When you get the timing right the movements are effortless – Isi Brenner clinic report Sep 2015

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By , September 15, 2015 12:07 pm

Isabell Brenner, one of Steve Halfpennys’s Silversand / Light Hands Equitation instructors was over in Ireland for her second clinic in Tipperary. I met Isi a few years ago in Australia and was totally blown away by how beautiful a rider she is.

So when I met her again at her home in Germany last year at the Jeff Sanders clinic, I absolutely had to invite her to come to Ireland to teach.

She arrived last Thursday and we had fun doing some tourist things in Cashel, including helping a friend with a saddle fit issue, via SMS photos, while on a tour of the rock of Cashel (technology is great) which was pretty good multitasking!

We had a 3 day clinic then from Friday to Sunday, which was sold out before Isi left the country after her first clinic. It was great to see everyone back again to learn lots more. It was hard to believe how much work everyone got through all weekend. Saddle fit was much better this time around, and anyone who needed it borrowed my barok saddle or bareback pad, both which worked really well (especially the bareback pad) on a good few horses. Here is the story of how I got on with Ozzie.

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Continue reading 'When you get the timing right the movements are effortless — Isi Brenner clinic report Sep 2015'»

The hackamore and bosal / mecate review

By , September 14, 2015 2:14 pm

For two or three years now I’ve been going to clinics and watching some of the riders use a 5/8 hackamore and mecate. The hackamore is the part with the noseband and head stall. The mecate are the horsehair reins.

Jeff Sanders explains the origins:

“The hackamore is a braided rawhide nose band (bosal) with a mecate attached for reins that has traditionally been used by Vaqueros for starting young horses. The bosal part of the hackamore comes in varying sizes depending on how far along a horse is in its training. A young horse will be ridden with a larger bosal than one that has been transitioned to the two rein. With a two reined horse a smaller bosal goes under the bridle and helps the Vaquero to transition slowly to the use of the bit.”

Last November at a clinic in Germany, all the horses were wearing these, mainly 5/8 sizes which is the one you begin with, and to be honest the level of horsemanship they were displaying was beautiful. While a great horseman will ride well in any gear, I was curious to know why these people seemed to prefer the hackamore to a rope halter.

One kind lady explained that the hackamore was like a more subtle rope halter. You can do small movements and the horse will still feel them. That sounded good to me. The more subtle my aids can be the better.

It works on pushing the horse, instead of the rope halter which involves a greater pull action. The rider needs to have very good & sensitive hands to use one. It’s not a beginner / intermediate rider tool. If it goes wrong it goes badly wrong.

As these are quite a sophisticated tool, first I needed to get one made that was of a high quality and fit my horse exactly.

You can get ones that are stiff and soft. You do not want one thats really stiff.

When you hold both ends of the hackamore in your hand and squeeze then, you should be able to create a little wave in the hackamore (noseband) part. Too stiff = not good.

You shouldn’t buy these in a shop, they have to be handmade for your horse.

You not not want a cheap one of these, as its likely to start hurting your horse if the quality is not perfect. Do not go down that road.

My German friends recommended Micha in Germany (there is 4 month waiting list). I contacted Micha, figured out colours and then got to measuring my horses head. The hackamore should be snug, but not too tight.


With everything set, I left it with Micha and about 3 months later I got a message to say it was completed. Once week after that it arrived in the post!



When you’re hackamore arrives, you MUST get someone experienced with hackamores, like Steve Halfpenny or Isi Brenner (both teach in Ireland once or twice a year), to fit it for you the first time, show you how many wraps it needs and how to tie it, and also then you teach you the technique about how to ride in it.

Do NOT get a hackamore / bosal if you cannot meet all this criteria as otherwise you’re walking yourself straight into serious problems.

Here is a video about how to tie the mecate to the hackamore.

So a week ago Isi came over, fitted the hackamore on my horse and we had our first ride.

