Tag Archives: tips

unnamed-9

Pro secrets: The Equine Physio who looks at the bigger picture

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Pro secrets: The  Equine Physio who looks at the bigger picture

unnamed-1

Antonia Bealby is a qualified veterinary physiotherapist, who also holds equine sports massage and chiropractic certificates and a member of IVRAP. Her passion runs deep in understanding the whole horse. She is particularly interested in the association between behaviour and physical problems or limitations, making it her mission to improve performance as far as possible. Her clients include four-star eventers, racehorses- including a Grand National runner but also riding club horses and happy hackers. She spends five days a week seeing clients at her clinic at home in Grantham, Lincolnshire and two days on the road, visiting yards and individuals. Such is her success, that there is a wait-list to send horses to her for rehabilitation, post-injury care and re-schooling.unnamed-10

“It all started 20 years ago, when I was eventing full time” Antonia explains. “I mainly took on ex-racehorses and I could often get them up to two star before the wheels fell off. I questioned whether I was doing something wrong or it was just a case that I had the wrong horses. I spent time and huge sums of money with the vets, trying X-rays and bone scans” she says.

“Then I married a racehorse trainer and discovered that they had the same problem in racing. You could get a win or two out of a horse but it was hard to have consistency, however you trained it. It was a common problem and I wanted to see if there was a way of keeping horses on the road for longer and trying to prevent classic injuries before they occurred”.

Beyond her practical experience with horses, Antonia has an impressive CV. She started her journey of discovery with the world renowned Equine Therapist, Mary Bromily, whom she describes as “amazing and terrifying in equal measure but I learnt so much”. She then completed a course in Equine Biomechanics and spinal manipulation run by chiropractor Dr Andrew Glaister before going on to achieve an Advanced Certificate in Veterinary Physiotherapy on the CEPT course held at Nottingham University.

Her approach is somewhat different to many practitioners and professionals in that she believes in “the multi-disciplinary approach”. She explains what is meant by this “Whether you are looking to prevent injury or fix a problem, physio is just one part and you need to take a look at the whole picture. This means working with the vet, the farrier and a nutritionist- preferably an independent one who does not have their hands tied to one brand. I like to work as part of a team and this is by far the most effective way of getting good results”.unnamed-5

When taking this multi-disciplinary approach, Antonia also educates riders and owners on the importance of the right equipment as well as rider posture and position on the horse. “The horses’ back works diagonally, and the most mobile part of the back is exactly where we put a saddle and rider’s weight. This highlights the importance of having the right saddle and a well-balanced rider”.

Antonia comments that many riders take for granted just how important it is to consider how all your tack effects the horse. This means the saddle and bridle as well as bits, girths and other equipment. “I started working with Centaur Biomechanics and Fairfax and began to realise just how much difference tack made, even just simple changes like a noseband. Horses must be treated as individuals, what works on one may be uncomfortable for another. We look at how the tack effects how the horse moves and whether the rider has equal pressure on the reins.”

“The next piece of the puzzle is the rider and their biomechanics. I almost had to learn to how to ride all over again when I realised what a difference position made. We are not necessarily taught “feel” when we sit on a horse a rider should be able to feel what is happening underneath them”.

“I am really passionate about what I do, whether it is just manual therapy or working with the whole horse. I want to show riders that sometimes even a small can make a huge difference”.

https://www.horsescout.com/professionals/antonia-bealby/profile/1791 

http://www.northlodgeequine.center/equine-athletes/

 

cook_kristina_miners_frolic_bbry07066

Tina Cook

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Tina Cook

cook_kristina_miners_frolic_bbry07066

Tina Cook is one of Britain’s most successful event riders and has been a mainstay on Team GB since the early 1990’s. She is a three-time Olympic medallist, winning individual and team bronze in 2008 and team silver in London 2012 as well as winning a further 11 medals at World and European Championships. She was part of the gold medal winning team at last year’s European Championships with Billy the Red.

Surprisingly, Tina reveals that some of her best horses have seemed “fairly average” as young horses. The good news is for us budding event riders is that Tina believes that you do not need to start with a massive budget to find a suitable event horse, even if have big ambitions. “In my experience it’s all about having a horse with a good brain” she says. “Then by creating a trusting partnership and having good management as I have done with all my top horses, look at where it can get you.”

When I look back on my top horses they have not necessarily been the most outstanding young horses, but what they have all had in common is that they have had a trainable, competitive brain and an attitude to want to please me.”

Buying British and buying blood.

Tina has never felt the need to look abroad and has bought the majority of her horses in the UK. Many have come from bloodstock sales or via her brother, the well -known racehorse trainer Nick Gifford.  “I rarely go out and look to buy horses, they tend to find me, but when I do, I have always leaned towards Thoroughbreds. As I am looking for championship and potential four star horses, the more thoroughbred blood the better, and certainly nothing less than 60% blood. It is also the brain I am used to working with so it suits me best.

