Goal, Intention, Resolution ?

January 17th, 2024 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Goal, Intention, Resolution ?”

To set a goal or not?

If your social media is anything like mine, then it will be full of information about setting goals or making resolutions for the coming year. 

Do we need to set goals? Is it necessary ? How do you feel about it? And do you feel under pressure to do so? 

So what is the difference between a resolution, goal and intention ? And which one could work for you? 

A resolution is a firm decision to do or not do something. Sometimes the ‘not doing’ is just as important as the ‘doing’

A goal is your vision of something in the future, normally time bound and clear

An intention is more present and more focussed on how you feel or want to feel

Which am I setting? Well I had a super busy year last year and this one is not looking any less hectic!! So I have decided to go with a series of intentions that can be flexed throughout the year as and when necessary. My initial thoughts are to have an intention around enjoying my time with each horse and making the most of some great trainers that I have.

I might well set an intention to do my first Inter 1 with both Denver and Elena, I have at the back of my mind that I will also try an Inter 2 but that might be a step too far and too much pressure on me. And this is partly why I am going with Intentions rather than goals. A goal and also a resolution appear to me to be so much harder and restrictive. I know that may be my impression rather than yours but everyone is different and this is why I am highlighting different approaches to thinking about the year ahead.

What are your thoughts? Have you set a goal, resolution or intention?

Will you put your hand up?

November 17th, 2023 Posted by Competition, Training 0 thoughts on “Will you put your hand up?”


All equestrian sports rely on a ever decreasing number of volunteers to keep them going. From the judges to the arena party, the sheet collector to the steward we have to have this band of people help us do what we enjoy. 

As some of you know, apart from running TestPro, I am also a non executive director of British Dressage with my specialist area being Para. It is a voluntary role, yes we get mileage expenses to attend meetings and a night in an hotel when on duty for 2 day meetings but that is it. Yet, and this is not a moan by the way, I put in about a day a week of my time. I am very happy doing this and get a lot of satisfaction on helping to shape the sport I love and be involved and give my expertise in so many ways. But I can’t help thinking that with the very busy lives we have that the volunteer role is gradually dying out. 

Not only are our judges a more committed and professional bunch than they have ever been with many hours of online training, in person attendance and exams behind them but now our stewards go through training and assessment to be the best that they can be. This again is all voluntary and for the bare minimum of recompense. Is this right? As competitors should we put our hands in our pockets to start paying more to cover these roles? As we demand better run events and increasing levels of knowledge from the volunteer is the unpaid helper a dying role?

If I am totally honest I am happy with the status quo on paying people however it does mean that more people need to put their hand up and take a role in driving our sports forward. I realise that this makes it difficult when money is tight and if you judge or steward you potentially lose money from your regular job. It also means that as we progress to a more diverse sport that we may find it difficult to encourage everyone to join in and feel that they too can become judges or a youth rep at regional level or a sheet collector and mark checker.

How do we encourage people to take part? I would love to hear your thoughts. Could you give some time at a local level to help out? I would urge you to and next time that one of the equestrian organisations puts up an advert for a role on a committee or your local event needs help, please put your hand up!

Much love and thanks to all the helpers out there that so selflessly give their time. 

Competition warm up – a survival guide!

November 1st, 2023 Posted by Competition, Training 0 thoughts on “Competition warm up – a survival guide!”

I have ridden in many warm up areas over the years, I’ve ridden on grass in a huge field, in a tiny indoor smaller than a 20×40 and equally in a big outdoor arena but with loads of people at regional championships. They ALL have their challenges and the most important piece of advice that I can impart to you is to prepare and plan!

So what does that look like and involve? Let’s take the two extremes the tiny arena and the big one filled with loads of people as our examples.

Tiny indoor arena

No doubt on the door of the arena will be guidance as to the maximum number of horses in the arena at one time, this is basic risk assessment territory. If there isn’t then we could be entering a scene from the Calgary stampede! 

If you know the venue and this is not a surprise to you then you can do a couple of things. 

Option 1 – if on a young or nervous horse, you could ask to be put on first or second or after a break of some sort. That will ensure slightly less people in the warm up. 

Option 2 – check out the number of people in the arena, try to do your walk work outside before you go into the arena then proceed to go in. 