I really had to focus to move my hands a lot less and be waaaaay more subtle. My horse is very sensitive, but he had no problems in it at all.

At the beginning, we just walked around with it, while I rubbed his neck to relax his body and mind while he got used to the different feel (note – he is used to working in a halter so its very similar. It is not that similar through to a bridle).

Looking forward to doing more with it!


Horse hair analysis and the food changes adventure

By , August 31, 2015 3:07 pm

A friend of mine had reported very good results after she got her horses hair analysed, and then changed her horses feeding. So I decided to give it a go and track my progress here. First up I put a little mane hair in an envelope and posted it off to Rose. My horse is outside all the time, eats old pasture grass and has a mineral block. He’s healthy and has 1 sarcoid.


Low in vit B, hind gut not working as well as it should and overall a bit acidic. So I was directed to get the following.

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So he’s going to get 2 meals a day from now on, also including speedibeat and TopSpec anti-lam. Most of the products in this picture are just for 2-4 weeks only. Rose also suggested I get a mojo band and he’s living out near a telegraph pole. I have no idea if it’ll work but I got one for myself too and will report back.

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I will be doing 2 feeds each day, but will start with 1 feed a day for today & tomorrow.

Aug 31: Evening only feed. Dinner #1 went well. Oz sniffed and tasted it for a minute, then ate it and licked the bowl.

Aug 31: Loved his breakfast.

ANALYSIS #2 and #3

Got the hair sample back from our other 16.3 horse. Different things to fix, including low copper, vit E & selenium, low omega 3 and omega 6. She also said hes shows a little arthritis in his base of neck & lumber area. So have a list of things to get, but not as many as Oz!

I also sent away my hair. But I am un-testable!! My energy wasn’t compatible. 😀 I guess I’m off the charts in either a good or a bad way lol!

Sep 3: Day 2 feeding our bay horse, day 3 feeding Ozzie. Oz cantered up when he saw the bucket. Quite funny.

Sep 3: MOJO bands update. I feel the exactly the same. No obvious changes in my horse. But according to the sleep cycle app on my phone, I’m sleeping a lot better!

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Sep 17: Food update

– Top spec and anti lam twice a day, ongoing and can do this forever.
– Kidney & spleen tonics – to use for 1 month. One will last the month, the other will last about 3 weeks as both horses are getting it.
– Myogard – 2 weeks. Finished now, all good.
– Transit – 2 weeks or ongoing. I have half a tub left so I’ll keep going.
– Shy Feeder vit b for 4 weeks. Half way through so will keep going.

Work on feeling the changes in your horse – Jeff Sanders UK clinic Aug 2015

By , August 31, 2015 11:37 am


This was a fantastic 2 day clinic at Lisas in the UK. Jeff was super. A lot of focus was on how the riders used their bodies, and also how aware they were of how they were using their bodies. Really fantastic to watch the changes and thank you for the hospitality! Jeff was wonderful and lots of homework in this blog post to work on. Anything that doesn’t make sense is 100% me.


– Using a whip / stick: Hold it upright straight up in the air, like you would hold a pencil. Before you use it, put all reins in other hand, so when you use the stick it doesn’t cause any unwanted rein mvt.

– Put your weight on the inside seatbone.

– To ask for piaffe you should feeling your body like you’re in canter, your core is going upwards and forwards.

– Walk a circle then move into sideways while keeping the same rhythm.

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How to use the reins: Continue reading 'Work on feeling the changes in your horse — Jeff Sanders UK clinic Aug 2015'»

A review of the Grandeur Barock Saddle Pad

By , August 24, 2015 5:07 pm

Finding myself without a saddle that fitted my horse, on the recommendation of German trainer & superstar Isabell Brenner, I decided to get a Grandeur bareback pad to ride in.

Here is their website (look for fellsattel) & a few pictures of their new models.

I managed to buy an older second hand barock style one from a friend in Germany.

