Adventures and Magic Moments of the Oldenburg Winter Meeting 2017
Meet Nicola Behr! An amazingly talented young artist.
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7 Easy ways to fix your sitting Trot!
1. Check your clothing and equipment
Taking quick stock of your equipment can never hurt. Consider for example one of the most critical pieces of equipment: Your saddle. Does the saddle fit your horse? Does the saddle fit your, ahem, bottom? Does the saddle help you and your horse be balanced? If the saddle is painful for the horse, very little will help improve your sitting trot.
Do you have the appropriate pants and boots? Consider a leather seat if you bounce too much- helps you stay a touch quieter. Consider basic knee patch breeches if you find yourself driving the horse too much- allows you to move in the saddle a touch more without taking the horse with you.
Are your boots too stiff? Too flexible? Its all fine and dandy to have the flashiest andfanciest of riding gear but if you and your horse aren't comfortable it isn't going to help your sitting trot.
2. Find the right Instructor:
For those who want to learn to ride and learn to ride well, working with a good and knowledgeable instructor with the right attitude is an immense asset. Some riders are born with a natural ability to ride a horse...others, well, have to work at it. Now this is where you should pay attention: Sometimes what you are asking the horse to do and what the horse actually does can be two different things. A good instructor can take into consideration your body, ability, and compatibility and help you make effective adjustments to improve your sitting trot. Don't be afraid to ask your instructor to focus on a particular element of your riding- in this case the sitting trot.
3. Read a book!
A theoretical basis is always good. There are a ton of books on the market and most of them dedicate a considerable number of pages to riding the sitting trot.
Take for example Egon von Neindorff ( The Art of Classical Horsemanship, 2007)
"If the student is to understand the mystery of sitting relaxed at the sitting trot, then at this stage the horses trot tempo must remain as moderate as possible. As soon as the pupil cannot maintain the correct position in the slower trot tempo- immediately return to the walk to correct every single unwanted change in the seat. At this stage of learning, our beginner may not stiffen or twist and lose his position. When an unconstrained, supple, and erect seat has been achieved again one can cautiously begin with the next calm attempt at a trot sequence"
Or Isabell Werth ( Dressage School, A Sourcebook of Movements and Tips, 2005)
"Most Common Mistakes: The rider: leans forward or leans back; has busy lower legs pinches with her thighs; bounces instead of swinging with the motion; has stiff midsection; collapses in the hip; hollows her back; pushes lower legs too far forward (chair seat); pulls lower legs too far backwards; has too tight seat. "
Or even Bertalan de Nemethy ( The De Nemethy Method, 1988)
" To sit the trot, the rider must follow the up-and-down swinging movements of the back of the horse smoothly, so that he can retain the proper position. The horses back muscles (longissimi dorsi) will remain relaxed only if the riders seat smoothly follows the rhythm of the horse"
I know it's cold outside right now....or too hot....or too rainy.....or you can't get to the barn.... no excuses. Pick up a book.
4. From the Saddle to a Flexchair.
As a rider you are very often not aware of how you sit and drive. You may naturally be a little crooked, one hip lower that the other etc. A chair/saddle is connected to a computer program and with the guidance of a physiotherapist, will bring all your unique flaws to your attention- so you can work on fixing them. It records all your movements and reactions which leads to frequently surprising results. It is amazing how little tweaks to your body can have massive results. I am looking forward to taking this gadget for a spin in the near future!
5. LONGE LESSONS! Not just for beginners.
Lessons on the longe help. If you are not familiar with the concept: Your instructor lunges you: She controls the horse and you are free to focus intensely on your body and position. I cannot stress enough how helpful longe lessons can be!
6. Mobility exercises on and off your horse.
If your horse safely allows you to do so (or you can borrow another safe horse :)) Ride with no stirrups, or with no reins (that is best done on the lunge). Moving your legs on and off the horse, lean back, lean forwards, move your legs front to back. These movements all help relax, lengthen and ultimately improve your sitting trot. Don't be afraid to move a little and get out of your comfort zone.
7. Do something different!
Cross training is another super way to improve your riding. Consider yoga, pilates, dancing, meditation. Great ways to increase fitness and body awareness- all ingredients that help make up an amazing sitting trot.
I lied- there are 8 Tips (this one is a bonus )
Don't underestimate the power of breathing! Actually the breathing is pretty darn important and so over looked. Start with 3 deep breaths every so often when you are riding. if you can do more even better- but it is easy for everyone to start with 3 deep breaths. It really is amazing how breathing can increase oxygen to your working body, relax your muscles, and the horse feel the changes resulting from the breathing as well. So remember: BREATHE
The cutest pony advert ever.