The blood horses may be more average in their movement but they tend to stay sounder due to their movement being more economical and effortless. I look for an easy action when they are cantering and they must be able to travel between fences. When a horse finds galloping and stamina easy, it’s not only one less thing you have to teach them and work on, but they are the ones that find the extra gear to get themselves out of trouble, even when they are tired. It is when horses are tired that injuries happen.”

Less is more

“We are lucky in eventing because in many cases, it’s Mr Average who can make it to the top, in a way that probably isn’t possible in dressage or show-jumping where scope and movement is vital.

There have been many times in my 30 year career, when I have had flashy moving horses with huge scope and I’ve thought it was my next Olympic horse but then they have never stayed sound or proved too be difficult to produce for eventing.

I see this a lot with Junior riders. They have a taste of championship level and with some money behind them, they think they need something that looks flashy and throws a big jump. But these horses are more difficult to ride because they are bigger and rangier and use more effort.

Through my career, I haven’t had big money to spend and it’s been a case of making the best of what I’ve got. Smithstown Lad was a 16 hand hunter hireling from Ireland. Together we were on the Junior and Young Rider teams, he took me to my first Badminton and finished 4th at Burghley.

Even Miners Frolic as a young horse had a very “Thoroughbred” technique over a fence and he was naturally the bravest, but he had a lovely attitude. So we had to work on trust and technique. Then Star Witness was a racing reject and I never thought he would make a four-star horse. But he has always tried his heart out. He has now done four, four-stars with a top ten placing in every one.”

I have produced almost all of mine from scratch. Until I got to my 40s and some owners wanted to buy something to go to the Olympics so we found Billy the Red through an agent. This was the first time I have ever done this and was the first I have ridden with eventing form, as he had done a few Intermediates.

“It is definitely important and I am a big believer in “no foot, no horse”. I have had horses with bad feet and they can stay sound if managed very carefully. When buying, I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss poor conformation or weakness if I liked everything else. A lot of my horses have had issues and I have found a way to keep them on track through the levels. It’s partly because I have not had lots to spend but also because I am stubborn. If a horse has some talent and a good attitude and I see them improving, that really excites me and I want to keep going, even if they do face physical challenges.”

Producing the Prize

Tina notes that however talented a horse, there is no substitution for good horsemanship. “Yes, everybody has upped their game, but I believe success comes more from the right training and good management more than relying on exceptionally talented horses. Look at Michael Jung. He turned both Sam and Fischer Rocana from glorified Young Rider horses into four-star winners.

I am very strict with making sure they are really established at one level before I move up to the next, even if that means spending more than a season before you step up. They don’t always have to be jumping big fences and going flat out to get the time in every event. Very few horses can cope with that both mentally and physically on every occasion. So I save that for when it really matters.

The most important thing is that horses enjoy it. It never works to bully a horse into doing something, they will eventually become unstuck because they won’t trust their rider. They have to want to please me rather than be frightened.”

 

Kit that powers Tina’s success

We always want to know what the latest “tack trends” plus the brands favoured by professionals. So here are Tina’s top choices:

“All my horses have been fed on Red Mills feed for years now and my brother Nick has all his racehorses on it too.

I ride in Voltaire saddles and virtually live in my Ariat boots and Gatehouse hat. For the horses I use Prolite boots for every day and competition, and as my horses spend a lot of time in the field we have plenty of rugs from Jumpers Horseline.”

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

Badminton build-up Giovanni and Kathryn

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

IMG-0498

 

Badminton build-up Giovanni and Kathryn

“I would rather win Badminton than any other event in the world” reveals international eventer Giovanni Ugolotti. “There is a feeling that no other event has, even the World Championships or Olympics and for Kathryn and me, it is what we have been dreaming of from childhood.”

With team appearances at the Olympics, World Games, European Championships, the Pan-Am Games and a number of CCI4* events between them, you could say that Kathryn Robinson and Giovanni Ugolotti are eventing’s “power couple”. Together they run Cranford Stud, an eventing and training yard in Gloucestershire and are both planning to compete at Badminton 2018. Horse Scout are giving away a prize for two people to walk the Badminton course with Kathryn and Giovanni and discover their trade secrets.

Giovanni started eventing in his native Italy and finished 4th in the Italian Junior Championships in 1999. He rode for the Italian Army Equestrian team from 2002 until 2007 before arriving in England in May 2008 to work for Andrew Nicholson. This was followed by a stint riding young horses for Tristram Owers. He quickly made his mark on the British scene taking 1st and 2nd at Hartpury CCI1* in 2008. In 2010 he finished 12th at Pau CCI4* and has competed at Badminton on three occasions.

Kathryn was born in Canada to a British father and Canadian mother but has been based in the UK for most of her life. The daughter of unhorsey parents, she began riding at her local riding school and was an active member of the Woodland Pytchley Pony Club. Kathryn didn’t take up eventing properly until she was 19, whilst working for international eventer Sam Albert.