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I had ridden in a best friend bareback pad a few years ago but didn’t like it much. Continue reading 'A review of the Grandeur Barock Saddle Pad'»

A wonderful saddle for a short backed, wide, flat horse – Deuber Espaniola review

By , August 24, 2015 4:52 pm

You may be familiar with my sorry story of buying saddles that don’t fit from saddle fitters that wouldn’t know one end of a saddle from another. You can read about my bad saddle fit drama here.

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During the process I learned a few things: Continue reading 'A wonderful saddle for a short backed, wide, flat horse — Deuber Espaniola review'»

“Soften your hands. No pulling.” Manolo Mendez UK report

By , July 29, 2015 3:43 pm

These are my quick notes from watching Manolo Mendez share his knowledge over 2 days in the UK. Manolo was the head rider at the Spanish Riding School in Jerez. He is known for his legendary ability to teach the 3 Ps – Piaffe, Passage & Pirouette. If anything doesn’t make sense its 100% my fault :) Manolo, all the riders & all of the horses were inspiring to watch.

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On the ground, get a relaxed walk, a relaxed trot and a relaxed canter.

Look for hard muscles or a lack of muscles along the vertebrae in the neck. Continue reading '“Soften your hands. No pulling.” Manolo Mendez UK report'»

“Get lighter. Do less. Keep the softness.” The Light Hands Equitation TRIPLE CLINIC REPORT

By , July 29, 2015 3:20 pm

These are my quick notes from watching Steve Halfpenny share his knowledge over 3 UK clinics. If anything doesn’t make sense its 100% my fault :) Steve, all the riders & all of the horses were so inspiring to watch.

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When the slack goes out of the lead rope, move the HQ out more to get the slack back into the rope.

When Steve does groundwork his hand is at about waist level quite often. Most students hands are a lot higher.

In groundwork, if your horses raises his head to go forwards or his nose gets near his chest when you back up, then you are pushing & pulling too much.

In groundwork if your horse is rushing, you can twirl the rope in front of him.

If you want to scratch your horse, scratch on his opposite side to the one you are standing on. Then he won’t push into you. Continue reading '“Get lighter. Do less. Keep the softness.” The Light Hands Equitation TRIPLE CLINIC REPORT'»

10 ways to remove sarcoids – and I hope one of them works!

By , July 28, 2015 12:23 pm

My poor horse has got a sarcoid on the inside of his off hind pastern. He’s 13 years old and this is the first one he’s got. I’m planning to keep a diary with pics of how I’m treating it in the hope its useful and I can figure out how to remove it. It’s like a round protruding warty bump. It’s not in a good place as he can hit it with his other hind leg, which is not good at all as you’re not supposed to disturb them as they can spread if you do.

Here is a list of things I’m planning to try:

  • Botanina cream (no change after one week or using cream only, but I should have used the wash as well)
  • 6 weeks of using human wart cream, no change really
  • 4 weeks of duct tape, no change really
  • 4 weeks of apple cider vinegar, no change really
  • Organic coconut oil, tried for about 2 days no change
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Crest toothpaste
  • Zoviraz
  • XXterra, also known as blood rot cream, found at my vet meds
  • Castor oil
  • Botanica wash & cream
  • Indian healing clay, calcium bentonite mixed with apple cider vinegar
  • Photo July 9th:

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    Continue reading '10 ways to remove sarcoids — and I hope one of them works!'»

    The one piece of tack I changed which dramatically transformed my riding posture

    By , July 4, 2015 10:03 am

    After a number of cowboy Irish saddle fitters sold me a saddle that didn’t fit my horse and made him sore, or checked an existing saddle I had and confirmed it was fine (and it also made my horse sore!) I’ve temporarily given up riding with saddles. I’m not riding in anything that hurts or pinches my horse.

    But what to do in the meantime?

    Isi Brenner, the wonderful horse trainer who came over from Germany to teach this May, suggested I could try a bareback pad from a German brand called Grandeur. Continue reading 'The one piece of tack I changed which dramatically transformed my riding posture'»

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