Option 3 – put a red ribbon in your horse’s tail or wear a hi viz jacket. Most riders will try and give you more room if they spot a red ribbon, there are other ribbon colours for young horse etc., but I find people are not aware of them

Option 4 – as you go into the arena shout loudly to the other competitors that you are on a young/nervous horse and to give you some room, some will help, others will probably have their ear pieces in and ignore you!!

Whatever your option you need a plan for your working in. So get the basics done, walk, trot and canter on both reins. Start on the right rein if you do not want to be hemmed in. Put in a few circles, get some trot walk trot transitions in (be aware of who is behind you) and if you can try a centre line. 

If you are on the right rein this can be a useful time to practice straightness, a little leg yield and your transitions as you will not easily bump into anyone. 

If I am on the outside on the left rein and someone is walking but on the inside I often shout ‘coming on your outside’ just in case their horse is a bit tricky or they start drifting onto the track, this can also happen if they are leg yielding to the track and haven’t spotted you. 

Large outdoor arena with lots of people

So what happens when you make it to the Regionals or a National Championships and the arena is huge but there are still loads of people? 

This is where you need to know your horse well and how they will react. Hopefully you have had a chance to work in a similar environment before, if not, in the run up to the competition try to go to a local riding club event and have a group lesson or ask a few friends to do an arena hire with you and try to recreate lots of horses whizzing around. Some venues do arena hire with all the boards and flowers so that would be a great opportunity to get together with friends.

Now we just have to tackle our nerves about walking into a busy warm up and trying to get ourselves prepared. Make sure you have a plan that works through the exercises that you need to do, your trainer can help you with this in the run up to the competition. The more you know your routine the better! You might have your trainer with you and ‘in your ear’ so they will be able to keep you calm and get the most out of you.

Remember the warm up is not the time to be practising everything, it is for ensuring that you are mentally and physically prepared for the test. By all means do a few movements from the test but if a half pass is sticky in training the previous day it isn’t going to change massively once you get inside the boards! 

Hi-Viz or wearing something distinctive can definitely be of help in a large warm up arena, especially for your connections there to help you. As I said for the small arena, those riders going around listening to music will see you a bit better. 

Sometimes it can be difficult, bizarrely, to make space to go sideways or ride a circle in a big and busy arena. So when you go in, try to spot a piece of the arena that no one seems to be using. It is normally the bit furthest away from the entrance/exit and consequently the stewards (sorry!!). If you need room go to that point and start riding some circles slightly off the track, it can help you to ‘stake your claim’ and settle your horse. 

Horses being the predictably unpredictable beings that they are, will do stuff! I have seen people fall off, horses charge across arenas, dogs running across the warm up and a few interesting shapes thrown with riders clinging on. Stay in your zone, come back to walk, try to stay out of the way until everyone is safe again, then carry on as if nothing has happened! What other people are doing does not have to affect you.

So recap

Prepare! Before you go acclimatise you and your horse to the situations you may encounter

Plan out the warm up routine with the exercises that you might need. Helps to have a couple of plans depending on how you are both feeling on the day.

Remember you have as much right to warm up your horse as anyone else! Try not to be intimidated by any big names, and also don’t watch them or change your routine!

Lastly know the arena rules 

    • Left to left 
    • Shoulder in, travers and counter canter take precedence on the track (so ignore left to left in this situation) 
    • If walking get off the track
    • Do not halt on the track
    • Do not stop and start chatting to your mates/helper you could be blocking someone trying to go across the diagonal
    • Do not ride too close to another horse’s bum or hem them in on the track or let your whip touch another horse
    • Politely shout/make them aware of you if you are coming up fast behind them and need the outside track 
    • Be aware that riders with a white armband are visually impaired and those with a blue armband are hearing impaired so give them a bit of space.
    • When entering an arena, in particular indoor or where the gate/entryway is in a difficult position announce that you are coming in so that riders can circle away. 
    • I always say I am leaving if there is only one horse left in the warm up just as a courtesy in case it might be an issue. 

Hopefully I will see you all in a calm and organised warm up soon! 

Positive Thinking

September 13th, 2023 Posted by Competition, Mindset, Training 0 thoughts on “Positive Thinking”

When you compete do you focus on the negative or the positive aspects when you reflect on you and your horse’s performance?