Kathryn admits her career would not have been the same without her ride of seven years, Let It Bee. A horse she bought from Germany simply as an amateur horse but with whom she has scaled the highest level. The pair have competed at Badminton, Pau, The Pan Am Games and the Rio Olympics. Kathryn is hopeful for a good placing at this year’s Badminton, having jumped a double clear at her first attempt here in 2016.

So what do you need to excel at Badminton? “You need a partnership with your horse” explains Giovanni. “And your horse needs to be at the top of his form that weekend. You can have very good horses, capable of winning but if they are having an off day or are not at their peak for those four days then you are not going to win. You need a bit of luck” he says.

Kathryn and Giovanni will walk the Badminton course about four times. “The first impression doesn’t usually change too much and it is certainly a course that doesn’t get any smaller each time you walk. In fact, with Badminton I find that the more you think about it, the bigger it seems” he smiles.

Giovanni and Kathryn have a healthy working relationship rather than a competitive one. “We try to help each other” says Giovanni. “Kathryn helps me a lot in the dressage and I try to help her in the jumping. Sometimes we bump into arguments like every couple does. Luckily we like completely different kinds of horses, so it works out quite well.”

During the winter Kathryn likes to keep her eye in by riding out racehorses for trainers such as Ben Pauling and Alan King. Whilst Giovanni prefers to capitalise on the downtime, returning to Italy to see family. He is an ardent football fan and supporter of AC Milan.

Life on the yard is pretty busy so during the season, there is little time for other hobbies. “There is a lot of paperwork involved with running an equestrian business” explains Kathryn “Although we sometimes go to the gym after we have finished riding the horses”.

For 2018 they have some exciting young horses coming through, but good result at Badminton is vital for both riders as it will help their chances of team selection for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon in September 2018.   

Written By Ellie Kelly

Riding tools and tips from our professionals

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

One major riding tool your trainer is trying to teach you

Picture

Hi, I’m Stephen Hayes, FEI Dressage Rider and trainer from Great Britain, based in New York and Florida, USA. This is an article I’ve felt brewing for a while now, having taught many clinics around the world I feel like I’ve had a really good share of many different types rider, there is the brave and bold, the shy and timid, the rider that has a little devil on their shoulder constantly tearing them apart, the rider who attends my clinic already knowing everything there is to know about Dressage (even the best of the best will admit there is lifetimes of more knowledge to be learnt), there are the diamonds in the rough, the adult amateurs who put their heart and soul into every second in the saddle, the die hard professionals, riders triple my age and being an amazing role model. There isn’t a day that I’m not trying to improve my teaching style and methods, but there is always a couple of subjects which replay time after time in each clinic. Here is just one!‘BUT IM NOT SUPPOSED TO USE MY INSIDE REIN? I FEEL LIKE IM BEING ROUGH WITH MY HANDS, AM I PULLING HIM? I NEED TO BE LIGHTER WITH MY HANDS, BUT I CANT GET HIM ROUND ENOUGH HE’S TOO STRONG’Then I go on to explain the followingContact is such a massive and wide ranging word in dressage, and that’s why Dressage is so beneficial to all Equestrian sports. Contact is such an important and beautiful aid that many riders are not taking full advantage of or on the other hand abusing. Contact is very similar to a loaded gun, used correctly and in a positive and productive way it’s a VERY useful tool. Used in a negative way, then a loaded gun is no longer a useful tool. I’m sure we have all seen a situation where the contact is being abused, that’s easy to notice, but I’m going to talk about the opposite end of the scale, which are much more humane scenarios to the horse, but are still not beneficial to the horses physical and mental well being as the rider is still not truly connecting with their horse through the reins.

I have seen riders so brainwashed to avoid using their inside rein that their literally riding around the arena in constant counter flexion. A riders inside leg absolutely creates bend but if your not at all touching your inside rein… ever… Then how the hell can we expect the horse to be truly flexed around a circle/pirouette/half-pass the list goes on. The inside rein is an ingredient that you NEED, direct the neck to correct flexion, and let your inside leg be a boundary like he’s walking around a lamp post, use the inside rein in conjunction with your inside leg and outside half halt. It’s a balancing act of the three aids. Of course don’t abuse the inside rein but certainly don’t avoid it altogether.

There is SO much to cover on contact, I could have you here all day but one last thing. Giving and taking of the reins, the whole concept of a release of a particular rein or both is a reward. I see people giving and taking every milli second. Do you give your dog a treat if he’s dragging you around the park? Do you give your dog a treat if he’s jumping up at you if your asking him to sit? Are you feeding your dog a treat every second as he’s sitting down or do you let him sit and wait there are few moments till he’s earned the reward. You see where I’m going with this?

