Hi, lovely riders.
You may have noticed I am relaunching the Starting Steps 6-week program. I am on Facebook most days talking about the different aspects of it. So just in case you are not on Facebook or have missed it, here is something for you to ponder. I hope you will join us in the pathway of compassionate training for both you and your beautiful equine partner in the Starting Steps 6-week program.
There are so many dramatic photos and videos of horses doing reactive behaviours to catch your attention.
But I wonder if people ever look for the detail of what caused the behaviour in the first place. A great example of this is Eden, a pony I have just bought. She has a lovely temperament, but rushes under saddle, grabs the bit and runs with little to no brakes. In this short video, I explain the details of what is happening and causing this and my first step to help her out of this unwanted pattern in her mind and body. Take a look at this short video as I discuss the issues Eden is faced with https://youtu.be/KpvZaTDx38I
This is the type of detail you will be looking at and learning to notice. You will analyse your horse and work through the patterns in the mind or body that aren’t helpful for the horse.
I love working the horse in hand.
I have been a big fan of the Spanish Riding School for years. The TV series The White Horses is based in Vienna. I would rush home to watch in my childhood. Hence my love of Lipizzaners. At the time, it was magical to see the Lipizzaners perform. I would dream of being able to do the same. The timing of those guys working in-hand is incredible, and for me, it’s a constant reminder of why they have such good relationships with the stallions. My love of in-hand work developed from those early ignitions of learning how to do it myself. In-hand work allows me to see so much more detail from the ground. In this vantage point, I can see the horses body, position of the legs and the emotion in the eyes. I feel into the horse’s body and mind as I work the horse from the ground. In “The Starting Steps” 6-week program, we go right back to the beginning of the HOW to start this process. If only I had started all my horses with this technique, life would have been so much easier for both the horse and myself. I so want to share this process, so you can also learn this skill to be the trainer of your horse’s dreams. It took me a while to coordinate my asks at the correct time and will always be a work in progress, as we also learn to work with the lightest of touch or just an indication of energy out of the whip or my body. But once you know this, it is magical.
Lunging horses can be damaging or develop on the horse’s structures and mind.
When I think back to how I used to lunge as a young person with only pony club as my guild and the endless books that I read, I shake my head, but at that time, it was all I knew. In those days, I am happy to report that I did use a lunge cavesson and did not lunge on the bit. It was a well-padded cavesson, so at times the horses would lean on it. One horse I was working with ended me getting hauled across the paddock as he leaned on it, and I desperately held on. There were no round pens in the UK at that era. It was more like flying a kit than lunging with that particular horse. But over the many years, things have changed my lunging, and it is more of a dance between In hand and lunging now. Horses don’t lean on me anymore. If that happens, I go back to hand on a circle and re-explain the balance that helps the horse. Horses only lean, flex out, speed up, spin around if they are out of balance physically or mentally. Lunging horses to get the energy out doesn’t work. All it does is fatigue them, break them down and adrenalise them more. In “The Starting Steps”, we step back into lunging without gadgets. We show the horse the balance and keep helping them feel the correct place when they lose it. As we progress, calmness begins to become the standard place to be in mind and body. You can’t have one without the other. I wish I knew then what I know now! But life is a journey, and all my experiences make me who I am today.
Sometimes it isn’t easy to plan what you are going to do with your horse daily.
In a lesson, it’s so much more straightforward because the coach is telling you what to do each step of the way. But then you get a bit lost when you ride at home. It’s disappointing as you have rushed home, or it’s your valuable day off, and you are longing to ride. You catch your horse groom him to enjoy your time with him, but when you step into that arena, you are a bit at sea as to what to do now. Don’t worry; you are not alone. A lot of riders have this issue. I had one rider who only rode in lessons because of this very reason. He was focused enough to drive to me twice a week but just wasn’t sure what to do in between those lessons or if he was doing it right. I can relate because I’m the same in a yoga class. I love it, but when I try to practice my yoga at home, I am not sure what to do. In this program, you will get weekly audio lessons with a layout plan for your arena. I will talk you through each step of the session, what to do, what to notice, what to feel; it will be like your I am there with you in your pocket.
