Riding in Harmony My aim is for the rider to achieve a harmonious partnership with their horse.

Initially I believe in establishing the rider’s seat before anything else. Teaching the rider to absorb the horses movement and to go with the horse rather than against him, means the likelihood of falling off becomes a more remote possibility rather than a given or an expectation.

The first lesson is an assessment by all parties. The instructor of the rider and horse but, just as importantly, the rider of the instructor. One of my first questions is always what you do you want to get out of the lesson – are you returning to first principles, looking for an extra 2% in your dressage test or rebuilding your confidence? This is usually followed by asking how do you learn best – are you an auditory person who likes explanations and possibly descriptive images, a visual person who likes to see things demonstrated or a kinaesthetic learner who learns by doing?

It is important to establish a trusting environment where both student and instructor can speak freely without fear of sounding silly, being intimidating or superior. Questions should be asked constantly by both parties – if I can’t answer then I will tell you that and make sure I have the answer for the following session.

Riding in Harmony

Riding is a constant conversation between the horse and rider. Both parties need to learn how to listen, how to ask polite questions and initiate correct responses. There is no room for shouting, kicking or pulling by any of the three parties involved in the lesson.

If it becomes clear an instruction or explanation is not understood, a different description is found rather than the same one being repeated in a louder voice.

Throughout the lesson I will be asking for feedback from the rider. The point of the lesson is for me to impart the knowledge to the rider, for the rider to understand and be able to implement the instruction. Much more importantly, however, they need to understand why something is being done as well as how so they are able to recreate the same work on their own. If this is not happening, then I am not teaching.

There are many schools of Equitation – some more fanciful and analogy filled than others. If forced to put myself in a particular pigeon hole, I am closer to the Classical French school of lightness than anything else. I am concerned with teaching the rider to ride from their seat from day 1 and to use the lightest set of aids possible whenever working with a horse be it ridden or from the ground.