Novice / First Level

Raffles is now 5 years old, and developing beautifully! Follow our training and learn how to build up medium paces and get that ‘magical feeling’ when your horse is truly connected and swinging along. Each season features a test analysis so you can see Raffles real-life progression and the secret to gaining those all important marks at a competition!

Novice / First Level

5yo Raffles is developing beautifully! Follow our training and learn how to progress with your horse.

Start your adventure here!

Spring Season

Our theme this season is 'adjustability' as we begin to develop 'medium' trot & canter. Learn how get your timing right to enhance your horse's paces and get that 'magical feeling'!

Download our quick reference cards for each lesson to keep you and your horse on track!

Spring 1 - 5 Thumb
Spring: Lesson 1

Canter Warm-up

Learn how to stretch your horse in canter to develop 'throughness'.

Working through the back, or 'throughness' is essential for all dressage exercises. It not only enhances the way of going, but some exercises just won’t actually be possible to perform without working through the back so for example walk - to canter transitions which start to appear at this level.

A long time ago I realised that the best engaged horses are actually race horses. If you watch the jockeys at the start of the race, the reins are bridged over the horses neck, and the horse is totally engaged. You can see the back opening and the horse coming through from behind - and as the horse’s back is free, he’s able to use it much better.

I put this cantering exercise into my training and it really works. I use it regularly with clients of all levels and as part of my warm-up routine. Once you learn how to do it, you can really encourage your horse to work through the back. The difference is amazing!

Novice Spring 2-1 Thumb
Spring: Lesson 2

Enhancing the Canter

Get your timing right and learn how to 'enhance' the canter.

Now that the canter is nice and loose and your horse is working freely through the back, we need to think about what happens when you then sit in the saddle with a full seat. Ideally the rider should 'enhance' the canter, and swing along with their seat, but a lot of riders struggle to figure out how to follow the motion of the horses’ canter - let alone ‘enhancing it’!

This lesson is in two parts: firstly you will learn how to feel for the 'standing phase' of the canter with your outside seat bone and follow the motion with your seat. Then you will learn how to feel foe the 'landing phase' of the canter, and how to follow that motion with your hands to allow for your horses neck to lengthen.

You will see how this exercise then develops more engagement from your horse and ultimately we can then demonstrate self-carriage by giving and re-taking both reins in the canter.

Spring 3-5 thumb
Spring: Lesson 3

Lengthening Trot

Learn how to straighten out the kinks your hose pipe!

At this stage we’re not looking for fully fledged 'medium' strides just yet. To explain, medium trot is a further of development of lengthening which comes later in the program once a degree of collection has been established. It is important to learn how to build these paces up correctly - in the right order - so first all we need to start with lengthened strides.

What we’re looking for are longer steps ridden with good impulsion with your horse in a longer frame as your horse reaches out and covers the ground. The all important 'impulsion' that we need comes from powerful bending and stretching of the hip and stifle joints which takes time to develop - so we will be working on a circle which makes it easier to maintain the balance

You will probably never seen or ridden this exercise before - and you are in for a treat! We will be using 'neck bend' (yes we're allowing it, but for this exercise!) to position and then yield the shoulders in and out on the circle. You will see there will be a 'magical moment' where the alignment is perfect - the movement flows forwards  and you just feel like you have this amazing power under you… it's a bit like straightening out the kinks your hose pipe!

Novice Spring 4-5 thumb
Spring: Lesson 4

Lengthening Canter & Test Analysis

It's time to put our training to the test!

This lesson is in two parts, firstly, we will be repeating the previous lengthening exercise but this time in canter. Remember these exercises should be developed gradually in stages throughout the whole season, so please take your time - it is a mistake to rush ahead to the lengthening strides until you are fully in control of the shoulder positioning and are correctly aligned and straight on the circle!

Once you have that 'magical feeling' where you have created that wonderful power underneath you, then we can start to adjust the length of the strides. The aim is build the canter strides up so they are  getting bigger... and bigger and bigger - not to suddenly shoot your horse off which will result in a flat hollow unbalanced canter!

Finally we will be taking you through a Novice 23 test analysis with lots of tips and advice which are applicable to all tests at this level. You will also see how beautifully Raffles is progressing in real-life and how he gets on contesting his debut Novice test out at a competition. Enjoy!

Downloadable Quick-Reference Cards

Lesson:Canter Warm-up

First shorten your stirrups a few holes so that you can stand up - like a jockey!
Bridge your reins across your horses neck to give you stability.
Once in canter 'roll your wrists' to encourage your horse to soften and flex at the poll.
Your aim is to lower the neck and feel the back lifting as your horse becomes rounder.
Build up gradually and when you feel a 'release' change the rein.
REMEMBER:
Video yourself so that you can see for yourself the difference in your horse's way of going.

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This program is currently in progress

Each season will be added as we progress in real-time through the year. The complete program will be available to buy at the end of the year. Meanwhile you can join our membership to get access to the lessons which are already live. Enjoy!

Lesson:Shoulder-Fore

Sit up tall and turn your body slightly inwards.
Use your outside rein to counter flex to move the shoulder in.
Use your inside rein to change the flexion to the inside.
Use your inside leg to swing the inside hind leg under you.
Work up and down the track and repeat in trot and canter.
REMEMBER:
At first you might be a little wobbly so build up the strides gradually.

Lesson:Shoulder-Fore

Sit up tall and turn your body slightly inwards.
Use your outside rein to counter flex to move the shoulder in.
Use your inside rein to change the flexion to the inside.
Use your inside leg to swing the inside hind leg under you.
Work up and down the track and repeat in trot and canter.
REMEMBER:
At first you might be a little wobbly so build up the strides gradually.

Lesson:Shoulder-Fore on 20m Circle

Start in walk in 'shoulder-fore' on straight lines on a diamond pattern
Progress to trot in 'shoulder-fore' on straight lines on a diamond pattern
'Create bend' using your inside seat bone and inside leg
Maintain the 'shoulder-fore' positioning on the 20m circle
Reward by stretching in the trot and repeat on the other rein
REMEMBER:
Keep your horse's shoulders on a slightly smaller circle than the hind quarters in 'shoulder-fore'.

Lesson:Less is More

Start in working trot. If your horse slows down, let the mistake happen
Ask politely for trot with a squeeze of your calf
If the response is inadequate, give a sharp kick behind the girth
Practice 'pretend halts' down the centre line keeping your horse forward
Gradually add walk transitions and progressively longer halts
REMEMBER:
Take your spurs off and give the reins to allow your horse to space to react - it doesn't need to be pretty!

Hey, you've got great timing!

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