Equestrianism is a tough sport, anyone who has had a horse for a significant amount of time will know that it is easy to get disheartened by horse accidents, human accidents, large bills and difficult competition experiences. So a pattern of negative thinking can creep in and influence your mindset. 

What can you do about it? 

Identify areas where you want to become more positive. For example if you are struggling to be positive about your competition experience then think of what you can do to make the experience less stressful, and more enjoyable. It might be taking a supportive friend with you, getting help from an NLP practitioner or having a plan for the competition. All things that can help you to start in a positive way from the moment you get up to the moment you leave the show ground. 

Check your mind and how you are feeling throughout the day. So every now and then throughout the day, stop and evaluate whether you are feeling positive or mainly negative. Turn the thoughts around and find a way to put a positive spin on things. Why did you start thinking negatively? What changed your mood? How can you stop yourself from going down a ‘doom loop’? 

You are allowed to have fun! Laugh, crack a joke, watch some dogs ‘doing silly things’ videos or tiktoks, it really helps with stress. I can’t remember who said that ‘Laughter keeps the doctor away’ but I definitely feel it!!

Trying to stick to a routine of some sort both food, sleep and exercise wise. This is an aspect that I have learnt really helps me. We all need chocolate and wine in our life but sometimes food can bring feelings of guilt and self loathing if we eat the wrong thing and feel lethargic or have sugar rushes. So  if at all possible being sensible with food and drink habits makes a massive difference to mental and physical health. I really wish we had more healthy food at competitions as opposed to stodgy, carb heavy offerings!!

This next one is something I totally and utterly believe in. Surround yourself with positive people. You want ‘Radiators’ in your life not “Drains”. So radiators are people that exude warmth and positivity, they help and assist you. These people do have down days as they are human but they predominantly are positive mindset people. Drains are the ones that suck the life and emotion out of you! They are always seeing doom and gloom everywhere, they drain you of your positivity and always need propping up emotionally. I am not talking about when a friend is going through a rough patch, these people are always having a worse time than you, worse ride, bigger vets bill etc., I am sure you know the sort!

Finally practice being positive and talking to yourself. So when you are thinking or listening to your inner voice do not say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Try to encourage your inner self with positive affirmations and encouraging thoughts. Evaluate any negative thought rationally and check the positivity aspect. Be thankful of what you have in your life, be grateful of the people and animals in your life and keep working on that positive mindset. 

I look forward to hearing about your positive thoughts and riding experiences. 

Horse Welfare and Sport

August 25th, 2023 Posted by Competition, Welfare 0 thoughts on “Horse Welfare and Sport”

All competitions involving animals are under scrutiny from political groups, whether you show dogs or compete your horse in a riding club event you need to be prepared to have your motives questioned. 

On the one hand it seems dreadfully sad that it has come to this and that we can no longer be carefree when competing our horses but on the other hand I totally get where some of the groups are coming from. No longer do we tolerate a circus with lions or elephants ‘performing’ for crowds and confined to small living conditions. It will not be long before the binoculars are well and truly focussed on all horse sports. 

So what should we do as informed and empathetic riders and horse carers? First step is to educate ourselves and keep up to date with the research and science about good husbandry and the impact of our tack and training methods. 

You may be aware of the five freedoms which are the basis of how we should look at our competitive lifestyles

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour – think socialisation, movement and happy horse
  • Freedom from fear and distress – think about mental and physical health and tailoring the environment to suit the horse you have. 

On a day to day level we can all help our horses to lead a happy life by covering off the basics. To me gone are the days when it is acceptable to keep a horse in a stable 24/7, they need to have exercise, time out to roll and socialise, time to graze, time to be away from humans and just be a horse. Within this generalised care framework there is plenty of room to cater to each horses needs and wants. Some prefer more turnout, some less particularly if they are not fond of rain and wind!! Some like to have a paddock on their own but have a neighbour next to them, others like a herd to play with. At this stage no one is saying you have to follow a certain path, you can manage your horse’s life within the basic five freedoms. 