A Veterinarian and specialist equine nutritionist, Dr. Chloe Casalis De Pury, gave a fantastic talk about current research into how we can make our equine athletes perform and recover better. The horse world is based on a great deal of heresy and tradition. She dispelled a great many myths.
The presentation was long and packed chock full with technical information of vital importance in keeping up to date with equine management. Basically it came down to the following points:
Forage. All the time.
I have seen myself, first hand, many riders who put their horse on the trailer for a competition without any hay. She could not emphasize enough how important it was for riding horse to have hay in its tummy all the time. Especially while being ridden. A fiber mat of forage in the stomach of the horse during riding drastically reduced acid splash on the stomach, thusly reducing ulcers. Her suggestions: Feed alfalfa chalf half an hour before riding to create a fiber mat in the stomach to reduce ulcers.
She dispelled a great many myths about supplements. If the end, the only one that seemed to show any sort of scientific benefit was probiotics and prebiotics to help regulate the flora that flourishes in the gut. Especially with horses that travel a great deal and have new feed introduced to them, management of the gut flora was of vital importance. She encouraged people to try to keep the same forage at all times even when travelling.
Again she dispelled a great many myths about how to get the horse to recover from exercise faster and to delay the onset of lactic acid production...bicarbonate shakes, etc. none of these formulations stood up to research trials. Only regular consistent anaerobic exercise is the solution.
Paul Fielder: Long Lining:
Very informative demo with 2 different horses and two different styles of long lining. Paul was a strong proponent of long lining as he felt it encouraged horses to move forward, in a straight fashion, and aided in developing a good mouth. What he also liked about Long lining was that not only could you feel the horse (as with riding) but you could also SEE what is going on with the horse in real time.
Methods of setting up the long lines:
1)Surcingle and the lines from mouth to withers and to the hand.
2) Reins from mouth to surcingle and outside rein around the hind legs/rump.
He found long lining was very helpful in improving contact acceptance and rehabilitating horses. Keep the back healthy because there is less weight on the horse during work.
Helps to improve balance and turns.
Was okay with moderate outside flexion to keep the hoses shoulder straight on turns and circles.
Uta Graf presented her style of riding and training to the forum. She talked us through a video of her set up at home. All the horses are turned out as much as possible in large groups. In one particular field there are 25 horses. She stressed that this particular group was made up of geldings and the horses are a consistent group - Not introducing new horses all the time. She has no indoor arena and shies away from clipping the horses when she can. If the horses are not competitions they are unclipped and blanket free.
Uta brought 3 horses with her. She chose them based on their abilities. Normal horse with normal talent, talented horse that is a bit tricky, and a super talented horse going really well.
She made a comment about riding without fear. That the way her system of managing the horses created a happy relaxed horse who the riders needs not be afraid to ride.
It was clear from all three horses that her system of management promoted relaxed riding and relaxed confident horses.
Uta trained with many walk breaks. She would ask the horse for just a few steps of more challenging work, get the reaction, and then allow the horse to relax into easier (ie long and low ) work and then repeat.
A couple of times in the presentation she talked about taking on a difficult or challenging horse because she liked the owner. That she tries to ride only horses she can have for the long term. I think that was very important for her and I applaud her for sticking to her philosophy. She knows what she want and does it.
George Morris was invited to demonstrate and discuss his philosophy of riding. He rode a 4 year old warmblood on the flat and over fences. He shared with us his start in riding and how after an interesting stint in theatre turned to horses full time.
He stressed the importance of good horsemanship and basic dressage riding. He felt saddened by the fact that hunter/jumper riders in North America call their dressage work "flatting" or "hacking" or “riding in the flat” in almost a derogatory and dismissive way. That he thinks only 10% of riders bother to do dressage and are to quick to slap on draw reins.
He rides at least 3 horses every day and makes a point of riding 8-10 strange horses every week. He felt that it was important for him to ride during clinics that he is teaching because he can set an example for the students, so they could see how it was done, and that they can do it as well.
As some of you might know, George is a stickler for good horsemanship. He offered a good analogy: He compared bad horsemanship to staying in a bad hotel.
He also was conflicted about competitions. He felt that competitions ride a fine line. They SHOULD be a barometer for training but all too often they result in shortcuts. He compared competitions to Icebergs. Competitions have become the Iceberg. The whole iceberg, which is incorrect. Competitions should be the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg, that is under water is the training you do at home outside the show arena.
Spoke about the various seats and encouraged a light seat often to spare the horses back. He likes to start off riding on the right rein as we naturally want to start on the left.
George started by schooling the young horse for quite some time under saddle without jumping. He allowed the horse to put his head wherever he wanted. He certainly didn't force the horse into a frame. “Calm, forward, straight” was his mantra. He took his time suppleing and loosening the horse. Huge fan of leg yielding off the wall.
