The Next Generation – Flat Training.
Tracie Robinson has been Team GB Eventing Dressage Trainer for the last 16 years.
Tom McEwen with Toledo de Kerser.
Izzy Taylor with KBIS Starchaser.
Both are 10 year olds. Toledo did Pau last autumn, and Starchaser (‘Richard’) has done 3*s.
“We’re going to start off, just letting Tom and Izzy begin their warm up quietly as they would do as if they were at home or at a competition, while I talk about what’s important to me.
I think the important thing as trainers, it’s our job to product them to be comfortable, to be effortless, to be confident, to be friends, to talk to each other nicely, develop a relationship that is strong – they must trust each other and they must believe in each other.
And I think when you are training horses and riders at whatever level, those are very important things. How do you achieve that? For me, it’s clarity, above all else. First of all, it’s important that you learn and understand what the rider you have in front of you is actually like. And that could be from conformation, personality, temperament, the way they think, they way they learn.
And also then you have to do the same with the horse. You have to understand the horse. It’s conformation is an important part of how you develop a training program. Everybody’s different, all horses are different, you also have to consider their temperaments, you also have to understand what they do naturally, and work out where their strengths and weaknesses are.
When you’ve done that sort of fact finding mission, then you are equipped to begin to make a plan, a training programme, a system that this horse and rider can work towards in order to enable it to progress, slowly, with clarity, up the levels. and that isn’t rocket science, and we still stick to the main principles of the basics, building the foundations, the scales of training, that is true for everything and everyone, but how you adapt that, how flexible you are, is the most important thing.
One size does not fit all, and for me another thing that’s really important is that you cannot work with horses and riders and bleach their individuality. You can’t pigeonhole horses and riders, every single one has to be looked at, and treated in a way that suits them, for what they want to achieve, to get the best out of them. So, if we look a little bit at Tom on Toledo, he starts off his horse in a stretch, the horse doesn’t like to have a great deal of conversation with anyone initially, so he likes his stretch, he likes to be allowed to do his stretch, and to trot, canter in an easy way, with a little bit of leg yielding thrown in, just to give him time to limber up, just to give him time to find himself, work out what side of the bed he got out of, whether he’s on side, and he needs time to do that.
Richard (Starchaser) needs a little bit less stretching at the beginning, because he’s a little bit more shy, and he likes to have his hand held a little bit more at the beginning. And that’s fine, that’s what we’re talking about, individuals. They don’t all have to stretch in the same way. And you don’t have to panic and think “but that’s what everybody tells you, you must stretch” because that’s not necessarily the case. You do what’s right, for the horse.
I think also when you are working with horses, that a massively important part of it is self belief, a massively important part is confidence, to produce that harmonious picture that we’re all searching for, confidence is a big thing, it allows you to learn, and improve, and perform. Belief fuels your mind, and self belief is the most important thing to prevent you from sabotaging your performance, at any given level.
So you have the patience and the persistence to actually go at the pace that is required for each individual horse, you have to retain that. If you think you aren’t progressing as quickly as you should, you mustn’t rush, you should stand back and assess each horse and where they need to go and why they need to go there. You are developing the horse as well, to strengthen it, condition it, develop its symmetry, because you are also responsible for its soundness and the longevity of its soundness within the sport, and the training that you do is not just about the dressage test achieving the result, it is about actually developing the horse in the right way so that you are actually enhancing everything its got, developing its strengths and diminishing its weaknesses. So you go at a pace that suits the horse.
So, Tom, you can just start now just to bring Toledo a little bit more in front of the leg, do a bit of shoulder fore to check your straightness, and just remember take your hands forward. I am also a great believer in, I think if you can’t bend it, you can’t supple it, you can’t flex it, then you can’t move it, you can’t create an elastic horse, you can’t create an elastic contact. And I love an elastic contact, and I like horses to be soft, I don’t like horses to feel as if they’re restricted to just moving their legs, I like horses to move, I like horses to feel like they can move. You don’t want it to feel that everything on top is stuck or restricted, you want them to move.
So, we do quite a bit, a lot of gear changing for me, to make sure the horse is always thinking forward, it’s always confident about going forward, moving forward, but also relaxed, when it comes back it does so from the rider’s position, from the rider’s body, not from the hand, you don’t ask a horse forward and then grab it to restrict it, because then you make it retract. You’ve asked it, and contradicted yourself completely. You’ve asked it to go forward, you’ve asked it to thrust with its hindlegs, and then as soon as it’s answered that question, you’ve grabbed it and stopped it in its tracks. So all it does is it retracts the neck, creases the withers, drops its back, and puts its hindlegs out. You are going backwards and forwards and the horse doesn’t know where it is.
