Making Mistakes is OK. “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.”

If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.

John Wooden

This is how you should feel about horse training. I understand you would like to have everything perfect, everything correct and everything go according to plan. Well, sometimes things don’t happen that way. Especially, by the way, when you are riding and training horses.

Are you familiar with the phrase – no pain, no gain? This is a similar saying. If you are

Navy shadbelly with white gloves, tall boots, ...

Navy shadbelly with white gloves, tall boots, and spurs: note the yellow points and tails. The horse is performing dressage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

getting stronger you feel it by the stiffness in your muscles. If you are always training the same pattern, the same circle and accepting the same gait from your horse you will never progress.

How does this relate to horse riding and training?

How did you learn to walk? Everyone did it. You get up, you fall. You get up and wobble, you fall. You get up, you take a wobbly first step, you fall. You get the picture? There is a sequence. A progression which usually ends with a mistake or fail.

When I am asked to teach at a stable or give a clinic I do my best to find the starting point of the people who invite me and then work forward from there. Sometimes it is demanding more from the horse and sometimes it is demanding more discipline from the rider.

Making a Mistake Isn’t Necessarily Wrong

For example, if you are asking your horse to lengthen stride at the trot and your horse

English: Image from book Horsemanship for Wome...

English: Image from book Horsemanship for Women by Theodore Hoe Mead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

steps into a canter. Do you get angry because s/he broke? I say no. The horse obviously understood going forward was required but misunderstood or didn’t know lengthening was an option. 

This is a mistake, stepping into a canter rather than lengthening the stride, so this, to me, is the starting point for assessment. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Did my horse understand what was being asked?
  2. Does my horse know how to lengthen stride?
  3. Am I giving the horse the correct aids?
  4. What do I need to do to give my horse the skills to perform correctly?

Then you can move on from here.

When has making a mistake changed or uplifted your riding?

I think the point is to also learn from your mistakes and improve upon them. I remember teaching my horse collected canter. His canter was excellent and I could canter all day. I, however, wasn’t satisfied with this. I felt there was a better canter hidden in there.

So i decided I would collect the canter. The first time, can you guess what happened? yup… he totally fell into the most fast paced, on the forehand trot and almost pulled my arms out of their sockets. That was a mistake. Rather than lifting himself up and collecting the trot, he fell into a discombobulated trot.

I didn’t give up.

I didn’t say – he can’t do it (never say can’t).

What I did do was regroup and retry with a better understanding of what my horse required. Did he understand? Was I asking him correctly? Can he physically do the exercise? And did he try for a moment and then break into the trot.

After a few attempts he did get 1/2 canter strides. Then I included the exercise in my regular program, after a month the collected canter became part of the ‘tools’ of my riding program.

Moral of the story… if you are not afraid to make a mistake… you won’t move forward with your riding/training. If you are not pushing your boundaries then you are standing still, not progressing, not doing.

I am positive a doer makes mistakes.

I second that and people who progress and succeed also make mistakes and are not afraid to make mistakes.

Canadian paralympic rider, Karen Brain, school...

Canadian paralympic rider, Karen Brain, schooling her horse VDL Odette (Ahorn x Finette – Zuidhorn). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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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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