He started the horse over poles placed on the centre line- two poles normal trotting distance and the third pole two steps away ( so if the horse was trotting over the pole he would trot two strides over the poles, one normal step (no pole) then another pole. Slowly but surely he gradually increased the difficulty of the exercise-making the pole a single small verticle, removing placing poles and then increasing the height. He really made use of the entire ring while jumping and did tons of changes of tracks after the jump, coming over the jump on angles, and doing surprise turns.
Great quote from Dane Rawlins during the panel discussion with George:
“ Jumping is dressage with lots of balls”.
The 15th edition of the Global Dressage forum was hosted by the beautiful Academy Bartels. In the charming town of Hooge Mierde, Netherlands, the equestrian centre was superbly set up. You almost didn’t know you were in a stable. The main foyer was perfection: Greeting guests was a welcome station to arrange passes and get your questions answered. Following the welcome station, the hall was lined with tasteful vendors selling educational books, stable accouterments, and of course tack shops. The carpeted floor, warm wood of the interior and sparkelingchandeliers made you feel welcome and excited to be there.
Two arena’s attached from the main hall way. The first arena, adorned with unique and interesting art work converted the already lovely arena to into a reception area with full catering the entire duration of the Forum. An ideal place to network and connect with interesting dressage colleagues from around the world.
The second arena was converted into a type of auditorium with plenty of seating, a stage for the speakers, and a curtain wall, that when pulled aside revealed a well groomed and prepared riding area for presentation.
The Forum began with an introduction from HRH Princess Benedikte who also happens to be the president of the GDF and a dressage supporter! Poised and gracious she opened the 15th edition of the Forum.
Richard Davison the moderator and MC. His tactfulness and keen sense of humour was welcome throughout the forum.
The first order of business was Frank Kemperman and Carina Mayer,
who updated the audience on key FEI Dressage developments. A few notes on these presentations are as follows:
Plans to run FEI Nations Cup Competitions as an official series with Sponsors and Trophys.
Formalization of bidding processes for World Cup Qualifiers and Championships
Looking to run Championships for Under 25. Looking for bidders.
The new youth ranking system is a hit.
World Rankings have been good for media.
Major Rule Changes to be proposed:
Allowing Fly Hoods in indoor and outdoor competition- for noise reduction. Mainly to provide ear protection during awards ceremonies and noise reduction for competitions themselves.
Increasing the penalty of riding off course to 3 Percentage Points.
A very solemn presentation of the directives from the IOC to the FEI. We have no choice but to change and make our sport more attractive to the general public. Dressage has already been demoted to a D sport. If we want to continue to be included in the games we must make the sport more compatible with Media (television etc), score more social media coverage, have more flags but less riders.
As with last year at the GDF, how we keep the sport current and relevant was a hot topic and one of course, of great importance. An emphasis on freestyle in the future seems to be the way to go.
Coming Next from the Global Dressage Forum 2015: A Long Lining Demo from Paul Fielder.
As some of you are aware, I recently purchased a new dressage horse with the intention of training him and competing him in the dressage arena. I am in LOVE with him! He has an excellent character and can do dressagy things with his body already that I have never felt on another horse. I feel, however, that up until coming to me, he has been living in a cave. A cave that has no cows, or sheep….somewhere far from civilization. Like Siberia or something. Think, Plato’s Allegory of the cave. Well, Charming has left the cave and is having to make some, um, adjustments. Some new changes are more than agreeable for him:
- White bread is a gastonomical miracle.
- Blankets, although somewhat untrustworthy and suspisious at first are now a cozy luxury
- Hanging out with new ponies at the riding club, especially the little furry ones
- Extended spa sessions (aka grooming)
As with keeping with the balance of good and evil, there are also some things that are challenging. Like Cows…and Sheep.
Our first attempt at a leisurely hack out in the woods resulted in a lovely walk for myself, a near heart attack for Charming, and a face full of snot from an alarm snort so forceful it would have given the winds of Hurricane Katarina a run for its money. Seriously, the slimy pellets of snorted nostril mucus felt like bullets in my face. Mission “Walk in the Forest” was aborted, well played Charming, well played.
A few days later and undeterred from the failed mission, I enlisted the lady who owns the farm where I keep Charming. Karin is a lovely lady and has a equally delightful horse, Kariss.
Kariss was more that happy to lead the way and show Charming how to enjoy the forest (and bravely march pass the cows and sheep).
