Tag Archives: rider

Lauren Shannon


Lauren Shannon …writes her professional rider profile

I am a British Event Rider, specialising in producing horses from youngsters all the way to four star and mentoring riders. I have represented Team GB at Young Rider level with a European gold medal in 2006 and finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th (twice) and 6th in National under-21 Championships between 2005 and 2007. Following very good results at the highest level (9th and 12th at Burghley and 17th at Badminton), I was long listed for the London 2012 Olympics. More recently we have moved into our very own purpose built yard and I am looking to expand Shannon Eventing from my new base. I am active in using the internet and social media to attract new sponsors to the sport of eventing and increase it’s appeal.

Nicola Buchanan The three D’s – “Dedication, Discipline, Determination!”


Professional Profile in the Spotlight Today is Nichola Buchanan.

Nicola Buchanan is an International Dressage Rider based in the United Kingdom based in Hampshire. She represented Great Britain between 2002‐2014. Highlights including winning Grand Prix at the Hickstead CDI *** in 2008, being listed for the Beijing Olympics and competing in World Cup Qualifiers including Olympia London. In 2008 and 2009 Nicola was asked to demonstrate grand prix dressage at Gatcombe Park during a three day event, “More than 10,000 people were watching, making the performance all that more special.

Nicola learnt to ride while growing up in Indonesia on the native ponies, “My mother had always been a keen horse women and it was her influence that got me started. I was sent to school in England at 11 and my riding took a back seat until the holidays. These were then spent in Singapore where I spent all my free time at the Saddle club riding and competing. One of my highlights while on holiday was competing on the pony club team. We were sent to Hong Kong (where I was born ) to compete against Malaysia , Thailand , the Philippines, Indonesia and most of South East Asia. It was an excellent experience and I won individual silver.”

Nicola spent 4 years working and training in Holland at the yard where the Dutch National Dressage Championships took place. For 6 years she was based in the USA importing, training, competing & selling Dutch dressage horses. 2 beneficial years were spent training in Germany with German Olympic Dressage Team trainer, Jonny Hilberath. Nicola has been based in the UK since 2000 and she trains with Carl Hester Team GB Olympic Gold medalist. Nichola is an Ambassador for TRM. TRM stands for ”Thoroughbred Remedies Manufacturing Ltd.” And is Europe’s largest manufacturer and distributor of Nutritional Feeds Supplements and General Healthcare products for Horses.

Her grand prix Horses St Swithens & Sancerre have now retired but their highlights include competing internationally at Lingen, Oldenburg, Saumur, Olympia, Hickstead and Hartpury.

Nicola currently competes, Don Corleone VH Scheefkasteel, a 16.3hh Belgian‐bred bay gelding by Turbo Vant Gestelhof, born in 2003 and owned by Nicola, he has benefited hugely from TRM supplements, recently achieving a 4th place in his first International Grand Prix in 2014. In the spring of 2014 Nicola purchased Half Moon Dark Magic, a five year old gelding, and plans to bring him up to International level over the coming years.

She continues to share her passion for the sport and, for her, training is about sharing her experience training riders from Novice to Grand Prix level.

Only 6 weeks until Iselham kicks off the 2015 BE Season


Only 6 weeks until Iselham kicks off the 2015 BE Season

How about 11 Taekwondo Routines To Strengthen The Lower Body

With riders looking at fitness regimes for their horses perhaps its time to consider changing that out of bed straight to the coffee machine for some Zen lower body strengthening ready to push forward in the rankings in next seasons sporting schedule.

How many of us just crawl out of bed and try to untie ourselves with a bit of a stretch or bend as we drink that first cup of coffee?  As Horse’men we need to take care of our bodies as they are 100% involved in how well we function both on and off a horse.

Lower body is always prone to injuries and muscle pulls. This part is worked out mostly. While riding, mucking out, moving feed bales around, in fact much of our horse related activities involve bending, lifting and employing the lower half of our bodies and the lower back is particularly vulnerable, and the area most abused by incorrect lifting and poor posture when off the horse.  Its interesting how many riders can have good posture on top of a horse but walk with poking heads and rounded shoulders on the ground. It is also this portion that helps in balancing the entire body. Having a strong lower part helps a person in staying fit and flexible.

Lower backs are very prone to injuries and unnecessary pains. While sleeping, we can hurt our lower back. While climbing the stairs, we can hurt the lower back. But the chances are higher while we try to pull or carry those show jump wings or one too many haynets around.