​You are your horses teacher, the ‘give’ is when your horse has yielded to the contact and is chewing and suckling the bit. Not when he’s ripping your shoulders out their sockets. That’s not to say Im asking my riders to stay on the end of the rein like a brick house, of course not, you have to be productive. I want my riders massaging and manipulating the corners/bars of the horses mouth through a consistent contact, until the horse decides to unlock and let go of his jaw/poll/neck while moving forwards and sideways from his riders leg aids. That is then your window to reward, he’s going to love the feeling of being relaxed and loose in his poll, throat lash area and neck, thousands of endorphins are being released while doing so, and in return you push forward your hands from his wither for a moment. That’s the real idea of a give. That’s how he will learn to want to soften to your hands, he’ll eventually understand that your hand is guiding him to a better place, now your hand has become a friend, and it’s being productive to your horses mindset. He will no doubt begin to follow your lead. Unfortunately horses don’t read a book at night on ‘how to become more supple’ they have NO idea unless we show them the way, and one way in conjunction with other aspects is through your HANDS. So don’t be afraid of the contact, it’s a beautiful thing once being used correctly.

Written by Stephen Hayes
Photo credits Amanda Diefenbach
Stephen Hayes riding Alfonso owned by Caroline McConnel

Continue reading

Horse Scout catches up with showjumper Zoe Smith

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Horse Scout selected 19-year old Zoe Smith to become one of our sponsored riders, out of a huge number of talented young showjumpers on the AASE programme. Zoe is an International showjumper based in Lincolnshire and is certainly one to watch.

 

Hi Zoe, great to catch up with you since completing the AASE programme. How’s it all been going?
It has all been going really well, the horses are really benefiting from a much more structured yard and work scheme that was introduced to us at AASE.

How’s your season going so far?
The season has been going very well so far, both my young horse and top horse have come out of the winter premiers jumping very well. This lead nicely into our first international trip to Belgium where we picked up lots of placings in the U25 and 6yo tours.

It sounds like you’ve got off to a great start this Spring. Can you tell us a bit about the horses are you competing this season?
This season I have two main horses to compete;
The first is Que Sera III, 9yo gelding, by Caretino Glory out of a Goodtimes mare. He is quickly progressing up through the ranks, after starting at Newcomers level with us just over a year ago, he is now jumping 2* world ranking classes and double clears and placings at 1m40.

The second horse in my string is Garcia Lente a 6yo by Bodinus out of a Holland mare. He very quickly showed his class this year winning at the winter premiers, picking up numerous placings in Belgium and recently jumping double clear every day at Chepstow international. I’m very excited about this horse’s future, he could be very, very special!

zoe

We noticed on social media that you were posting from Chepstow International recently, tell us about the show…
The show is the first international jumping competing of the year in the UK, it attracts many of Britain’s top riders such as Peter Charles, Keith Shore, Nigel Coupe, as well as American riders Julie Welles and Emma Heise.

The show ran over 5 days with three different heights at 2* level, two heights at 1* and then a 5yo and 6yo international tour with a Grand Prix for each respective tour. A 6yo class is typically around 1m25 and a 6yo Grand Prix is 1m30.
The competition is also used as a youth team trial so the selectors were also attending.

No pressure then! What did you get up to there, when you weren’t riding? If you’re staying over, are there parties or do you opt for an early night?
On the first night, there was a champagne reception to welcome everybody to the show and to give the sponsors and owners of the showground a chance to talk to the riders and their supporters. As this was the first international show of the year it was packed to the rafters! When not competing, most of the time was spent helping and supporting some of my friends with their horses and watching the other classes and riders.

We saw that you did brilliantly throughout the show; how did you choose which classes to enter and how did it go…
I was fortunate enough to jump the biggest of the 2* tours on Que Sera III picking up double clears and placings, leading on to our first world ranking class grand prix on the last day just picking up a couple of poles.

My super consistent 6yo picked up two equal firsts, a 4th in the accumulator and then 3rd in the Grand Prix.

For the international classes, you get to choose which height you would like to jump from the classes on offer the afternoon before, I really like this system as it gives you freedom to set your horse up for the grand prix in the best possible way that suits your horse. It also means that if a certain type of competition doesn’t suit a particular horse such as an accumulator/speed class, then you can jump a different height that day or give them a day off.

zoe 2

OK so what next – more UK competitions to come or will you be overseas again?
I think we will be staying in the UK for a little while now to contend second round Newcomers and Foxhunter as well as talent seeker HOYS qualifiers. County shows are also starting up so there are more shows available to us these days. I’m also looking to take on a couple of young horses to bring on and build up my string. I am hoping to get back overseas again at the end of summer, as I feel both myself and the horses improved and benefited from the experience.

That sounds like a good plan and you’ve got loads to aim for. Finally, what are your goals for this season and are your horses currently on track?
After the year started a lot better than I ever anticipated, I think it’s time for me to create some new goals as a few of them have already been achieved! But the horses are definitely on track to achieve their individual goals for the season, including the upcoming second rounds and international shows, as well as my top horse almost having enough points to make him Grade B so he can contend for the bigger titles next year and this coming winter season.

Great job Zoe, we are proud to be supporting you and look forward to hearing how the rest of your season goes!

PREPARING FOR BADMINTON: EXCLUSIVE INSIGHT

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Horse Scout catches up with two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech, to find out what the month prior to riding at Badminton involves.

