“Do not tip toe around your horse” – Mark Rashid

By , December 24, 2013 12:32 pm


I learned a TON at this clinic. Time to grab a cup of tea, put your feet up and get into some really ‘does what it says on the tin’ horsemanship.

DAY 1: KATE AND GOU – wants to fix canter to trot transitions

Mainly done groundwork due to physical issues. Gorgeous Lipizanner!! This team have put in a TON of hard work in schooling and also health issues to get there. Super work & the horse just adores Kate ๐Ÿ™‚

Kate said she can get GOU into canter but to get him back to trot she needs to circle him on one rein a few times. She wanted to get him more relaxed and less anxious. He can also spook badly. GOU has had physical issues so most of theory done so far has been groundwork.

First up, Kate demos the canter to trot transition, using spirals to slow GOU down. Mark asks ‘ what’s you’re backup from halt like?’ GOU hasn’t done this much, first time was earlier this week. Some foundations were missing. If the stop is not good in walk and trot you won’t have a stop in canter. Also, GOU is not breathing when he canters. He is not enjoying cantering.

GOU was asked to backup. When he raised up his head, he got some slack in the reins and found a release, but this wasn’t the behaviour you want to encourage. The horse was a little confused. Also Mark said if you get an injury, youngest more protective of that area of your body in the future.

Then Mark explained something:

Imagine you’re walking down the street and you see a person who makes you feel unsafe or uneasy.

1. Your mind says its ok, we have laws, police etc, nothing will happen. Your body disagrees and goes on alert.
2. When a threat occurs, your body reacts. Blood rushes to your core, other systems not necessary at at time shut down, eg. Digestive systems. In this situation, you run away from threat.
3. Once you are free from the threat, your body stats to return to normal, through heavy breathing.
4. Then your body shakes, and then you area back to normal.

It’s easy to teach your horse to live In hypertension. Mark said he could work on the canter but there are other things he could do as well to help GOU out. There is a lot of brace in the horse. (tense muscles).

PLAN: work on the foundations. Beginning with Stop and backup.

– at halt, pick up reins. Am for a soft feel and then release.
– focus on the initial contact, so the horse doesn’t feel like he has to fight against it
– backup – use almost no pressure, but enough to complete the task. And inside the pressure is softness.

1st backup: release only when you get what you want.
2nd backup: HUGE improvement!!!

Tried a walk to halt. GOU braces when he stops.

When you backup you want the whole body to unlock, like it’s effortless. The horse will then be using his back end.

Mark emphasised more than once that the initial contact you make with the rein is CRITICAL. This will decide whether the horse will fight you or not.


Both of you hold the reins, one is the human, one is the horse. If one person let’s go, and the other persons hands move back, the other person was pulling. DO NOT PULL!! Try again until when then pretend horse releases, your hands do not pull backwards to you.

When you pick up the reins, do not put tension in your arms. Feel comes from inside of you. The inside of a person has to soften, to get soft feel in your hands, to soft feel in the inside of the horse to then show in the outside of the horse. How to start all of this? Breathe.


When you get up on your horse, do you feel a twinge of fear? Fear of riding, perhaps fear of not doing the right thing for your horse? Replace this with a feel of gratitude instead.

Deal with the inside of the rise, not just the outside of the horse.

What to do if a human or horse is pulling on you via a rope or rein. Mark demoed this many times today and pretty much amazed everyone. Think about moving your hands to the horse / human, but don’t do it. This actually makes it IMPOSSIBLE for someone to pull against you. Then you can move them in a direction.

TOP TIP OF THE DAY: to open any jar, turn it and EXHALE. The lovely Karen learned this from Mark 8 years ago and she swears its worked on every pasta jar since then ๐Ÿ™‚


– the initial contact, do not grab
– the feeling on the reins has to come from inside of you
– then think (only think!!!) about backing.
– when you’ve backed enough then think (only think!!!) of stopping

HALT: what the horse does after he stops his feet is as important as the actual stopping of his feet. You NEED a soft halt. The horse has been taught to stop braced. He gets a release for this. Only release after you get a soft feel, not just when the feet stop moving. After the halt, this horse instead of being soft, outs his head up in the air to get a release. (not what you want).

Someone only touching the reins can create a feeling of self defence in a horse.

Lovey work from GOU and Kate. Walk to halt with soft feel, then release the reins. Much better, tension in both horse and rider is reduced. Also Gous walk is now much more relate and slower than usual.

If you don’t give your horse something to fight against, he won’t fight.

There is strength in your muscles. You can fight strength. But there is power in softness. You can’t fight softness.

If you can change how the horse feels, you can change what the horse does.

