Tag Archives: Horse riding

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Because it’s Great to be British!

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Celebrating a great equestrian summer with Horse Scout

Oliver Townend

We may have lost the football and are about to be politically screwed by the rest of Europe but the UK have plenty to celebrate in the Equestrian world.

 

For starters, British riders occupy the top three spots in world ranking for eventing. In showjumping and dressage, we still possess the individual Olympic gold medal. In horse racing British trainers, jockeys and breeders continue dominate the sport, as was evident at the Investec Derby, at Royal Ascot and in recent bloodstock auctions.

 

It has been a brilliant year for our Horse Scout advocates too and we are proud to put our brand behind all of them. William Funnell has just won the Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead on the exciting homebred Billy Buckingham. The pair have also been named as part of the British squad for the Nations Cup at Hickstead later this month. A good result here could see them heading out to Tryon for the FEI World Equestrian Games in September.

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Not only is Oliver Townend World Number One event rider, he has an unbelievable three horses listed for the British squad heading to the World Equestrian Games, whilst Emily King recently won the Under 25 National Championships at Bramham.

 

The busy season is in full flow and we have a long tradition of hosting some of the greatest events in the world. With a most memorable Badminton, Windsor, Bolesworth, The Hickstead Derby and Royal Ascot behind us, we look ahead to the Polo Gold Cup, The Royal International Horse Show, The Festival of Eventing, the London leg of the Global Champions Tour and Burghley. At Horse Scout we have our finger on the pulse and it’s important for us to be in the thick of this sporting action, so we have a presence at all of these events.

 

We also have some great ticket giveaways and offers coming up so you can celebrate the best of British sport ringside.

 

Horse Scout are in partnership with the team at The Longines Global Champions Tour for their forthcoming London leg, which takes place at Royal Hospital Chelsea from 3rd-5th August. This means we can offer an exclusive 20% discount on tickets over the weekend. Plus we still have limited tickets available to join us in the GC Champions Lounge. Starting from just £50, the premium package offers access to the Champions Lounge Bar, where you can mingle with the riders, chairs and high tables, panoramic views and a free welcome drink. https://www.horsescout.com/longines-gct-london

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

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Putting the horse before the carriage at The Royal Wedding

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Putting the horse before the carriage at The Royal Wedding

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We can’t get away from the fact it is the Royal Wedding this weekend. The occasion will come with all the pomp, tradition and ceremony as is expected of our nation. So naturally it will involve horses and carriages.

 

Kensington Palace confirmed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had selected the Ascot Landeau carriage for their procession after the wedding on May 19th. This is one of five open-topped carriages of this type, kept by the Royal Mews. The Landaus are used every year for The Queen’s procession during the Royal Meeting at Ascot.

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Assuming it is not raining, in which case the enclosed Scottish State Coach will be used, spectators should get a great view of the happy couple. Plus more importantly, a first glimpse of “the dress”. The Crown Equerry Col. Toby Browne describes the Landeau carriage as a “wonderfully bright, small, lovely carriage, very easy for people to see. The passengers can sit up quite high. So there’s lots of visibility for everybody.”

 

The carriage will be pulled by four grey horses, known as the “Windsor Grey Horses”, with a another two horses acting as “outriders”. The planned horses for the carriage are called Sir Basil, Tyrone, Storm and Milford Haven and the two outriders will be Plymouth and Londonderry.

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Windsor Grey horses play an important role in the ceremonial life of The Royal Family and indeed the nation. They have been drawing the carriages of successive Monarchs and Members of The Royal Family since Queen Victoria’s Reign.

 

On the big day, the carriage carrying Prince Harry and Meghan will leave Windsor Castle via Castle Hill, continuing along the High Street and through Windsor Town, before returning to Windsor Castle via the Long Walk. The carriage will be escorted by several members of the Mounted Regiment of the Household Cavalry.

Written  by Ellie Kelly

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Mud, sweat and germs

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Mud, sweat and germs
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It is time for spring cleaning. That smell of ammonia that has hung around the yard, those bacteria infested stables you have not had time to get on top of. Beyond the bugs and bacteria, even just the grease and grime eating its way into your tack and equipment. Let us introduce you to a new range of products from The Logical Range.