Now this is the part I felt was important to share. The previous day I had attended a clinic taught by David Dewispelaere. We met at the Global Dressage Forum and he invited me down to audit the clinic, just outside of Aachen. One of the big take aways from the clinic was deep breathing. I think it is so strange that in life, when you are learning something, it shows up in many places. I’d been reading and contemplating breathing the last few months (google “Wim Hof”) and here it was in the clinic. David reminded the riders to breath on many, many occasions. I even found myself breathing along with them. Such a simple solution- We forget to breath.
David would do a deep slow breath loud enough for the horse and rider to hear, whenever a horse or rider got nervous. It had a visible positive effect on their level of relaxation.
So, back to Mission “ Walk in the Forest”: Whenever I felt Charming tense up I took a deep breath myself and breathed out loudly in a relaxed way so he could hear it. The effect was immediate. I don’t know if it was him relaxing because I relaxed a little more or he relaxed upon hearing the relaxed noise, I am not entirely sure but the result was so clear I needed to share it with you guys.
When I remembered to make a deep breath and breathed out loudly and slowly, he relaxed in immediate response.
Mission “Walk in the Forest” was a success. We walked by cows, sheep, over bridges, past bicycles. Everyone, including Charming had a genuinely enjoyable time.
I am very thankful for Karin and Kariss for their “fearless” leadership and we must remember to be conscious of our breath in riding…and really in daily life. Thank you David, for reminding me.
Below are my notes from David’s clinic if you would like further reading:
October 31 2015 I had the pleasure of attending a clinic taught by David Dewispelaere. We met at the Global Dressage Forum at the Academy Bartels and he invited me to attend the clinic down close to Aachen he was teaching the following weekend. Being always eager to attend interesting events and looking for opportunities to educate myself I jumped at the opportunity. Having been trained by Reiner Klimke and Arthur Kottas certainly added to my curiosity.
The clinic was hosted by Zirbelhof in Belgium, just south of Aachen. Organized by Jeannette Aretze and Philipa Helg, the stable was nestled in the hills south of Aachen.
The clinic was well organized- I received an email outlining the clinic schedule and clear directions. The hosts were warm and welcoming, very kindly accommodating my native English language. The food was a well prepared pot luck lunch. Hot soup included and plenty of warm coffee.
Most of the horse and rider combinations rode 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon, David was able to build on the morning session. A tactful move as the riders were more relaxed and horses were settled and loose from the morning session and were able to made further strides in their training.
What was a pleasure to see from the riders is they clearly rode for pleasure and really loved their horses no matter the level of talent. David also treated each horse and rider combination with respect and a clear drive to help them improve their riding and harmony with their horse:
David kept the rides very quiet. Using gymnastic exercises to loosen the horse.
Small circles, halting to rein back ( very quiet)
Leg yield to shoulder in.
Lots of walk breaks after a successful exercise.
Halts encouraging and waiting quietly for submission in the jaw.
Small circles in renvers.
David gave the riders quiet and clear, simple directions.
David encouraged the rider and the horse to find their own balance. Not pushing for the crazy energy and off balance of being too forward. Clear to see when the horse found his correct and balanced rhythm he was able to soften his back, swing more through his entire body and come softer in the hand.
David gave a musical instrument analogy: say you play the flute. You need to play the notes of the scale. All of the notes. Not just one or two. You also need to be ( with your body and the rhythm of your body) in sync with the particular tune of your horse.
Lots of deep sighs from David- this relaxed the horse and rider. Encouraging the horse to be low and stretch over the back.
Staying in halt until the horse relaxes. Just waiting. Rider doing a few deep breaths and just waiting for the horse to stand still and relax in himself.
He suggested the riders to scratch the withers with her finger while riding. That area of the horse, when scratched, acts as a trigger point to relax the horse. Very useful in competition to relax the horse in a subtle way .
He encouraged positive tension in the riders position. Not hard negative tension.
For a couple of inverted horse, when David asked the rider to lengthen the reins, the horse’s head went down.
The rider is somehow blocking the horse and making him camel style. When the reins are relaxed, the head drops.
With one mare who was a little stiff and against the hand in the halt, David had the rider ride the horse in a little travers into the halt to stop the horses hind legs from falling out and keep the horse softer in the body, and have the horse step further underneath her self.
Reminding the rider to release tension. Deep breath, acknowledging the tension as to release it.
Keep contact elastic.
Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth and do your down ward transition.
Horses are musical instruments
What struck me as consistent threads between all the riders was a very good contact. There were no gaping mouths, not a moment of anger or roughness. If a rider or horse got a little tense David was very, very quick to relax the combination through either a walk break or a deep breath, and when I say a little tense he was so very quick to recognize and dissipate the tension. Quite remarkable, I think.
Welcome to the racetrack round. We ask brilliant riders from around the world 5 questions. Our feature Equestrian is Veronika Gylthe! A talented Junior rider heading for the Big Tour.
JB: What does the first 60 minutes of your day normally look like?