Unless we have a strong lower back, it may well get seriously injured while doing our jobs and taking some time out to mitigate the risks by strengthening this vulnerable area can only make sense.  On the plus side if your are groaning by now! Is the added benefit of being more aware of your own body and it follows that this awareness will help you feel how your own movement is affecting your horses way of going.  A strong lower body does not mean you need to ride strongly it means that you will have more control and therefore be more proactive in engaging your horse and influencing his way of going.

Performing some basic stretches can help in strengthening the lower back region. There are several Taekwondo stretch routines that can be included in your daily fitness regime to put more stability in the lower back region. Have a look at 11 of the best lower back Taekwondo stretches to strengthen your lower back. (please take care when new forms of exercise, read through all recommendations associated each exercise before starting and take note of any recommended precautions)

1.         Supine Hamstring Taekwondo Stretch

Lie flat down on the floor with the back touching it. It will be better if there is a rubber mat placed over the empty floor surface. This will offer for a more comfortable feel after lying down on your back. However, you should lie down in such a way that the legs can rest on the wall while raised in a straighter manner.

Bend one of your leg with feet flatly placed on the ground. The other leg needs to be raised up in the straightest position possible. This leg needs to be rested on the wall to prevent falling down. Now, with both your hands, try to touch the feet or calf region. Remember, not to raise major portion of your upper body. Your abdominal muscles need to be engaged in such a manner that it can stabilise the spinal cord perfectly.

Hold for at least 10 seconds. Then, relax. After 30 seconds rest, repeat.


Never try to put higher pressure on your spinal cord while touching the feet or calf region. Putting too much pressure can lead to injuring the lower back.

2.         Seated Hamstring Stretch

To perform this stretching exercise, place a rubber mat on the floor. Then, sit on the mat. Legs should be in a stretched position with knees absolutely straight. Also, keep your back straight.

Now, with both the hands, try to touch the toe. During the initial days, you will not be able to touch or hold the toe for long. However, the main objective is to get your hand fingers closer to the toe, as much possible. This will generate enormous stretch to the hamstring muscle. While your hand fingers come to the closest position to toe, pause for a second or two. Then, return back to the starting position.

Repetitions: 10

Precaution: Don’t force your lower back too much while performing this stretching exercise. Obviously, a little force will be required while trying to touch the toe, but that should be marginal. Giving too much pressure to the lower back can cause unnecessary injury.

3.         Standing Hamstring Stretch

This is a fine stretching exercise not only for the hamstrings but also lower back portion.


Stand straight. Now, bring your right foot in front of the left foot. Right toe should be in lifted position. There should be 4-5 inches width in between the two feet. Bend you left knee marginally and then pull your abs gently inward. Lean forward and then rest both the palms on top of the left thigh. This is required to keep your body well supported and maintain a proper balance.

Shoulders should be down and in an absolute relaxed position. Never try to round the lower back region. A mild stretching pull can be felt that will slowly spread through back of the leg. Repeat this stretching exercise with your left leg forward.

Repetitions: 10 per leg


Those who are suffering from lower back injuries/pain, they can perform this exercise while lying down on the back over a floor mat, while extending legs upward.

4.         Kneeling Quadriceps Taekwondo Stretch

This stretching exercise helps in stabilizing the quadriceps muscle that forms the front portion of thigh.


Kneel with left leg forward and right leg backward (Refer to the picture). Try to reach back in order to get a suitable grip on front side of back leg. Now, try to bend knee slowly while lifting the front foot from the ground. It should be lifted closer towards buttock. Lift until you feel stretch across front of thigh and hip. Remain in this position for 15 seconds and then release. Repeat the same with your other leg.

Repetitions: 5-6 per leg


Be absolutely careful while doing this stretching exercise. Don’t ever strain the knees. This may lead to some serious injury.

5.         Lying Quadriceps Taekwondo Stretch

This exercise is extremely beneficial in stretching the quads as well the buttocks.


Sit on floor mat with left leg bent before you. However, the right leg should be bent opposite to you. Lean to left on forearm while keeping the abs totally engaged. With the right hand, try to grab the top of right foot. Now, try to pull heel gently towards glutes This is done to stretch the muscles of front thigh. Remain in this position for 15 seconds. Then switch back to the other end.


