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A Spanish Riding School Exercise to Increase the Collection in Your Horse's Canter

This great exercise, direct from the Spanish Riding School, will increase the collection in your horse's canter. It will also improve your counter canter work, and is a great way to build towards canter pirouettes. Here's how to do it!

Help to Ensure That Your Horse LIKES His or Her Job!

It is no secret that horses (just like people) will perform better if they actually enjoy their job. And if you want your horse to enjoy his job, you have to consciously make an effort to make your horse's job enjoyable! Here are 12 different things you can think about, to help ensure that your horse is truly happy in his work:

Do You Know What Skills You and Your Horse Need to Have Before Entering a Novice Level Event?

Thinking about trying your hand at Novice level Eventing? It is always wise to make sure you are very well prepared! Here is a list of skills that you and your horse should be fairly proficient at before you sign up for your first Novice level horse trials: 

The "Floor" of Your Dressage Seat

As a Dressage rider, your seat is paramount. All of your efforts to improve your horse(s) will be futile, unless you possess a good seat, as you will not be able to give your horse clear and precise aids. While this article on developing an independent seat thoroughly covers all that it takes to develop that, I want to quickly discuss the specific point of *how* the rider should be sitting in the saddle.

The Adjustability Exercise

Generally a good, smooth, clean show jumping round happens when you have the right quality of canter, and your horse is *adjustable* between fences. If your horse is lacking in adjustability, it does not matter how great the canter is that you start off with - as you will find that the quality of your canter will likely diminish as your round goes on. And because your horse is not easily adjustable, you will probably be unable to truly fix it while on course. 

First of all, what do I mean by the *right* quality of the canter? The right canter to jump out of is balanced, rhythmic, straight, and in self carriage. With the appropriate amount of impulsion for the jump in front of you. 

It takes adjustability to be able to *maintain* that canter throughout a course. Your horse may approach the first jump with the right canter, and land from the first jump running, flat, and out of balance. If your horse is adjustable, you can easily put him right back in the same quality canter you had before the jump. If you do not have adjustability, your rounds will tend to get worse and worse as you go on. 

Here is a great exercise to improve your horse's adjustability: 

A Variety of Exercises to Do With 3 Poles on the Ground - For Riders of All Levels!

Here are a variety of exercises that you can do with just 3 poles on the ground that will test and improve your control and accuracy, as well as improve your horses suppleness and rideability. I will begin with exercises that are suitable for lower level riders and horses, and finish with those that are appropriate for the more advanced. 

Signs That Your Performance Horse Might Be Sore

Many performance horses work hard for a living. And since horses don't have the ability to vocally voice their complaints, it is 100% up to us as owners, riders, and trainers to make sure they are truly comfortable in their jobs. While an obvious lameness is usually fairly easy to see, it becomes a whole lot more tricky when the horse isn't outright lame, yet is NQR, or "not quite right." 

Sometimes this is due to a bilateral lameness, meaning both front feet or both hocks hurt equally, which creates a situation where the horse might not actually "limp," because both sides hurt. And sometimes the horse has soreness somewhere in his body, that is unlikely to make him limp, even if it is quite sore. This is a tough situation for some horses, if their owners are the type to say, "If he's not limping, he's fine." Not only is it unfair to the horse to be made to work when he's sore, very often when minor problems are overlooked, they can turn into big problems down the road. 

Here are some things to think about, and 15 different signs to watch for, to help you make sure your horse isn't working with pain in his body:

The Great Debate - To Look For a Distance or Focus on the Quality of the Canter When Jumping

There is a great debate in the Eventing world, almost exclusively in the US... over whether or not riders should "look for a distance" for their horses when coming into their fences. While it is commonplace for Hunter/Jumper riders to do so (and this is where this idea comes from), Event riders need to think a bit differently for one very important reason! Because our cross county jumps are solid, we HAVE to train our horses with the mindset of nurturing their ability to think for themselves Read on to find out how and why! 

Are Perfectionist Tendencies Hurting Your Performance?

One might think that being a perfectionist would only be a good trait for a rider to have. After all, doesn't that imply a dedication to the pursuit of excellence and attention to detail of the highest standard? Which are certainly good qualities.  But there can be some rather large negative consequences for riders who are perfectionists. It can cause them to obsess over details to the point of stressing over them. Which can be quite upsetting to your horse, and very detrimental to horse and rider performance in several different ways....

Teaching Your Horse to be More Careful Over Jumps

Does your horse tend to knock down a rail or two in the show jumping? Or even three or four?? Don't worry, there ARE things you can do to encourage your horse to jump more carefully! Here are some things you can work on:

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