
I have to be very very careful which horses I sit on as I have a bad joint degenerative condition which is incredibly painful when jolted so only 'safe' type horses. I have a team of event/sj riders that help me with any naughty, cheeky or unknown ones!

Correct posture. As the horses training advances, slowly through the
 lateral work and transitions the haunches are taught to lower,
thereby resulting in an ever increasing raising of the withers, poll
and lightening of the forehand, known as an uphill frame.
Look familiar!? Phoebe and Rosie now in internally correct posture
I sat on this gorgeous little pony Rosie about 5 months ago. Great fun, forward thinking, super jumper. But very very hollow, huge underneath neck muscle and so stuck in right banana I was actually a little concerned and thought 'well we can just nibble away gently and see where we get'.
The owner/rider is the most lovely 11 year old girl, Phoebe Murray. What a talented young lady and so mature for her young years. Phoebe takes this very seriously. She wants to be good and is going to be very very very good. First lesson I sculpted her into the dressage position and over the next few monthly lessons her homework was to get her strength up in a more functionally correct position and teaching Rosie how to move away from her left leg so we could start to supple her and straighten her. I sat on Rosie last week and I could not believe the difference. So much more equal and supple in both directions, so much more understanding of how her abdominals could round her back up thereby rounding her neck. At pony club it has been suggested to Phoebe that you round a horse by moving the bit from side to side. This is how you artificially round the HEAD and NECK. In times of dire need/emergency like getting past a black bin on a road of course I will momentarily 'put my horses down' so hes's looking at the floor not the bin, there and then for safety. But it's not dressage, its just artificial get your head down horse riding and it is certainly very uncomfortable for the horse to be forced there. Sadly, many people think this is 'it'. Its not. The elasticy in the contact comes from the elbow joint and of course the fingers can have movement, but if that's just to 'get the horses head down' then its going wrong. We need to ride the whole horse not just its head and neck. Look at Rosie above, can you see her internal Pessoa connecting the two ends together. Yes Phoebe is talented, but she is only 11! |If she can do it so beautifully at that tender age, you can do it too!

I cannot tell you how proud I am of Phoebe and Rosie as the photos show the complete correct internal biomechanics, skeletally and musculatory. All done by an 11 year old girl with a super little pony but who was hollow and upside down 5 months ago. WELL DONE PHOEBE AND ROSIE.

Alfie at Pachesham

Alfie at Pachesham

What a lovely week with my pony. We haven't been out to compete since last March (as I have been rather busy trying to make all my clients dreams come true) So was rather surprised to win both Mediums outright especially when Alfie was piaffing through all the collected walks and squealing with excitement in the walk piris! Then two fabulous days training with Herwig Radnetter from the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. Herwig sat on Alfie the second day and OMG the more I train the more I realise how much more I need to learn! What a seat and back and legs he has got and oh boy the timing. Alf felt like he had a car tyre pump put up his bum when I got back on he was so inflated! Wowzer.  Couple of days off for his lordship then gently back into it.

Ellie & Maisie

Ellie & Maisie
Ellie Burden is doing such a lovely job with her young horse Maisie. A very talented mare. So much so that if she had auditioned to be at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, lets just say I am 100% sure they would either paint her white to get her in, or she would be the first bay mare performing high school airs above the ground under the very talented bottom of Herwig Radnetter! Ellie is now at the stage when she can nip most of the caprioles in the bud and can then channel the energy back into tick tock dressage rhythm they were in before the mare thought leaving the floor and flying was a better option. A lovely medium trot has appeared and under the training of KJ Turner from Hall Place the jumping is coming on fab too. Huge respect for this young lady and whenever I say please can I get one of my sj/event riders over to do some work with Maisie (Ellie's safety has to always be my number one priority) Ellie says please can she do it all herself. What a clever brave chick she is, being raised on fabulous principles of if you want something in life, keep working away and with that determination and dedication, your dreams will come true . Clever mum Debbie Burden has worked wonders doing the ground work (lunging stretching and uphill work, lateral work in hand) so its a super team effort. Ellie Burden you are one talented young lady with very sticky bum jodhpurs! Very proud of you.