It’s really important to me that the riders work towards an elastic hand, and the horse’s frame develops towards the frame that it should be in, over a period of time, according to its strengths and according to how much it’s pushing from the hind legs. What you get in your hand comes from what’s here (behind, the seat) not from here (the hand/front), that is incorrect and wrong. So, we’re not having any of that!
So, Tom, there’s a softness in the shoulders, there’s a softness in the elbows for both of you. The hands are always forward, and you ride with a correct position, which is vital, and that is something, talking about the Next Generation, position position position. You can sit on a horse, fair enough, but you can’t train a horse, you can’t produce a horse, you can’t develop a horse unless you can sit correctly. That is, straight, symmetrically, and true.
You need to learn to feel what your horse is doing, in order to train it. And if we are talking about the Next Generation, we need to be training young horses all the way up the levels, so that we stay in the sport and these riders stay in the sport. So, learning how to sit is vital.
Alright, Izzy, how is Richard feeling? Good. Okay.
So, you know, you maintain that position in the saddle. You sit, you relax down through the legs, you keep the leg nice and low, nice and loose, you keep the pelvis nice and straight, you use your ribcage and you keep your arms forward. And, position work is really difficult and you have to work at it, because once you have learnt something, you have a muscle memory, that takes you back there, and so you have to fix it, and then it takes you back there, it’s an ongoing thing, which is why the earliest that you start training position for everybody the better, because then the muscle memory is learnt.
Right, I’m moving to the end, I like to see them coming towards me. We’re measuring straightness as well as suppleness. So let’s do some straight lines slightly on the inner track, because we want to make sure we’re the ones that are riding the horses forward and straight, that the horses are through from the leg into the hand, we don’t need the boards.
I’d still say, it could be a little bit more central in the neck. (to Izzy)
Straightness and gear changing. A little bit of counter canter. I’m actually quite an advocate for, I love them supple. I love that, when they just move. But I actually really like head-neck-shoulders in a triangle in front of me.
I like the rider to sit on the horse as though they are standing with their legs apart, and the horse is just there. That stance is, that you are balanced, you are upright, you are straight, and the horse is just there. I like withers to poll to go from my zip (front of breeches) to the withers to the poll, in a triangle, so that the horse is carrying itself with its neck true to the centre, and its shoulders very laterally balanced. That way we can get a horse that is supple over its topline from its hind foot, over its top to its mouth, we also can get a horse that is laterally supple, and balanced, because you are riding it with symmetry. It’s a bit like a seesaw. You don’t want to be carrying a horse which is having more weight on one shoulder, because then they are out of balance, which then destroys the rhythm, which then doesn’t allow them to be straight, which then gives you an uneven contact. So that’s quite an important thing for me. Tom’s doing it very well, the reins are a little bit long, hands need to be a little bit more forward, and it would be lovely if his jaw was just a little bit more open at the top. Izzy, you need a bit more oomph in that canter.
Now just because we’re going for a triangle, doesn’t mean to say we can’t flex, or curve, or bend. We can. But we need to realise that you can actually curve a horse, the horse accepts suppleness in its body through the leg to the rein so although we have got withers to poll, we’ve got our triangle, we’re laterally balanced, we’re nicely through from tail to poll, we can also have suppleness.
A little bit more out in the neck (to Tom). You want to encourage him now, when he steps up with that hind leg, to take you. That’s it, nice and easy. Take your hands in front of that neckstrap. And when you’re in the counter canter, nobody says you cannot flex the horse to the centre, or away from the leading leg, because you want access, you want to be able to touch the horses with your leg, to be able to soften the horses through the body, able to move them and they’re still relaxed, still travelling, still forward. So that you release any tension.[They work on counter canter, flexing, and then on half passes both ways.]
Ooh, check you out, Tom McEwen! Absolute beauty. So, bear with us, Izzy and Richard are working a little bit on Richard’s trot. So what we have to do is gently encourage Richard to push a bit more underneath him with his hindlegs, find a little bit more activity in the hindleg, without a panic. That’s a good girl. Well done.
