Tag Archives: help

Stabilising Pilates for your stable


Horse Scout Blogger is a great fan of Pilates as a way of increasing and maintaining good core strength. Using Yoga or pilates type exercises to improve fitness are as useful for your horse as for you.  Theses are exercises which have been adapted to take into account your horses structure.

  1. Core Strength

Core strengthening exercises strengthen and stabilise the spine and pelvic muscles as the horse responds to pressure over specific areas. If you have strong hands, you can apply pressure manually; if not, use a metal thimble over your thumb or finger. Perform three to five repetitions, allowing the muscles to relax for a few seconds after each exercise. Some horses, especially those that are girthy or cold-backed, may resent certain procedures. If resentment persists, omit the exercise until you’ve consulted with your veterinarian.

The following exercise stimulates lifting of the base of the neck, sternum, and withers through pressure on the ventral midline between the forelimbs. These movements are essential for self carriage.

Sternal, withers, and thoracic lifting exercise:

1. Stand facing the horse’s side, just behind the elbow.

2. Apply upward pressure to the sternum (breastbone) in the middle of your horse’s chest, between the pectoral muscles. Gradually slide your hand back between the forelimbs and behind the girth line while maintaining a steady upward pressure.

3. The horse responds by initially lifting through the sternum and withers. Then as the pressure moves further back, he responds by lifting in the thoracic area immediately behind the withers, and finally in the thoracic area under the saddle.

Note: the amount of pressure needed to stimulate a response will vary between horses, so start gently and increase pressure gradually, or use a slow stroking action until the horse responds.

  1. Balancing Exercises

Balancing exercises improve balance and stability by inducing the horse to use active muscular contractions to shift the centre of gravity toward his haunches and/or to resist displacement of his centre of gravity. A horse uses his muscles in some of the balancing exercises to shift his centre of gravity, while in others, he uses his muscles to resist a shift. Many of the balancing techniques used in horses are similar to those performed in Pilates and yoga training in people.

The next exercise stimulates activation of the pelvic stabiliser muscles to maintain the horse’s balance.

Tail pull:

1. Stand to one side of the hindquarters.

2. Take hold of the horse’s tail, pull it toward you by flexing your elbow. (The goal is not to pull the horse off balance, but to stimulate resistance in the pelvic stabilizer muscles.) You’ll see the muscles around the stifle contracting as the horse resists the pulling force.

3. You can gradually increase the amount of force applied to the tail or the number of repetitions as the muscles get stronger.

Remember to check with your veterinarian before including such exercises into your horse’s training regimen; this is especially important if the horse is recovering from an injury.

Core training exercises can be done without a warm-up–for example, in horses that are recovering from injury–because the horse controls the amount of motion, and loading of the joints is less than during locomotion.

Keep those Show Jumps Standing- 7 steps to jump a perfect round.


To jump a horse successfully a rider can break each stage in the process down into seven separate steps. the seven stages need to be ridden accurately. With the rider remaining in balance and able to help the horse both before during and after the jump.

The 7 stages to jumping:

1. Turn.

2. Approach.

3. Take off.

4. Jump.

5. Landing.

6. Get away.

7. Turn.

1) The Turn

The turn to the jump needs to be ridden accurately so that it lines you up with the centre of the jump being straight ahead. The rider needs to be sitting up and looking ahead to the jump that they are going to do, with the horse being ridden from the riders leg up into the hand, to keep the horse in a balanced rhythm which has plenty of impulsion.

2) Approach

The approach needs to lead you directly to the centre of the jump which you are planning to jump. The rider needs to be sitting up, looking ahead and channeling the horse forward, between their hand and their legs enabling the rider to maintain a straight line, with the horse maintaining the impulsion and balance that is required.

3) Take Off

This is the point at which the horse begins to gather his hindlegs underneath his body and starts to lift up the forehand. The rider needs to keep their lower leg securely wrapped around, to maintain the horses energy and forward momentum.The riders hands need to follow the movement of the horses head and neck and still maintain a contact through the rein to the bit. At the point of takeoff the rider should still be looking ahead, up and over the jump.