Perform this stretching in an extremely slow manner. Performing this stretching in a faster way can lead to muscle pull and strain.

6.         Standing Quadriceps Taekwondo Stretch

This stretching exercise is great to flexible the quadriceps muscle.


Stand straight. Place your feet in a hip-width apart stance. Pull in your abdominal portion and then relax the shoulders. Then, bent your right leg. Try to bring the heel towards your buttock. Now, grasp right foot with you left hand. Once stretch is felt, pause for 5 seconds and return back to the starting position. Repeat the same procedure with left foot.

For those who find grasping right foot with left hand a much uncomfortable position, they can use right hand for the purpose.


Hold on to a wall or chair for balancing. Also, perform this workout in an extremely gentle manner. Or else, quads may get injured.

7.         Lunge Hip Flexor Taekwondo Stretch

This stretching workout targets two major muscle groups: Iliopsoas & Soleus.


Stand in a lunging position but this time, with right foot far behind the left foot and vice versa.

While keeping the rear leg hips in a straight position, squat downwards in a chest-high manner. rear hips should be pushed down and forward. Once in this stretched position, hold for three seconds. Return back to the starting position. Repeat with other leg.

Repetitions: 10 with each leg

Precaution: While performing this stretching workout, it is necessary to wear proper shoes. A little bit of careless act can lead to hurting the feet as well quads muscle.

8.         Kneeling Hip Flexor Taekwondo Stretch

This stretching workout targets the Iliopsoas, Gluteus Maximus, Adductor Magnus, and Soleus muscle group.


Stand in forward lunge position on a padded mat. Now, position the foot in such a manner that it remains beyond the forward knee. Hands need to be placed on the knee. While pushing the hips forward, try to straighten up the rear leg hip. As tension is experienced, take a brief pause for 5-6 seconds. Return back to the starting position. Repeat the same with other leg.

Repetitions: 10-12


Always perform this stretching exercise on a suitable rubber mat. This will protect the knees from any sudden injury and will also provide a suitable support to the feet.

9.         Taekwondo Pelvic Tilt


Lie done on your back. Knees should be in a bent position while feet firmly placed on floor. Now, try to tilt the pelvis with belly while trying to contract abdominal as well gluteus muscles. Try to squeeze for at least 15-seconds.

Next, perform this stretch with body in an opposite posture, facing the ground. Tilt your pelvis in other direction while arching back and creating hollowness between spine and ground. Try to squeeze for 10 seconds.

Repetitions: 10-12 in each position

Precaution: Form is necessary. Perform it in presence of a suitable instructor.

10.      Taekwondo Split

This is a very similar stretching workout when compared to seated hamstring stretch.


Sit on the floor with legs spread in opposite direction. Refer to the second image. Next, try to touch the toe f right leg with right hand fingers and left with left hand fingers.

Repetitions: 7

11.      Taekwondo Segmental Rotation

This is an effective exercise that helps in strengthening the core muscles of lower region.


Lie down on your back. Now, create right angles in between hips and knees. Tighten the abdominal muscles. Try to control on your breathing. Slowly try to move the legs to left while keeping shoulders on ground. Try to go only that much that you can able to. Unnecessary stretch is not required. While stretching, if there is a feel of pain, then you may have gone down too far. It’s not recommended. Don’t allow your feet to touch ground. It is the core region whose support needs to be take to hold feet. Hold for 7 seconds and then return back to the starting position. Repeat the same with legs moving towards the right position.

Zen thoughts for the day – “We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

So set aside some time in your already manic day for some Zen time to benefit you and your horse.





Learning To Walk Before You Run


 While you are still learning about your horse and your own abilities and, indeed, even when you are very experienced indeed, Horse Scout has a wide range of Professional Trainers who can help you walk in harmony with your horse and take the first steps in a wonderful relationship which could last for years and take you to places you never dreamed of going.


Blackwater Equestrian almost done


The news of one of the most prestigious livery yards setting up in Romsey, Hampshire is no longer village talk. Blackwater Equestrian has created a unique high specification yard including Olympic size floodlit area, stunning indoor barn, lit walk ways and industry competition professionals onsite: event rider Lucienne Elms , and Jump rider Remy Ellis will both be resident on with their owners, and horses.

Looking forward to their launch in December Blackwater will be holding regular clinics, and 2015 the cross county schooling field shall be built.

