Schooling Sunday – Starting Youngsters

Young horses are very much a blank canvas, even if they’ve been backed and ridden away before coming to you – they’ll still need you to guide them and show them the ropes.

Having a really clear system – rooted in the scales of training – helps the horse to understand whats expected but also gives you as the rider a ‘get out of jail’ card should you need it! We’ve all been there!

Babies need to learn to move forwards from the leg aid, and this comes before anything else. They’re allowed to wobble a bit, but they must go forwards before you think about the straightness of the movement. Once they’re forward, you can think about influencing the direction of travel – turning right, turning left, riding a circle or a square and being a bit straighter between the hand and the leg. This then becomes the basis of everything you do – they’re forward, straight and hopefully going in the direction you’d like!

Once you’re there, you can think about using a little bit of shoulder fore and very shallow leg yields to get the horse thinking about the inside leg and rein aids and what they mean but always keeping the forwardness of the gait.

This then becomes the next block in the training system you’re developing, so if you get stuck or the horse doesn’t understand you can bring it right back to the bottom bricks of forward and straight, make it easy and then build on from there to give the horse confidence to work on from.

This becomes your ‘safe place’ to go back to when you’re stuck or struggling – even if that means you pop them onto a 20 metre circle and ride quietly forwards round the circle a few times before coming back to the work you were doing.

You can then take this forward into riding the movements in a test when the horse becomes a bit more established – breaking the movement down into chunks and stepping back a step if the horse gets confused or stuck until you’re in a place you can work forwards from. If they make a mistake, thats okay – we can learn from that, just wait, find the rhythm and go again. If they make a mistake through trying, thats okay – just repeat and praise when its right.

Spotlight on – Rider by Horse

We first brought the super stylish Danish brand ‘Rider by Horse’ to the UK in 2015 and were the first UK retailer to stock the brand. Since then, we’ve worked closely with the brand owner to grow a UK following of this fantastic range – and its really not hard to see why it quite literally flies out each season. If you’re new to ‘matchy’ or the brand ,let me tell you why its so flippin’ amazing!

Rider by Horse – Air 1 Indigo

The brand focuses on optimum performance for the horse and has a really clever wick lining and vented spine design. You’d be forgiven for thinking the super cool features would come at a cost to the fashion side of the coin – you’d be so wrong! The designs are gorgeous, bright colours, glossy finishes, subtle sparkle bindings and THAT completely unique metal plate style logo. Its completely like nothing else we’ve ever seen, and frankly – we’re obsessed.

unique vented spine design

 The winter 2018 collection is now on sale on the website and features some updates to previous seasons designs making it a truly special collection. The collection boasts an upgraded lining – the new soft iQ – which is an even softer fabric with antisweat wicking properties to increase horse comfort. “make your horse feel better” is the key message for the new lining. New for 2018 is the ‘Exclusiv’ range, with smaller quilt pattern and a reduced size subtle metal tag logo to the binding. Don’t worry, the much adored ‘platinum’ range is still available with the large plate logo thats very much a key part of the brand and its identify.

Rider by Horse – Platinum almost black

You can’t talk about the collections without mentioning the infamous ‘bum warmer’ quarter sheet, this season there were two styles. One modelled on the very classic feeling ‘Exclusiv’ range, and one on the ‘Platinum’ range.

Exclusiv Grey quarter sheet

Shop the winter collection of horse fashion at www.equissentialsdressage.com

Schooling Sunday

Hello, and welcome to the first of our ‘Schooling Sunday’ features. Every week we will bring a common schooling problem and an exercise to help you correct it to the blog.

First up – straightness in the contact. Straightness is key, not only to the dressage horse – but or happy hackers, showjumpers and eventers alike. Straightness simply means the horse is straight through its body from nose to tail and that the hind legs are stepping behind the front leg. When the horse is straight, the rider should feel equal weigh or contact in both reins and even weight in both stirrups and both seatbones.

Horses aren’t naturally straight – like us they’ll often have a dominant side so its important we work them to help them become more even, straighter and balanced.

In the arena you can influence the straightness by riding away from the fence and around a metre or two in from the track – this encourages the horse to rely on itself rather than the fence and tests the straightness between your hand and leg.

Practice coming down the 3/4 line and riding a shallow leg yield off the inside leg – you don’t need to hit the track quickly, just aim for a sideways reaction off the inside leg and into the outside rein towards the track.

You can start this in walk if your horse is young or green and progress up to trot and canter once the exercise is more established. Really concentrate on controlling the outside shoulder with a feel down the outside rein to stop the horse pushing out through the shoulder and taking over.

Down the next long side, ride slightly in off the track and ask for some outside flexion – rewarding your horse by allowing it straight when it offers the flexion if its young or green. If its more established, you can ask for more steps in the outside flexion.

Repeating this exercise a few times will help the horse come up through its outside shoulder and you should feel a steadier, more even contact down both reins.

Christmas is Coming

As a way of saying thanks to everyone who supports us year round, we are launching the fabulous 12 days of Equissentials. Each day in December, we will open one of our advent doors and reveal to you our ‘deal of the day’. Every day, the deal will be something different – a discount code, exclusive offer, amazing free gifts and more.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check back each day to see what our offer is!

We can’t wait to share it with you,
Hayley & Nic xoxo