I’m a Hippophile!

I want to be part of a force for good. A new movement exists in the horse world where people are questioning a lot of traditional horse lore and are keeping the good and discarding the bad. I want to be part of that and to pass on the good methods that I have learned.

I don’t want to force my horses into an “outline”. I want to train using exercises that will build strength and use the correct muscles so that my horses will carry themselves in lightness and beauty.

I want to work with what nature has given the horse and help him to retain his beauty and his joy in being alive. Submission is not a word that I am happy with.

I want to ride horses in such a way that they want to be ridden by me. I want them to feel confident to offer me more. I want to work with them calmly and sympathetically.

I want to have a ridden conversation with horses and listen to their feedback.

I’m committed to a lifetime of learning all I can about a horse behaviour and welfare and seeking out ethical training methods.

I don’t believe that there is a place for egos in the world of horse training. It should be about the horse’s needs.

Less is More!

Laughing horsesWe aim as riders to ride in such a way that we do not interfere with the horse’s intention to go forward. We know that the principal aids that we give a horse are weight aids therefore we must learn to rely less on our legs and hands to allow the horse to hear the weight aids. Very often overuse of the legs and hands leads to the horse carrying himself stiffly, reduced flexibility and eventually a reluctance to work. So why as riders do we just ask with louder aids (more leg or more hand) if we don’t get the response that we want?

We ask a tremendous amount from horses. We expect the horse to balance both us and himself, move gracefully and work out from the many signals (some intentional – some unintentional) exactly what we want them to do. That is a big ask!

Robert Hall taught me the principles of riding and his ethos was that between a rider and horse there is a conversation. The rider gives an aid and the reaction from the horse determines the next part of the conversation. He believed the rider should be open to the fact that the horse makes requests and asks you questions. This makes perfect sense to me.

A conversation only works if you can hear the other participant and that is why as riders we must be still and quiet between giving aids to the horse in order to listen for the response from the horse.

The more we listen the more we can learn. Horses are great teachers if we can listen to them. They are telling us LESS IS MORE!

The Golden Rules

Here is some advice which should be useful to riders of all abilities!

  • Listen to your instinct if you don’t think something is right it probably isn’t.
  • Always finish your training session on a good note.
  • It is unkind to work your horse in the same position for long periods. He must be allowed to stretch as this his reward for hard work.
  • Cooling down your horse after his training session is as important as the warm up.
  • Don’t surprise your horse with and aid.
  • Always use the leg before the hand when giving an aid.
  • Always allow the horse to lift his back underneath you as this will allow him to engage his hind quarters and carry more weight behind and thus lighten the forehand.
  • When working around the arena with other riders, riders should pass left hand to left hand. This means that riders working on the right rein (with their right hand nearest to the centre of the school) should give way to those riders working on the left rein. To do this they should move on to the inside track and away from the wall.