Training the young event horse


Much like a healthy relationship between two people, the relationship between an perspective event horse and rider should aim for interdependence not codependence!

Eventing places demand for fast thinking, quick, and clever response. Horses in production and training mustn’t always rely upon the rider. When galloping down hill in mud, you must know the horse can assess and respect the fence at all levels.

Horses who always look to support will eventually come unstuck, owed to factors such as poor ground, loosing shoes, crowed distraction etc. A well trained jumper can be sharp, athletic, and brave even without a perfect distance. Regular grids, pole work, and help from knowledgeable trainers will assist this development. Every now and then they have to help you!

Horse Scout thought for the day – “train for interdependence the balance between horse and rider, not the horses codependence on you entirely!”

Horse experience for a novice rider


When searching for a competition horse, common mistakes lay in the misconception that a potential horse will fit the bill. If you have not yet had competition mileage / experience it is best to buy a horse that knows it’s job.

Take an experienced professional /trainer with you who understands your requirements and is able to help you stay safe, ask the right questions, and ultimately know that your capable of jumping, or hacking the horse in question to minimise risk.

A horse with jumping experience will generally be more forgiving and help get you out of trouble, than a green (younger/ less experienced) one.

Best see proof of experience, by affiliated results, facts, videos, than take a vendors word for it!



Australia’s Sam Griffiths leads the field at lunchtime on the first day of dressage at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.


Sam posted a score of 40.2 with Steve and Dinah Posford, Juliet Donald and his own Happy Times, a seasoned campaigner at this level. “I knew he could go in and do a beautiful test and he came up with the goods,” said Sam,  who had a quick turn around after competing at WEG last week. “Luckily he’s an established horse, so it was easy to do. It was less easy to get all my washing done!” he joked.

Piggy French  currently holds second spot on a score of 45.8 with Westwood Mariner, who is owned by her mother Kate French, James Midgely, Susie Wood and Susan Wrighton.
“Dressage would be this horse’s weakest phase, so I was thrilled with his test,” said Piggy, who divided the judges’ opinion. The judge at E, Christian Landolt gave her 20 marks more than the judge at M, Ernst Topp. “[The horse] is a bit like Marmite; some judges like him and some don’t. He can be quite short in his neck because of his conformation, which can affect the marks.”

The first combination into the arena this morning, Sarah Bullimore and Kew Jumping Syndicate’s Valentino V, posted the only other sub-50 mark of the morning. Their 49.5 currently has them in third. An exciting event lies ahead, for Horse Scout Team!

Double Gold for Germany


It’s double Gold for Germany

 It was hard fought until the end but the German eventers walked away with a clutch of medals at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

Germany’s Sandra Auffarth was crowned double medallist taking both the individual and team gold after a nail-biting finale to four days of intense competition in the Eventing. “I knew that my horse was good enough but I didn’t think this could happen. Its amazing and still unbelievable. I’ve had him since he was a five year old but I didn’t think he was a World Champion then. When he was seven, he showed me his qualities at Le Lion d’Angers. That was the first time I realised what a good horse he was.”

60 individuals jumped around Frederic Cottier’s full up track and the lack clears was testament to a combination of the gruelling cross-country test and the electric atmosphere in the arena which was packed to full capacity. The first clear of the day came from German rider Dirk Schrade which set the standard for the nation who recorded a further four clears from a total of only 11.

There was a lot to play for when the top three jumped in the Stade D’Ornaro in Caen in front of 20,000 spectators, with less than a fence in hand. The Germans kept a cool head and jumped masterful rounds with four team members jumping clear. When Jung who was in third and Auffarth in second position overnight both jumped immaculate clears, the pressure was on William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning. But it was not to be and William tipped the front rail of the second fence. This dropping William to bronze medal position. “I’d loved to have won but we were luckily not to slip further down the order.” He said of his round.

Even with the absence of Harry Meade, the three British completions were still good enough for the silver medal which were perhaps beyond original expectations. Zara Phillips produced the only double clear of the Brits on High Kingdom moving her up from 15th position overnight to 11th. Commenting afterwards she said: “He has been fantastic all week. He jumped amazingly in really soft going and came out today and did the same thing. Today he proved he can deal with the big atmosphere and jump clear.”

When asked whether the Germans will continue to still reign supreme at the Rio Olympics in two year, Phillips replied “yes but we’re catching them” with a rueful smile.