Already these products are being favoured by professional yards. If it is good enough for the prized animals found with an international eventer, a high goal polo player and a top dressage rider in Emily King, Hazel Jackson and Ellie McCarthy, then it must be good enough for the rest of us.

Germ Kill

Did you know, strangles is responsible for 30% of infectious disease in the equine industry worldwide? Furthermore, data from the Animal Health Trust implies that the disease is on the rise in the UK. It is a disease that can impact any yard or equine individual, professionals and happy hackers alike and even those with excellent management. As well as being extremely distressing for both the animal and the owner, this disease causes major economic losses to the industry due to its contagious nature, prolonged course and associated complications, which can be fatal.

The Logical Range’s product ‘Germ Kill’ has been produced to kill 99.9% of germs including Equine Strangles. Not only does it disinfect and keep the dangers of micro-organisms at bay, but it is a product that also cleans. It can be used on stables, yards and horse equipment. It is safe to use for humans and environmentally friendly.

  • Effective against Equine Strangles.
  • Powerful cleaning and disinfection in a single environmentally friendly product.
  • Safe to use around animals and humans.
  • Effective at killing bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts.

 

Stable Cleanse

Do you wish you could replace stable smells with a fresh minty aroma? Now you can with Stable Cleanse – the ultimate odour eater for use on stables, yards, horseboxes and trailers.

If you think how that strong smell of a stable yard can take your breath away, imagine what it is doing to your horse’s airways, as well as your stable staff.

This is a product that is safe and effective:

  • Kills the unpleasant odour under rubber matting but without eating into the matting.
  • Can be used with any bedding and on any floor surface.
  • No special handling requirements. Safe for your horse and you.
  • Great value: one five litre lasts up to six months on a standard size stable.
  • Money back guarantee, if you’re not happy.

 

All Rounder

So here is quick and easy to use product that every yard should have – for safe use on all your equipment. Have a bottle on the yard, in the horsebox, even by your kitchen sink. You can stop buying washing up liquid which can eat into fibres and enjoy not having grime embedded in your nails any more. This is a product that will not damage your skin and you will not harm the environment either.

  • Effortlessly removes sweat, grease, grime, mud etc.
  • Can be used on rugs, saddle cloths, clothing, synthetic and leather tack.
  • Safe to use for you and your horse, in the home and on trailers and horseboxes.
  • A highly versatile natural orange cleaner- environmentally friendly.

For more information visit the website:  http://thelogicalrange.co.uk 

 

Written by Ellie Kelly 

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Jin Stirrups and Helmets- forging the way in Equestrian design and technology.

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Jin Stirrups and Helmets- forging the way in Equestrian design and technology.

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If you were to compare the Equestrian brand Jin Stirrup to a car, it would definitely be a Ferrari. Just as the car is synonymous with performance, design, innovation and quality so is Jin Stirrups.

In an age where helmets and stirrups have become a fashion and status symbol, it is often at the expense of their true purpose- to protect and support rider performance. Jin Stirrup who now produce helmets as well as a range of stirrups, have ticked all the boxes and offer the ultimate in rider protection and support.

The man behind it all is Italian Filippo Pozza and their headquarters are in Venice, Italy. Unlike so many products on the market, everything in manufactured in one country- Italy. Whilst this is less cost effective for the brand than outsourcing, it insures the highest level of quality control that is a core value for Jin Stirrups.

The engineers behind Jin Stirrup are part of the Wild Group, whose background is in precision mechanics. An industry that requires maximum accuracy throughout all levels of production, right from the selection of materials down to the final quality check. Their experience includes making components for the aeronautical industry as well as motorbike components and performance and safety equipment for competitive karting and biking.

In 2004, Jin Stirrups launched the first “closed design” stirrup, using just one piece of aluminium to avoid any weak spots created by joints of fixings. Since then other brands have followed suit. Jin select only the best aluminium and are also innovative in the way they cut the metal to offer the maximum level of strength and resistance to trauma.

The stirrup has a removable footplate which offers one of the best grips on the market. The  plate releases in the event of a problem for rider safety and a special coating which safeguards against weathering and wear and tear.

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In 2017, Jin Stirrups brought out the Dynamik stirrup. An ergonomic design which helps accommodate the balance of the rider and a secure the lower leg. It works to distribute the weight of both left and right legs evenly.