He gets a reward every time he answers correctly. When you use the whip, you use it to enhance your rhythm, to get a reaction, and to encourage, and the horse should respect it and understand it but not be fearful. So every time Izzy touches the horse, we’re trying to get his hindleg to react in a very forward way. If he goes a bit croup high it doesn’t matter. Don’t grab the front end, because you’re teaching him that the first thing that he does is react and take the hindlegs further under the body. So that Richard begins to find a slightly more active rhythm, a slightly longer, better stride, and in turn when he understands that fully, he will be able to relax the topline and reach a little bit more forward. But this is a stage he’s going through at the moment, and he’s doing a really really good job.
And this trot development is going to help him with his actual working trot and obviously his medium and extended trot. But we’re developing it over time because although he looks short coupled and quite a butty little horse, he actually still needs to strengthen an awful lot more to be able to take the weight back on his hindlegs.
Tom is doing his shoulder in with his hands forward I hope.
Really important to utilise the corner before the shoulder in, the horse must be able to curve through the corner softly around the inside leg. Tom, watch the outside hindleg on those corners because he steps out with the right hind and then he doesn’t put the weight on the inside hindleg to push himself through. So if you slightly hold the outside hindleg on the turn then he’ll be more upright in his hips and keep the hindleg more under the body. Now keep the softness and the jaw a little bit more released, otherwise very good. Yes, that’s it. Keep the ears pointing down the track, so that he moves smoothly, softly, that’s it, good, take your time, that’s it. [Lots of encouragement of rider]
And it’s the same with Tom, he’s developing Toledo’s medium and extended trots also, it’s not actually about how many steps he does that are big, it’s more important the quality of the transition prior to asking him to push, and on the way back. Look through the ears, and he’s equally balanced into both reins. That’s it, push your hands forward because he’s starting to want to take the neck. And it’s really important, going back to position again, swapping and changing everything, in a shoulder in, the rider’s shoulders are in the direction of the horse’s shoulders, you know, we’re both going in that same direction, in the half pass the inside hip is forward, the inside elbow is down, and you go with your hip in the direction that the horse is going. There’s no point sitting over here, if you’re going to go Left. Because how do you expect the horse to get his quarters over? He can’t. So you have to go in the direction of the half pass to enable the horse to step through its body and actually be more fluid.
You need to slightly vary your trot (Izzy), your shoulder ins, your half passes, your travers, they’re all very good, so you can now expand your training by moving slightly up a gear and down a gear, up a gear and down a gear, keep it fresh, don’t drag around the school doing the same thing again and again and again in the same pace in the same way, freshen it up, move them, alter what you’re doing, sometimes drop the neck a little bit, sometimes push the neck back up a little bit.
Good, so rising towards the direction of the half pass, and the direction you want to end up in, between the horse’s ears, and you know then that you have the correct amount of bend, and not too much. It’s the development of that transition, when you give him a click and you put a little leg on close to the girth, you want to feel that reaction, feel those hindlegs jump and thrust, so they come forward under the body, and when you bring him back he’s relaxed and he doesn’t lose the rhythm. Remember with Richard, he can go softer if he feels tight, it doesn’t matter, I don’t mind where you put the neck, as long as he’s comfortable. That’s it. So keep your right shoulder forward, so you’re actually asking that right shoulder to stay forward from the elbow. A little bit with Richard, we can help him to keep the right shoulder forward, keep the right shoulder relaxed, by just placing the whip on the muscle on that right shoulder, so that he just learns to take the inside front leg forward to the half pass. That’s it, good boy, so give him a little stretch now, a little bit of shoulder in on the circle to get his body a little bit moving. Very good, very good, good boy. [Loads of quiet praise for horse and rider]
This is actually very good today for Richard, because he’s quite an inwardly nervous horse, he gets a little bit introverted, goes into a little bit of a hide when he’s a bit scared, when there’s a lot of people, so it’s a good education for him today, so it’s just nice for him to work and he’s working where he’s at today, not where he can be, not where we’ve had him before, but where he’s at today, what he can do today. And, this has to be a good experience for him, and it’s a progression for him, rather than let’s show all of you what he really can do, and make him all worried and tense. That’s not the name of the game and that would be pointless, because you would put his programme of work back by doing that, and that’s not what we want to do. So actually Izzy you could do those walks, halts, rein backs with him because that’s a really good thing.