4) Jump

This is the point at which the horse will bascule in the air,the forehand is well lifted, and the back well rounded, with their forelegs tucked up in the front and the hind legs tucked up at the back allowing the horse to clear the jump. When the horse is in the air the the rider folds into the jumping position. To achieve a good fold the riders upper body is lowered, with the seat being slipped to the back of the saddle, the riders hand position allows the horse to stretch through their neck, back and body, giving the horse the freedom of movement they require, while still maintaining a light contact through the rein. The riders lower leg needs to stay securely wrapped around the horse to help maintain balance when in the fold or jumping position. The riders position needs to fold straight so that they can still look ahead through the horses ears and on to the next fence, any deviation of the riders position by going off to the side or twisting of the position will unbalance not only the horse but ultimately the rider as well.

5) Landing

The horse now starts to stretch out and extend their front legs ready for landing. Depending on the cater lead that is required, the horse will land with one foreleg landing first then quickly followed by the other foreleg, and the hindquarters following through from behind. The rider will start by bringing their upper body back up into a upright position, while still allowing their hands to remain in contact through the rein to the bit in the horses mouth, but without interfering with the horses balance and movement, this is especially important as horses use their necks for most of their balance. The riders lower leg should remain in position, still on the girth area of the horse, with the rider looking ahead to the next fence.

6) Get Away

The horse is now moving away from the jump and on to the next. The rider needs to make sure that the horse is in balance with plenty of energy and impulsion still being generated and that the horse is on the correct canter lead to enable it to turn in balance to the next fence. The rider should check that their position is still accurate, with reins the correct length, and lower leg secure and with the upper body sitting tall and the rider focused on the next jump.

7) Turn

This is where the rider turns away from one fence and on to the other, and the seven stages start all over again.

Are you looking for a jumping horse.  Horse Scout has some great horses and ponies advertised on its pages.  Take a look.

10 helpful hints when buying or selling horses


Horse Scout has a great website for buyers and sellers alike. The sales and professional pages are full of information and clear to read.  This makes it so much easier for both buyers and sellers. Having all relevant information sorted into categories make it easy to make informed choices when looking at the horses form or potential.  Good photographs make a difference to a viewers initial decision and Horse Scout offers both stills and video footage.

10 Helpful Hints when Buying or Selling Horses

1. As a seller write your advert carefully and be accurate in your description, don’t advertise your horse 100% in traffic if you have only ever ridden him down quiet country lanes. Both Sellers and Buyers should keep a copy of the advert which can be useful if there is a dispute in the future.

  1. If you are having the horse vetted which is always recommended, do not use the regular vet of the seller. You must instruct an independent vet and pay for the vet direct.
  2. If it is important that the horse is good to load, ask to see him load. If you ask the seller to confirm that the horse is vice free get the seller to warrant that the horse is vice free by writing it down. As a Seller, if you have told the Buyer that the horse is green and has never been ridden out alone before, for example, write this down and ask the buyer to sign it acknowledging the fact.
  3. Don’t buy a horse without its passport.
  4. Be realistic about your abilities – don’t over horse yourself.
  5. If you discover a problem with your horse inform the seller immediately and keep copies or notes of all correspondence.
  6. When you go to try or look at a horse to buy always take an experienced person with you if you are a novice.
  7. If the Seller is selling on behalf of someone else, if appropriate contact the Owner direct. Whenever looking at a horse ask lots of questions about vices, what it has done, its breeding, competition record, laminitis, sweet itch, lameness etc.
  8. Cut your losses – If all has gone wrong and you end up with an unsuitable horse, come to terms with the fact and don’t always insist on litigation which can be expensive, consider selling it to a more suitable home. As a Seller, if a horse proves to be unsuitable for a Buyer consider taking the horse back and finding an alternative buyer, if the horse is genuine this shouldn’t be a problem.
  9. Always have a written contract, with details of the buyer, seller, price and warranties (if any) given signed by both parties.

Help for Heros –Help raise funds


There are so many charitites which need our support. If you are part of a larger horse community why don’t you hold a fund raising event through your local Equestrian centre or at your livery yard.  Or perhaps you are arranging a group lesson or clinic with one of listed Fantastic Trainers on Horse Scout, if so maybe everyone could pay just a little extra into the pot ato be donated to support a charity like Horseback UK.