Where I think this gets complicated is when we add competing into the mix. Some horses drag you up the ramp and adore the competition environment and I wouldn’t dispute that they are happy. For others it might be a more stressful experience or they might take some time to understand the whole concept and this is where horse welfare might be compromised. No one would argue that horses need to go on a horse box or trailer, it might be a necessity due to veterinary issues. But what is a sensible distance to travel on a regular basis? When is it too hot or too windy to travel? How can we prepare our horses for a stay away show so that they remain calm and happy? You need to ask yourself these questions and think about the parameters that you will compete within.

I see plenty of people taking their horses/ponies to shows and they are out every weekend sometimes both days expecting that horse to perform to their best. You can cause a horse to go stale and down tools! They do get fed up of yet another competition and yet another situation where they are on the lorry for the day – remember they do not get much out of competition! To me over competing is not acceptable and puts undue stress on the horse. 

So all I am asking is for you to consider and plan how and when you are taking your horse to a competition, how you make their life as lovely as possible at home and how you can continuously improve yourself and the welfare of your horse. Because if we don’t step up then we may be forced to stop competing in the not too distant future. 

Buyer beware – part 2

April 15th, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Buyer beware – part 2”

So here we are again with the second part of my buying blog. 

We finished the last blog at the stage of you having done all your riding and basic checks, hopefully you have found the ‘one’. So from a riding point of view your potential new horse ticks all the boxes and you are smitten!! Very exciting. You are ready to go to the next stage, deposit, to vet or not to vet and purchase. 


I have never left a deposit for a horse and I don’t think I have been asked for one. Even when I have dealt with a dealer on the continent I haven’t left a deposit. The problem is that you need to know the terms under which you are giving/receiving the deposit. 

For example, do you get the deposit back if the vet says the horse is 5 when the owner said it is 6? Is the deposit kept if you change your mind because you saw a better/shinier horse the next day? 

So deposits can be a bit of a minefield for all concerned. I totally understand why the owner might want a deposit left in good faith if they have a queue around the block of people wanting a horse. They want some commitment from the potential purchaser that they are going to go through with the sale. But please write down the amount of the deposit, what horse it is for (copy of passport) and in what circumstances the deposit will be refunded. 


I am just going to put my thoughts out there!! 

Vettings should be viewed as a moment in time. The horse was sound and healthy at that point under a specific set of circumstances. The x-rays taken again represent that moment, not three months after you have purchased the horse. 

So should you have a vetting? Generally yes. My questions to ask would be;

    • what price are you paying?
    • what can you afford to lose? 
    • do you need insurance?

If you need insurance over £4 or £5k then you will require a 5 stage vet examination. If you are paying over £10k then you normally need x-rays as well. If you are paying below that you may still want the basic 2 stage done. 

I view the vetting as an indication of the future soundness of a horse. It is not an exact science in my humble opinion, it gives you a few observations on your future dancing partner that you need to bear in mind as time progresses. If a vetting and x-rays show nothing at all, I am probably more suspicious!! No horse is perfect, just like us humans!!

If at all possible attend the vetting, if not be on hand around the time that the vetting is taking place just in case anything comes up and the vet wants to check in with you. Before the vetting make sure that your vet has the full passport name of the horse, age, and microchip number. When I see a horse I often ask for the passport to check the vaccinations and take a photo, you can then send this to the vet undertaking the pre purchase exam. 

So view this part as something you need for insurance and it gives you an indication of soundness and whether your horse is fit for the sport you want to do. For a top eventer you would want healthy heart and lungs, for a happy hacker you may accept a bit of a noise during fast work. If something comes up, don’t dismiss the horse, is it an issue you can live with? Is it a bit of wear and tear due to age? If this is your dream horse in every other respect talk it over with your vet and then take a considered decision. Do you understand my reasoning? 

Now you are ready to purchase, or are you? First of all consider if you have any doubts or concerns. Look back at the videos, pictures and email/text conversations to see whether there is anything missing. Have you done some digging across social media? Checked the horse’s competition record? Is everything consistent with what you have been told? 

