Category Archives: Horse Riding Tips

The act of riding a horse can be a physically demanding and mentally challenging activity that can be incredibly rewarding if completed correctly.

Be Zen – put a different hat on to do the mucking out!


Zen for Grooms –

Are all grooms Zen…..Perhaps we should add a Zen check button to our Professionals page!

“Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” – Wu Li…. Or in horse terms “ Before enlightenment muck out, turn out, ride and groom, after enlightenment smile as you muck out, turn out, ride and groom” Being Zen wont change how much you have to fit into your day but it will help you achieve far more, be more effective, and more content. No one can question that a grooms day is long, tough, wet and cold in the winter (and the summertime too sometimes!)  but it has its rewards and just when you think you are going to jack it in, the sun comes out and its your day on the rota to hack out.

The Zen Monk Thich Nhat Hanh simplified the rules of Zen into one sentence

“Smile, Breath and Go Slowly” 

We should all try this approach and I have taken the liberty of translating the Zen Rules into “A Grooms Zen Outlook on Life”

  1. Do one thing at a time  This mean each job is started and finished and your focus is on ensuring that it is done property
  1. Do it slowly and deliberately  Slowly and deliberately does not mean with a lazy approach but with total focus
  2. Do it completely Don’t get distracted and move on to the next thing before finishing what you are already doing
  3. Do less  Priorities: If the work load is particularly heavy do the most important jobs first
  4. Develop rituals  Find a way to make the most of your time, keep your job list circular so each one assists the next
  5. Designate time for certain things There is always a list of things which get put to the bottom of the list, try and tick one of those off in the mid afternoon lull.
  6. Devote time to sitting During your breaks, take the time to sit and relax.
  7. Smile and serve others Smiling is the best approach, always find the up side and share it with others to make their day a happier one.
  8. Make cleaning and cooking become meditation Horse wise – there is something entirely satisfying about that newly mucked out bed and a horse you could pat in white gloves.
  9. Think about what is necessary Focus on the job in hand, give it your whole attention, that way you wont leave the hoof pick behind and then have to sift through the whole bed to find it!.
  10. Live simply Well, that’s an easy one,being a groom leaves little time for a complicated life!

Matching the horse and rider


Finding the perfect horse, the mine field…

“the blind leading the blind”

They say that horse dealers are worse than car dealers; and it could be said that in general one has to be careful when purchasing an animal and not a machine, owing to the nature of a creature driven by memory and instinct.

In spite of all the advice out there, time after time we still see bad matches between the novice rider and novice horse. The experience of an animal will ultimately dictate its stability, a novice rider should seek experience in the horse they buy, to draw confidence for them selves from that animal , not purchase a blank canvass which can be easily imprinted, scared, and ultimately dangerous, and become a situation whereby the blind is sadly leading the blind!

There are always exceptions to the rule, granted some young horses are stable, relaxed, adaptable, and safe. To increase the likely hood of a good experience however, the novice rider should buy an experienced horse that has already been routinely exposed to the tasks: cross country, dressage, heavy traffic hacking etc that they the rider shall wish to peruse.

Horse Scout offers a diverse range of schoolmasters. The schoolmaster will inherently be a horse over 7yrs, with a proven track record, often an affiliated record to give actual evidence for the experience therefore justifying its title. A schoolmaster should be a horse you can learn from, which responds independently and confidently when jumping, or performing dressage moves for example, the horse recognises its job.

Rider training and position


The annual BHS conference took place today at Catherston Stud. With leading showjumping trainer Corinne Bracken demonstrating the importance of having the ball of your foot in the stirrup. If your toe is on the stirrup this pushes the toes up which blocks the pelvis. With the toe in neutral our pelvis stays relaxed and we can absorb the movement.

We were fortunate to take on board this new awareness and will hope you do too. Rider proprioception is a fundamental part of evolving from a rider to a competent rider to a professional rider

Practise and see for yourselves!

For more information take a look at the British Showjumping Association

Rider balance when training the horse


There is an increasing awareness that horse and rider should not be asymmetric. The ever expanding research in balance, biomechanics, and musculoskeletal impact upon the horse and rider combination is vast. Training horses to move freely without the riders influencing movement & freedom is a hard task. Professional trainers and coaches be able to help you identify which rein your restricted on, this is very important in the both the horses and your own development with flatwork and jumping respectively . Horses with one sided development often present with an ‘unstraightness’ during jumping exercises. Until straightness can be achieved the horse and rider should be careful not to focus on height , but quality of the canter , replicability of the jump & straightness.