Q & A
I get lots of emails a week on different problems. Reading about other people’s specific problems can really help you with your own. Check out my answers here – which include links to blog posts I think will help to tackle each problem.
I’m having trouble keeping my horse on the bit in downwards transitions – he’s fine in the upwards ones. Any ideas?
The thing with downwards transitions is they’re always the last to get worked on – it’s so easy to focus on the up because they usually cause trouble first. If you lose shape and softness it’s because you’re not riding forward through the whole transition. However much you believe you’re doing it there’s a strong chance you’re holding your breath for even as little as half a stride – and that’s what causes the hiccup and tension. The instant your body stops feeling relaxed to him the...read more
“I’m worried all the time I ride my horse and I’m frightened to hack out. He spooks at one end of the school and the harder I try to stop him the worse he gets. I know I need to reax but I find that even harder! Can you help?! The simple answer is I hope so! Knowing you’re nervous and trying to do something about it is a great start (So many people try to pretend that they’re really OK and that’s much harder to deal with.) Here are a few ideas and there are links to other posts at the bottom of this post...read more
“I’m trying to teach my horse to do a flying change and I’m not sure how to go about it. A friend suggested I use a pole on the floor but I’m worried he’ll think it’s a jump and start to rush. Have you got any suggestions?” Flying changes can get over complicated. Although not easy you need to remember they’re just another transition – and one most horses can do once they’re balanced and strong enough. Some just don’t get the concept and will counter canter beautifully all day long but if your...read more
“I’ve just got a horse on loan and either his shoulders are out or his quarters are in – I’m not sure which – but the harder I try to correct him the worse he seems to be. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!” You’re right to be bothered about his straightness – without it no horse can do its best. I’ve done a lot of posts on straightness that I’ll put links to further down. Until he’s straight you can’t move on to anything else because the crookedness will...read more
“I watch my horse float around his field and yet, try as I might, he won’t go on the bit in the school! What am I doing wrong? Great question! The simple answer is – you’re asking! Horses,as you’ve so often seen, carry themselves naturally in the shape we know as ‘on the bit’. It’s only when we get on and intefere that problems occur. You need to stop thinking about where his head is and start thinking about the rest of his body. What you need to do is ride him forward so he uses his hocks and...read more
“My horse goes beautifully on both reins in walk and trot but when it comes to canter he just won’t strike off correctly on the left rein. I’ve tried everything I can think of and it’s driving me crazy! Do you have any ideas? “ As your horse doesn’t appear to have any other problems other than the canter lead I’d assume that it’s a rider error rather than a physical problem. That’s good news because it’s easier to solve! Be careful that you don’t get too focused on this canter lead – often the more of an issue...read more
“I’ve just bought a new pony and his last owner said he hates schooling. When I tried him he seemed OK and since he’s been home he’s seemed happy enough in the school. Is it something I should worry about – I don’t want to spoil things but we seem to be getting on fine” I’m a firm believer in the fact that ponies only get bored if their rider is! So many people used to tell me their horses hated schooling and yet mine never were! Actually it was the sole reason I started up my website because I...read more
“I have an older horse, broken but never really schooled. Are there any books you can reccomend and any advice you can give me?” The important part of the whole process is teaching him to understand your aids, getting him straight and keeping his attention on you at all times. Forget anything about head position and focus completely on insisting he goes forward in a straight line without having to work too hard yourself. Once you do that you’ll find everything just happens naturally. There are blog posts on my site on all...read more
My horse kicks out when I try to pick out his feet – and he’s difficult with the farrier. How can I stop him?
“Picking out my horse’s hind feet is becoming a nightmare. It’s getting so bad I can hardly do them at all. When the farrier comes he settles in the end but my farrier tells me I need to practise between shoeings to make his job easier. I know he’s right but eveyone on my yard has a different opinion on what I should do. Any ideas would be great!! If ever I’ve had kicking problems I’ve worked from the opposite side. It keeps you right out of the way. It’s something I find very useful with young...read more
Stiffness in backs most often starts from the mouth so it’s important to steer away from the ‘swing from left to right’ method of softening that you might see many riders doing. The more relaxed you are the more you’ll find he starts to relax too so keep things simple. I’m a big fan of stretching back muscles by using them. To do that you need to shorten and lengthen your horse’s strides so his back muscles stretch and contract. That doesn’t mean collected to medium either! Any horse and rider can...read more