Just a little anecdote about why all the ‘evidence’ can be useful. A friend purchased a horse direct from the owners (although a third party professional had recommended it) and all went well in terms of the viewing and conversations going back and forth. Luckily these were predominantly in writing. Horse was vetted and duly arrived. A number of issues occurred in the handling of the horse which in the advert was described as a confidence giving complete star/unicorn. The previous owner then started to backtrack in a couple of important areas, one of which was catching the horse in the field!! After being shown both front legs and also rear legs when trying to catch said horse on several occasions the decision was made that there were just too many handling problems to consider keeping him. On further investigation of social media it was apparent that the horse had existing problems with the original owners, all of which they had denied. The ‘evidence’ gathered and kept during the purchase process was crucial in sending the horse back and getting the money back for the new owner. 

Without the ‘evidence’ there is little chance of getting money back in a ‘private’ purchase scenario. If someone is a dealer then you have more scope within the law to get your money back. 

Don’t forget when you hand over the money to get a receipt that is signed and dated or keep details of the bank transfer. If your horse is being transported, the people in charge of transport can let you know when they have the horse and passport and most are happy to send a photo.

So buyer beware, be prepared, do your homework and keep evidence ‘just in case’. 

In my next blog I will look at bringing your precious purchase home and how to manage the transition. How can you be the best new owner for your horse?

Buyer Beware! – Part 1

March 25th, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Buyer Beware! – Part 1”


Buyer beware!

After my last post about the cost of getting a horse to the age of four, I thought it would be a good idea to do a follow up about the fun and pitfalls of purchasing horses.

Buying horses has always been a difficult matchmaking process. With the added complications of Brexit and Covid in the mix, some would say it has become near impossible to cover all your bases as a purchaser. So what do I do when looking and purchasing? 

  1. Read the advert very carefully. What has the owner left out? E.g., Good to shoe, box, clip. What about catch? That is an obvious omission (yes I know someone that got tripped up by this), it could be that the horse is perfectly fine to catch and it is a genuine omission or they were running out of words in the advert. However it could also mean that the horse is a nightmare!
  2. Make sure you keep a copy of the advert as you saw it originally and save it!
  3. Ask for videos if not provided. Unless I am buying from someone I know and trust completely, I would always need to see a couple of videos before getting into the car to see the horse. 
  4. By all means phone and talk to the person that owns/is selling the horse. However if you have some specific needs then make sure you have an email/whatsapp/text trail. So for example if you are a para rider with particular disabilities or problems getting on and off then check that the owner thinks the horse is suitable. I will explain later in the second part of the blog.
  5. When you arrange the viewing ask about who else is booked to see the horse and if it is on the same day. You do not want to be riding a horse that someone else has ridden that morning. Message or phone the owner to confirm you are on your way. There is nothing worse than turning up to find the horse has been sold and they forgot to tell you, or its lame. Also there is nothing worse as a seller than people who book appointments and don’t turn up!
  6. Take a trusted friend. They can video, calm your nerves and also provide an objective view. They may notice things that you don’t. Please don’t turn up with the entire family though! Thankfully Covid has generally put a stop to the habit of people viewing horses with entire entourages and treating it as a day out! 
  7. Look at the horse without tack on. Personally I am always a bit suspicious of horses that are already tacked up and ready to go. The only time it is quite ‘normal’ is on the continent when you have lots to see, but then if there is a horse I am keen on, I would see it untacked and even have a sit on it the next day. 
  8. You are not a vet, however, you can feel for lumps and bumps, check for heat, look at the horse’s general demeanour and health. I like to see them walked and trotted in hand on a hard surface wherever possible. Check the feet, ask about shoeing. Ask about current feeding regime and turnout. There is no point buying a horse that needs turnout every day for a few hours to keep it sane if you don’t have winter turnout!
  9. See the horse ridden first before you get on. There have been many instances where people do not want to get on a horse and ride it for the prospective purchaser. Ask yourself why? If they have recently broken their leg, had a baby etc., then surely someone else could ride the horse first? You need to see the horse move and also what it is like when it first steps in the arena. Please pay close attention and try not to get distracted. Is it stiff? Does it seem to curl up or hump, or be a bit cold backed? Is it spooky or fresh? You need to know what type of horse you are dealing with and whether you are happy with any of the potential quirks.
  10. If you only feel comfortable riding in certain stirrups or with particular reins, then take them with you, don’t feel embarrassed.
  11. The first few minutes normally tell you whether you like the horse or not. The caveat is that when I bought Denver he rode very heavy and not light on the hand and my aids. I persevered for ten minutes, felt like a lifetime, and suddenly he switched on to me and I loved him!! 
  12. If you are buying a hacking horse make sure you try out on the road and in the fields. Sounds obvious? If you are buying an allrounder make sure you jump, hack and essentially find the buttons for everything you want to do. You may want to go back for a second trial ride but check everything out as much as possible in the first go.
  13. Be kind to the owner. If the horse is not for you, let them know in a kind way. It’s like houses, some horses will suit you and others won’t. There isn’t anything wrong with them you just don’t ‘click’. Also it is very annoying as an owner if you get no feedback and are left hanging as to whether a horse is potentially sold or not. 
  14. Discuss with your trusted friend on the way home. If you are seeing more than one horse in a day I take notes or record some voice notes. This can be really handy for later to weigh up the pros and cons of each horse. Make sure your trusted friend is objective and not just agreeing with you for the sake of it, they must have your best interests at heart. At the end of the day you are buying for yourself so you need to be clear on what suits you best. 

