Stuff to stop you seizing up this week

Well, it has been a bit of a crazy week hasn’t it. 


I hope whatever situation you are in with work, finances etc. You are doing ok. I know for many of us our horses are a major part of our mental health so if your yard is on lock down meaning you can’t visit then honestly I can’t even imagine how you are holding it together right now-but it’s not forever and if anything Equestrians are tough so we can totally do this.


I’m definitely considering myself very lucky this week as I’ve been able to train most of my clients via FaceTime or Zoom, and classes have been held in a private Facebook group and on Zoom-so we can have a natter like we usually do. So, it’s pretty much been business as usual. However that did mean I had to completely change all my pre-planned sessions so if you have noticed I’ve been quiet on my regular social media I’m sorry this is what I’ve been up to.


Anyway whether you can get to the yard or not I’m sure you’re finding you have a little more free time. How are you spending it? 


I’m hoping to spend some time this weekend planning some more interesting groundwork sessions for my 3 ponies. 2 are in rehab and the other is my driving pony so all my work is in hand, lungeing and long reining and I could do with some inspiration.


What are you up to?


Maybe whether you are riding or not during this you could spend a little time working on your own fitness, symmetry and movement patterns. Especially if you’re spending more time sitting. 


With that in mind, and based on the fact I had little time for anything other than trying to keep the show on the road here’s 3 workouts that I have previously only released in a private group.


There’s a Yoga flow, a strength workout and a stretch session.


Hopefully these will help to keep you entertained over the next few days and stop you seizing up at home!


Let me know what you think!


Keeping Sane in a Mad World

We are living in an unprecedented absolutely mad time, bringing a huge amount of uncertainty with it.

I’m not going to go too much doom and gloom as we’ve got the news for that, instead I want to look at some ideas to keep us busy whilst we are more confined than usual.

Firstly from what I understand you will still be able to go to the yard (because horses don’t feed or muck out themselves!) so why not use the opportunity to spend a little more time on grooming, maybe do some groundwork.

With competitions cancelled why not do some online dressage or showing? Or perhaps pay your instructor to give you feedback and things to work on from a video of you riding. 

Listen to some horsey podcasts. I really like 

  • Equiratings
  • Buck off Banter
  • Horse Hour
  • The horse podcast
  • Heels down happy hour
  • The pony podcast


Or read some training books.

I’m currently reading Carl Hesters Real Life Dressage. It is really easy to read and full of useful nuggets for training horses whether you are riding dressage or not. 

I also really enjoyed Mary Wanless Ride with your mind and Rider Biomechanics.

Spend some time at home working on your own fitness, 

Set up your phone to see yourself ride in 3 gaits on both reins then watch it back to see whether you notice any asymmetry. You can then look at ways to improve those asymmetrys off horse whilst your at home.

Work on your general riding fitness. You can do some great workouts from your living room, I find Yoga and Pilates helpful for riders as it increases both mobility and stability as well as improving body awareness-which goes a long way to improving any problems you do have on horse. 

Or for more general fitness but with an emphasis on riding, work on your glutes and hips for your seat, your shoulders for rein contact and obviously your core.

What are you planning to do to help pass the time in any lock down?

Are there any topics you’d like me to cover to help get you through?


A system for schooling yourself

I was reading an article in Horse & Hound titled William fox-Pitt masterclass. 

In the article William discusses how he structures his flat work sessions into 3 10 minute slots comprising of:

  • Warm up
  • Suppling
  • Movements & Discipline 

Which got me thinking about how I structure my Equestrian Fitness Classes.

Usually they go like this: 

  • Warm up-Yoga Flow
  • Suppling-Pilates based exercises 
  • Movements & Discipline-Rider specific exercises perhaps breathing or alignment work.

Then every 4th week we have a stretch week.

Then I thought maybe the system would be useful to structure other workouts.

For example gym strength sessions could be:

Warm up-general movements, opening hips and shoulders, activation of muscles about to be worked.

Heavy lifts-The big compound movements such as Squats, Deadlifts, Pressing etc.

Accessory work-Single leg work, Core and Smaller muscle upper body work.

Or perhaps:

Warm up-General movement patterns, gentle raising of the heart rate. 

Cardio-Run, Cycle, Row etc

Core work -Plank variations, rotation work etc.

What do you think? Does this sound like a workable system to you?

Let me know if you find this helpful!


Equal Rein Contact

Rein contact symmetry is a massive thing. It can affect your horse's straightness, how well you apply aids and also how well he is able to come into a contact.

A good rein contact comes from stable shoulders and back,if the shoulders aren’t stable the biceps, chest and forearms will brace to hold the rein which will create tension. Soft hands come from stable shoulders.

Of course it doesn’t just stop there…..we want them to be as equally stable as possible-no good having a great right hand and a flappy left one!

Working on your shoulder stability off horse is a great idea.

 In the gym things like Single arm rows either kneeling on a bench or standing using the cable are great. It is important to slow the move me down and really feel the shoulder and back working rather than letting the biceps do the work.

Kettlebell or Dumbell Windmills are a great shoulder stabiliser, as are bottom up kettle bell press-they’re tricky too!


At home with a band, or in the gym with a cable, single arm dumbwaiters are great for learning to take the arm away without losing the stability.

Sometimes I like to do these exercises in a half squat stance or standing on a wobble board, sat on a gym ball etc. The reason I like to add something else Is that I find I can concentrate on my shoulders on their own but add in a horse and it falls to pieces; so I need to learn to control my shoulders whilst using other muscles.


On horse I find trying to focus on keeping your elbows equal helps to maintain an equal amount of contact in each arm.

Also “closing your back armpit “ switches on the back muscles to further stabilise the shoulder area. 

Try these out and let me know if you can feel the difference.


Nicola x