Jemma & Smirnoff

Jemma & Smirnoff
"Hello Tracey,
Its Jemma, from Hatch Farm, Smirnoff has now safely moved and settled into his new home. I just want to thank you, out of all the many instructors I've had over the years I've never gained so much out of them like I had in the couple of lessons with you. I cannot only continue to train my own horse the way you have taught me, but others. You have taught me a new way to ride. I want to show you how well my boy is doing, he's now very responsive to my leg aids in order to move him across the school.The massive issue I had was overcoming how strong he was and not one instructor told me to keep the Pelham in for schooling apart from you. Here I have attached a few pictures of him in the field! IN A HACKAMORE. Usually I would have no control in a field as it is. especially bit less! Im so so happy with the results from what you've taught me and I will take it on with me for the rest of my riding career to help other people and horses. Jemma Tribe"

This email made me very very happy. Previous to the first lesson, Jemma contacted me and asked what tack I wanted her to ride in. I always like to see people in their 'normal everyday' tack to start. My goal will always be to have you riding in dressage legal tack asap, but we reach this point together once we have worked out why your not in it already. Jemma is a super rider and presented me with a cracking little horse, very attractive, but yes very hollow and very strong in his under neck muscle. He was working front wheel drive not rear wheel drive. We did some in hand leg yielding together and I struggled to ask the front end to wait whilst I asked the back under to catch up, thank goodness he was in a pelham as I would have been in Devon in minutes if I was in a snaffle at that point!
Cracking? Yes. Knew he had any hind legs? No. But Jemma was stuck in that vicious circle of struggling to find them because it is very difficult to put your leg on in a leg yield or shoulder in to gain control of the hind legs, if the horse only goes faster from the leg. This is where the leg yielding along the wall or shoulder out can be brilliant as it provides a barrier until the horse has a light bulb moment that the leg can also mean hind leg step under not just go faster. Jemma did her homework. Leg yielding in hand and under saddle. She found the back end of her horse and therefore transformed him into the stunning horse he is now.
I am over the moon for Jemma, look at those photos of him now in a hackamore! Wow! And I am even more happy for Smirnoff as he is soooo happy now he understands his riders half halt (front end wait, back end catch up) and can now carry his rider in a good comfortable posture with a lifted back and can go show the world how good he was born to be.
I currently have Charles de Kunffy's voice ringing in my ears - 
'The hind legs are your brakes as well as your accelerator'
I currently have Arthur Kottas's voice ringing in my ears - 
'When you have control of the hind legs, you have control of the horse'

Friday, 28 August 2015

July/August/September 2015

Claire Edwards and Bugsy are flying at the moment. I just love the first picture of them cantering around Hickstead after coming 7th in the Sunshine Tour. Then look at the quality of that reins in one hand halt woop woop! The photo of them indoors is whilst doing their first BD Elementary at Merrist Wood. (they also came 3rd in the unaffiliated Elementary at Merrist wood champs. Clever boy)
They have just made a huge leap forward in both of their core strength and Claire's sitting trot is now so improved that she has so much more influence over Bugsy's engagement in all the transitions. Going xc training with Southerly Roberts has helped Bugsy to be so much braver and forward thinking, this has meant we could allow the trot to slow down as he is more mentally forward thinking and the suspension and cadence is now increasing with huge breathtaking medium trots and canters. The shoulder in, travers and half pass are showing Bugsy how to engage to the next level, as well as straightening him and helping him to become more supple as well as preparing him and Claire for BD Medium level dressage.

Kate Matthews has also had such a super season both BE and BD once again on horses she has trained herself from being nice horses, into some really very special ones now!
I am very pleased to report that Kate smiles during her dressage lessons just as much as she smiles during her jumping! We do have a giggle but boy do we get into the nitty gritty of making this lovely lady as good a Dressage Rider as she is Event Rider

Alfie is picking up his strength again after the non riding break whilst his saddle was being made. He is going his absolute best ever.  New muscles being found all the time, new strength, new moves, new suspension, new reach.Yippee!
I have really got learn how to ride better now as this little horse could be really really really good.
Ive had a couple of fab lessons with Sara- Jane Lanning that really helped with us getting more left bend in the ribcage and with me riding with more left leg and loading of Alfies left hind, this in turn has helped Alfie find and cross his right hind more. Kerching!
Some great training with Andrew Murphy has led to a lowering of Alfs haunches in the trot from improving his piaffe and starting on the passage. New super improved medium trots since we found a road to passage. So happy with him, he's loving his dancing and we both snog each other a lot.
A brilliant 4 days training with Charles De Kunffy, plus a great 2 day course with Ali Cookson!
Me? Knackered! And bank balance not looking very healthy after so much training but its what i live for.

Claire Roissetter and Harvey Hooves will always hold a special place in my heart. I started training Claire when she was still in pigtails (sorry Claire!) and when Harvey was just a normal horse. Wow has Claire transformed him. (Please see previous blogs for BE results and 3rd in Badminton Grassroots Champs). I am so pleased to say that although Harvey is now taking life a little more gently, he and Claire are still up there winning BD Novices all over the place and & 7th at the BD Novice Regionals in August.
Very very cool.

