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Category: Training Guide and Information

  1. Do we really need "more leg"?....

    Posted on

    More leg??

    ponyclub kick 

    More leg??

    (Photo randomly taken from Google images)

    “More leg….” We’ve all heard it, that moment you hear it, our instinct is to do just that, use more leg, but is that the answer?...

    When we train horses we are asking them to react, whether it be from leg, seat or hand, we are training them to react, even if the horse misunderstands and gives us the wrong answer, it has reacted!

    Often seen are riders using the leg every stride the horse takes in an effort to prevent the horse from effectively losing energy. However what we are actually achieving with this is a horse who becomes “dead to the leg” or “not listening” to the leg aid. When the horse becomes dead to the leg we need to do things differently, by constantly kicking, all we are doing is feeding our own desire to feel like we are at least trying to create energy, but in reality we need to stop using the leg, yes really! “Well if I do that he will grind to a halt” is what I hear next when doing this with some riders, yes, that may well happen because in the horses mind you have effectively trained him to only go when you kick, therefore when you stop, he stops! We have to retrain the way the horse responds, he needs to make some mistakes (stopping because you stopped kicking) and then be asked to go again fairly sharpish, not brutal, but directly, imagine going for a gallop with a friend and you want to beat them off the start line! The horse is IMMEDIATELY rewarded with a pat/stroke/soft voice, just the way we train from being started, respond – reward, although when retraining from being “dead to the leg” it can be a longer journey with some horses. Eventually the horse will understand that your leg doesn’t actually make him go, he can go for himself, with minimal effort from you!

    Riders can often cause a horse to be “dead” just from nagging unknowingly, I always notice what riders are doing when at competitions/events in the collecting ring, also watching people out hacking, often the horses are going about their jobs while the riders leg is constantly nudging/touching/kicking, even worse with bad leg positions and the rider is wearing spurs *cringes at this image* the horse is literally being spurred with every movement it takes! Not all riders are guilty, but the next time you are out, count how often the horse you are watching changes the way it goes due to the rider’s leg usage, believe me the frequency used for the desired result surprises me!

    “But I don’t know I’m using my leg that much” a (sadly) frequent response from riders when they are made aware of it! No one is perfect, well unless you are Charlotte Dujardin!! But some ways to start:

    1)      Film yourself riding and count how many times your leg touches the horse Say the word “now” or something similar every time you touch the horse, the results can be surprising!

    2)      Find yourself a good trainer who can help you if your position is the cause, bad legs can often be from poor posture

    3)      Get a lesson on a schoolmaster so you can feel what a non “dead to the leg” horse feels like, this can help motivate you during the reschooling process

    4)      Do a test – ask for trot for example, take your leg away completely, this is hard for some, and count how many steps your horse takes before you come back to walk, then try and get an extra step on the next try, then add another etc..



    Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro showing a lovley "non dead to the leg" way of going!!

    Photo taken randomly from Google images.


    So really, “more leg” should be “more reaction”, remember – Less is more!



  2. Filming with Equestrian Pro TV!

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    Filming with EquestrianPro.TV…..



    On the 2nd of August 2016, Rocky and I featured in a training video for EquestrianPro.TV, a company who create unique training videos, filmed on location at some of the top dressage yards in the country and brought to you through EquestrianPro.TV’s website, enabling the viewer to access hours of training ranging from backing and lunging to watching how the professionals school their own horses up to Grand Prix, alongside interviews with the riders, judges and breeders, giving an amazing insight into the world of dressage.

    On the morning of the filming I admit to feeling a little sick with nerves, after all this was something way outside my comfort zone! However, I feel so strongly about my own training philosophy and how I get the results from my clients and my own horses, I wanted to share it, and what better way than with a company who offer this?! Mark was professional and reassuring, which helped the nerves settle before we got started.



    I had two of my clients join me for the filming, showcasing my coaching, and obviously Rocky for the ridden section. My clients were amazing and showed how lateral work can help with a horse who tends to hollow and disconnect the hind leg, and the other one was quite “hot” and spooky, so gave the chance to showcase how to deal with these issues by being calm and quietly positive, resulting in the horse becoming more relaxed and focussed on the rider, rather than the mystery ghosts, for anyone viewing these videos, I felt they show the “everyday” issues riders face, and with the right training, how to control and improve from them.

    Sharron_Kilminster_1                                  EPTV3

    Rocky was a little star, showing how I deal with his worry and tension in the walk using ¼ pirouettes to control his shoulders, and working on perfecting the rhythm in the trot to help his brain settle, he provided me with some great work considering there was a cameraman in the corner of the school!


    After the ridden parts, I had a short interview with Mark and a photo shoot showcasing my top yard items, from my beloved Nettex Valegro range, MacWet Gloves, Aubiose Bedding, to the EquiAmi,  Back On Track Rug and the Equifeast feed.

    The videos are now live on EquestrianPro.TV’s website:

    The day passed by in what seemed like a nano second, and was thoroughly enjoyable, contrary to how I felt in the morning! I can’t wait to do it again!!