Jin Stirrups have now developed an elegant range of safety helmets which come in two styles and a number of colours. Not only do they offer the FEI certification approval ASTM- PAS015 2011 and KITEMARK 2015 but the ventilation system makes them extremely comfortable even in hot and humid conditions. There is also a removable and washable inner pad.

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We have several of our advocates using Jin products and have had overwhelmingly positive feedback. Here are just a few:

“This helmet was definitely a contributing factor to my Bronze Medal win at the 13th China National Games in 2017!

The Jin Stirrup helmet combines elegance and safety in a greatly innovative and fashionable way. Not only is it sleek in design, it is also extremely comfortable to wear. The inner lining can be removed and washed with ease. The ventilations allow for comfortable use even in the hottest climates.”

Clarissa Lyra

“I’ve  been riding in Jin Stirrups which Horse Scout introduced me to and I love them. They are light and the grip is amazing. Even when it’s raining and muddy, they stick tight to your foot.”

Emily King, 4* event rider and British Team member

“I will never ride cross country in a different stirrup iron again”

CEO Horse Scout Lucienne Elms

 

written by Ellie Kelly

International Eventing Forum Preview

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International Eventing Forum Preview


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This goes out to all the eventing enthusiasts amongst  our thousands of members, here’s a date for your diary. That is if it’s not etched in your diary already.

When: Monday 5th February

What: The 2018 edition of the International Eventing Forum

Where: Hartpury College, Equine Centre

Once again, Hartpury College will open its state of the art facilities to eventing enthusiasts from Grassroots to 4* level. This year promises an all-star line up of riders, trainers and performance experts. There will be four key speakers throughout the day and in some cases, demonstrations involving well known riders. After each of the four sessions, there will be a chance for the audience to ask questions.

Sandy Phillips kicks off proceedings at 10 am with a focus on eventing dressage and reveals what the judge is really looking for. As a member of the US Olympic dressage team, Sandy competed in three World Championships. When she moved to England and married Captain Mark Phillips, she rode for the British team at the Europeans and the World Championships. Now she flies around the world as an FEI 3* and 4* Judge for Eventing and Fei4* Judge for dressage.

Eric Smiley will be discussing how the sport has changed and might progress in the future. Eric who competed for the Irish team and at many 4*’s, is also one of the founders of the IEF. With an FBHS after his name, he is one of the most highly qualified trainers in the eventing circle.

After lunch and a chance to network and gossip with your fellow eventing anoraks, Performance Psychologist, Charlie Unwin will take to the stage. Charlie will be highlighting the importance of mind management and explaining how we can train our minds to improve our performance, even under the pressure of a competition environment. You can discover more about what Charlie does in our blog: Mind Games.

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Frederik Bergendorff rounds off the forum, with a talk on “Preparing for the Top”. Frederik is the new Swedish Event Team manager and coach who helped his team to a bronze medal at the 2017 Europeans in Poland.

Tickets are cheaper to buy in advance but there will be some reserved for on the door. Prices start at just £45 for the whole day.

http://www.internationaleventingforum.com/2018-theme/tickets/

Written By Ellie Kelly

Mind Games

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MIND GAMES

Success in Equestrian sport is rarely achieved without careful preparation. Although by the word “preparation” we mean something beyond gymnastic jumping exercises and perfecting your square halt. Mental preparation and controlling nerves, is so often the difference between winning and losing. You would not be alone in thinking “how do I replicate what I do at home at a competition?”

Charlie Unwin is a leading sports psychologist who has been helping a number of elite riders and Olympic athletes from a number of sports. As part of the World Class Programme, he also helps the British Eventing Team from Young Riders up to Seniors.

 

After Military training at Sandhurst, Charlie started his professional life in the Army. During this time he served in Iraq as a platoon Commander. Upon leaving the Army, he focused on his passion for sport and begun training to become an elite Modern Pentathlete. Within two years, he was selected to go to the World Championships for the British team and in 2007 he was crowned National Champion. With this background, it is fair to say that no one understands pressure and nerves better than Charlie. We are lucky enough to have him as one of our advocates and here he sheds some light on mind management for riders.

“I help people recreate their best under pressure” he states. “Most people come because of nerves or a loss of devotion. Nerves can manifest in so many different ways but ultimately the common problem is that they are not able to recreate what they do at home.”