V.G: I wake up and then I go eat breakfast. I also have a coffee because my day won’t work without my coffee. I brush my teeth and brush my hair. I put my pants on and then I go to the stable and start riding.
J.B: And what do you normally have for breakfast? Do you like eggs or cereal?
V.G.:– Yeah oatmeal! Oatmeal with banana.
J.B.:– Almost like the horses, they get there oats and you get your oats for breakfast.
J.B.:– Obviously you’re a coffee person. Do you check your phone first thing when you wake up?
V.G.:– No, I actually wait until I sit with my breakfast. When I’ve finished making my breakfast and I’m siting there with my breakfast and coffee then I have my cell phone time.
J.B.:– Good for you, that’s some really good self-discipline! Do you have one quick fix that we could take to the barn, after listening to this podcast that would make us a better rider today?
V.G.:– Visualisation. I think riders should use more visualisation on shows, and at home. They can visualise how their day should be like and then they can focus more on what they want to do better the next day. If there’s a show that is big that you’ve never been to, you can visualise the ground, the track and how it works.
J.B.:– How do you work that into your schedule? Say you’re at a show and you’ve got a big competition coming up, do you find a quiet place, do you just sit in the stands? How do you set yourself up? do you close your eyes? Is there a process that you set yourself up to go through with your visualisation?
V.G.:– I usually close my eyes, I get in my own little bubble. For example, at the Nordic Championship, I knew that it was a lot bigger show than I usually go to. There’s a lot more people, Norwegian flags, everybody’s cheering for each other and you have to be good every single round.
Before I go to the show, maybe in a truck on the way there, I close my eyes and I try to visualise how everything is going to be. How the team leader is going to talk to me, how everybody is putting more pressure on you than they actually know they’re doing!
Then on the show day, usually after I walk the course, more for myself, I try to see myself riding the course with my horse and make a plan on how I want to ride and how I want it to be.
J.B.:– Yeah, that’s awesome.
Is there a book you think that everyone should read?
V.G.:– There is a Norwegian book called `Bli Beste’ and if I translate it, it says “How to become best”. It’s about mental training and it’s really good. I know that Norwegian skiers have been using it and the Norwegians on skis are the best in the world so it has worked.
It’s about everyday mental training for use in competitions, and people who work 9-5 jobs. It’s really good for how to become even better than you were yesterday, every single day and how to be happy with yourself and develop every single day.
J.B.:– Could you share with us some points that struck you or stood out for you in that book? Could you share with us some of those ideas?
V.G.:– The visualisation I actually started with after reading this book and also how I can control my own mind. If I’m sad you can see it on my body language. If I’m on a show I want to be happy, I want to be ready and I want to be focused. If I control my own body language and thoughts I will get the feelings that I want. So I make the feelings I want by thinking of them.
J.B.:– So when you’re feeling sad you consciously make the decision to be happy?
V.G.:– Yeah, because you can’t control your feelings but your thoughts lead to feelings. That’s why I try to control my thoughts and mind as much as possible.
J.B.:– What is one thing about riding that you wished learned earlier?
V.G.:– Flatwork, good flatwork.
J.B.:– What do you feel is an important aspect of the flat work?
V.G.:– I feel, to have the horse flexible and well-ridden at the flat work. The gas is working; the brakes are working and riding with more riding with small cavaletti’s. The horse should be in the right place and there are so many faults that I’ve had in my career because my horse had not been well enough ridden at the flatwork.
J.B.:– For our last question imagine you wake up one morning and you were a 17 year old working student. You have a place to live; your food and basic needs are all met. You have all the knowledge you have now, but you don’t have a horse. You don’t know anybody and you only have $500. How would you start your new life?
V.G.:– I would start with getting to know people, getting contacts. Then try to set up some auditions for some riders or some horse owners and try to talk them into knowing me, and me knowing them. Just try to make friends and contacts, maybe some horse owners and just show them what I’ve got.
J.B.:– Where would you meet those contacts and people? Where would you go to find them?
V.G.:– I would go to the stables around and maybe find my way to the shows that are close by. One person knows another, and maybe he knows another and getting more and more friends and contacts.
J.B.:– Excellent! Thank you so much V.G.:for joining us today on the Jaxson and Berry podcast. Is there a best way for our audience to get a hold of you or to follow you?
V.G.:– I have an Instagram account @veronikagylthe and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
I also have a Facebook page that is, Stall V.
Racetrack Round Rolf!
Transcript from our Podcast. If you haven't listened to the podcast in its entirely CLICK HERE:
JB:- So, what do the first 60 minutes of your day normally look like?
Rolf:- I wake up and I have breakfast. Normally I go to my job and I start riding my first horses. The first hour is quite quick, gone.
