When I was eight years old I sold my Scaletrix racing car track to buy my first pony, and riding has been my passion ever since. I was a GB talent spotting finalist in the mid 90s and competed nationally and internationally as a GB Young Rider. Completing my Law degree I continued to ride and train dressage in the UK, Mexico and South Africa before returning to England to settle down in the beautiful Sussex countryside at Belmoredean, West Grinstead. I was trained classically from an early age and have continued training with various elite trainers including Emile Faurie and Conrad Schaumacher.
For me there's nothing more satisfying than training a novice horse through to Grand Prix. Of course it's nice to win at a competition too - winning the Hickstead Masters was a great day! At present I ride a few selected horses in my stable ranging from novice to Grand Prix and spend the majority of the day training clients.
Educating a rider to train a horse in dressage is very rewarding when results start to happen. Having been a British National trainer, an under 21's trainer and British Dressage Young Riders Dressage Scheme trainer, it's been fantastic to help some riders reach their potential.
Keeping it simple is my number one priority! Dressage can sometimes feel like rocket science due to the vast amounts of variables that can be affected…but it doesn't have to be like that!
The clearer the level of communication between trainer, rider and horse, the more effective the training.
I start training the rider on how to educate the horse to respond to the aids in an effective manner. Once the horse clearly starts to understand the application of the rider’s aids, a clear, simple yet flexible system needs to be put in place. This system needs to be based along the lines of ‘the scales of training’. With rider consistency this helps to improve the horse’s gymnastic way of going and muscular strength. In time this will allow the horse to perform the movements required at specific levels required in dressage and unleash the horse and rider’s full potential in line with realistic expectations.
What can I do to improve my riding?
The rider’s physical and mental wellbeing is crucial to training. Leaving any emotional baggage and stress at the mounting block is essential if you are to have a productive training session. Being physically fit and cross training off the horse will help your effectiveness on how to apply your aids at the right time for the right reason helping to make your seat more independent. Cross training really helps for balanced core strength and to lose the muscle memory that riding may induce making for stiff shoulders, hips and hamstrings. Educating and making the rider mindful of their body, fitness and health (I became so interested in riders' fitness that I qualified as an international personal trainer in 2012).
How can I improve my horse’s way of going?
The horse’s mental and physical wellbeing is the first thing to examine. Just because a certain routine and feed works for one horse doesn't mean it will work for another! Make sure the tack is correctly fitted and the horse is pain free. Specific management of the horse to achieve the goals that you want to achieve is paramount to success. Understanding your horse’s needs will improve muscular and mental development e.g. turnout, nutrition, recovery time, hacking and the right bit. Remember that not all horses are born to be successful competition dressage horses but most horses can be trained to improve their dressage ability and enjoy their training!
Why am I not seeing results quicker?
Train, train and train some more! (and remember to rest in between!) Consistent, correct training and setting realistic short term goals will help with progress.
What can I do to stop getting nervous at competitions?
This is a state of mind. If you've done your work at home and practice what you do every day in the warm up arena you should be fine! Of course horses are unpredictable but that's what makes it interesting! Top Compettion riders have a cool attitude! One mantra that I really teach (and try to follow!) is this... ‘If you continuously compete with others you become bitter, but if you compete with yourself you become better!’
I really want to do dressage to music but don't know where to start. Can you help?
Yes! I work closely alongside music composer and producer Nick Reeve to devise choreography and music from prelim to international Grand Prix level, having repeated sucess at all levels. We run DTM clinics regularly here at Belmoredean or can hold them at another venue if enough people come together (some riding clubs organise this). It starts with me devising a bespoke floorplan for you according to the level that you wish to compete at, finding all the movements that you enjoy and incorperating them into the required movements. Nick will then take your horses tempo in all the gaits, video you and discuss your musical tastes and what themes may suit you and your horse. We can also organise a music licence for you.
+ Nick Reeve - Dressage to Music
+ Belmoredean Dressage
Some riding clubs hold DTM classes, also there are Affiliated dressage classes for DTM. We are trying our first unaffiliated music class here at Belmoredean's unaffiliated dressage series in August 2014.
"if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got!"
Keeping the complicated simple