 

Most event riders grow up dreaming of riding at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials, based in the heart of the Cotswolds. It takes years, sometimes decades of training and hard graft to reach the required 4* level and earn those elusive FEI points to be applicable to enter.

Horse Scout asks two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech to provide insight into the one month leading up to the big event.

 

The horse’s training

Joseph Murphy, Irish Olympic event rider, is entered to ride Sportsfield Othello, a 16 year old gelding by Ricardo Z and out of Moyview Lady and co-owned with the brilliantly supportive Alison Schmutz.

Joseph explained that the first two weeks of April are focused on reaching the horse’s fitness goals with a mixture of galloping and swimming to build cardiovascular fitness and stamina. He gallops ‘Frankie’ every 3rd and 5th day followed by a swim and always icing the legs afterwards to reduce inflammation and prevent injury. In fact, Joseph ices the legs of all his horses after they are ridden each day. This fortnight is a ‘scary time for injuries’ said Joseph, and when you would look to do any necessary veterinary work to ensure the horse is in optimal condition.

This intense fitness work will then taper right down and the last two weeks of April focus on technical training, practising dressage movements from the test, agility jumping and specific exercises to fine tune the horse.

jm2

Gubby Leech, British 4* event rider, is entered on Antoinette Denham-Harding’s 12 year old ISH gelding Xavier, by Clover Echo and out of Knightfield Sally.

Gubby is based at the quiet and beautiful Clarendon Park Estate in Wiltshire. He does all his fitness training on the forgiving old turf in the grounds of the estate. There is a perfectly steep hill that Gubby does repetitions galloping up and letting Xavier rest on the way down. They do fitness work every four days and will have their last gallop on the Saturday before Badminton week, with a ‘pipe opener’ after dressage on the Friday afternoon. Gubby said ‘Xavier is a strong and electric horse’ so he puts a lot of work into him to keep the extra fizz to a minimum! The technical training involves weekly dressage training with Lizzie Murray throughout April and showjumping training with William Fox-Pitt. Xavier is a keen horse in the ring, sometimes making up too much ground in combinations. Practising grid exercises at home helps him to shorten his stride in doubles and trebles, especially if the course builder likes to use short distances.

gubby2

The horse’s well-being

Joseph will turn ‘Frankie’ out every day on his own so he can have a pick of grass, relax and feel the sun on his back. Joseph chooses not to put protective boots on when turning Frankie out because he tends to be sensible in the field and he would rather keep the legs cool. Regular massages and some physiotherapy throughout April also help get Frankie in the best physical condition possible.

Gubby entrusts the multi-skilled Sue Devereux to keep Xavier in good condition. Sue is an equine vet, chiropractor and acupuncturist who will treat Xavier 2-3 times this April using a variety of techniques. In the stable, Xavier wears a magnetic rug and magnetic boots to optimise blood flow and recovery. He is turned out ‘bootless’ from the time he is ridden in the morning until 8pm when the horses get late feeds. This turnout time helps Xavier chill out and unwind.

Feeding

Joseph is very intuitive and he judges visually and by the feel of the horses on whether their feed needs increasing or decreasing. He monitors each horse closely to ensure it is fed the right mix of hard feed, haylage and supplements. Joseph slightly increases the feed on Frankie’s hardest days of work. Two weeks before Badminton Frankie’s feed regime will be set and won’t change leading up to the event. Joseph uses top quality feeds, Mervue supplements and he brings his own haylage over to Badminton from his base in Northern Ireland.

Like Joseph, Gubby also uses quality supplements to support the nutritional requirements of his horses.  Gubby uses an organic lucerne which is soaked first and helps keep Xavier hydrated, in addition to using high quality linseed, a balancer and electrolytes. Xavier receives 3 feeds a day whilst having his weight, condition and energy closely monitored. He can very quickly go off his food at competitions so it is a fine art making sure he gets what he needs!

jm3

Rider Fitness

Joseph rides all day long from the moment he wakes to the end of the day. He regularly competes 5 horses a day, even at Intermediate and Advanced level, meaning he is extremely fit from his time in the saddle. However, Joseph does extra core stability exercises to help improve his position, balance, core and overall fitness. He is following a 6 week core stability programme and he does the exercises before bed. Did you ever wonder what gives Andrew Nicholson, otherwise known as ‘Mr Stickability’ his amazingly secure seat? The answer is having a rock solid core.

Gubby is in the saddle riding horses back to back all day until the moment he gets home. Having two young children means most of his evening is spent overseeing bath-time and coaxing them to go to sleep! Gubby focuses on eating as healthy as possible, cutting out sugar and only has the occasional drink at special occasions, in order to maintain his perfect competition weight. His wife Sarah is an organic girl so the family gets fed very well!

 

Rider Mindset

Gubby has previously entered Badminton twice but sadly had to withdraw the horses before the event on both occasions. Combining this with a good Burghley experience in 2016 for this duo, Gubby feels ready. He is ‘in a good space, riding well and has a good partnership’ with his ride, Xavier.

gubby

Increasingly, top athletes are using Sports Psychologists to help give them the competitive edge. People talk about ‘marginal gains’ and this simply means that if you have a group of athletes, in this case riders, who are all equally talented on paper with equally talented horses, the rider who wins is the person who performs best on the day. Good sleep and being well rested, thriving under pressure, feeling confident, and focusing only on your performance and not worrying about those around you, are all factors that determine a rider’s overall performance. Doing these things well can make all the difference.