A brilliant job by Kate & Gou. A super team, and what a horse!! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Gou looks different today. Relaxed & more setttled. He stretches his head down when standing still & pulls on the reins. Mark says ‘if you horse puts his head down low, hold just one rein. Then he can’t pull the reins out of your hands, instead he causes his own head to turn sideways, and doesn’t get a release.’ Good tip.

Nice walk & trot. Ooohh lovely trot there!! No rushing into canter. Easygoing, everything looks soft & nice.

Mark said – in rising trot, Kate is riding from her upper chest, this is taking Kate out of balance and onto the horses shoulders, tipping forwards. Kate has to rise from her core instead.

Transitions – don’t think of going from a walk to a trot. Think of going from a 4 beat to a 2 beat. Think of it in terms of rhythm. Wow another lovely relaxed trot!

“Don’t worry about how your horses transitions will look like. Instead just make sure you do YOUR transition like how you want it to feel.”

When Kate thinks ‘trot-walk’ (only thinks!!!) Gou’s body changes STRAIGHT AWAY.

Breathe out on upwards transitions. If you inhale and hold your breath on transitions, your horse will find it more difficult. When you do ANYTHING – breathe out.

Gou is now only using the muscles he needs to trot. He is not using any extra muscles. Gorgeous relaxed, soft trot!! This horse wants to work with his rider at a higher level. Nice trot, lovely transition, lovely forwards walk.

Currently, we are not talking about how much of an aid to apply. We are talking about how much to THINK about what we’d like our horse to do. From now on, we have to move on to HOW IT FEELS. Your mind has to kick into what your body already knows how to do.

If you can get your trot good, your canter will be easy. Do lots of speeds of trot. Get the trot fast enough to just below canter. Then slow down the trot, without picking up the reins. Gorgeous fast & slow trot there from Kate & Gou. Woohoo now we’ve got canter! Nice canter to trot, horse really trying. Kate has to remember to keep breathing. Gou just floated from canter to trot there.

Ride your horse with relaxation and your horse will last longer.

Don’t say – ‘my horse does x, y & z’. You’ve got to say ‘we do x, y & z’. The human has to take on some of the responsibility. Its not about blame or fault. It’s about figuring out what we can do to improve it.

Mark talked a lot about creating an opening and softness coming from inside.

EXERCISE: Softness from within

A line of 7 people were standing in a row holding hands. Mark was number 4, right in the middle. Three people on either side of him were pulling away from him. Mark softened and was able to pull the SIX PEOPLE back towards him!!!


Today Kate wanted more power from Gou, but not rushing. This horse has physical issues (kissing spines), and Mark said he may feel like he has to rush to stay balanced when trying to use more power.

TROT: Choose one hind foot. Think of getting one hind foot to reach under more to where you are sitting (easiest to focus on the inside hind when you are riding in trot). This should lengthen the stride – VERY nice!

If a horse is unbalanced, more rider leg will equal faster, not a more powerful gait. If you can get your more better balanced, everything else he will be much better able to do.

CANTER: Do a few canter strides then come back to trot, to encourage horse to mentally check in with Kate while in canter and not to zone out, and be mentally miles away when cantering. A good bit of time spent on this. Good on one rein, worked on the other rein. BIG improvement – just do 3 canter strides, then ask back to trot, then the horses was listening to Kate MUCH more in canter.

All horses will respond to a thought. Some may take longer than others due to how they were trained.

GORGEOUS big trot there from Gou.

Kate has to breathe out when she does transitions. 3 canter strides, then back to trot. Repeat lots of times. GREAT!! Kate is getting Gou to where he has to THINK. GO back to a slow trot or a walk in between canters, to make sure GOU relaxation level stays as it is. Get his energy level to drop & relax. Just got an amazing relaxed – TROT – CANTER – TROT – WALK there.

Brilliant stuff, an amazing partnership. GOU is WAY more relaxed in trot & canter, like a different horse. Gou is now thinking back to his human in all gaits.



The lovely fin who pretty much doubled the length of his stride today.


Horse can buck when you put your leg on. Wants to get horses mind going in a different direction. Horse not calm. Revved up, distracted. Leaning on the bit in the walk. Big brace in the horse.

Go give the hot a job to do and get him focused. Backup and soften. Currently in backup horse is fighting every step of the way. A few mins layer horse now starting to think. to walk, turn and then walk off (rather than put leg on). Don’t let horse get stuck. Look at where you are going. Made a big difference.

Do not release on halt if horse braced. Horse feels like he is in charge. But he doesn’t want to be and feels worried. Now- difference in horses feet in backup. More thoughtful. Everything is a fight right now. Turn, backup, walk….. This horse doesn’t understand. Frustrated and worried. Find one thing we can show him, so he can hang his hat on it, and we can build on it.

