Be a Better Rider – Start Now!

Are you interested in getting ahead with your riding, but you feel like you are riding around in circles (literally)? Would you like to have efficient training sessions as well as have a set of proven training tools and techniques to ‘ramp up’ your development?

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  1. Free video outlining specific equitation comments and corrections.
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Thank  you, Thank you for commenting Thank you for taking the time to be a participant rather than a silent reader. Your input is important and we welcome you into the discussion. If you have something you would like to see here… Then please let us know. This blog is successful due to people like you. Thank you. Join the Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Network and get tips on healthy living directly to your inbox. Now is the perfect opportunity to sign in and sign up. Besides getting horse training and showing secrets sent directly to your inbox you can recieve a free video analysis of your riding and horse from a senior judge for free (regular $30 so don’t delay!)Put your email in the form and you will get your free analysis.

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Thanks and see you soon. ~Laura

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Getting Things Done

Finnhorse Teppo jumping

We Had a Long Winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After, what seemed to be, a very long winter we went out for a ride last evening. It was a warmish afternoon and the road was soft and ice free.

I thought ‘finally, some decent weather’. What I realized then was I was letting something get in the way of my riding. And I realized this can apply to anyone. If you really want to get somewhere with your riding, or your life for that matter, you can not let things, no matter how big or small, get in your way.

 Overcoming Obstacles

If we really want to get somewhere, we will find the means to get there. Making excuses will not help us get to our goals.

For example, of you would like to show but do not own a trailer to get you and your horse to a horse show. If you really wanted to show you would find a means to get to the site. You

English: A horse trailer, back door open. Fran...

If You Would Really Like to Do Something You Will Find a Way. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



  •  Invest in a truck and trailer
  • Buddy up with a friend
  • Hire a truck and trailer
  • Or other ways.

If we REALLY would like to do something we will find a way to do it! If we think we may like to do it or try it, then we will find excuses not to do it if things get a little tough. I thought I wanted to ride, but the frigid temperatures put a damper on things. So I guess I really didn’t want to ride.

Now the warm weather is here and I will find fewer excuses.

If you find yourself making excuses, take a step back and evaluate why. Are you:

  • Just Making excuses because you don’t really want to?
  • Afraid?
  • Happy with your current situation?
  • Not willing to put the work in to progress?

Once you decide what it is you can take action to rectify the situation.
What excuses do you come up with to not do the things you like to do?

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First Impressions in the Show Ring are Important

hunter judge expert, how to judge hunters, hunter judge

First Impressions are Important

As a Judge I have had the opportunity to sit on the sidelines of many shows. From development/training shows to national and international events. And even though you may have the best horse, trained the hardest and spent the most effort, your first impressions are important.

Just think of how you feel when you are sitting at a restaurant and the server places a plate of food in front of you. Your first impressions of that food is important. The plating, the color, the way the plate is turned correctly toward you. It all has a bearing on how you perceive that food. I remember my son commenting on a soup as looking, “like swamp water”. This was not a good start to his meal. (BTW it was delectible spinach chowder!)

It is kinda the same when judging at horse shows. The judge makes up their mind within the first few seconds of the round. From the ingate to the first fence could make or break your round.

What the judge is looking for
Take a look at these links to help you understand what the judge is looking for:

Do you make judgments on your first impressions? I invite you to email me to tell me how you overcame a ‘bad first impression’.


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Florida in February

I have had the priveledge to travel with some friends to Florida. It has been a great experience and in a word what I feel is -it is “doable“. If you want to that is.

When I thought about riders going to Florida I thought about the professional riders with strings of horses and bags of money to invest in such a venture. But the reality of what I saw was different. 1425731392114-1796311164There are professional riders, but there are also riders who have stretched their growth and include their trip to Florida as part of their athletic development.

Where I come from, the great white north called Canada, specifically Ontario, was experiencing the coldest winter on record an riding was difficult due to the EXTREME cold. These riders were benefiting on many levels. They are developing their horses, their riding, their networks and they miss the minus thirty Celsius weather for 5 weeks while they are here.

When Ruth Allum of Oakhurst Farms invited me I thought, OK I’ll do it. It has been something I had been thinking about for a while. Well, dreaming about more like but never actually pulling the trigger on it. Arriving in Florida After an early morning snow storm which lead to delayed flights we arrived safely in Florida.


First Impressions

The first thing I noticed, beside the beautiful temperatures, was the Spanish moss which hung so elegantly from the branches of the huge trees. Something from the covers of those trashy paperbacks.

14257315514182030679132 As we wound our way through the suburbs the landscape opened up into brown rail fencing. This was horse country. There were humble stables with horses dotting the lawns to magnificent manicured fields, jump courses and dragged dressage rings. Something for everyone! That is the point isn’t it.

You can, if you have the means, greet to Florida if you chose to.

My issue is I always thought it was something everyone else did. Not something which I could do but rather for people who were better than me. What I see now is it is obtainable. It is doable and it is for people exactly like me!

The problem is I waited about 20 years before I realised I could do it. So I’d you are oh the fence about taking the plunge to go to Florida… In those words by that famous show company… Just do it. And for heavens sake don’t wait for ever,like I did. Know you are good enough and you do belong and by taking these steps you are moving out of your comfort zone to grow your experiences and improve.

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Riding for Success- Pay Attention To The Details

You may have seen me in the judges box. From local shows to national level competitions, when you are on the other side of the fence you have to make a decision quickly, fairly, and be objective.

Some judges can say they can predict a competitors performance before they complete their round and often even before they get into the ring. I’m not talking about incessant boot polishing or hoof shining but rather the partnership the horse and rider have.

What the Judge Sees

be a better rider program

Correct the simple Things

The judge is paying attention and when I see a horse standing and waiting attentively on their rider it sets a tone for the rest of the ride. Compare that to a horse which gets jerked in the mouth by a less than competent rider. What kind of flavour does that leave with the judge?

We Are Always Training Ourselves and Our Horses

You can not handle any horse without

keeping calm at horse shows, staying focused at horse shows, winning at horse shows, what the judge is looking for

Do not Accept the Unacceptable

influencing it in some way. My advice is to guide your horse toward the behaviour you would like and reward it, rather than punishing for a behaviour you do not want. Make sense?

Studies have shown it takes eleven repetitions of a good behaviour to replace a bad habit. For example, if your horse has shied or balked at a pole rather than stepping over the middle of the pole, it will take 11 times going over the middle of the pole before the horse will ‘forget’ about trying to balk at the pole.

I encourage riders to make a decision to ride for success and be mindful of what is happening and catch it before it becomes an ingrained (bad) habit. Each time we spend on the saddle or with our horses on the ground we are influencing them. Use these instances as a training opportunity. Do not accept something which is unacceptable. A small correction not performed can escalate into a ‘big deal’ when under pressure at a competition or horse show.

Think of these instances which some people accept but often lead to future issues of control:

  • Leaning into you while being lead… Often progresses to circling around you. This is dangerous as your horse does not respect your space.
  • Rooting and pulling on the lead rope. This often translates to pulling on the reins and grabbing at the bit.

Correct the little things and do not accept the things which are unacceptable. By performing simple corrections you will be laying the foundation for improved performance from yourself AND your horse.

What have you been accepting from your horse which is in acceptable? Leavea message. Maybe we can help!


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