JB:- Do you drink coffee in the morning?
Rolf:- Not really, I wait a little bit with that. I may ride three or four horses and then I go for a coffee.
JB:- And what does your breakfast look like? Are you a protein kind of guy or do you roll with a cereal?
Rolf:- No, I go for some bread and mostly some hot chocolate in the morning. Warm hot chocolate, that’s my start of the day.
JB:- Is their a book that you think that everyone should read?
Rolf:- There is not a particular book that I say “this one you have to read”. It’s for sure interesting to read other peoples mind and what they have written down in books but I don’t have a particular one that I say “this is the one you have to read”, no.
JB:- Is their one that you’ve read recently that you’ve been like “oh that’s kind of interesting”?
Rolf:- I would say that to be honest I’m not a person who reads so much. I try to look into people, what they’re doing, how they do it and whether they’re so successful. Then try to imitate and test what are they doing, can I do the same? Just look at other people and try to do the same. Then you have tried it and say it doesn’t work for me and then you have to go on and make your own mix of your own riding style.
JB:-I think that’s really great you’re still learning and trying new things. What is one thing about riding that you wished you’d learned earlier?
Rolf:- To have patience. In the early years you’re always thinking you could do everything perfect directly, that’s not possible. You can not go and win all the classes, that’s not possible. That’s maybe what’s difficult for young people to understand. You have parts and you have times when things do not go super well and you’re not placed in the top always. But just stay patient and keep on working and then it comes.
JB:- Do you have one quick fix that if we went into the barn today and tried it could make us a better rider today?
Rolf:- You have to try to figure out what is best for that horse. You can not put every single horse in the same box and say “you have to fit in there”. You have to find the own way for the different horses and let them live.
JB:- Excellent. Okay now our last question. Imagine you wake up one morning and you’re a 17 year-old working student. You have a place to live; your food and basic needs are all met. You have all the knowledge you have now but you don’t have a horse, you don’t know anybody and you only have $500. How would you start your new life?
Rolf:-That’s not so easy! I would first of all try to get in contact with some people where there are some horses around and also where they are at a good level, somewhere where they have good horses and good management and everything. And then I would just try to help them out or whatever to get going and slowly by slowly build something up.
Thrilled to have this article published this month in FHANA magazine! Enjoy!
Written By Aletia Reilingh
and Photo Credit to Sunje Thal :) (thanks for waking up so early!)
This weekend in the JB World!
Kathi had a full weekend of competitions- Starting on Friday and rolling right through Monday! At Dingerdong she was 3rd place @ L level with Casper (rockin’ his superman charm of course!). She challenged M Level again and had a lovely round with one rail down.
Riding Schimmel (Kiki’s lovely grey horse) for the first time-had a clear round @ A Level and one rail down @ L level. Not too shabby for this newbie team!
Lara and Nessi had a beautiful and harmonious test at L Level Dressage and was awarded 6th place.
We would like to welcome Sophia Heller to the Jaxson and Berry Team!
She was born (and still lives) in Heiden, Switzerland.
Recently, we asked her if there was a competition success that she was most proud of.
“It was the first time I was riding a 1.20 class, and it was really difficult and my mare was also not easy to ride, but somehow I made it and won the class. In general for me, every clear round is a victory, specially when you have young horses, or difficult ones”.
This past weekend she rode Calibra ( 5 yo CosmeoxCalido mare ) in her first Springpferde A and won it with 8.0. The mare also was clear in the 1.10 class.
Her second horse is Crazy Momo (8yo Caledo x Le Matin mare) and this was her third competiton. They nailed the 1.10 and won the class!
Congratulations Sophia and welcome to Team JB!!
As summer sets in and you are finding you are no longer in a rush to leave the barn and escape the winter weather, it is a perfect time to start new habits with yourself and your horse.
You know that moment you put your foot in the stirrup and the horse starts to walk as you swing your leg over. You think - meh, next time you’ll make him stand. What about when you put your horse away and you think about cleaning his bit and bridle but you decide, meh, next time. What about when you are warming up your horse. Do you walk for 10 minutes before you get into the trot work? Maybe you find the walk is too boring or you don’t know what to do.
With the extra time you have saved reading my blog post “Weapons of Mass Distraction” you can use that time to build new habits.
This week I was asked to school a handsome 16 year old gelding. He was full of energy and looking for any excuse to spook. When I mounted, it struck me how well he stood…..and how lazy I had gotten with my own horses (insert sheepish look here)! The owner shared with me the sugar cube trick- which I knew about but it just slipped my mind with my own horses….. What is the trick? Have a sugar cube handy. You mount the horse, ask him to halt and then lean over and give him a sugar cube. After a couple of rides he will anticipate the sugar and not walk off. Voila! You have a horse that will stand while being mounted.
