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31May 14


In most riding arena's will be a stack of jumping poles somewhere. My worst scenario is that there are jumps all over the place as it restricts me sometimes in my teaching. A few poles nearby come in handy with younger horses or horses that are not that interested in flatwork.

The strange thing is, that whenever the jumps are stacked outside the arena, for whatever reason they seem to always be at the far end. 

Imagine you are a young horse and you are going to have your first ridden experience in an arena. As soon as you come in there is a ghost lurking in the distance. you know where you just came from and where it felt safe. So that is where you want to go back to. This is exactly how often in the very beginning a pattern with `a ghost in the corner' is set.

Horses are animals of flight and in an arena most of them are secretly dreaming of their stable or their field. In my experience the whole issue of `the ghost at the far end' changes a great deal when for starters the jumps are living near the entrance and the end of the arena is made as inviting as possible. As a trainer, when I realize there is an issue with shying, I position myself near the spot where it occurs -more often than not it happens at the same spot- and talk the horse through it. Also, that is where it will be given a brake, a pet and sometimes a treat and also where the rider and I discuss what we are doing and why we are doing what, during the session. This way the area where the shying kept occurring will hopefully turn into a good place to relax a bit.

Do not... get upset or angry when your horse irritates you no end with shying at the same place, again and again. It will make it worse. There are other ways and better ways. One with a person on the ground in  the right place, as discussed above. And for the more experienced horse and rider there is a more technical approach. But that is for another time.   


28May 14


Judging at the unaffiliated event at glorious Lanhydrock reminded me of a thought I have regularly, especially when a potential new pupil warns me about the fact that: `my horse does not like dressage'. 

I wholeheartedly agree that if ones aim is to do a decent enough dressage test at prenovice or novice level, as that is the standard which most riders aim for when eventing, dressage is thoroughly boring. Not just for the horse but also for the rider. As the standard of an intermediate, let alone an advanced, cross-country is seldom within reach , most riders don't think beyond that boring novice test.

Let us take a different approach. Your horse is going to get older and probably one day needs to slow down. There are several options. One is to just do some hacking or some local shows, which is fine if you are happy with that. However, it is possible to have another competition career, if you have done your homework right. Dressage isn't actually that boring if you change your view from training for a novice test to training to maybe do a medium test with some shoulder-in, a half-pass. Maybe even an advanced test with some flying changes.

Not interested? Feel free, but you are missing out. You think it's out of your reach? Probably not. 

If you think a little more long term and work seriously on your basics. Then  gradually dare to extend the comfort zone of you and your horse, it takes away the dead-end feeling and your horse will become interested and learn to like it. I can guarantee you that. The bonus is even better: higher marks when you do your tests at your events.

As I am not a show-jump expert, I can not be certain how this is similar for the show-jumping. All I know is that my pupils have always improved each phase of their performance dramatically, when taking both their dressage and their show-jumping serious and spend equal amount of time training for them. 










I just came by chance across your blog and I'm now working my way forward from May 2014. Thank you for this great source of information! Just one remark: I am always under the impression that the Brits (no disrespect intended) see dressage as a chore they have to do to compete in eventing, not as something that is the base for the horse's gymnastication and the foundation for each and every equestrian pursuit. To explain my point of view - I am German, celebrated my 70th birthday last Sunday, grew up in the "ländliche Reiterei" and was trained at the Westfälische Reit- und Fahrschule. Major a.D. Paul Stecken is my hero. :-) However, I am well aware that this isn't just a "Brit" issue and only too many riders worldwide don't adhere to those "old fashioned" standards anymore, regardless of nationality, in Germany as well. Best regards and keep up the good work Nora
Nora Brinker, 19th May 2020

22May 14

Welcome to my blog

As a horse lover and dressage trainer I have watched, sat on, lunged, in short, studied horses and riders for over thirty five years and loved every minute of it. It is what makes me tick. Through those years many issues keep on reoccurring. What interests me particularly is, no matter what anybody’s aim is with their horse it should always be fair and with the best interest of the horse in mind. So, if you love your horse and you are a rider, please keep reading

I am aiming to give you solid and clear information so you will understand your horse and its potential problems better. If this improves your competition results, well, that is a bonus. For me competition was never the drive to train horses, although I did compete, really only to check whether I was where I wanted to be, and thought I was, in my training. Some people need competitions to stay motivated. No matter what your drive is, at the end of the day you will get most out of your horse when it feels good, in its spare time and its work. No romance will blossom unless your horse is on your side. It is all about partnership and not about ego trip.

I hope you will enjoy and appreciate my effort to give you a regular tip so check the website and if you have questions, send me an e-mail and I will try to use it as a future topic.



Hi Liz! I will think of some topics soon!
Helen Chandler, 27th May 2014

Dressage Training

Dressage training needs variety, including pole work

Dressage Training

Dressage training needs variety, including pole work

About Liz Barclay

Her love for horses together with her dedication made her into the trainer and dressage rider she is, today. She is versatile and inventive and likes a challenge; whether it is a technical training question, a confidence issue or a problem involving the management of the horse or pony.


My book 'THE FARMER, THE COAL MERCHANT, THE BAKER...' with the subtitle 'A Personal Impression of the Development of the Gelderland Horse World' has been received with more enthusiasm than I possibly could have hoped for. Click here to contact me and I will send you a copy. £7.50 + postage, or click here to order from Amazon.