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Learning from the best

Learning from the best

In my report from this weekend’s John French clinic, I share three tips that every rider can use.

Dominion Veterinary Labs

This weekend, I had the privilege of riding in a John French clinic. A local coach and her students put in a lot of effort and brought this hunter-ring star to our city. John French is one of the top five hunter riders in the world, and he’s won thousands and thousands of dollars catch riding horses in hunter derbies at top shows. He has an impeccable eye, and can bring any horse to the perfect take-off spot in front of a jump. He also has a rare gift: the ability to sense what a horse needs from its rider after just a few minutes on its back.

John worked with six groups of four or five riders over two days. I joined three other riders in the 2’9″-3’0″ hunter group, and I rode with John for almost two hours on Saturday and 1.75 hours on Sunday. It was a completely exhausting and absolutely amazing experience. I’d like to share a…

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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Schooling Hunter

 

You’re a rider? You’re an athlete!

You’re a rider? You’re an athlete!

Little rant about the important of “dry land training” for the equestrian athlete. Humour me and give it a read!

Dominion Veterinary Labs

Football, basketball, soccer, hockey, gymnastics, figure skating…athletes across all these sports have a team of people behind them. Coaches, personal trainers, chiropractors, massage therapists and athletic therapists all play a role in keeping those athletes healthy so they can perform at their best.

You don’t see the same team behind a lot of riders, and yet we’re prone to just as many injuries as any other athlete.

Toughness in our sport is a point of pride. Ask any serious horseback rider you know about the spills they’ve endured, and they’ll gladly tell you about the broken fingers, crushed toes, dislocated shoulders, broken ribs and concussions that couldn’t keep them off their horse. We fall off, get back on, finish our ride and tape up our injuries later.

I’ve learned that even after the bruises disappear, our injuries stay with us. They affect our musculature, balance, alignment and muscle memory. And eventually, they affect our horse.

Earlier this spring, I hit a plateau in my riding…

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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Schooling Hunter

 

3 ways to guarantee an enjoyable show weekend

3 ways to guarantee an enjoyable show weekend

In my most recent post for Dominion Veterinary Labs, I share three horse show ironies and how you can use them to your advantage.

Dominion Veterinary Labs

It’s like Murphy’s Law – the more disasters you prepare for, the fewer you’ll encounter. Here are three ironies I’ve noticed when preparing for horse shows, and how you can use them to your advantage. Weigh in with your own observations and comment below.

1. Pack all your rain gear

Excavate your rain pants from the bottom of your closet, re-waterproof your rain coat, throw a pair of rubber boots in your tack truck and purchase a set of horkin’ big traction studs for your horse’s shoes. You’re guaranteed to enjoy blue skies and scorching temperatures all weekend.

Photo (c) carterse on Flickr Photo (c) carterse on Flickr

2. Bring extra First Aid supplies

Pack every horse health care item you can think of – poultice, hoof packing, linimentelectrolytes, wound spray and bandages. The bigger your first aid kit, the smaller your chances of needing to use it. Note: many competitions drug test for corticosteroids and phenylbutazone; check with your riding club…

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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Schooling Hunter

 

One ground pole exercise for every horse

Dominion Veterinary Labs

I’m constantly looking for new ways to challenge my horse between jumping lessons. Trotting and cantering circles can become extremely tedious for them, and I find if I don’t get creative in  schooling sessions, our progress starts to lag.

I found this great article on Practical Horseman, and shared it with my friend. Last Thursday when I arrived at the barn, she had dragged 16 poles into the arena and set up the course. It spectacular!

Gymnastic-1

Now, you don’t need to own 16 poles to use this exercise. If you have four poles, you can practice all the components. Jim Wofford, who designed this exercise, says its great practice for all jumping horses. But you don’t need to compete in the hunter or jumper ring to benefit from it.

Your emphasis here should be on the rhythm of your horse’s trot, and the calmness and regularity of his step…

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Posted by on October 3, 2013 in Schooling Hunter

 

Stiff shoulders? Try these stretches

I wrote this post a few weeks ago for Dominion Vet Labs, and it has been incredibly popular. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think – do you find these stretches effective, and would you add anything to this routine?

Dominion Veterinary Labs

Moe was really stiff after jumping five days in a row at Heart of the Continent – Winnipeg’s biggest hunter/jumper event. The competition ended on Sunday August 4th, Moe got two days off, and we went for a hack on August 7th. He was lively and full of energy, but when we trotted around the big grass field behind the stable, it felt like his front legs couldn’t keep up with the drive coming from his back legs.

I trotted him out for my coach, and she said it looked like his shoulders were stiff. I certainly couldn’t blame him – I was feeling very stiff myself! Look at all the classes we competed in:

heart_results

I used the following stretches every time I went out to ride, and after about five days, Moe was right as rain. I learned these stretches from a certified equine massage therapist. Try them for…

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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Schooling Hunter

 

My show season comes to an end

Dominion Veterinary Labs

Last weekend was my last serious competition of the season. The Fall Harvest show was the hottest event I’ve ever attended. The day time highs peaked around 34 degrees Celsius, but the humidity made it feel closer to 38. The judge excused show coats, and, for once, I was happy that my classes started at 8:30 in the morning.

Picture 1Moe jumped beautifully in the 2’3″ and 2’6″ heights – we earned a reserve champion ribbon in the Open 2’3″ division and finished third overall in the 2’6″ division. But by the time the 2’9″ classes rolled around, my poor horse was completely spent. He wanted nothing to do with the bigger oxers, and we barely made it through the course.  I’m disappointed in our poor performance (particularly since Moe is jumping 3′ at home with ease), but I can’t say I blame him. Every horse and rider came back to…

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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Schooling Hunter

 

Son of a Beach

Son of a Beach

Moe and I were at MHJA’s Beach Party horse show on July 5-7, and it was certainly an eye-opening experience. It was a weekend of firsts, and I don’t mean red ribbons.

  • First time competing in an Equine Canada silver show
  • First dirty run out on a 2’9″ course
  • First off-course disqualification in a handy hunter round
  • First third place ribbon in an under saddle (we never perform that well on the flat)
  • First Hunter Special round

This was the toughest competition I’ve faced yet. There were between 15 and 18 beautiful horses in each of my three divisions (2’3″ Open, 2’6″ Junior/Amateur (JA) and 2’9″ JA), and lots of stellar riders. All the top finishers were perfect, and those of us who made one or two small mistakes would vie for the fifth and sixth place ribbons.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Life With a Horse

 
 
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