What can your elbows tell you?

Your elbows can be a great reference point as to how your upper body is stacked up.


The first thing to look at is whether they are touching the same points on your torso on each side. For example on your left side your elbow might sit just under your rib cage, and your right side it sits on your hip. Which of course means you are not equally balanced.


To correct this imagine there is a spirit level attached from elbow to elbow and you need to  make it balance. 


Then ask yourself whether you have equal distance and pressure between your arm and your torso? Maybe one is clamped in with no distance between your arm and your waist and maybe the other looks like a bus could drive under it. Obviously neither of those is ideal so to help them hang more equally and effectively imagine some tiny weights drawing them gently down, then gently close your back arm pit keeping the upper arm still soft; this should engage your lats (back muscles) to assist with maintaining a stable position.


How about your hands? Are they using equal pressure? Are they fixed or do they move too much? Imagine trying to keep the hands still but gently moving the elbows to brush against the fabric of your sleeves so to do this they will move but only very slightly and very gently-this is what you’re aiming for.


I hope these visualisations help you to fix your elbow woes but if you would like some more in depth 121 advice to improve your riding I have some limited spaces for 121 Clients at the studio-WN8 9QP so hit reply if you’re ready to up your game!

Are you getting better?

This week I am away at Equipilates™️HQ completing the first couple of modules of the Advanced Equipilates Biomechanics Trainer qualification.


I love learning and I think it’s important that I continue to learn and grow as a trainer in order to continually improve the service I give to my clients.


Riding is a sport that no matter what level you are at you never really stop learning-even the pros have regular coaching.


So as a rider are you continually trying to learn and upskill? I’m sure each time you ride you are expecting your horse to improve but what about you?


I know riding regularly means hopefully you are getting stronger and therefore getting better, but do you take it any further?


Do you look at individual areas you can improve on yourself? Perhaps your right shoulder is stiffer, or your left leg is wobbly?


Do you try and address those issues outside of being on your horse?


I think it’s so important to be aware of your part in the relationship between you and your horse, if you expect your horse to improve you must make sure you are trying to improve in order to support his journey.


What sort of things can you do to improve?


Watching videos on YouTube, I also like DressageTraining TV or the Masterclasses with top riders on Horse and Country TV.


Have regular coaching with an instructor that focuses on you as well as your horse.


Train off horse with a coach specifically targeted to helping riders …….I’ve got space for 121 clients and a couple of spaces in Wednesday at 6pm.


Sideways and Circles

So often riders have told me that their horse falls in on one rein or out on another, they can do a lateral movement one way and not the other; and no matter what they do they can’t fix it.

However when we then assess the rider we almost always find some sort of asymmetry or uneven weight distribution.

This of course then transfers to the horse and then exacerbates further on a turn, circle or lateral aid so whilst that rider thinks they are giving perfect aids both ways and the horse is ignoring them one way they are actually giving different aids for each rein.

So if this is you it’s time to stop blaming your horse and have a really in depth look at Exactly what You  as you give these aids.

Starting straight on and from neutral-first we must establish neutral.

  • Can you feel both your seat bones equally? Are your feet equal weight in your stirrups?
  • Is your rib cage directly over your pelvis –or try sternum in line with pubic bone. That is front to back and left to right? Do you arch, hollow or tip to one side?
  • Is your head floating on top of your neck, central and looking ahead?
  • Are your hands equal weight, height and length on the reins?

It is really useful to have someone on the ground to help you with this as often what we think is happening is not necessarily the case. We wouldn’t be fluffing our circles if it was would we!

Now in a walk start a 20m circle and run through the check list again. You see the idea is not to lean to the inside and motor bike around the corners. It is perhaps useful to imagine you are on train tracks and as they run around a circle they still stay equal distance apart and you remain equally attached to them.

As you turn; your body will turn with your horse so in fact you stay in neutral together around the circle.

  • Are your seat bones still equally weighted?
  • Are your feet equal weights in the stirrups?
  • Is your rib cage directly over your pelvis?
  • Are you still looking straight ahead?
  • Are your hands level?

Try it again in a leg yield. Using leg yield right as an example.

  • Can you open your right hip slightly to allow the horse to step over?
  • Is your rib cage still facing the front?
  • Are you still equal length front to back and left to right?


Again it is really useful to get someone to watch this. If that’s not possible I often set my phone up in the corner of the arena and video myself to watch back afterwards-it’s brutally useful!

If you can keep everything in balance throughout on both reins I guarantee there will be an improvement in how your horse performs them.

Reaction Riding

If you see the videos of my classes you will see sometimes we’re outside in the arena having a great laugh balancing on gym balls and wobble boards throwing stuff at each other, sometimes without looking at the person or saying a different name etc to make it more difficult.


Of course there is usually lots of laughing and everyone does enjoy themselves but is there some method in this madness?


Of course there is!


How many times have you been merrily trotting along on your horse then suddenly you’re going sideways or facing the other direction? Those pesky pony eating invisible monsters!


To stay aboard and hopefully maintain some control takes not only good core stability but also super fact reaction skills.


The majority of the time you are on your horse your body is reacting to the movement underneath you so spooky horse or not your ability to ride consistently well is affected by your reaction time. Of course spooking and “surprise” behaviour just add an extra test into the mix but your ability to react can make the difference between a minor second of non compliance or a hitting the deck scenario.


So that’s what we’re really up to on those gym balls throwing stuff.


Why not have a go at training your reflexes and reaction times yourself?


You don’t need a group of crazy women on unstable surfaces (although I highly recommend it for the fun element). Instead why not try.


  • Learn to balance seated or kneeling on a gym ball. It will move underneath you meaning your body has to react to stay balanced.
  • Throw and catch a ball with one hand.
  • Throw a ball against a wall.
  • Try the ball throwing on a gym ball……
  • Play with a Reactor ball -it’s an odd shape so when you throw it on the floor it pings off all over the place meaning you have to be sharp to keep up!