Tiana Fogden is a very talented young lady, daughter to Hayley Fogden so she has inherited her talent from her mum. Tianas little pony is cracking, but he used to draw his neck back towards his wither, hollowing his back and going above the contact so it has made it so hard for Tiana to get a feeling for when a horse connects from behind through the back onto the bit. We get some lovely steps in shoulder in and leg yield but Tiana and pony are not yet strong enough to maintain this for long periods so their experience of feeling the connection was intermittent. After long chats with mum, we decide to put a market harborough on for a few weeks. Oooo it was tough for me to do this. I dont use gadgets. I hate gadgets. Only good correct riding will produce a true connection. I argued with myself. Lots. However, whilst wearing it for a short period of a few weeks, it meant we could improve her position, feeling, strength, confidence and timing. I am very pleased to announce that for a very short period of time, it was ok and no animal was hurt in the making of this movie and Tiana can now connect her pony all by herself, from behind through the back to the bit. It reminds me of when I get a feeling from Alfie when I ride him in the double bridle where he bends better, he collects and lengthens better and then I have to work out how I can become a better rider to produce this in his snaffle. If I train him for longer than a few weeks in a double, he starts to get too light in the contact, slightly sucking back and not as truly through and connected from behind into the bit and seeking the bit as I get in the snaffle bridle. So I do both. I learn from the advantages each one gives me and try to get as good as work in the double as I do in the snaffle and vice versa. Not a quick fix. Its a learning curve for both of us as we taste the different feelings. Just like clever Tiana.

Sonya Saville and Charlie are now on and climbing up the BD ladder. I really love this horse. So sweet and beautiful and talented and I am soooooo glad he his owned by Sonya. She will 'take time but not waste time' in producing this lovely horse and the happiness they are going to bring each other is going to be beautiful to watch.

Adam Harvey rode his personal best BE dressage score 18.5, on the very talented Picasso. Adam does a super job with this horse as he does with all his horses and squeezes out of him what the horse feels confident and happy to give so as to keep him mentally on side.
I play the bad cop and convince Adam to ask for a bit more from the horses, but as they are a sensitive bunch, we keep Adam being the good cop so they keep trusting him and wanting to give.

My youngest client is 11. My most mature client is 71. Respect to them both.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

April/May/June 2015

Alfie danced his way to a 1st and a 2nd place in the Mediums at Merrist Wood. I was very pleased with his placings and % as there were some awesome horses there, ones that i would sell my house to buy and live in a caravan if only James would let me!
But the next day he was a little sore in the back and sadly I had to face up to the fact that even when a saddler tells me the saddle fits Alfie .... it may not :-(
After a month of long lining whilst new saddle being made (wow Alfie is going super on the long lines - piaffe, a little passage, square halt, rein back, shoulder in, travers and half pass!) I now have the most gorgeous saddle in the world, bespoke for both Alfie and I.
It is so heavenly for both of us and I am so grateful to Nick Dolman Bespoke Saddler (and so grateful to Alfies sports massage lady Pennie Hooper for recommending him!)
Never again will I buy an off the shelf saddle made by god knows who when I can get a bespoke saddle made by Nick for less money than a well known saddle. SORTED!

Alfie was reserve Champion at the Medium Area Festival last September so he had qualified for the Area Festival Finals which take place at the BD Winter Nationals at Hartpury in April. Sadly I had to withdraw as could not keep Alfie in ridden work as I just couldn't keep training in the old saddle once I knew it was not right for him. Gutted. But Alfie is more important to me than anything.

Two lovely ladies Sally Brogden and Kate Hird have been coming out to venues for training (as well as having training at home) so as to to get their very 'attached' horses more confident at shows ready for when they have to leave each other. We all brought ear plugs for the first few lessons due to all the calling to each other, wore gloves and hats due to the high school airs above the ground and now feed them Equifeast Cool Calm and Collected so as to help the brain! Well im pleased to say all the hard work is paying off! Kate and Suprise came 5th and 6th at Merrist Wood, Sally and Red came 4th in P7 with 71% and 3rd in P12 with 76% at Angel Farm, then Kate and Surprise came 5th in their first long arena test at Wellington!

Selina Barrow has made such awesome progress with her beautiful spotty mare. Selina wont mind me saying that when we first met, she was suffering dreadfully from nerves after a horrible accident. I am not a brave rider anymore so I really do understand when someone's stomach is churning with nerves and would rather get off and go to the pub! Here's the proof - a beautiful horse completely 'on the aids' (if you know you can 'woah' then your more likely to 'go'), attentive and complete trust to the rider (instead of on a sight seeing tour bus to Brighton!) thanks to the internal connection of the ring of postural muscle in the horse, brought about now by Selina's improved position and aiding system. They are now ready for BD and i am very very very proud of them for that as Selina had to put her trust in me that I would never make her do something she didn't want to, yet I could stretch the boundary (on the right day, at the right time) to make sure we progressed both physically and mentally.