Bridle cleaning doesn’t have a magic trick… unless you have a sugar cube addiction. It did help me to have a wonderful working student from Germany who was obsessive about having a clean bridle! If I even thought about putting away a dirty bridle I would just get “THE LOOK” that would send me scurrying to the wash stall to clean the bridle. If you don’t have the self discipline to clean your bridle, just imagine George Morris, a Working Student, or someone who scares you giving you the “stare of shame”. Even just cleaning your bit after every ride is a small but effective habit- who wants sores on their horses mouth because of a dirty bit? Do you reuse the same toothbrush everyday without rinsing it after you use it? So Gross. I sure don’t.
I am a firm believer of “walking your horse” for the first 10 minutes of a ride. An old Swiss rider instilled this habit in me, John Lassetter actually made it fun, and Jane Savoie made it logical for me. Actually now that I am writing this little blog I think I will save the “10 minute walk” for a longer post.
Here is your challenge- until I compose that post, you can just start warming up with a 10 minute walk every ride. I would be curious to know what you do with your 10 minutes before I share with you what I do! Leave a comment on the blog!
The two week forced social media digital detox in China got me thinking about how to create more time in our day- make time to ride that extra horse, squeeze in more time hand grazing our horse, or taking the extra time to REALLY groom our horses.
I know first hand how time can fly in the barn and often contemplated the very real possibility of a warp in the space time continuum induced by the horses themselves.
A couple ideas:
Puppies, Kittens, and facebook:
So when Mini had her puppies we all spent soooooo much time snuggling them. Everyone in the house and in the barn would find time to sit down and play with the puppies- for hours! I think it was a marvelous way to spend an afternoon. The puppies, with their big brown eyes, little squeaking noises, and endearing antics just sucked you in to their world…. I gotta say, a little bit like Facebook and all the pictures and videos of cute little puppies and kittens that suck you into their world. My suggestion is to set one specific time to check facebook and set a time limit. That extra time you save is extra time you can spend with your horse.
Run Over By a Horse:
I’m going to warn you- you may be entering a rant.
Cellphones. I am a very firm believer in leaving your phone in your tackbox when you are at the barn. I do not use my phone when I am on a horse. It is dangerous and disrespectful to your horse. I cannot tell you how it drives me crazy when people are riding around checking SMS or talking on the phone. One of the most beautiful and rare gifts of riding is the chance to be present in the moment. Put the phone down and RIDE!
I also don’t keep my phone with me when I am teaching. Your clients deserve your full undivided attention. I have been on both ends of this- as a coach AND as a student. I feel it is very rude for your coach to be on the phone when you are paying for a lesson.
The only time I can be caught with a phone in the arena is if I am expecting a very urgent phone call- from a vet or waiting for an offer on a horse. Unless it is a VERY important and time sensitive phone call I will not keep my phone with me in the arena.
You may think you are just quickly checking your phone but the time you spend checking in adds up. If you are in the barn for 6 hours, and check your phone every 30 minutes for 2 minutes, you are spending 24 minutes checking your phone a day! That is nearly a full half an hour you can be doing something. Just leaving your phone in the car or tackbox will stop you fro constantly checking in and give you extra time!
So, set one or two specific times a day that you check your messages, leave your phone out of the arena, and you’ll just how much extra time you have in your day! My rant is over now. Thanks for reading!
I’d love to hear about ways you save time! Leave a comment on our blog!
Two years ago I came to Hamburg to buy horses for clients in Canada. As luck would have it, we were in Hamburg for the 2013 Hamburg Derby! My good friend Lina (who now runs the Baltic Horse Show in Kiel) arranged for us to attend. The sheer size and quality of riding blew my Canadian mind!
That day two years ago, started with the “Dressage Derby”. In this very cool class the final 3 rider’s **gasp** changed horses and they all had to ride each other’s horses. Talk about separating the wheat from the chaff! It was fascinating to see the rideablility of the horses and tact of the riders on the different horses.
Next was the “Jumping Derby” itself! This 86 year old jumping tradition is “THE” jumping event in Hamburg- not to mention the most prestigious derby in the world. Standing room only in stadium. The course is long, big, and keeps everyone on the edge of their seat. Rider’s who compete in this class have nerves of steel. It’s scary and awesome to watch the top horse and rider combinations take on the challenge.
This year I find myself in a different position. I am working at the Derby! I am a dressage scribe for all four days and get to be part of this huge event!! It certainly has its perks...like, well, drinking champagne and watching the competition from the VIP area :)
So here I am again. I had no idea two years ago, that I would be following my dream and living in Germany- and working at the Derby! Isn’t life grand!
