Tag Archives: Rider Fitness

Finding the right producer for your baby- give your horse the best start to his career


Working with young horses, understanding how they function, anticipating how they will react and being aware of their needs is a skill and a calling.  Not every professional rider wants to start horses but those that do offer a service which is invaluable to you and to your horse. Horse scout has number of professionals who list breaking and producing among the services they offer.

Key advantages in asking a professional to start your horse for you.

  1. They have experience in this specialist area.
  2. They have started all sorts of youngsters and know what to expect.
  3. They treat each horse individually
  4. They follow a set routine (which is progressed and adapted to suit any one particular horse)
  5. They know how much to ask
  6. They know when to back off
  7. They know when to push forwards with training.
  8. They take the sudden and sometimes explosive reactions in their stride
  9. They understand which behaviors are reactions to the training and which may indicate problems
  10. They are successful because they are experienced and skilled at their job.

Using a professional for this key first stage in a horse ridden career can make all the difference to your relationship with your horse.  It is easy to let a horse scare you when you are unsure or inexperienced and it is just not worth the risk to you or your horse in terms of your mutual relationship.

There are, however, things which you can do to help prepare your horse:

It is always more effective to train through positive reinforcement and respect rather than using force, which only creates fear.

A horse which respects and trusts you will follow commands better and be a more enjoyable companion than a horse that fears you. However gaining respect is not always a simple scenario and has many facets. Knowing how to interact with your horse is the key in training. Here are some steps to bear in mind if you’re handling a young horse which will prepare him for life in general as well as pre formal breaking- in training.

Respect Is Mutual: Gain Their Trust

The first step to training a horse is creating and maintaining a bond of trust. If your horse doesn’t trust you it will be near impossible to train into being a calm and content riding horse. Grooming is a great way to create a connection between you and your horse. It is soothing and relaxing and is a bonding act within the herd itself. As with any animal you should talk to your horse so it knows your voice, if you frequently talk to your horse it will associate your voice with being a safe command or soothed so make sure to talk sensibly to your horse when trying new things, or going into new places or where he becomes spooked by a noise, object or strange feel……like the water from a hosepipe or a plastic bag in your hand or in the hedge.

Introduce Equipment and Gear Slowly

It’s important not to overwhelm your horse so introducing equipment slowly is a sensible way forward. Horses must first become familiar with common equipment such as bits, brushing boots, travel boots or even maybe the saddle. Introduce the gear slowly by placing it on them for short intervals at a time and gradually building up their use with shear repetition and patience. Rugs are one thing that will become a common place article, used on a daily basis. Always put on from the front to the back and take off by undoing the rug from the back to the front. That way it will never slip back and tangle in their legs. Good old fashioned common sense at all times.

Show Him the World

Don’t hide your young horse away……….Let him see and get used to all the things he will have to cope with as a ridden horse. Spend time in hand safely grazing your horse near a road so he can see and smell and hear all the traffic and comings and goings. The more solid you make him out here the easier and better he will train later on.

Travel train him! Get him used to the trailer…….don’t wait till the day he has to go somewhere. Spend some time feeding him on the ramp and then inside the space. Take him for short journeys when you don’t need to.


Horse Scout has Four professional, newly signed up, who specialize in breaking and producing young horses are:

Claire Rowland– Harrogate

Selina Milnes nr Bristol

Lorna Riley in Durham

Emily Llewellyn in Surrey

How often do you think about your horses nose?


Horse Scout Blogger was thinking about the way a horse wriggles his nose in your hand. It’s a funny feeling and somehow very friendly. We all know a nose is for breathing and for smelling but horses use their noses for other things too!


Horses use their lips the way people use their hands—to touch, explore, and sense the world around them. Horses engage in mutual grooming, and he might be putting his nose by yours to invite you to scratch his nose or groom his face. A horse who puts his nose in your face may be trying to use his mouth to gently touch you, the way he might greet another horse.