The second part of the Buyer Beware blog will be published in a week. In that one I will be covering the next steps to buying your dream horse as well as vetting and deposits.

Breeding horses – A mugs game???

February 22nd, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Breeding horses – A mugs game???”

Now that Brexit has actually happened will people look more towards home for their future partners? 

With the current pandemic hampering trips abroad it seems that horse prices in the UK are on the way up. Yet still we see people asking for the ultimate schoolmaster gelding with impeccable temperament, fully integrated sat nav, self cleaning facility and all for under a thousand pounds.  

What is it with these people? I would love a nice Grand Prix schoolmaster to show me the ropes in the competition arena but I’m sure that no one is just going to give me one for a couple of grand 🤷‍♀️ (anyone fancy lending me a GP schoolmaster just drop me an email!!). Anyway back to prices, some of the issue is thoroughbreds coming off the race track and being offered at cheap prices because in the long run it makes sense cost wise. Then we have previous over breeding of random mares and stallions without any consideration of the job that those horses/ponies will do. Then us breeders have had to compete with horse breeding in Europe that is carried out on an industrial scale in some studs with a favourable tax regime. 

In addition the price of a horse or pony hasn’t altered in the ‘general’ market for a number of years. People are charging far more for designer puppies than for a horse or pony. How can this be? 

Anyway for those of you sitting there saying “I’m not paying over two thousand for a horse” consider this.

Cost of getting mare in foal – stud fee £300-£2000 plus insemination costs or mare livery if covered naturally £200-£1000

Veterinary fees for basic foal check, passport and microchip £200

Cost of keeping foal to 4 years – basic field keep, feet trimming, vaccinations and assuming that he/she doesn’t need loads of vet intervention. £3000

Cost of backing – depends on who does it and how long it takes but could be another £2000

So even if you take no account of the cost of the mare in the first place, cost of premises (like does the breeder have a mortgage or to rent) cost of your time,  the horse has cost a minimum of £6200. I have taken a middle line on some of the costs not the top end. 

Did that shock you? Or when you bought your horse did you work it out? Yes I get that there will be economies of scale, some horses live out well and don’t need much feeding but I have cut these costs down. What happens if one of your foals dies, or the mare dies or you get landed with a big vets bill? Again the costs will end up borne by the breeder. So when a breeder is considering the price of a youngster they are factoring in their costs plus the horse’s innate ability and potential for the sport and competition arena. So some may be sold at a loss and others may eke out a profit.

Recently horse prices have started to creep up, and there have been howls of protest across social media with people talking about profiteering. But why should the breeder subsidise your hobby?? Yes your hobby!! 

Anyway how is Brexit going to change life? No hopping across to the continent to buy a ‘cheap’ dutch or German horse because you think that we charge too much over here. The cost of getting a horse across the channel and through the vet checks and paperwork has doubled.  With the pandemic this has also meant that you cant go and view in person at the moment so now British bred horses are starting to look like better value??

We are breeding some outstanding horses for all types of riders and for all budgets to tempt you but you need to get real about what you pay. Pay a fair price and recognise the blood, sweat and tears that the breeder has put into that horse for your benefit. 😍

Fools breed horses for wise men to buy.

Time to Reset?

February 3rd, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Time to Reset?”