HorseBack UK is a charity which has been created to provide a safe and secure environment to aid those serving, or those who have served in the UK armed forces.

Our mission is to provide a safe and supportive environment to aid the recovery of servicemen and women who have suffered either physical or mental injuries as a result of their commitment to their country. Their aim is to ease the integration of serving personnel and veterans back into the community, inspiring a meaningful and rewarding future.

For the soldiers who come to the centre the initial emphasis is on learning the basics, caring for the horses and building a bond of trust with them. Once that trust is established, the groundwork starts. This builds confidence in gentle increments, so that by the time the participants graduate to riding, they are completely at ease with their horse, and can go through obstacle courses and out on trail rides through the Deeside hills.

For those who return to active service after being injured, the emphasis is on building strength, confidence and capability. It is simply a different approach to help servicemen and women in their journey back to full fitness, both in body and mind. For veterans, HorseBack acts as a bridge from the military to the civilian world.

Many of those who attend our courses will have been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress for years, and may have almost forgotten what normal life is like. For them, the relationship with our horses is a powerful therapeutic tool, as is spending time in the great Scottish outdoors. A remarkable number of our participants stress the powerful effect that being in such a beautiful environment has on them.


10 Top Tips for a Mother Daughter Share


What is the perfect Mother Daughter Share?

“A perfect mother-daughter share is where my mother pays all the bills and does all the yard work, and I do all the riding. Sadly, my mother does not share my opinion….”

Mother Daughter shares can be the perfect set up and, actually, some mothers are happy with the above scenario! But mostly Mothers tend to want a bit more from the arrangement.  After all it is Mothers who tend to do most of the donkey work because teenagers are, by rote, away at school and in the winter this means that bar the pair of luminous eyes caught in the beam of the head torch, they hardly get to see their horse during the winter!

Top Tips for Mother Daughter combinations:

This scenario assumes that the Daughter is a competent rider, perhaps this is the third or fourth horse she is looking to buy.  She is competing perhaps in pony club teams or in intro affiliated classes or this is her aim with this next horse.  Mother is experienced and has ridden possibly all her life, does not have any particular ambition to compete but is capable of hacking out and schooling and maybe even hunting.  Other combinations of experience would need to adjust their top tens but the principals would probably be the same.

  1. Choose a gelding if possible, they tend to be more even in temperament and happy for anyone to do them (sweeping generalisation I know).
  2. Chose a height weight combination which will be comfortable for both parties to ride.  Tricky if M&D are extremis! But usually there is a similarity in build) …. Yes I know another sweeping statement.
  3. Choose a temperament that will suit both parties.  If one is a little nervous handling from the ground then find a horse which is rock steady to do, and not too big for the handler.
  4. If riding abilities are widely at odds then choose a horse which will suit the less able rider.
  5. On the other hand if the main rider (the one who will be doing most of the exercising) is the more competent and is able to school the horse regularly so it is quiet for the other rider this may work fine.  With the combination the other way round its not going to work.
  6. Decide what the horse is going to be doing.  However, for this combination an all rounder is a good idea offering versatility and therefore scope to have a go at most things.
  7. Have clearly defined responsibilities.  Be realistic but also stick to your guns on who is doing what and when. This will keep the horse a truly M&D member of the family.
  8. Remember to appreciate each other and look for the positives of having the other person contribute to the training, husbandry and progress of the horse.
  9. Like sharing anything, this trio will work best when all parties are prepared to chip in, talk and look to progress.
  10. But mostly, Enjoy your horse, your time with him and your time with each other.

There are a number of all rounders advertised on Horse Scout Mountview Rosie, Sallybog Tim, Bolt Hero, By Jonkers Metyo, Emerald Skippy.



After an accident with a horse how can I overcome my fear?


4 signs that you are definitely rattled and 4 helpful tips to help you see off those butterflies.

“You’re not a rider until you have fallen off seven times”. How many of us have heard this saying?

However, each of those 7 falls can make us scared, question why we are riding at all and for some the seventh fall may well be the last time they want to fall.

Fear and horses are not a good combination.