2. Affection

Another reason horses put their noses in your face is to show affection. Horses show affection for one another by gently blowing into each other’s nostrils, and your horse may be trying to show affection for you as if you were another horse. Mares nuzzle their foals, and reaching out to touch your face may be how your horse says “I love you” in a similar way.

3. Sight

Horses have different fields of vision from humans, and they often move their heads simply so they can see better. A horse has binocular vision to the front but a blind spot directly in front of his nose. He may be moving his head closer to yours so he can get a better look at you if you’re in his blind spot.

4. Learned Behavior

Horses may also duck their noses to your face if they’ve learned that people bring them treats. In their eagerness to get treats, they may move quickly into your space. They may also have learned along the way that such behavior is rewarded with affectionate pets or scratches. Unless this behavior bothers you or turns into nipping, it’s usually fine. To get a horse to stop doing this, tap him on the chest to get him to back up.

Be cautious about strange horses putting their noses to your face and never encourage this behavior. Horses do have big teeth. I know a lady who got her nose bitten off when she used to feed her horse carrots from her mouth.

Be an efficient and effective rider. 10 Top Tips – Core strength, mobility and suppleness will make you ride better


How effective are you in the saddle.  Have you ever tried to tune in to what is happening under your saddle? Are you aware of the exact response from the horse to any given movement by you?

Are you a bit fuzzy on how the whole thing actually works. You know the basics, you ride inside to outside, you sit centrally in the saddle with subtle changes in weight reflected in the movements of your upper and lower body.  Legs controlling behind, shoulders the front and your core the power house creating energy, swing, impulsion, and lastly your seat providing a stable point from which to perform all this with a set which is light, mobile, agile, and controlled.

All this without even thinking about your spot on timing and direct ion, cadence, pace, suppleness and balance from your horse.  So much to think about all at once. Sometimes it’s easier to forget that there is a horse under you and concentrate on recreating the correct body shape needed to make efficient and accurate aids.

You can go a long way to helping yourself become efficient and effective in the saddle if you are fit and agile.

The key to being a effective rider starts on the ground.  You need to be fit.  Riding and mucking out  (unless you are one of our professional riders and trainers) is not enough you need to get out and to aerobic sports like running and swimming, fitness classes or dancing.  Dancing is very good for a rider as it helps with a sense of erythema and makes you agile at the same time.  However key to all progressive riding is being strong and mobile in your core.  Here are a few simple exercises which can help you start to strengthen you central core/abs.  As always with any fitness advice if you experience pain then you must consult your doctor before progressing further.  Taking part in fitness classes may be a way to get you motivated.  There is nothing better than the thought of thinking people will notice you haven’t been doing your ‘homework” to get things moving along a pace!

However if you want some exercises you can do at home with a minimum of equipment her are five simple ones to start you off.

1. Reverse Crunch with Resistance Bands

Targets: transverse abdominals

Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms down by your sides, holding one end of a band in each hand, with the band wrapped around tops of shins. Raise your knees toward your chest until your hips leave the floor. Hold for 3 seconds; lower to start. Repeat for 2 sets of 10 reps.

2. Knee-Ups

Targets: rectus abdominus

Brace yourself between the backrests of two sturdy chairs, keeping elbows slightly bent, shoulders down, neck relaxed, head and chest lifted. Keeping your abs tight, exhale and then very slowly bring your knees to your chest without swinging back and forth. If your form falters, try raising one knee at a time. Build up to 3 sets of 15 reps.

3. Leg Swings

Targets: obliques

Lie on back with arms out to sides, legs and feet pointing up. Exhale and draw navel in toward spine as you lower legs to left side about 5 inches from floor. Return to start and repeat on right side. Keep switching sides for a total of 15 reps. Work up to 3 sets.

4. Ball Leg Lift

Targets: transverse abdominals

Lie facedown on a ball and roll forward until your hands are on floor and just the tops of your feet are flat on ball. Keeping your back and right leg straight, slowly lift leg a couple of inches toward the ceiling. Hold for 3 seconds, then lower. Do 10 reps, then switch legs. Add 2 repetitions each week as long as you can maintain perfect form.

