In thinking about what topic I would use as my take away on my journal today and my mind began to drift. I started reviewing older posts dating back to 2006, which made me notice patterns in my training cycles. Furthermore that made me realize the importance of note-taking after training. Whether you’re a beginner or an international pro, I think one should write down thoughts, ideas or issues faced in the daily rides because we’ll likely face same issues in different circumstances throughout the years. For example, almost all of us are “handed” meaning we’re stronger on one side of the body than the other just like our horse athlete partners. Writing down what you felt or how your body shifted will reinforce, for many through decades of riding, where our strengths and weaknesses lay and hopefully allow us to build on those strengths and overcome or improve on those weaknesses.

Rather than talk about this last months take aways, here is a variety of tips from my notes the last six years that I’ve found repeatedly helpful and I hope they might inspire you in your rides as well…

Training with Gwen Blake:

  • Try cantering on the quarter lines and simple change of lead through the walk to counter canter to activate the hind leg
  • Key note after my first Grand Prix test, the passage was too slow to develop so have the first few strides feel like trot then bring it back to the more elevated passage
  • For better jump in canter pirouette think of my hips to his ears for a climbing feeling
  • Softer aids think of touching the horses side with the stirrup iron will help with spur control

Clinic with Janet Brown-Foy:

  • Basic position reminders WALK is 4 beat and go with the flow with the legs pushing back against the breath of the barrel, TROT is a 2 beat and ask for more forward only with the inside leg and on the up posting beat when the inside hind leg is coming forward, and CANTER sit inside with the weight inside and the outside leg as support only while the inside leg and seat bone ask for the canter

Training with Anky van Grunsven:

  • The rider sets the tempo, not the horse
  • I used the term push with my legs. Anky says to use the word tap instead to ask for a reaction
  • In my canter work keep the haunches from swinging in. Keep the horse straight as to engage and carry themselves. Moments in the canter of true carriage with a loop in the rein. When Anky said the moments were good it felt like we were climbing up a hill with a canter pirouette feel
  • My interview with Anky –

Theory with Elizabeth Madlener:

  • A horse can only become receptive (or submissive per the training scale term) to a ground person when they understand that the person is the Alpha. He will then give himself to his rider. Perhaps the chain goes, respect leads to receptiveness which leads to trust then confidence and finally harmony
  • My interview with Elizabeth –

Training with Geoff Butler:

  • Maintain a tempo conducive to helping the horse keep his balance and not making drastic tempo changes which will have him searching for his balance constantly
  • A tool for activating the hind leg is to not slow the tempo so much that the engagement is lost. This is not to say running them forward or onto the forehand but that a more active pace can be a useful tool
  • My interview with Geoff –

Theory with Jean Luc Cornille:

  • The idea that there is one technique for training is completely ridiculous
  • There is no glory in the victory gained at the expense of the horse’s soundness. Instead of forcing the horse to perform they have to be ready for what we ask
  • My interview with Jean Luc –

So remember to keep a pen/pencil & journal (Barnby notes has a neat one at, your smartphone, laptop or tablet handy in the tack room to jot down ideas you had from your ride or lessons you learned or perhaps even what you want to focus on with your ride the following day. While the perfection we strive for is often illusive, note-taking provides a path of personal education and exploration that we can’t fully embrace otherwise.