We’ve been working with Izzy’s horse, quite a lot in the walk, being able to alter the gait, and also working quite a lot on the rein back, which he’s been doing incredibly well. The rein back’s quite an important movement, it’s one of those ghastly things that’s for the most part fairly hideous to look at. All too often the rein back can be quite ugly, because again these do it (the hands) it doesn’t happen from here (the body, seat, legs). So, I believe that the rein back should come from the aid that is basically the seat and leg of the rider. A very slight indication, but basically the hands should stay forward, when the horse steps back. And you wait. And the important thing about the rein back is the way the horse halts. The horse needs to learn to walk walk walk into the bridle, and the hindlegs come under, the horse comes up in its tummy, over its back and into the hand, and it’s there, standing, so it’s gone forward into the halt, and it waits. And then when you put the aid on, and you slightly indicate with the rein that actually we’re not going forward at all, we’re coming back, the horse steps back, by itself.
Good, super. It’s alright for starters. Good boy, super super super. Steady, good boy. [Loads of calm sweet praise]
So, a bit like that. That’s work in progress, but that’s good. The horse went into a lovely halt, it stood there and he, he did a diagonal step all the way back, in a straight line, spot on, with barely any contact on the reins. He did that. So, what we would call a forward rein back. Instead of one of those ones that goes Ugh/Errrr, inevitably 80% of them are like that. But you can train them, because he used to do them like that. It’s important that they halt through the neck, no creases in front of the withers, otherwise that’s an indication of a neck that is retracted, and a back that is lowered, that’s not what we want.
Tom’s just done a twirl, otherwise known as a pirouette, loosely. Good. So, you’re gonna get that canter where you want it. [Flying change]. Uh! Well, you know, it was clean, it was sort of on the aid, with a slight little extra jump from the rider, to add just a little bit to it, which we don’t really need Tom, sit on your bum. Whoo! Not bad! We’ve galloped across the diagonal, come to a semi-balanced canter, put the aid on, popped it through, happy days. Of course you can improve that, you can improve the transition so it’s a little bit more collected, you can get more jump, but you know what, they’re correct, and they’re clean, he’s happy doing it, there’s no tension, that will improve in time. Oh god he’s going for another one. Here we go. Whoo, well, that was a little shorter behind, clean, but just a little bit shorter, he was a bit tighter in his bottom, not quite soft over his back, don’t get carried away, he’s going for another again, gosh, Whoo, you see, not bad.
Okay, are you doing some (Izzy). Now Richard can do them really well, or he might get in a fluster, we’ll just wait and see. Well actually for him it’s great to be here, we wanted to banish the nerves, be brave, be a warrior.
I must say, Toledo has excelled himself.
Oh… Richard! Well done. It was clean, it was a little bit shy. But that’s fine. Clean is good. Correct is good. On the aid is good. We’re going forward, we’re can reward them, they’re ready to do it again.
The thing is you’ve got to have fun as well. It’s hard work, isn’t it, horses. Every day, all day, rollercoaster. So I believe as well that the way you do it, I’ve got a terrible Birmingham accent, I apologise, but there’s nothing I can do about it, so I try to jazz it up a bit. Tone is quite important, and enthusiasm in your voice is important too. And you know horses thrive on that too, they don’t want to listen to someone with a toneless boring dull voice, do they? Because they think ‘well, have I done anything right, have I got it wrong, do I know where I am?’ No, there’s no clarity in that, is there?
So, get excited about the good stuff, because, it’s hard work, it’s a hard slog, we’re in it for the distance, it takes a lot of persistence and a lot of patience, if you don’t find some joy, if you don’t smile, if you don’t really, come on, have a good time doing it, it’s pointless. And horses love it, they thrive on it. There’s all that thing, you know, black and white, clarity, individuality. Rider’s position, bend it, supple it, move it, shake it, love it. They love you. They want to do it for you, you know, we ask them a hell of a lot.
What’s next Tom, centre lines? Important stuff, on and back. We’re going to wow the judges with an absolutely beautiful balanced canter.
Don’t do that [rider looked unhappy with the halt] because the judge at B knows you weren’t happy with it. Whatever happens, you have to go “Fabulous!”
I know we’re straight, we just need a little more balance onto the hindquarters, the withers need to come up.
It goes a bit wrong.
Oh lordy god, never mind, a mistake. (She makes very light of it, very humorous and kind about it.)
Balance, sit. Use your ribcage, ribcage, Oh, You Beauty, Tom! Well done Toledo. I think he can rest, he’s done good. That’s better through the left shoulder Izzy, isn’t it, use your ribcage, draw up your tummy, use your core, good girl. And like for Richard, it’s quite good to just do slightly on and up the centre line, the straightness is the big deal, for him, the trueness and the triangle, the lateral balance in his shoulders, and for him to start with it’s quite good if he goes canter canter little bit smaller canter canter little bit smaller, and just walks, so he’s still forward, and gradually over time we can bring that down to a direct transition from canter to halt. But he’s not quite ready for that.