5. Butterfly Crunch

Targets: rectus abdominus (“six-pack”)

Lie on your back with the soles of your feet together as close to your body as possible, with knees bent out to sides. Place hands behind your head, elbows in line with ears. Keeping your back flat on floor and stomach muscles contracted, exhale and curl your chest up a few inches off the floor toward your legs. Lower to start. Repeat 10 times.

6. Side to Side

Targets: obliques (sides)

Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, with your arms at your sides. Exhale and contract your abs as you slide your right hand toward your right foot. Your head and neck should remain aligned and your lower back pressed to the floor. Return to start, then switch sides. Repeat 15 times.

7. Front Plank

Targets: transverse abdominals

Start on your hands and knees. Keeping your back and ab muscles contracted, drop down to your forearms while extending legs out behind you so you are resting on the balls of your feet. Be sure to keep your back straight, hips up, and neck relaxed. Hold for 3 seconds, then return to start. Repeat 10 times.

8. Fingers to Toes

Targets: rectus abdominus

Lie on your back with your legs straight and extended toward the ceiling, with arms down by your sides. Exhale and contract your abs as you crunch up from your waist and extend your hands toward your toes. Keep your back flat on the floor. Work up to 2 sets of 15 reps.

9. Scissors

Targets: obliques

Lie on your back with your fingers resting behind your head. Keeping your abdominals tight, raise your left knee and touch it to your right elbow. Return to start, then raise your right knee and touch it to your left elbow. Alternate for 15 reps in a smooth, continuous motion, keeping abs engaged and hands relaxed so you don’t pull on your neck. Work up to 2 sets.

10. Obviously don’t do all of these at once!! Work through the list joining on new sets as you get stronger.  Do not perform moves badly.  Stop and rest of do fewer repetitions until you are ready to move on.

Buying a horse starts with a telephone call and ends with a great new relationship.


Are you about to buy a horse? Horse Scouts’ Bloggers top tips for finding you a horse that can be your perfect partner.

You know what discipline you want your horse to excel in, show jumping, dressage, eventing or showing but one of the most important aspects of a horse you are looking after and riding is his temperament.  For the average Jo its important that you actually like your horse…..not just love what he does!

So here is Horse Scouts Bloggers “Top Temperament Check List”

Assessing your potential purchase’s personality and behaviour is something you should do as well as having him vetted, not instead of.

When speaking to the vendor have a list of questions ready. It is far better for you both to establish with the vendor exactly what you are looking for and what areas of ease of handling are important to you.  Horse Scout has a quality list of professional horse dealers and trainers, they know their job and, at the end of the day, do not want to sell you a horse which is unsuitable.

So write down, in five clear areas, in the order of importance to you the horses behavior:

1. Behaviour around other horses

2. Behaviour when interacting with you and other people

3. Behaviour when in his stable, yard, paddock and strange environment

4. Behaviour when loading

5. Behaviour when mounting and when being ridden

When you go and see the horse and observe him note how he is in each of these areas and if you have doubts be prepared to ask further questions, the inside knowledge of the current owner  will help you clarify things which may be worrying you .

Other considerations when buying your horse:

Have you really carried out all the checks necessary to make sure he is the best horse for you and your discipline?

You may have decided that you want a show jumper, an eventer or simply a horse that you can enjoy hacking out on. No matter what your aspirations are, it is essential that you do more than just ensure the horse is up to doing the physical job required of him.

Regardless of how talented a horse is physically, if he has behavioural issues, such as bullying or is difficult to be handled whether that be by you, a farrier or even the dentist – the relationship can turn sour very quickly. You may even find that your colleagues at the yard start too resent him being around – and instead of having a horse you can enjoy, you find yourself having to deal with problems on a daily basis.

Behavioural problems can manifest, becoming so severe that to solve them you have to get the assistance of a professional trainer whose specialty is rehabilitation.