I never used to have pain when I rode, but now I get sore.
So many rider’s find that when they return to riding to the bodies doesn’t cope so well. Our bodies are also in need of constant movement in a favourable alignment on and off the horse. But it can be a two-sided sword, and the horse also can carry pain or patterns of movement that is not serving them well. With this compensation pattern in the horse, it causes bracing in the body. This bracing makes it very difficult for the rider to sit on easily and flow in their own body. It’s a spiral of who is affecting who. So now what do we do? We do our work at hand to help the horse to find a better movement pattern. We take that to lunging. In our own body, we notice how we walk, sit and posture. When we ride, we make sure we have good correct alignment. In the audio lessons, I will be reminding you of your posture all the time. I will move from working with you to noticing what the horse is doing. I will be asking you about your breathing and getting you to notice the details of yourself.
Let’s talk about getting the horse on the bit.
In most people’s riding careers, we are asked to “get the horse onto the bit”! The very words of this command are so destructive as it comes down to how the rider interprets it. What is their understanding at this point: Most of the time, the rider takes it to mean something to do with the bit. The whole communication between horse and rider falls apart. The swinging back of the horse tightens as the tongue, jaw and neck are compressed. The riders hands fiddle, pull and often drop to try and get “the horse on the bit.” The rider becomes frustrated as the horse fights with them. The horse becomes tense as it tries to understand what has been asked. It’s not the riders fault; they are just trying to achieve what they are told….. “Get the house on the bit”. In the Program, we will help the horse into a posture that allows it to work towards being on the bit; with the in-hand work, we show the way and develop the carrying muscles. We will enable the horse to feel the new posture; then, we ride the horse with what he has learnt. Each horse will be different in the time needed.
I wish I could do Shoulder in
As a judge, I would see so many riders struggle with this movement. And yet, it is the secret to all higher movements. I once read it’s the mother of all future work. But on your dressage tests, you get comments like too much neck bend, not enough angle, drifting off the track, losing impulsion…………. So often, Shoulder-in is ridden incorrectly, and in truth, it needs to be broken down into smaller chunks of information for both horse and rider. In this program, we start working in shoulder-fore as preparation for shoulder-in. By starting it in hand, you can have the vantage point of seeing what the horse is doing through the whole body; you can carefully guide your horse into the correct posture. As you do this, you are building up the horse’s mental memory and muscle development. When you come to riding the shoulder-in, your horse already knows how to do it. I love going into this detail as the horse gets to understand it from the start or get clarity when going wrong.
So as you can see, there is a lot to be gained from this six-week program. You will have access to the material forever, so if you get a new horse or want to step back and do it again, everything will be still available for you.
I will take you through step by step of perfecting your skills in the following areas.
- You learn the finer details of working in hand to teach your horse balance and posture and build your relationship with your horse, and this also trains your eyes for detail.
- Lunging without gadgets and creating correct flexion and bend. You will start to recognise the emotion of the horse in this position.
- Mindful grounding audio lessons. These audios help you find the right headspace to work with your horse.
- Ridden lessons, you will get an arena plan and audio instruction recorded onto your phone. You load the lesson and listen to it as you ride. I will be in your ear every step of the ride.
- Each week the new lessons give you extra challenges and help you notice the detail.
- Private FB page with a great community and FB LIVES to discuss your progress.
How do you learn and how is the course presented.
A module comes out each week. In each module you receive.
- Written documents.
- Video demonstrations.
- Audio lessons.
- Arena layout plans.
- Facebook question and answers sessions.
This Six-week course is only $297.00, so it is highly affordable, and you have it forever to go back, though. That works out at $7.00 per day. You would pay in the region of $100 for a single lesson with a coach. Or over $300 for some weekend clinics.
Don’t forget if you are a gold or platinum member of “The Sound System of Training” you get a massive 20% discount on this course.
The six-week course is starting on 1st November 2021, and enrolment is open now.
If you want to know more, here is the link.
Love and best wishes
Ann Montgomery “The Mindful Rider”