Joseph works with Charlie Unwin, Olympic Performance Psychologist across five sports. Since working with Charlie at the start of 2017, Joseph has been out winning most weekends this season and has never looked better! The work with Charlie helps Joseph to focus on what matters most when it comes to performance and to successfully block out all other distractions.

Horse Scout would like to thank Joseph and Gubby for sharing some of their practises and we wish them the best of luck for May! We look forward to an exciting four days of competition and wait in anticipation to see the new cross country course designed by Eric Winter. Only one question remains- who will be holding the famous Badminton trophy come Sunday afternoon?

 

Are you a member of Horse Scout yet? Sign up now for FREE www.horsescout.com

 

 

Dream Job Working With Horses? Make sure you know the answers to the right questions.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

Looking for work in the horse world? Having been on both sides of the fence Horse Scout Blogger knows just how it’s not just an interviewer who needs to know about you. You need to know about the job. And both of you need to know you are the right person for that job, by establishing expectations and measuring this against experience.

 

Having been contacted by a prospective employer or when searching for a job make sure you do your research.  Find out as much as you reasonably can about the yard where you will be working and your employers.  If they are professional riders they will have a track record and more than likely a website, and social profiles.  Make sure that their line of work suits you, it sounds obvious but if you want to show ponies don’t apply to be a jockey!

 

Top Tips to make sure you get the most perfect job you can.

 

  1. Be honest about your experience
  2. Be honest about your ability
  3. Be open abut your expectations

 

Ask questions about the things which are important to you

 

  1. What are your duties
  2. What are your hours
  3. Speak to other members of staff if you can

 

Understand the job you are applying for by finding out

 

  1. The employers expectations
  2. Your level of responsibility
  3. Who you speak to if you have problems
  4. Will you be in sole charge
  5. If it is a live in position make sure you see your accommodation
  6. Find out about transport links if you do not have your own transport or a car is not available
  7. Ask about the horses you will be riding, grooming handling
  8. Ask about pay, sick pay, time off and holidays
  9. What insurances are in place in case of accidents
  10. Who pays for PPE equipment, is there an equipment allowance

 

Other things which both employers and employees need to consider are:

 

  1. Pets
  2. What are normal hours and what is considered overtime
  3. Probation period and payment terms
  4. Working towards accreditation and the implications for both employer and groom
  5. Use of own vehicle; fuel and upkeep for business use
  6. Visiting friends/family (if it is a live in position)

 

Both parties should consider a period of consideration before accepting offering a job to a candidate.

 

Are you looking for work? Horse Scout professionals often have a STAFF REQUIRED badge against their profiles you can click through and contact them directly.  If you are looking for work riders or grooms then check out Horse Scouts specialist pages here. or look below at two grooms listed on our pages who are looking for placements at the moment.

Experienced freelance groom available for yard cover and competitions. Kirsty Borriello, from New Zealand is presently in Wiltshire and has worked extensively with international eventers, show jumpers and dressage horses. She confirms, in her Horse Scout listing, that she can turn out to a high standard and is happy to work as part of a team or on her own. 

17 year old Tori Owen, is looking for a live in position says she has been working with horses since a young age and that her forte is producing horses to compete in show jumping. She writes that she is a very hard worker and love what I do. 

Be Aware-Be Very Aware: Teamwork = Framework. 6 top tips to help you understand how you influence your horse.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Understanding  your frame and how you use it to influence your horses way of going; all starts with you.

Horse Scout Blogger has spent many happy moments trotting round the sitting room and to help you understand how you function will help you understand how your horse functions too.

Attending Yoga or Pilates or learning the Alexander Technique will give you good control of your body and help you become more aware of how you move and the relationship between easy movement and maximising your strong core and large muscle masses to your advantage.

The following are all ways of approaching your training and competitive riding with an understanding of how you function within your frame.  This gives you a very clear overview of how a horse also functions.  Your top half is the torso, shoulders, forelegs and head of your horse.  Your pelvis down to the ground are your horses hindquarters and hind legs. As you do these exercises walk and move like a human but be “horse” in your head.  Imagine the bulk of the horse but move like a human.

1. Relax and look up.

Central to all effective riding. If you are relaxed and working “In the moment” so will your horse be.

If you look up and forwards, so will your horse.

2. To Ride Forward On Straight Lines

Become conscious of how you walk.  As you move forwards (not counting window shopping by the way!) where do you look.  If you are looking at the floor, look up.  Think about how you are walking.  Are you using your core muscles?  Are you moving from your hip? Are you utilising your largest group of muscles: your Gluteus muscles in your legs and seat. Do you limbs move in a relaxed way? Are you moving purposefully?  Are your shoulders relaxed and facing in the direction in which you are looking/travelling?  …So many questions!