Visit the horse at his existing home more than once – although going only once or twice will not give you the time to gain a complete picture and insight into his personality and behavior, if you zone in on his attitude it will give an indication of how he is going to be with you.

Horse Scouts Professional horse dealers are experienced horse’men who know their job and want to make sure you find the right horse for you. So be honest with the vendor about your abilities, what you want to do with the horse and your experience.  It would also be helpful if you where able to tell them something of your training routine and whether this included lessons with a professional trainer etc.  All this helps the trader find you the perfect horse.

Spring Is Sprung, the grass is riz….I wonder what a fructon is – 7 key facts about “Fructans” in grass


Do you keep your own horse has spring fever struck and you are going to buy a new horse? Springtime is lovely with all the blossoms and daffodils suddenly brightening up your garden or decorating the driveway to your local competition centre or cross country venue.  However, says sage Horse Scout Blogger(!), with the daffodils comes the new spring grass is typically high in particular nutrients called fructans – to which your horse’s digestive tract is unaccustomed after a long winter on hay and which can be hard on the hindgut. As a result, the equine digestive system needs to be slowly conditioned to handle hours of grazing green pasture grass. What Are Fructans In Grass? “Fructans” in grass are fructose chain molecules, a type of sugar. This sugar is a byproduct of photosynthesis and is used to aid plant growth. On sunny days, fructose is produced in large quantities and stored within the blade of grass. When it cools off at night, these fructans are then utilized as fuel for growth. Fructans are higher in the seasons when the weather is cool: spring and fall. They are still present during hot summers, but not usually at levels that can be dangerous. Here are a few key things you should know about fructan levels:

  1. Higher in stressed pastures than in lush grass
  2. Higher when night-time temperatures drop below 40 degrees (because the grasses do not grow, so the excess remains stored in the stems)
  3. Lower in new spring grass (first 3-6 inches), but also lower in fiber
  4. High in mature grass (8-10 inches), but also higher in fiber
  5. Lower in the morning when days are sunny and nights warm
  6. Higher in the afternoon/evening on a sunny day
  7. Lower in rainy, wet weather

How Do Fructans Affect Horses? Because fructans are a non-structural carbohydrate, horses cannot digest them. Therefore, fructans must be broken down by the microorganisms in the equine hindgut first so that they can be absorbed. Because they are a type of sugar, horses love to eat grasses that are high in fructans. Horses that are unaccustomed to grass turnout, that have been on hay all winter, or that are already prone to colic and laminitis can have their digestive tracts upset easily by high levels of fructans. Here’s how it works: The types of microorganisms in a horse’s hindgut vary according to the types of food it eats. When a horse is suddenly put out on pasture after a winter of hay, the microorganisms aren’t equipped to digest the high levels of fructans, and the bacteria die. When the good bacteria dies off, the acidity of the hindgut is raised (lactic acid is produced) and harmful pathogens are released. The lactic acid and pathogens are absorbed into the bloodstream and are known causes of laminitis. When the acidity level of the hindgut increases quickly as it is prone to do when fructans are high, the horse can also colic. While some horses have a higher risk for colic and laminitis, they are very serious conditions that can affect any horse if it isn’t managed carefully. Spring Grass Management Tips to Avoid Health Risks Fortunately, careful management in feeding and turnout can help protect your horse from health risks like laminitis and colic caused by high levels of fructans in grass. The key is to build up time on grass slowly. Increase Spring Turnout Gradually For all horses that have subsisted on hay all winter, introduce pasture time incrementally over a period of weeks. At Freedom Farm, we start our horses on grass for an hour a day, and then increase that time by 15-30 minutes each subsequent day. If the weather is bad and we have to skip a day of turnout, we keep the horses at the same amount of time the next time they go out. Horses with a higher tolerance may be able to start out with a longer time initially, while horses particularly prone to issues may need to start at less. Alternatively, if you have a horse that lives out 24-7 it is prudent to bring it in off grass for part of the day when grass is newly growing and fructan levels are high. Avoid Afternoon Grasses Because fructan levels reach their highest in the afternoon on sunny days, it’s best to turnout in the morning or late at night. Maintain Pastures Fructans levels are higher in pastures that are overgrazed or where grass is too mature. Rotate pastures to give them a break, and keep them mowed to 4-8 inches.   – See more here with Succeed Equine who run some very interesting articles.