Good boy, good boy, and then nicely soft. You know, Richard needs to develop the strength in his hind legs so he’s got a bit more power, so he’s got more to sit on, but you do that gradually, cos as they strengthen up, then you don’t break them.
Good, good. Cos that was very nice, it was calm, it was quiet, it was soft. And he landed [halted] without hands, we don’t want to use too much of this (the hands), they’re Horrible.
Okay, so in these new tests, especially the 4* tests now as you saw Tom demonstrating, we’ve got this medium canter to the flying change, extended canter to a flying change, which I think’s a good thing actually, I’m not saying it’s easy, but I think it’s a good thing, a positive thing, a good thing for the horses to learn and for you to be able to ride, because it’s relative to the other two phases of Eventing, so it’s actually really important.
For the beginning of that diagonal line, corners, you can’t underestimate, the use of your corners, massive. Gets the horse supple, to the rein, sitting on their hindleg, and actually if you’re good at corners… some people’s corners are a little bit like this (walks a shallow line) so their corners finish at the letter, so if you’ve got to go that way [across diagonal] in medium canter it’s going to result in a lack of preparation for the horse to be able to do that correctly. However, if your horse is supple, and you’re disciplined to ride corners, then your corner should effectively come here [she walks a line far deeper into the corner of the arena boards] which effectively means that you’re coming out of your corner straight and you still have one stride before that letter, which if you are then looking across at F or P, you have then time to turn the horse from the outside shoulder onto the diagonal line, you put the shoulders in front of the quarters, which allows the quarters to take the weight, and keeps the shoulders level and balanced, and then you have the straightness. Once you have the straightness you can gallop across to the other side, whereby you then on the straight line produce the transition by bringing up the ribcage, lifting up the pelvis, a very small half halt with the hand, but the hand is still forward, otherwise you will end up choking the canter, and you will choke the hindleg, and at the point where you ask for the change, just before the period of suspension, you won’t have any canter left.
So, the medium canter produces that suspension, that forwardness, and that straightness, when you balance the horse prior to the change, the hindleg keeps coming, still keeps thrusting forward, you don’t bring the horse back from the rein, otherwise you will get late changes, or croup high changes, or no changes, or a number of other things will happen. And it’s exactly the same in the extended canter. So, to build that up, that’s a gear changing in canter, it’s really important, because the more elastic the horse is, the more it’s able to go forward and back from the hindleg, still thrust forward to the rein, sit on its bum because you have actually drawn up through your body, then the more elastic it becomes, the more impulsion remains, and then it’s in front of the aids and bingo, we have success.
So, we need a nice, not a rapturous round of applause, which I know you want to give them, but just enough that Richard knows he’s done well. And that’s been good for him today, we’ve definitely had a different horse than we would usually have at home, and that‘s more likely to be the horse that we get at a competition, when he came in and was a bit like a tortoise, sort of rocked his head out, ‘oh no, I feel sick‘ (in a croaky voice), and so that’s good for him, that’s a good experience for him, each time will make him a little bit braver. Toledo was very good, I hope you will agree. And thank you very much for listening.
Does Tracie have a system and principle for warm up?
I do, yes, but actually it comes from what we do at home. I think what we are doing is as I said at the beginning, assess what’s necessary, the temperament, conformation, where they are at, understand how they are going to change. The plan of work that we have at home is consistent when we go to a competition. We don’t go to a competition and go ‘Right actually we’ll have it out 3 times, work it for 20 minutes, kick it a bit and hoik its head up’, because the horse is like ‘hang on a bit’. The whole point of progressing at home is to figure out how you can replicate that at a competition.
And we couldn’t replicate that with Richard today. Believe me, that horse is stunning, but that’s what we’re trying to replicate, but whatever we do at home enhances the fact that the rider is confident in their system. So whichever field they happen to be in, whichever competition they happen to be at, they have the self belief and the confidence in the system to stick to it. And each horse will have a different plan.
But my advice would be, that’s the whole point of learning about the horses, that’s the whole point of working with somebody. You formulate a plan to bring you success built on the fact that it’s repetition, it’s habit, it’s confidence, it’s belief, it’s elasticity, a true way of going, and you follow that through. Doesn’t matter if it’s Belton, Oasby, Burnham Market, Badminton. That’s what that horse believes in, and it has to trust that you aren’t going to suddenly behave like a headless chicken and change everything. That’s not training, that’s not progression.
