Inside Track Training, LLC

Boarding, training and lessons for the English enthusiast. Lessons for absolute beginners and up. School horses available. Fun, horse loving community!

Stop Trying To Get Your Horse On The (Bleeping) Bit Karen Rohlf explains why students struggle when learning how to get a horse on the bit in dressage. Learn a different way of getting your horse round.

It’s hard to do, but get back over your heel in a squatted down feeling, and don’t thrust your weight over your horses front end at the moment they need the freedom to use it to their best ability!

Jordan Ellis writes: " I rode with many “professional” jumping trainers for years and years. It took me randomly getting a horse of my own that had massive thrust from the base, and me coming out of the tack a lot. For me to teach myself how to feel my calf “lock in” just behind the girth. In 15 years of professional instruction, not one trainer taught me how to not pinch at the knee!!!!"

My experience was just like Jordan's. Not once, not EVER, did an instructor tell me how to not pinch with my knee, nor how to maintain a stable lower leg, Even when I was at the USET, and on a team that won a gold medal.

As you can see in these first six photos from the 1960s up until the mid 1970s, my lower leg swung in the breeze like laundry flapping on a line.

And this is the story of how I figured out how to fix it----

In 1974, when I had made the USET squad, and was riding every day with Mike Plumb, and would watch him jump, I could not help but notice that his lower leg appeared to be surgically attached to his horse just behind the girth---The leg never moved. Not only was Mike's leg secure, it was perfectly positioned to act as a driving aid.

So I asked him why his leg stayed put, and my leg swung back. He replied, "I'm a better rider than you are, Emerson."

Which was true, but it didn't answer my question. Anyway, I had one of those little movie cameras that took super-8 film, or some such, in those pre-video days, and I shot lots of slow motion film of Mike jumping.

Later that year, after we got back from winning the gold medal at Burghley, where I had a bad lower leg/incorrect jumping technique, I hung up a sheet in our living room in Vermont, got a projector, and watched Mike jump.

You know those cartoons, where somebody suddenly "gets it," and a little light bulb appears above his head? Well, that is what happened as I watched those slow motion films.

When I would come to a jump, stirrups too long, and the horse would take off, to avoid getting left, I would stand in the stirrups, knee the primary contact point, and my crotch would actually go in front of the pommel.

This would make everything above my knee "want" to topple forward, and it would release my lower leg to swing back towards the horse's hip.

My light bulb moment was seeing how opposite Mike Plumb did it.Mike, with appropriately short stirrups, would sink into the saddle on the approach, and his lower leg/Achilles heel area would find that sweet spot just behind the girth. As the horse lifted up and over, instead of having his hips go FORWARD, the way I did, Mike's hips went BACK. This kept his lower leg right there, and his lower leg, rather than his knee, became the pivot point, and as a result, his hip, knee, and ankle angles CLOSED, whereas my angles OPENED.

It placed Mike right smack dab in the center of gravity, rather than out in front of the motion of the horse.

There is a saying about some great riders, and I suspect USET Coach, Jack Le Goff, who never told me any of this, was one of them, is that they can do it so easily they can't explain it because they never had to break it down into smaller pieces and learn it.

But in the last seven photos, you can see how I was able to change everything for the better, and, more importantly, SO CAN YOU, if your position is not all you would wish---

Or ride.

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Pendragon Stud Equestrian Center

Students- wanna go?

It's free school friday season!!
Every Friday we free jump the horses in the indoor. With the ice and the weather they certainly better not be running around out in turn out so we allow them to stretch their legs in the indoor while getting in a good jump school. It's great for their brains body and coordination. $15 per horse. If you are intrested let us know we can get you on the schedule.

Sporthorse Apothecary

Nahshon Cook Horsemanship

This whole book is about how to properly warm up a horse before exercise, it's almost 300 pages on building the riding horse's back correctly . It's one of the most important books on training that I've read.

Dressage Source

Red Rock Equine Veterinary Inc PS/Dr. Rothschild

Do you know how old your horse really is???
For those asking about the 1-3 years range... It varies because of the gender, husbandry )domestict x wild) and breeds, like a large Warmblood and an arabian, for example. The bones, growth plates and cartilages mature slightly different. The big breeds are delayed. An the jump to a 3 year old is related to reproductive maturation. At 2.5 years of age mares n stallions in the wild start breeding and conceiving. That’s like a 15 year old human. Ideally being 3 years of age helps to have a good pregnancy and good lactation for the newborn. 😊

Chunky Rock Farm

So true!

Nahshon Cook Horsemanship

What is the path?

The other day, I recieved a message from a lady on the Western Slope asking if I'd accept her as a student. She'd seen the videos of Remi and said, "I'm pretty sure you're on the path I want to be on."

Throughout the course of our correspondence, I asked: "What path is it that you see I'm on that you want to be on, too?" Since it's the only way I know to work with horses.