How well your will your horse perform –  Get ahead – 7 pointers for a well made head.


What to look for in a well made head!

The ability to breathe deeply is critical to the success of a horse in any endeavor, so any conformation flaw that restricts breathing capacity is a fault across all breeds.

A horses head is proportional: the measurement from eye to eye is the same as the measurement from this line up to the top of the poll and the measurement from the same central point to the muzzle is 1 ½ times this measurement. Variations on this can occur because of breed types but generally speaking, like a human face, these are the ideals.

  1. Jaw size

The lower jaw should be clearly defined. The space between the two sides of the jawbone should be wide, with room for the larynx and muscle attachments. The width should be 7.2 cm, about the width of a fist.

The jaw is called narrow if the width is less than 7.2 cm.

The jaw is called large if it is greater than 7.2 cm. A large jaw gives head a false appearance of being short and adds weight to the head. Too large of a jaw can cause a reduction to the horse’s ability to flex at the poll to bring his head and neck into proper position for collection and to help balance.

  1. Muzzle

The muzzle should be well tapered, not coarse. Nostrils should be large and

able to flare to allow increased airflow in and out of the lungs. Mouth of the

horse should be such that the lips and front teeth meet evenly

  1. Jaw position

A parrot mouth is an overbite, where the upper jaw extends further out than the lower jaw. This can affect the horse’s ability to graze. Parrot mouth is common and can be managed with regular teeth floating by a veterinarian.

A monkey mouth, sow mouth, or bulldog mouth is an underbite, where the lower jaw extends further out than the upper jaw. This is less common than parrot mouth. This can affect the horse’s ability to graze. Monkey mouth is common and can be managed with regular teeth floating by a veterinarian.

  1. Throat latch

The ratio of the throat latch measurement in comparison to the length of the head is an important consideration. When looking at the horse’s neck is the ratio of the throatlatch to the length of the head. The throatlatch is measured from the poll to the windpipe and should be roughly half the length of the head as measured from the poll to the muzzle. If the throatlatch is longer and thicker than this, it restricts the horse from flexing at the poll. Horses with deep, coarse throatlatches can possibly have trouble breathing when asked to flex their head towards their chest.

  1. Forehead

A broad forehead provides increased sinus capacity, thus there is more room for air exchange through the air passages, and a large surface area for facial muscles that assist in opening the nostrils for good air flow. If the forehead is dished of looks dished it can indicate that vision may be restricted or that there is a dwarfism effect (particularly prevalent in miniature breeds).

  1. Eyes

The eyes should be large, bright, wide set and placed well to the outside of the head. They should be bright, clear and expressive with a good almond shape. Small or mis-set eyes will indicate a restriction to a horses sigh line.  Often horses with piggy eyes are dubbed bad tempered or stubborn but this is more than likely due to not being able to see as well as others horses.

  1. Ears

Ears are often said to indicate personality so a lop eared horse is generally thought to indicate a laid back attitude, very small ears are thought to indicate a sharp horse.  But just like any other part of a horses head the ears should be in proportion to the rest of the head and sit well on either side of the poll.  Most ears will conform to the breed standard, The only consideration with ears, apart from if they work properly is their affect on the way a bridle sits on the head, ears which are set back or bulbous at their base may get rubbed by the bridle.


Are you sitting comfortably ? choosing the right saddle


Your choice of saddle is very important as your enjoyment of horse riding will depend on it. Indeed, a badly chose saddle can discomfort, or even injure, your horse, making both horse and rider less competitive.

The right saddle will give you comfort and allow you to sit in a position that suits your chosen discipline.

Each discipline is itself dependent on the body shape of both horse and rider, and on the frequency of riding.