It’s that time of year again when people set goals, go on diets, give up alcohol and then forget it all as the year progresses. It is so easy to be fired up with enthusiasm at the start of the year and gradually ‘real life’ impacts your plans and you get bogged down in it all.

So what to do? Is it worth it? 

Currently I am in a process of re-setting. Realistically we have no idea what will happen in the next couple of months so I have re-jigged the training plans for the horses and also the app!!

The focus now goes on sorting out a few training issues ready for PSG/Inter 1 with Denver and Elena, thinking about which level I am going to do a freestyle at and helping my mum get riding fit ready for para competitions. 

Elena and I are working on the canter. She has developed so much in the trot and we now have a collected trot and more variation in the medium and extended paces but the canter seems to have gone back a step. So lots of strengthening work for the canter, heaps of transitions within the pace and travers, shoulder in work. Then the canter pirouettes have been picked apart as I had no control in a full pirouette. Lastly the pesky sometimes late change from right to left is undergoing work, most of that seems related to straightness and also her relaxation and thoroughness. Fingers crossed we are getting more consistent. 

I have ‘pivoted’ as they say in business and I am now entering more online dressage competitions. I found the online experience really ups your game at home. As you have to get a willing volunteer to do the videoing which means I cant be out there for an hour riding the test through numerous times I have to get the horses on the aids and going like they would for a normal competition. The judge feedback is always so helpful and so far absolutely spot on!!

App wise we are updating a few of the versions as new tests have come out or slight revisions have been made. There are also the 2021 rule books to put in ready for when we all get going again. There are loads of other little and not so little projects on their way but I don’t like to say too much until we are ready!!

So I have not set goals as such I prefer to call them outline plans, bit more fluid and dynamic than a fixed goal. What do you think?

Either way I hope you are all managing to keep putting one foot in front of the other, spring is on the way and before you know it the children will be back in school and we will be competing and training again! Lets keep supporting each other and enjoying our horses. Hopefully we will meet soon.


Is there such a thing as “Best piece of advice?”

January 20th, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Is there such a thing as “Best piece of advice?””

As an over 50’s rider I have been given lots of advice over the years. Some nuggets I have unfortunately forgotten and will no doubt remember at some point! Others have been thought about and binned, and the final group are those pieces of advice that have stuck with me and really resonated.

There is not one single piece of advice that I could say is simply the best so here are a few that I still think about.


Life is not a dress rehearsal

My grandma’s favourite expression and one that I always have in the back of my mind especially as I am older and time seems to disappear at a rapid rate! 😂


This is it folks, our one chance to make an impact, to enjoy our family, horses and our life. Whatever makes you happy and resonates with you should be top of your agenda.


Little things matter

This is more related to the horses. Little things ‘do’ matter with horses, the slight warmth in one foot, a bit of a rub from a saddle pad and a drop of condition could all be a problem. It takes experience both with your own particular horse and with horses in general to know when a change could be something brewing or nothing to worry about.


Don’t forget yourself either. Little niggles with your body could cause tightness when you are riding resulting in a longer term problem. So don’t ignore your issues.


Schoolmaster or good young horse?

What will help you progress in your riding journey? One senior rider and trainer said to me about 20 years ago that riding quality young horses would develop my riding and feel. Yet another said that a schoolmaster is worth their weight in gold and could help my confidence and proficiency in the movements.


I think both are right. At a certain point on my journey I needed a schoolmaster, a horse that could help me back into the arena at advanced level. The horse that entered my life was Highlight an amazing horse who helped me get confident at PSG and Inter 1 and had a great passage. He also competed at Junior FEI level with my two daughters and competed internationally with my mum doing Paras. He helped us all, he had his quirks, but my confidence and belief in myself grew so much.


So on to the case for quality young horses – undoubtedly my riding took another leap once I sat on a big moving elastic young horse. Yes, it was a bit nerve wracking at the start and I felt like I was learning sitting trot all over again!!! In some ways talented horses can make everything feel easy, far too easy and transferring back to a less elastic horse can feel like a big let down.


Both experiences bring their own benefits and have helped me to be a better rider.


The last piece of advice I would give is “You do you, I will do me”. I’m on my journey and you are doing yours and we will have different goals, experiences and timelines. Don’t get distracted by what other people are posting on social media.


And most of all enjoy yourself 😍