 

You have many forms of psychology and help out there but Charlie’s approach is a scientific one.

“There are two important areas of the brain at play when it comes to performing at your best, the emotional brain and the rational brain. The emotional brain represents the “Driving Force” of our performance, whilst the rational represents our “Guiding Force”. The driving force is both good and bad. It is the reason we get out of bed. It gives us energy and motivation. Yet it also makes us aware of perceived risks and can create fear and frustration, sometimes getting out of control. The guiding force concerns our focus and capacity to think clearly about what really matters. It makes us prioritize and do what is really important. The driving force is significantly stronger than the guiding force, meaning that emotion trumps logic if we don’t learn to manage our mind. This typically requires planning and visualization skills designed to help riders think correctly despite feeling nervous.

An example is where highly motivated and aspirational people struggle to channel their motivation effectively. The danger here is being high energy but fragile control or confidence. Then I need to work on their focus to prepare and plan. I also see people who are consumed by fear, for whatever reason. They become scared to make decisions. Some people like tips and techniques to help them but the most important thing is that they understand why they are doing it.

 

In addition, I am also trying to help riders tune into their intuition, tapping into their vast reservoir of experience that cannot always be expressed consciously. When a rider is learning their trade, they go through a process of making corrections. If these are well thought out, e.g “why did that happen when I did this”. The enhanced connections in the brain allow them to develop better intuition. So if a young rider only cares about results and less about mastering their sport, they end up compromising the thinking required to train the brain. So often, after a lesson a rider will untack, load up and not do much reflection on why something went well or badly. In avoiding this, they have not allowed their brain to process everything they have just done. In order to make something become intuitive, a rider should write down their plans and objectives before and after sessions as well as how it went and what made the difference. They should have coaching conversations with instructors about how things went, not just in the saddle.

 

I encourage riders to do the thinking and planning up front, before even getting on. This is so that when you are in the saddle, you just focus on feel. Often experienced riders stop trusting their intuition because they start to over-analyse things whilst on board. When you are coming down to The Lake at Badminton, you can’t afford to be thinking about too much other than how you are going to approach the fence. If the horse deviates from the line, it should be your intuitive riding that corrects this as your subconscious will react faster than your conscious mind.

 

It is important for riders to empty their minds in order to deliver the best performance. When you are in the start box or about to enter the arena, if you are uncertain about your plan and focus, you are not going to be able to ride to your best. At a base level, daily meditation is the best way to clear your mind as it allows us to access the more unconscious parts of the mind responsible for intuition. The app Headspace is great for this.

 

Equestrians are perhaps the most guilty of “doing, doing, doing”. The price paid can be a lack of reflection and therefore undermines their ability to judge the intrinsic quality of their work and make changes for the better. When I was a pentathlete, I was striving to do five sports well and you often don’t stop and reflect. Then I realised I was substituting quality practice for quantity and changed my training plan. I halved the amount of technical training but was more diligent at planning it. The training I did was more intensive and focused and I meditated before each training session. My results shot up and I started achieving things I didn’t think were possible.

 

Top riders like Michael Jung seem to follow this strategy. He doesn’t do many competitions but each one has a focus and a goal. He is very diligent about planning and when he trains, it is with real intensity.

 

We are creatures of habit and some people find it scary to stop what they are doing and reflect on what it actually takes to improve.

 

If you found this interesting, Charlie Unwin offers an online programme of podcasts and webcasts on mind management and controlling nerves.

 

Subscribe at https://www.performancelegacy.com/equestrian or join Charlie Unwin Psychology Coach on Facebook.

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

Image taken from https://www.performancelegacy.com/about

Have you fallen in love? Top tips for the small rider with a big horse

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Horse Scout blogger was pondering this question.  I am tall and quite strong , I run and do a fair amount of core training.  I also have very long legs! I was thinking how this affected what sort of horse I would search for if I was looking for horses for sale. More importantly what happens when a petite person falls in love with a horse which, on the face of it, looks as if he is going to be “just too big”

Having a horse which is large doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be ridden by a large or strong person. They do, however, take much longer to become strong in themselves, so training will take proportionately longer. As your horse becomes stronger he will be able to carry himself better and become easier to ride. A fit, fully trained large horse should not, in practice, be any more effort to ride than a smaller one.