Here, you can read our tips to help you make the right choice.

Choosing according to use

1- Beginner’s saddle

2- general Purpose saddle

3- Jumping saddle

4- Dressage saddle

5- Western and Endurance saddles

1) Features of a beginner’s saddle

–       Suited to those starting out in horse riding (particularly small children).

–       Comfortable (wider seat).

–       Classic position (more concave seat).

–       More pronounced, or even oversized, pommel and cantle, to keep a child sitting stably on the seat.

–       Monkey grip.

2) Features of a general purpose saddle

–       A multi-use saddle, not designed for any specific discipline.

–       A good position for working on the flat.

–       Comfortable for small jumps (flaps angled slightly forwards).

–       Pleasant for leisure riding.

–       Semi-concave seat.

– Wider seat, for greater comfort when hacking.

3) Features of a jumping saddle

–       The orientation of the flaps (angled forwards) allows the rider to ride with shorter stirrup leathers and to stay balanced when jumping.

–       Seat with thinner panels.

–       Knee rolls front and back to stabilise leg position.

4) Features of a dressage saddle

–       Long flaps to allow the legs to extend downwards (almost perpendicular to the seat).

–       Comfortable.

–       Concave seat (rider seated stably on the saddle).

–       Often, long straps (increasing contact between rider and horse).

5) Features of western riding or endurance saddle

–       Comfort for the rider: wide seat.

–       Comfort for the horse (rider’s weight well distributed, wide, larger panels).

–       Several places from which to hang saddlebags.

–       Good withers clearance, giving greater comfort for the horse.

Leather or synthetic?

The two materials each have both advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on how you use your saddle!


–       A natural, high-quality material

–       Traditional

–       Generally more attractive aesthetically

–       Long-lasting if well cared for

–       Slow to dry after heavy rain

–       Needs regular care


–       More economical

–       Easy care

–       Dries quickly after rain

–       Lightweight

–       Can heat up with friction

–       Shorter-lived, especially with intensive riding


The seat should provide a space that is comfortable to sit on but not to large, so that the rider can sit as stably as possible.

Classic saddles have their size measured in inches, ranging from 14″ to 18.5″, in increments of 0.5″. The “normal” size is 17″ or 17.5″.

These listed saddle sizes should fit the listed waist sizes

  • 16” 14 Years
  • 16.5”   34 waist
  • 17” 36-38 waist
  • 17.5”   38-40 waist
  • 18”      42-44 waist
  • 18.5”   46-48 waist

Other factors also affect which saddle you need and I will cover these in following posts

Finding the right saddle for you – finding the right accommodation for your seating area.


Finding the right saddle for you – finding the right accommodation for your seating area.

The weighty issue of obesity has now got it’s teeth into the equestrian industry and this time we’re not talking porky ponies but the knives are out for the rotund rider.

The average British woman is a size 16 and booties on saddles are becoming bigger, Finding saddles for the plus-sized riders which is equally good for the horse need proper research and a saddler and addle fitter who can appraise your needs honestly.

The size of the saddle is important to the rider’s comfort too. I know from experience that it’s no fun riding in a saddle even as little as half an inch too small. Having to keep scooting back in the saddle to stop from bumping on the pommel or horn, or having to worry about hanging over the cantle are not condusive to good riding!

The larger rider needs to look for a saddle which has specifically been designed with a longer, larger seat without making a longer saddle. Many weight-carrying horses are short-backed. The panel of the saddle will need to measure18” as a minimum to accommodate a larger sitting area. Wow have a Dressage saddle called Bounty but to date this is the only maker who has actually got a saddle to market for the larger seated rider.  Fuller Fillies where to have bought out a 22” saddle but I cannot actually find anymore about that makers actual saddle.  So I am not sure if it actually happened or not.