3. Prepare For Transitions

Change your speed

Change your stride walk briskly, what changes?  Walk slowly, again be conscious of your stance and the use of your frame.

Can you analyse what you do before you change pace?

Do you use the energy you produce as you place your foot on the floor to elevate your knee action.

Do you fall forwards when you stop quickly.

Learning to dance can really help with control and energises your approach to pace and energy.

4. Prepare For Turns

Change direction – what happened as you turned – what happened before you turned

Do you shift your weight away or over your pivotal leg.

Turn quickly and turn slowly, Think about where you place your weight and which groups of muscles you use to achieve a well executed turn and the difference in an unbalanced one.

5. Ride Good Circles

Walk in a circle, Take note of your body angles, weight distribution and the direction that you are looking and the direction of your shoulders.

6. Bend Correctly

What happens if you go in a circle with all your weight over your outside leg and your shoulders against the direction of travel?  Correct yourself and feel the difference.

The more aware you are of how a body functions the more you will understand how your body influences the pace, balance, elevation, suppleness and power in your horses way of going.  Try riding some horse movements without your horse.  Imagine you are your horse and try lateral movements.  What do you have to do with your body to achieve the correct cadence, direction and execution of the movement.

P.S. you can do this is the privacy of your home or be really adventurous and start a trend at your local equestrian centre/livery yard or even in Sainsbury’s…you never know it might be the next big thing like Bio Mechanics or Horse Fit!

Making the right shapes in the show jumping arena – 8 different approaches to perfecting your horses jumping.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Horse Scout Blogger has been contemplating show jumps this weekend.  Each type of jumps asks for a subtly different approach and energy.  In order to feel confident in the arena it’s a good idea to understand what question each style is asking of your horse and also its important to teach your horse how to jump the different fences to improve your show jumping.

1.  Ground poles

Really boost your horse’s bascule by using ground poles to create a wider fence base – he’ll instinctively know what to do. Without a ground line a fence becomes more advanced, drawing your horse in close, making it harder for him to jump well and get his legs out of the way in time.

You can also make a V-shape with ground poles before fences to channel your horse’s energy on approach, helping produce a much better jump.

2. Cross-poles

A great warm-up and schooling fence, cross-poles help your horse start to open up and use his shoulders. The V-shape encourages him to come centrally to the fence, tuck his knees neatly up and to look at what he’s being asked to jump. The taller the cross-pole, the more it will improve his action, as he works those shoulders and really lifts up.

3. Vertical

A vertical (or upright) is made of poles in the same vertical plane, and encourages your horse to make a taller, rounder shape in his jump. The take-off and landing spots will be the same distance away from the fence, so your horse will make quite a steep shape into it, lifting his shoulders higher vertically and tucking his forelegs up and away quite quickly.

4. Fillers

Fillers are great for getting a round shape in your horse’s jump, and by creating an illusion of solid colour he’ll really look at what he’s facing. They’re great for a bold horse because they demand respect, but if he’s lacking in confidence, fillers can make a fence harder to ride.

5. Planks

Planks work the same way as a vertical, creating a tall, steep jump shape, but they’re easier to knock down as they sit on flat cups. Planks create a more solid-looking fence, so your horse may back off a bit, and even produce a bigger jump, and as they tend not to have a ground line, they’ll draw him in quite deep, so he needs a more powerful jump to clear them!

6. Triple bar

Made with three poles of ascending height, triple bars create a longer, more open jump. Your horse really has to stretch and lift his front end to clear them, and they can be challenging when linked with other fences. Because their width requires more power, your horse will come deeper into the fence before take-off and land further out than normal, so if you’re working out your strides to the next fence keep this in mind.

7. Oxer

Two parallel vertical fences form an oxer, creating a spread that gets horses up in the air, producing a rounder, more equal shape than a triple bar encourages with take-off and landing spots the same distance from the fence. Because of the power your horse uses to push himself up and over, he may run on a little on landing, or lack energy because he used it up in the air.

8. Liverpool Oxer

A Liverpool is a vertical or oxer with a ditch or large tray of water underneath. The tray makes your horse look at the fence (which can cause his head and neck to drop as he approaches) then encourages him to get up in the air, creating a large, round jump.place the tray in front of the fence and it mimics the effect of a triple bar, encouraging a wider, more open jump which rises gradually. Place the tray under the fence or out behind it and your horse will draw deep into the fence, producing a more upright take-off and more reach as he lands. If you don’t have a water tray, you can create the same effect by laying something on the ground beneath a fence such as a rug.

This great advice comes from show jumper Mia Korenika who explains how different fences and elements can help your horse become a more athletic, careful jumper.  Use this link to check out her facebook page.