This is her reply (I'm also thankful that this is what she sees in my work):

See? I love that you ask that question. So many dressage instructors would not think to ask that. So you sent me on a thought journey about what is the path? And here is what I ended up with:

What is the path?
Having clarity of mind, of purpose, of connection with the horse.

What is the path?
Power of intention
Understanding that Intention is the main aid, not hands or feet or other body parts.

What is the path?
Lightheartedness, kindness, compassion, curiosity
Having a sense of humor around the relationship with the horse, with other people around horses. Having a sense of kindness and compassion for the horse. Being curious about why things are going the way they are. Understanding that generally the horse is not "resisting", more likely he doesn't understand, or physically cannot do it, or is fearful of consequences.

What is the path?
Allowing the horse to have choices. Letting him choose!

What is the path?
Deep knowledge and excellent physical skills
Having a large toolbox of techniques and the knowledge to know when to use each. Listening to the horse to determine what might be the best tool to use in the moment.

What is the path?
Self carriage
Self carriage from the beginning, not as a result of years of pushing and pulling the horse around to "make" him get into balance and submission. Self carriage at the halt! At the walk, trot, canter. At the stretch, at collection.

What is the path?
Karen Rohlf says this pretty well: "In developing my horses I focus on finding what I call the Sweet Spot. The Sweet Spot is that lovely place where both horse and human share a balance that each can agree on, and that neither can experience without the other. It is a place where human and horse merge mentally, emotionally, and physically."

What is the path?
To achieve the Object of Dressage
The Object of Dressage: The development of the horse into a happy athlete through harmonious education resulting in a horse who is calm, loose, supple and flexible but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with his rider. (FEI rule book). Look at this! Calm! Loose! Supple and flexible! Confident! Attentive and KEEN! Perfect understanding with the rider! If you really read this, and embrace it, it is the path.

Nine Tips To Avoid Becoming A PIA Boarder

Just a little Public Service Announcement for those of you who board your horse with someone like me. 🙂 We’ve all done it. The thing. The text. The ill-timed question. The snarky remark. The single moment in time that will flip the switch in our barn owner’s brain on their assessment of us: the PIA switch. You are a PIA boarder. The worst. When ...

I’m so blessed to have a barn full of these horses and the owners that adore them. Grace, who saved Kathy. Crystalla, who is a living example of patience. Peter, who is lifting Aly and educating Chris. The minis, who bring smiles to everyone. Ferdi, Maverick, Reyna, Sheldon, Sultan, Tigger, and all of the others! For me, I can truly say I have more than one of these “best” horses. Barn matriarch Scarlett carried me around the cross county courses, won the dressage, and then brought two beautiful babies into this world. Gift, her first baby and my first home bred will forever be my heart horse, no matter what he ends up doing in life. Then there is my school horse Squirrel who makes me tear up every time I think of his amazing tolerance and patience, the educations and love he has given to everyone who’s had the blessings of being his rider. Even though I don’t ride him myself much (usually just a trail ride if I do) he is definitely our farms truest unicorn.

Once in every equestrian’s life, they will meet a special horse.

This horse wont necessarily be a Badminton winner or dressage champion. They won’t always carry multiple titles or be the most talented with the best breeding.

Very often, these horses are nothing more than ordinary. They might have the odd lump here or a strange marking there. They probably won’t tick all the boxes for conformation and they will probably have some character “quirks” that not everyone will be able to see past.

You don’t find these horses, they find you. They can come to you by accident or hide in plain sight. They are the one rescued from the meat man or the one in the last stable at the dealing yard. They are the last horse you go to see before you give up searching or the scruffy three year old stood in a field of mud. They are the horse you never even knew you needed.

People will raise an eyebrow when you say this is your “best horse”. Not everyone will see what you see and that’s ok because this horse will be special to you. They will unlock little things inside you and make you feel more at home than you’ve ever felt anywhere else in your life.

They may not always be easy, in fact they might be anything but easy, but it doesn’t stop you loving them. I’m not saying the will follow you round the arena with no lungeline, or that you can ride them tackless down the beach... but you’ll have your own connection that is hard to describe and even harder to explain.

There is no rhyme or reason as to why this horse is so special. You don’t have to have won at every event or defied death together to validate your relationship, it just happens.

You won’t feel this way about another horse. Sure, there will be ones that come close and it doesn’t stop you loving any other horse just as much as this one, but this one is special. This is your heart horse.

Some people stumble across their heart horse early on in their life, others wait a lifetime to meet, but somewhere out there is a horse that was made for you, so if you haven’t met them yet... be patient, they will find you.

They might not always be the horse you want, but they will always be the horse you need.

Developing an Elastic Arm and Independent Seat “When you have elastic arms and an independent seat—you support your upper body from your security in the tack and balance in the stirrups, not the neck—you can do anything you want,” says USET veteran Bernie Traurig. In this lesson, the founder teaches how to be “in ba...