As with any horse and rider combination, the fit of the tack is essential. With a badly fitting saddle, a horse can get sore even with a lightweight rider. Care should be taken to make sure the tree of the saddle is the correct width for the horse, and that it is stuffed properly, so that pressure points aren’t caused when the rider sits in the saddle. This is true regardless of the weight of the rider, but weight distribution is especially important if the rider is heavy. Some of the newer gel and closed cell foam saddle pads can help with weight distribution, but they won’t make up for a badly fitting saddle.

A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, would seem to compound this opinion as they found that a third of recreational riders are overweight (cue another pop at pleasure riders!)  They claim that as a consequence horses are suffering health problems, such as arthritis and lameness, and behavioural problems like bucking and rearing. Although in my opinion, the fact the horse can still get two hooves off the ground, should be taken as a good sign!

The study which analyzed 152 horses and their adult riders from Devon and Cornwall found that just 8 of them, (5%) weighed less than 10% of the weight of the horse, which adheres to recommended veterinary guidelines, 95 riders (62.5%) weighed between 10-15% of the horse’s weight, which they considered ‘satisfactory’ whilst 49 (32%) weighed more than 15% which they claim to be a welfare issue.

From this they concluded that because so many riders are, by their calculations, too heavy for their mounts there should be industry-wide guidelines to protect horses. They also suggest that larger riders need to ride bigger horses.

This plays into an old saying of mine, ‘If you want to look like you have a smaller bottom, get a bigger horse!’ But, joking aside, there are already too many people who are over-horsed because they get themselves a stonking big, athletic warmblood, rather than a gentle giant like a shire X or a heavyweight cob. As a result there is a glut of unhappy riders and unhappy horses. These horses may look gorgeous and shiny, groomed to within an inch of their lives and caccooned in designer rugs but unfortunately they’re hardly ridden because their owners are afraid to. Bigger can be better as long as it’s the right breed.

On the subject of breeds, shouldn’t that have been taken into consideration? Am I wrong in thinking that our stocky native breeds can bear a larger weight proportionate to their size?

And if you are a big rider, who carries your weight well because you’re well balanced, with a strong core and good hands, aren’t you less of a burden to a horse than a wisp of a rider who hasn’t got those attributes?  To my mind, big people can be light riders and vice versa. When it comes to hoofing it, just think back to the wonderful Lisa Reilly on Strictly Come Dancing-she’s a large lass but definitely displayed much more poise on the dance floor than many of her more reed-like competitors.

Also a well ridden, well schooled horse can carry weight better too.  Picture a big person on a horse engaging it’s stomach muscles and lifting it’s back Vs a skinny rider on a horse with it’s head in the air, back dropped, pulling itself along on the forehand-which do you think is the most damaging?

Riding is a sport, so yes I do believe we should be ‘fit to ride’ but that’s about more than dress size. There are big bottomed girls who can do it just as well so let’s keep the issue of rider weight in proportion.

Mounting the horse can be a problem for heavy riders, who may be less agile than their more slender counterparts. I’ve got short, stubby legs and so I need to use a mounting block to get my foot anywhere near the stirrup on my 16.2 hand TB gelding’s saddle. Using a mounting block makes it easier on me and on my horse — the saddle doesn’t get pulled over to the side, possibly damaging his back or withers, my foot doesn’t dig into his side as it does when I try and climb up from the ground. Don’t ever be embarrassed to use a mounting block, no matter what size you are!


Lets Look at Leg Yielding – 9 Top Tips to help you make use of this strengthening exercise.


The aim of leg yielding: To demonstrate the suppleness and lateral responsiveness of the Horse.

Leg-yielding is performed in Working trot in FEI Competitions.

What is looks like

The Horse is almost straight, except for a slight flexion at the poll away from the direction in which it moves, so that the rider is just able to see the eyebrow and nostril on the inside. The inside legs pass and cross in front of the outside legs.

Leg-yielding is preparatory work for more complex movements and is a good first step in strengthening the horses back muscles. It should be included in the training of the horse before it is ready for Collected work. Later on, together with the more advanced shoulder-in movement.

