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31May 14

Ghosts

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.   

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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.

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