Quite: How do you go about tackling rein back to young people. Often they can get a halt or a rein back, and then every time they get a halt they get a rein back. How do you introduce it into their education?
It’s difficult. Young people need to be able to work a rein back from the ground, correctly, calmly, so that they appreciate the diagonals, and the rhythm, and the softness, and that the horse will do a rein back from the ground under their instruction without the mouth, but I think that from the point of view that if it happens (and it happens a lot, not just young people), the horse is thinking ‘oh, i’m going to halt and rein back and whizz off into canter‘ and it all becomes just a blur, you have to basically work and work and work on the fact that the horse goes forward to the halt and stays still, to start with. Forward to the halt is the really important bit, horses can walk walk walk halt and then they’re rocking off their shoulders, at any moment in time they’re going to go that way. So you have to teach a horse to walk properly into the halt so that it stays that way and forward to the bit, and then it stays stationary, and then it’s patted, and rewarded. And then you just do one step and forward, until that one step comes from a very still forward halt. No more steps. Any horse that scoots back, you don’t do it until you can do one diagonal and halt, and one step. Halt, no rein back. And that can take ages, but you have got to be prepared to take it down to that degree.
Q: [Eric Smiley] Is there still a place for the blood horse in our sport as far as the dressage is concerned. How do you work blood horses differently? Thoroughbreds, minds that aren’t so settled.
I like blood horses. I don’t think the system and training should change in terms of what your aims are, what’s right, what’s correct, what’s true, and ultimately what we’re looking for, just because it’s a blood horse. But I think the biggest thing that comes into the blood horse is care and attention to the difference in temperament. And your approach to what you do will alter, the principles don’t alter all, doesn’t matter what shape the horse is. I bet you all have all sorts of different horses, as a collective bunch they’re all quite random, but the training system doesn’t change, they learn to be forward, and they learn to be through, and soft, and to bend, and be supple, to love you, to trust you, and all that’s the same, you just have to be very very conscious of your ability to adapt and be flexible, because they might be a little bit hotter, a bit more tense, they might find things a little bit trickier, but you develop them in the same way. You learn to train horses, you don’t just sit on them. And if you learn to train them properly you learn to feel what’s going on, and adjust accordingly.
Q: And as far as training the rider to cope with the more sensitive horse? What do you have to say to the rider?
This reprimand/reward, chastise and reward balance, not nastily, but discipline/reward, this is one of my clarity things, it has to be absolutely black and white, absolutely clear, and without doubt there are times when the horse will have to have a slightly swifter kick or a bit of a tap on the bum or a bit of a reminder that he just overstepped the mark, of course. But that needs to be done fairly, swiftly and in a very very just and correct manner, and immediately that is done, dusted, the very next step if it makes an effort it gets rewarded. So there’s a line, you’re done it right this time. For me, I’ve seen it, but I was horrified, all the times I’ve seen it, where the balance between somebody being very unjust, and very swift to chastise, and then with absolutely no clarity or reward, it’s happening too frequently. And I believe we have a duty actually to stop it from happening. Because if people are prepared to ride at a competition, at a show, and do some of the things that they do to horses in public, then god knows what they do to them behind closed doors. And if that sort of behaviour is seen I think we have a duty to stop it, because it’s incorrect and it’s wrong. Going back to temperament wise, that’s quite a difficult one, it’s not very easy to put a hot horse with a hot rider, or a lazy horse with a horizontal rider. But I think the most important thing is probably that a rider must never tell a horse off for the frustration within themselves, for their inability to sit in balance and sit correctly, for their inability to apply the basic aids correctly, so if the horse makes a mistake or is confused, it gets it. Well, sorry, but the incapable body on top didn’t ask the right questions, so it was never going to get the right answer. And that’s why I go back to the fact that the position of these riders and their understanding of what they are trying to achieve is vital moving forward. But it is totally wrong for any rider to make mistakes and then say ‘[spitting noise of disgust] stupid horse’ when the horse was just going “I don’t know what you said’ and anyone who coaches, anyone who trains, anyone who just rides, just remember, you don’t blame something else for your inability. Sort your life out!”
Tracie had a lovely way with her teaching, and her whole ethos is very positive for rider and horse – exacting, but patiently and progressively so. This was a great session with so many real words of wisdom. Following her training ways will surely lead to happy and successful horses and riders.