BUT: it would pay a smaller rider in dividends to be as physically stable and strong as they can be, not to force the horse in any way but to hold the movements, contain the power of the horse through a matched core strength. If you are strong you will ride the very best your ability allows….but better!

Being able to hold yourself athletically and cardially fit will allow you to sit big movements without tension. With fitness comes suppleness and being supple will allow you to absorb the movement through your own agility.

If you are looking to the long term future of this large horse you cannot rush his developmental or re-training and you definitely cannot force him into an outline. You need to focus entirely on steady progress towards self carriage.

On a large horse, as with any other, it is the quality of the movement that you are looking for. Really concentrate on setting up a movement, that means every corner, every transition with correctly executed half halts, and correct aids. Use every opportunity to encourage the horse to carry himself correctly and you will be on the road to building in the vital strength he needs to carry himself. Initially he will tire pretty quickly (and so may you) make sure you build in a good warm up and warm down routine and let him stretch and ride him long and low between exercises.

Keep all movements big to start with, start with 20 meter circles and only gradually reduce the size. Give him every chance to keep himself in balance. Do half circles loops back to the long side, two loop 20 then 15 meter circles will help shorten him and so will inward spirals on a circle using shallow lateral movements and changes of directions. Use corners as 15 meter circle quarters and work down to 10 meter circle quarters. On the long sides use gentle lateral movements and use these to move into a circle. Look for quality not quantity.

Simple pole work exercises will help strengthen and elevate paces and add variety. Keeping a horse interested (not confused) is key to progress. Follow routines i.e. warm up, train, warm down, but add variety within that program.

If you find the quality of the movements is degrading as your session goes on, stop, let him relax, rest and stretch. Start again and ask for something which he can perform well even when he is tired then call it a day and go for a stroll if he has not been out for long.

Grooming will help sooth tired muscles and help build your relationship with him. Work to a scheduled schooling program and build in time to allow him to let his hair down.

I think that if you are petite it does not preclude you from buying a larger horse, but it does mean you need to take account of your own fitness and that of the horse. Take your time. Seek professional help to make sure progress is on target and that you are being consistent. Horse Scout has a wonderful list of trainers in every sector: Showing, Endurance, Eventing, Showjumping and Dressage so take a look and find someone fantastic to help you with your lovely big horse. Click here to find your perfect trainer

 

 

 

 

8 Top Tips – Are you taking your horse to the office?

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Here is a question for you: Do you yearn to have the kind of relationships where you are listened to?

I was reading that a company called Horse Sense offers corporate and team training to help individuals understand the importance of communication with others. Its called Equine Assisted Education.  It just makes so much sense.

Their strap line is “Do you wish people would do what you ask, when you ask?  Are you a compelling leader, able to lead without force or manipulation? Ready for something different, that is fun and gets results that last?”

Like Becky who founded Horse Sense, I grew up with horses. Looking after them, learning to ride and handling horses formed a huge part of my childhood education. It wasn’t until I stepped into the working world I realised what an advantage they have given me in terms of people skills.

When you are working with your horse you are starting from a position of authority, personal discipline and consideration; you use your senses to read a situation.  You respect your horse for himself, both as a partner in your enterprise and as an individual.

Understanding how crucial these skills are when handling your horse is one thing….but these skills are also relevant in the office place. Do you work from the same position as you enter the door to your office?

  1. Don’t invade personal space with out the go-ahead
  2. Don’t alarm your partner by squaring up to them
  3. Sit beside someone rather than opposite
  4. Keep your body language confident and relaxed
  5. Approach new things with quiet confidence
  6. Acknowledge progress
  7. Praise positives
  8. Never rush lunch

 

Hungry as a horse? 5 Quick recipes for success

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After a hectic competition day, the last thing you want to do is spend ages cooking, but you do have to eat something. You’ve tucked your horse up in a clean fresh bed, watered and fed him and kissed his nose and now you need to think about you.

Takeaways are an option but you could cook these in the time it takes to call a company.

Here are five quick recipes for Horse’men that take less than ten minutes.

Luckily these recipes are super simple and all take less than 10 minutes to put together.