One of the biggest steps I had to take as a business woman and a rider was letting go! To become more productive- really get things done that were bigger than me, I needed a paradigm shift in the way I saw myself working in the barn.
I started the Equestrian Centre from scratch- from day one I had to be everything while we got the facility up and running- Coach, trainer, stall mucker, barn hand…..everything from mucking out, turn out, feeding, night check, teaching lessons and training horses. I was very lucky to have a very good support system in the people around me. In the initial phase of starting the Equestrian Centre many, many people pitched in to make it a success.
I remember the moment I had to let go and stop trying to be everything to everyone. I was in the barn mucking out. I was by myself and going through the extra long list of important things I needed to do for the day in my head. I put the pitch fork down and it hit me. I realized that mucking stalls was not adding value to the business. It was non-value added work and my skills were best directed to taking care of my wonderful clients and bringing new business to the table. As a horsewoman I wanted to be in the barn all the time caring for the horses but I realized that I had to let that part go if I wanted to grow the business successfully. I moved up a level in leadership- I became a manager that day. I hired my first employee and through trial and error developed a pretty solid system. Over the years I learned a great deal about managing an Equestrian Centre and the people that make up the team. We added more staff and brought on working students, volunteers, co-op students, and hired people with intellectual disabilities. The best part was the sense of teamwork that flourished in the barn. With adding the right people to the team our productivity skyrocketed.
With the changes of management in the barn, came new processes that need to be in place to keep things running in top form and with consistency.
I integrated tools to help with the process:
1)Daily schedule- A hard copy schedule posted everyday in the barn. This included:
Which horses where to be ridden
What lessons where scheduled when
Extra work that needed to be completed.
We were able to change the schedule if things didn’t go according to plan.
The hard copy was great to keep for future use (ie Billing or record keeping)
If I ever forgot “The List” I would hear about it from my team (insert sheepish look here)
2) Email Lists
I had email lists in place for the clients as well as the employees. I cannot express how important communication is. Clients want to know if the farrier was there that day, or if their horse got worked so they can plan accordingly. Just touching base twice a month to update clients on what is going on in the barn helps keep everyone in the know and as a bonus: builds a sense of community.
3) Google Calendar: Super way to have an online schedule for arena use and lesson times. Easy to make private.
4) Facebook Group: Great way to acknowledge competition results and team successes. You can also have a private group just for barn members for specific barn related discussions/updates.
I would be interested to hear what systems you have in place at your stable to help with productivity and communication. Let us know in the comments section of the blog!
I like to make To-Do Lists. Great way to plan your day: Organize the horses you need to ride and schedule the lessons I need to teach. Try to make the best use of every day. The To-do list is great but there is a secret list that we also need to keep in mind. This is called the M.I.A. : MOST IMPORTANT ACTIONS list. This list is 1-3 things (never more than 3 at one time) that you need to do before everything else that will move you toward your BIG LONG TERM GOALS.
For example- Perhaps your Big Long Term Goal is to ride international dressage competitions with your own horse. You need to break down your goal into a logical step by step plan and then work that plan step by step. The MIA is your little 1-3 list of items that you need to do today, this week, this month, to help move you towards your BIG LONG TERM GOAL.
My MIA’s at the moment are to :
A) Plan the next 5 months- life, competitions and travel
B) Record 10 Podcasts for the official launch of the Jaxson and Berry Show.
Slow and steady wins the race. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. What are your MIA’s? Let us know in the comment section!
One of the exciting questions I ask my guests on my podcast ( details about the release of the podcast will be coming soon) is “ What does the first hour of their day look like?”. I want to know how top equestrians begin their day- is there a secret to their success?
How I set up my morning influences the rest of the day and I like to make my mornings count!
So, what does my morning look like?
I like to wake up 2 hours before I have to be in the barn. I set my alarm 15 minutes before I have to be out of bed because Mini (my fabulous world travelling corgi) insists on quality snuggle time. After the snuggle time we are up and out of bed- she gets fed and I prepare my breakfast. I like to make breakfast a time where I eat something that I know may be lacking in my diet. It guarantees that I get something good and healthy right off the bat. For a while it was two eggs- I needed the protein… nowadays I eat a big spinach salad because I need the veggies. In the winter I love a café-au-lait. In the summer I am drinking poo-ehr tea.
I like to spend some time stretching. I feel riding and stable work really takes its toll on my body and stretching keeps my body moving the way it needs too. I also roll out my muscles with a foam roller. It’s like a personal mini massage- delightful and healthy!
I then get dressed, make sure I have everything I need for the barn- snacks, phone, etc and head to the barn for 6am- happily greeted by a barn full of happy horses!
I would love to hear about your morning rituals or schedules- Post in our comment section below!