 

8 TIPS TO STAYING COOL & CALM IN THE COMPETITION ARENA

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Horse Scout Blogger was speaking with a rider coming up to their first competition level hike. At home they have been performing well and are well prepared in terms of ability and focus and will do well if our rider focuses on what the horse needs from him……The BIGGEST secret to you performing at your best, when it counts the most, is learning how to keep yourself CALM and COMPOSED. If you allow yourself to get too nervous or too excited right before or during a competition, then your muscles will tighten up, you’ll lose your confidence and your riding will go right down the tubes!

This is what it means to CHOKE! The rider gets so nervous that he/she ends up performing tight and tentatively — a mere shadow of your normal self and this will affect your horses performance to as he picks up on your tension.

THE REAL CAUSE OF OUT OF CONTROL NERVOUSNESS

Runaway, pre-competition nervousness can come from a lot of different sources: how good the other contestants are; the level at which you are competing; how important a competition is; how big the crowd is (and possibly more important to you – who in it is watching you; whether you’ll ride well today and win; How will the going be; Will you remember your test/course/timings— the list goes on and on.

While there are many things about your competitions that can potentially make you nervous, the true cause of your performance-disrupting nervousness isn’t any of the things that I’ve just mentioned above. The real cause of your out-of-control nerves is you! That’s right! YOU make YOURSELF nervous!

What I’m saying here is very important — It’s not what’s happening around or outside of you that makes you nervous. It’s what’s happening INSIDE that is the real cause of stress!

So it is important to take on board: It’s not the size, skill level or reputation of the competition arena that makes you nervous. It’s what you say to yourself about them in the days, hours and minutes leading up to the competition that’s the real culprit in sending your heart rate and blood pressure through the roof! Nervousness is always caused by our inner response to the things that are going on outside of us. But here’s the good news about that: If YOU make yourself nervous, then YOU have the ability to change your inner response to calm yourself down under competitive pressure.

Most riders who get too nervous to ride well do so because of what they focus on and think about as the day approaches. They worry about how well they’ll ride, what people may think or say about them, etc. Focusing on any or all of these things will guarantee that your stress level will go through the attic and your performance will get stuck in the cellar! To stay calm under pressure, you must learn to go into competitions with a completely different headset and focus. I

 

What you need is a game plan;  a game plan is a series of little mental goals that you want to bring into the performance with you. If you follow this game plan, it will guarantee that you’ll stay calm and relaxed when you perform. Remember, being your best when it counts the most is all about being loose right before and during your competitions.

 

Leading up to your performance –

1. KEEP YOUR CONCENTRATION IN THE “NOW”

Train yourself to keep your focus in the NOW — especially during your performance! This means that leading up to the performance, you don’t want to think about and focus on the upcoming competition and its importance. If you want to stay loose and relaxed, you must learn to keep your concentration in the now. When you’re in the action, you want to focus on one present-moment play at a time.

2. RECOGNIsE WHEN YOUR FOCUS “TRAVELS” AND BRING YOURSELF BACK

Concentrating on what is happening now and reacting to that is key. Whilst you have to anticipate your next move you must live in the now in order function from a position of strength. If your focus moves to reflect on what has happened or you start imagining the future bring your focus back.

3. KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON YOU, YOUR JOB AND YOUR PLAY

Allowing your focus to drift to anyone or anything other than you and your horse will quickly make you feel nervous. Staying focused on you and your job will keep you calm and confident.

4. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS! Comparison will always make you too nervous to play at your best.

5. HAVE FUN – Enjoy your job

Enjoying your performance and appreciating what is going well is the secret ingredient to staying calm and doing your best when the heat of competition is turned up high. When fun goes, so will all of your skills.

6. LEAVE YOUR GOALS AT HOME

One of the biggest tension-inducing mental mistakes that you can make as an competitor is to take your goals with you into the competition. Focusing on what you need to achieve will make you too nervous to perform well and, ironically, cause you never to reach them. Instead, leave your goals at home and keep your focus in the action, on “this” movement, this turn, this half halt.

7. KEEP YOUR MIND DISTRACTED BEFORE AND AFTER GAMES

Thinking gets most performers into trouble and makes them nervous. While you can’t really stop yourself from thinking, you can purposely distract yourself from it. So, in the days and minutes leading up to a big performance or tournament, keep busy. Do not allow yourself a lot of free time to think. If you are going through your test or riding the course in your mind. Think about HOW you re riding each movement or jump etc not how difficult its going to be.

8. KEEP YOUR FOCUS OF CONCENTRATION AWAY FROM THE “UNCONTROLLABLES”

There are a lot of things that happen in your sport that you do not have direct control over. Any time an competitor focuses on an “uncontrollable” (UC), they will get really nervous, lose their confidence and ride badly. So make a list of all of the things about this upcoming competition that you can’t directly control. For example, the officiating; the crowd; the future, such as the outcome, how well you’ll ride, winning or losing; how you are feeling that day; other people’s expectations; etc., and post the list in a highly visible. Keep in mind that these UCs are mental traps. They are lying in wait for you and every other competitor in that competition. Concentrate on the things over which you do have control.

Remember, if you really want to ride well, you have to stay loose and relaxed. To do this, focus on executing this GAME PLAN!

GoodLuck