1. Prawn stir fry

A simple classic perfect for families:

Fry garlic, chilli, ginger and some onions in a pan, then add in some prawns. You can use raw or cooked, but if you use the cooked ones add them at the end so they don’t end up overdone.

Add in some beansprouts, peppers, green beans, or any vegetables you like.

Toss in some rice or egg noodles, and splash with some soy or sweet chilli sauce.

2. Chorizo and pepper frittata

Perfect hot, but also great cold for a packed lunch:

Whisk 4 eggs and season with salt & pepper.

Pour in to a pan and top with cubed chorizo and finely sliced peppers

wait until cooked through and set, then finish with a topping of grated parmesan cheese.

3. Creamed mushroom bruschetta

An easy light meal:

Chop some mushrooms and cook them in a pan, being sure to drain off any excess liquid.

Add in spinach, and once wilted, stir in a couple of dollops of garlic and herb cream cheese.

Serve on 2 slices of good quality toasted bread.

4. Oriental duck breast

Because fancy food doesn’t have to be time consuming:

Score the duck breast and pan fry on a high heat.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, boil balsamic vinegar, a nob of butter and a dash of red wine until it thickens to form a jus, then add in some chopped spring onions and chilli.

Serve the duck on a bed of red cabbage or crushed peas, and drizzle over the jus.

5. Banana pancakes

For a little treat:

Mash 4 bananas, and add in a couple of tablespoons of flour, 2 eggs and a dash of milk.

Whisk to form a thick batter, then ladle in to a hot frying pan, and flip after 2 minutes.

Serve with yoghurt, berries, honey or golden syrup.

Thank you running bug for your top tips for tea.

 

Christoph Hess says Think “go” rather than “Whoa” 

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“Change up to trot” is widely quoted in the horse magazines this week. This is a fundamental strength in a good rider, always thinking ‘forward’.

Key to good riding is using your core; Horse Scout has Top Tips for core strength below.

If you look at a horse who is travelling well he will always be moving towards his head, a horse who is being restricted with his head behind the vertical cannot produce the impulsion necessary to carry himself.  It can be difficult to asses yourself and decide if you are working too hard, but a good instructor will be able to tell you if you are using your limbs too much and not enough core strength to ride correctly.

Impulsion is created through a horses core strength, his ability to carry his weight behind the saddle and free up the shoulders which can then dictate the direction in which the horse will travel.  It is important to first achieve core stability to protect the spine and surrounding musculature from injury in static and then dynamic movements. Second, we want to effectively and efficiently transfer and produce force during dynamic movements while maintaining core stability.

This is as important in the rider as the horse.  A rider who is able to employ his core strength both statically and dynamically has a real advantage when training horses to perform and improve their way of going.

Core strength protects a rider from injury  by protecting the spine which can be damaged by even the least sexy of actions; like picking up the milk far back in the fridge!. Research has shown that athletes with higher core stability have a lower risk of injury.

You can test out your core strength by performing a “core Stability test”

For the purpose of self-evaluation begin in a prone pushup position, with toes tucked under, lying flat on the ground. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Men will have the palms of their hands in line with their chin and women in line with their clavicle (collar bone). In a single motion, perform a pushup while maintaining a completely straight body. To check that you are performing this test correctly you can place a dowel rod or PVC pipe along your body shoulder to seat.

Put yourself in the proper start position (hands may not slide down lower)

Using the strength in your core muscles lever yourself up through your arms and shoulders. The chest and stomach leave the ground at the same time

Spinal alignment is maintained with the body moving as a single unit (can use dowel to help determine and measure alignment) If any of the criteria are failed the screen is deemed as a failing score. You have a maximum of three attempts to complete this screen.

If you successfully pass the stability test, progress to the strength screens. Progress in core stability and strength should yield more effective progress and strength gains in other movements including both the squat and deadlift. Without core stability gross movement patterns become very difficult to impossible.

Exercising abs in isolation is not as effective as using exercises such as the plank. The Plank and side plank evaluate static core strength.

Improving you own core stability will help you improve you performance and therefore effectiveness as a rider.

Are you struggling to ride your horse forward into his bridge are you constantly having to use leg power to animate your horse? It could be that your core muscles need strengthening.  Working with your trainer or finding a trainer to help keep you on track and encourage you to ride using your core strength will really make a difference to how you ride.