It is the best means of making a horse supple, loose and unconstrained for and a will prepare the horse to move with freedom, elasticity and regularity of its paces bringing lightness and ease in its movements.

Leg yielding can be performed “on the diagonal” in which case the Horse should be as nearly as possible parallel to the long sides of the arena, although the forehand should be slightly in advance of the hindquarters. It can also be performed “along the wall” in which case the Horse should be at an angle of about thirty five (35) degrees to the direction in which he is moving.

How to Execute the Leg Yield (tracking right)

  1. Start in Working Trot, sitting
  2. When approaching the long side, half halt
  3. Shift weight to left seat bone
  4. Apply the left leg behind the girth – actively pushing sideways each time the left hind lifts and starts a forward/sideways step
  5. Right rein guides the direction of travel and prevents bulging of the right shoulder
  6. Right leg continues forward movement and prevents rushing away from the left leg
  7. Apply left rein for slight flexion – this is the last aid and is applied lightly
  8. Straighten and ride forward
  9. Please note that the horse is ridden straight between the reins.

Many variations of this exercise can be used to assist in preparation for more advanced lateral movement. If you are unfamiliar with the leg yield aids, you can practice this exercise at the walk to familiarize yourself with the appropriate application and timing of your aids. This exercise can be executed along the rail or on the inside of the arena as well.

Purpose of the Leg Yield

This movement is the precursor to the shoulder-in and half pass seen in the more advanced tests. The horse should remain supple and relaxed during the execution of this movement.

To supple the horse

To assist with initial straightening for other more advanced movements

Each of the above reasons relates to confirmation of or improvement of the horse’s balance. Half halts can be used as needed so long as appropriate releases and praise are used.

It is also a good exercise in warm up executed with the horse in a long low outline particularly where a horse is broken in the neck and tends to over bend and, therefore, is avoiding coming through along his top line.

Common Errors in Execution

  • Horse does not remain straight
  • Horse leads with hind quarters
  • Rider applies too much inside rein & not enough supporting rein
  • Horse is too steep sideways due to not enough forward driving aids.


Looking for sports horses in Ireland?  Lassban Sports Horses


Lassban Sport Horses Ireland–The Back Yard — Ballykisteen Estate- Limerick Junction-Co.Tipperary – Birr, Offaly

International Sport Horse Breeding

From start-up in the early 1990’s Lassban Sport Horses continue to breed and produce international sport horses in Eventing, Showjumping and Dressage. From a herd of high performance Broodmares, young horses are selected and produced at home for the international market.

The team at Lassban are well known.

Seamus Merrigan has Showjumped to international level in Ireland and in Europe and Liam Maloney is a Dressage judge and trainer both national and FEI. Their combined knowledge and expereince allows them the freedom to include or exclude young horses from their competition programme.


We at Lassban Sport Horses continue to support the Irish horse and it’s worthy place in international competition. Our Event broodmares are retained on the basis of performance, conformation, bloodlines and size.     Lassban Radovix one of our very succesful Event horses is now an Olympic hopefull for 2016. Many others are competing all over the world.


We select our Showjumping mares based on world class performance. An eclectic mix of European and Irish bloodlines resulting in quality Showjumpers of the future.


All of out Broodmares are blessed with movement, conformation and size allowing us to have the scope to source international stallions both at home and abroard. The expertise of both Liam and Seamus allows Lassban to apraise the Dressage stock regardless of the breed.

Lassban Clover Roller – ISH High Roller X Charlaw (TB)

169 cm Black all quality stallion by the international Showjumper “High Roller” (G.Sire Cavalier) returned of lease from the Irish Army Equatation School this high performance stallion was destined for an international career to include the Olympics with jump, movement, size and looks, “Rolo” produces foals with all of his attributes.

Lassban Mister Imp – Master Imp X Sky Boy

Sensational young 15/16ths TB stallion by the legendary Master Imp out of Sky Blue Rose by Sky Boy. Jaw dropping movement and jump this stallion was third nationally in the young horse class Royal Dublin Society as a 3 year old.