Tamarack Hill Farm

More thoughts about fear, and how to live with the reality of fear without being a slave to fear---

Fear is normal. Let's say that you are a passenger in a car being driven recklessly along a road with no guard rail beside a precipitous drop off. Unless you are drunk out of your mind, or on drugs, it is absolutely normal and natural to feel fear, because one little error from the driver will guarantee that the car will plunge off the cliff, and you will get killed.

But we all experience things that create the exact flight or fight response as actual extreme danger that are not actually dangerous.

Case in point----Denny Emerson, age 9, is cowering in Miss Gibson's Four Corners School 4th grade math class, trying to remain invisible, as students are handed a piece of chalk, and asked to solve problems on the black board, in front of the whole class. As his name gets called, Denny is suffering the agonies of the damned, just as if he was
about to be hurled into a pit of writhing cobras.

Which is another way of pointing out that the fear we so often experience is not actually in direct proportion to the danger we are in, but it feels that way.

So, then, it follows more or less logically, that one way to alleviate being paralysed by fear is to avoid, if possible, real danger, and to try to become better prepared to face challenge that only feels like true danger. Like arithmetic.

So, how can a rider avoid true danger? Simple, though not guaranteed, because nothing is ever guaranteed in life.

Do ride the appropriate horse, and do not ride the inappropriate horse, because getting bucked off, spun off, reared over on, slammed against a tree or wall, those are truly dangerous dangers. So don't go there. Ride horses that don't do that bad stuff. Let the dumb, brave young kids get hurt on those, because dumb, brave and young are basically synonyms.

I will say this again for the crowd in the back who are screwing around with their phones, and not paying attention---RIDE THE RIGHT DAMN HORSE.

And then, ride that right horse at the level of your own actual competence, or slightly above or below it, depending upon how brave you feel at the given time.

The pictures I posted came far later in my riding career. I had built up to all that over years and years.

Here is what Jack Le Goff had to say. This was aimed at the horse, but what Jack said applies equally to the rider.

"Boldness (Read "courage/absence of fear") comes from confidence. Confidence comes from success. So it becomes the job of the trainer to create lots of situations that pretty much guarantee success."

Walk before you run, Jump one foot before you jump one foot, six inches. Ride a horse that has a steady brain. Get yourself as fit and strong and athletic as you will need to be for the riding task you want to do. Building blocks building blocks building blocks---Do not leave out steps. When you feel yourself getting to a limit, find someone you trust, and ask, "Hey---Am I being a wuss, or is this as far as I should go?"

Having said this, I still don't want to be handed that &^%[email protected] piece of chalk, Miss Gibson----

Ray Hunt, Horseman

“You want your body and his body to become one.
This is our goal.
It takes some physical pressure naturally, to start with, but you keep doing less and less physical and more and more mental. Pretty soon, it’s just a feel following a feel, whether it comes today, tomorrow or next year.
So one little thing falls into line, into place.
I wish it would all fall into place right now for you, but it doesn’t because it has to become a way of life.
It’s a way you think.
It’s a way you live.
You can’t make any of this happen, but you can let it happen by working at it.” - Ray Hunt.

Ray's quote was taken from Margot Kahn’s 'Horses That Buck: The story of champion bronc rider Bill Smith'

Image of Ray is by Nicolas Russell.

Millbrook Leathers

Super useful!

(Depends on other factors too but a cool diagram nonetheless)

Equine Performance Partnership/Doug Jordan

Most horses pass from one human to another - some horsemen and women are patient and forgiving, others are rigorous and demanding, others are cruel, others are ignorant.

Horses have to learn how to, at the minimum, walk, trot, canter, gallop, go on trails and maybe jump, to be treated by the vet, all with sense and good manners.

Talented Thoroughbreds must learn how to win races, and if they can't do that, they must learn how to negotiate courses and jump over strange obstacles without touching them, or do complicated dance
like movements or control cattle or accommodate severely handicapped children and adults in therapy work.

Many horses learn all of these things in the course of a single lifetime. Besides this, they learn to understand and fit into the successive social systems of other horses they meet along the way.

A horse's life is rather like twenty years in foster care, or in and out of prison, while at the same time changing schools over and over and discovering that not only do the other students already have their own social groups, but that what you learned at the old school hasn't much application at the new one.

We do not require as much of any other species, including humans.

That horses frequently excel, that they exceed the expectations of their owners and trainers in such circumstances, is as much a testament to their intelligence and adaptability as to their relationship skills or their natural generosity or their inborn nature.

That they sometimes manifest the same symptoms as abandoned orphans - distress, strange behaviors, anger, fear - is less surprising than that they usually don't.

No one expects a child, or even a dog to develop its intellectual capacities living in a box 23 hours a day and then doing controlled exercises the remaining one.

Mammal minds develop through social interaction and stimulation.

A horse that seems "stupid", "slow", "stubborn", etc. might just have not gotten the chance to learn!

Take care of your horses and treasure them.

Written by Jane Smiley

🌟We are their caretakers...let's do it kindly & with compassion!🌟

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