When I was learning my pony only had to turn a corner, not even a sharp one, and off I’d slide. In fact I swear I did actually spend more time sitting on the floor than on my pony’s back. Luckily he was close to the ground and never seemed to be going at any great speed so I was lucky and falling off didn’t really phase me. As I got better and stayed on for longer periods, allowing said pony to go a bit faster and following on from him a series of ponies then horses then proper show horses, hunters & eventers and I fell off more frequently and at greater speeds and from greater heights… and then I wasn’t so laid back. Looked at from a distance the sensations could have been described as fear I don’t think I thought of them as fear but it did shock me, It did make my tummy try to jump right out of my mouth, it did make me feel sick. Shock or fear are natural reactions, they are natures way of protecting us. It was not the getting back on top that was more difficult, mostly I just jumped right back into the saddle and carried on… it was more the next time, or the time after that, sometimes for months, mostly unbidden the butterflies would suddenly rear their head and rattle me.

I don’t disagree that you are not a rider until you have fallen off seven times, but I do think that its right to acknowledge that each of them have shaken you up, dented your self confidence and can affect how you ride afterwards.

Fear is a very useful emotion, if we didn’t have any fear, we wouldn’t be able to tell if we were in danger and extreme fear is paralysing and irrational and does need to be addressed. Everyone is going to cope differently:

  1. You may make excuses to avoid riding, in you head its all perfectly rational, suddenly your diary is so full you just cant take the time to ride.
  1. You may think yes I’m fine but then faced with the same jump you freeze of you deliberately (or subconsciously) pull your horse up. You sit there kicking but hope that he wont go so you pull him back at the same time.
  1. Your horse starts making you very nervous. He only has to jinx or react and you over react. You just cant enjoy what you are doing and are constantly expecting the worse.
  1. Or you may experience extreme anxiety, where there were just little tingles in your tummy before now you almost cant breath, your heart is thumping and you are very hot.

The first step to overcoming this new fear is to stop, step back and analyse what the problem is. Calmly break it down into its component parts. Of course there are some accidents which are way beyond anything we can plan for and for these life changing events it is best to seek professional help. For the majority of us though I am talking about being dumped off a fresh horse, mis judging a fence, not concentrating and being caught out when our horse spooks.

When you break an event down into its component parts it has a calming effect, you are able to remove the emotional connection to the event.

Ask yourself what is going on in your life that may be causing you to lack concentration, or was it due to a lack of common sense. i.e. I knew Frank was fresh…I hadn’t ridden for a week” or where you tackling something new of bigger where you overconfident or did you take a risk. Sometimes thinking things through can help us understand the obvious.

Some people can bottle their worries up and carry on regardless, but they know they are pretending. They are experiencing the same fears but choosing to ignore the effect it is having on them. However this is not always the best idea. Each event does need to be acknowledged and thought through then rationalised.

April Clay the Sports Phycologist suggests the following techniques and suggestions for rebuilding your confidence:

  1. Take it slow: take a step back and ask a little less of yourself do what you know you can do and then when you feel confident ask yourself to step forward again.
  2. Build physical strength/basic skills: Increasing your physical strength can increase your confidence and your ability.
  3. Realign your self talk: stop saying “I know I will fall off again” and replace those thoughts with more reasonable, positive ones. Acknowledge that you are feeling anxious but think positively on how much you are progressing. Visualise yourself correcting the problem: visualise the correct way of doing/approaching. Feel in your head the movements that you need to make to achieve this. Do not use I”I must not do this or that” use the positives.
  4. Relaxation training: Meditation of exercises like Yoga or Tai Chi are not only great physically for your body they also help you become more self aware and therefore more able to control your mind and body together.

How you begin to build up your confidence after an accident will depend on your unique situation and your individual personality. Some of you will have higher hurdles to get over, but stepping back, analyzing, starting small and thinking positively will make all the difference to you and your horse.

Anna Clay has published a very interesting book “Training from the Neck Up: A Practical Guide to Sports Physchology for Riders or The Rider’s Edge: Overcoming the Psychological Challenges of Riding written by Janet Sasson Edgette and Tony Johnson’s Inside Your Ride: Mental Skills for Being Happy and Successful with Your Horse these books are available on Amazon and elsewhere.

Finding the right professional trainer will also be a great help.  Someone who you feel at ease with and are able to properly discuss your concerns will be able to make sure you address any worries and help you along the road to becoming the confident rider you want to be.