Alf and I had the most exciting brilliant day making the TV advert for Equifeast. I can't believe ginger squirt is on the telly! Am so grateful to Equifeast for the brain food, tummy food and joint supplement that helps so much with Alfies training.

Karen Jazz Merrifield continue with their awesome success on their black knight Toggi with Jazz coming 7th at the Hartpury Champs in April! Karen did a dressage test getting x4 8's on her test sheet and then Jazz scored 72.21% for individual 4th at the RC Intermediate Winter Champs in May!

Sally-Anne Barton and Casper are flying after winning both Ele 49 and Medium 63. Training a Gelderlander to work over the back with a long neck, drawing the contact forwards is probably one of the hardest things to do (Friesian, Welsh D, Andalusion, Lusitano, can also be very similar) AWESOME horses with phenomenal leg movement but we also need to be a 'back mover' not just leg mover. Casper is well on his way and I am so pleased for and so proud of Sally-Anne. I think they can go to Grand Prix, in fact that may be the easier part, establishing the correct foundations to build this onto is the harder part! Not because Casper is not an eager willing dance partner because he really is, but because his natural in bred way of going is to move with a hollow back and very high head neck carriage with a high hock and high knee action. Very useful in the piaffe passage work but there's much more to do than just that!
I had two fabulous days riding him at the TTT with Stephen Clarke. Stephen was awesome as always. Day 1 was spent on getting more genuine honest reactions to the leg so we could get both the brain and the hock thinking forward not up and and down. Casper slept on this overnight and the next day he could really show Stephen his talent and his desire to please by coming out and being so lovely and reactive to my leg and so brave and forward thinking, that we could slow down and start showing his super duper lateral work.
Sally-Anne has had a brilliant summer with him with more wins at 68% + at Elementary and 70% + wins at Elementary Freestyle to Music. Elementary Area Festivals Qualified for and next years Music Regionals qualified for!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Jan/Feb/March 2015

A couple of emails and tx that have made me smile .......and reminded me why I do my job!
From my lovely friend and client Debbie Burden
"OMG, how much does my core and arse hurt today. If only Nikita could talk she would probably say the same!! Thanks for fab lessons and making Ellie have a light bulb moment and big smile x"

From a client who had lost her nerve before I met her and not dared ride for a year, until today.
"I am so delighted and had moments of real joy, I completely forgot about being frightened. It was awesome! I'm so very grateful to you, I genuinely wondered if I would ever ride again or even ever get enjoyment from it. I thought maybe I had lost the ability, but its there still, and and can't wait to do it all again. Thank you so much x"

I received this email last month from a lovely client Jade Tee who sadly (for me!) has moved out of the area.
 "Hi Tracey, just wanted to say that you are an AMAZING TRAINER,  I've been looking for some one down in Somerset since May and am having a bloomin hard time finding anyone who even comes close to you. Have been having a series of RYWM lessons and have come away feeling confused, frustrated and uninspired (which takes some doing). Everythings getting tight and clunky and I'm just layering tightness and tightness as the weeks go on - not helping me  or my pony at all in mind or body. Looking for inspiration I just had read through your blogspot and its really helped me find myself and bring back what you taught me and what works! The pictures alone has put back in the aspirational images in my mind and reminded me that goal of what I want to achieve, being at one and in harmony (not riding short with an obsession  a 45 degree angle to the detriment of all else)  when riding and ideally one day maybe looking as fancy and doing such fancy things as you and your lucky clients are! If you're ever in Somerset let me know hehe! Hope alls good with you, Mr May and Alfie 😃"

Fingers crossed the TTT (Training the Teachers of Tomorrow Trust) has been able to recommend to Jade a TTT person down in Somerset. I know how I felt when I first saw Ali Sewell ride  ( now Cookson) and then 20 years ago (blimey!) she started to teach me how to ride like her (er to ride correctly/ properly!) and it quite simply changed my life. No other training system has come close. I still have fun working with other trainers and it can be helpful but I am soooooo lucky and grateful for the information and principles that my TTT journey has instilled into me. Regular monthly training clinics with our number one judge Stephen Clarke, the one and only mighty Charles De Kunffy,  Arthur Kottas and Herwig Radnetter from The Spanish Riding School of Vienna. What an amazing cocktail of Masters. Thankyou.