Backup softly – understanding is now beginning. This horse missed a few things in his foundation. Chestnut mares do not exist in US. Mark never heard of them till he came here. This horse is not good at stopping or going.

Q: In backup is there a brace or is the rider pulling on horse?
A: rider is pulling

Backup now feels thoughtful. The unwanted pattern is more installed in forwards but it’s fixable in there too.

The bit does not stop or turn a horse. It’s the knowledge of how to respond that does.

This horse wants to be with other horses. Like a baby horse under one year old. they can do what they like. At one it changes. Think of this horse as green and you need to fill in the blanks.


100% improvement on yesterday. The horse can hear you thinking. When Sarah thinks ‘walk’ you can see the horses body change shape before the rider does anything else.

Transitions: Do not use your hands. Think instead & they will happen.

– Thought by the rider
– Creates an opening for the horse & rider
– Creates softness in horse & rider
– Task begins

Teeth: Do not use powertools to file down your horses teeth and take away the rough surface on the back teeth. Your horse NEEDS the rough surface on his back teeth. Otherwise he has to change how he uses his back teeth and that will cause pain in the TMJ. This horse also has a ridge along his top teeth, which makes it harder to lower his head, as the lower teeth cant slide smoothly against them when his head lowers.

EXCELLENT dentist: Spencer Le Fleur – find & watch his DVD. Best in the world says Mark Rashid. Give it to your vet as a present I think was also suggested! NO POWER TOOLS.

Spencers website: http://www.advancedwholehorsedentistry.com/spencer-laflure/

WOLF TEETH & BITS: If you use a bit, remove the wolf teeth. Otherwise the bit can pinch the skin tissue between the wolf teeth & the next tooth. This is pretty sore for the horse.

Mounting block: Horse currently stands near the block an then moves his hindquarters away from the block, just enough that the rider can’t get on. This is learned behaviour. The horse doesn’t wake up every morning, turn to his neighbour and tell him how he is thinking of making your life difficult today. This move is something the horse was taught to do. In the past he got a release when he did it (rider takes focus on horse, steps down off mounting block, then asks horse to move in circles which he happily does). INSTEAD – do not let the horse walk forwards past the mounting black. If he moves straightaway ask him to reposition, do not take your focus off the horse, give him a release when he is moving where you want him to.

This is the same exercise Buck & Martin Black did over in Vegas to mount a horse from a high fence, & Steve does in Australia via blue barrels you stand on.

Make the right thing easy & the wrong thing difficult. OK, but what if they are both already difficult? Then make the right thing easier. There is not a punishment, there is just a redirection.


Is longlining. Transitions are fine. Drops the longlines on ground totally while attached to bit, so Mark says never do that, as it’ll only be fine as long as the horse doesn’t move. Longlines get put away.

In the saddle. When you pick up your reins, what does it feel like? When you pick up the reins does your horse give? Can you horse maintain that give?

– Pick up reins and the horse gives to pressure for split second
– Pick up reins and the horse gives to pressure for 3 steps
– Pick up reins and the horse gives to pressure for 5 steps
– Is the horse trying? YES – and that is what is important?

This horse is REALLY making an effort. Big change in this horse from day 1.

Very calm happy relaxed horse. Lovely trot. Horse can do tasks and feel good about himself.

SIDEREINS: Sidereins do not help teach you how to use your hands. The best tool is the human mind and body. If you don’t use these, you wont get any better.

STOPPING: Every time the horse stops (walk or trot) Sarah tips over onto the horses neck. Mark advises: ‘When stopping, soften your lower back, breathe out more hips with horses hind end, and then you won’t tip forwards in the stops.’

Soften your shoulders. Look for 5 soft steps in trot.

Get each gait right before you move onto the next gait. Mark spent 10 months at walk with one horse, 5 months at trot until the horse was ready (not braced) to canter.

Well done to horse & rider.


V nervous, jumpy spooky horse. Can’t be caught. Rescue. Horse could be stuck in stage 2 state of self protection. Trigger may be human, bridling, catching etc. Does horse breathe when he moves with human?

The horse is in a low level state of panic. Horse not breathing much. Looks like he’s hyper aware all the time. Solution: normally horses run far enough to where the horse physically has to start breathing. Nostrils flaring. Head drops whole body shakes. Then you have a different horse. Took mark 30 mins of fast work (20 mins one way 10 mins the other) on worst horse. Has defined 200 horses like this.

Horse at halt. Walking on top of human, brain miles away. Looks a bit dangerous for human, no control of horses feet.

Decision made to start at beginning: catching in small paddock. Everyone went outside to watch. Horse in paddock big enough to canter a few strides in part of it. Went from horse cantering around, head on outside trying to mentally escape, hindquarters on inside thinking of kicking mark, to very quickly, listening totally to mark, moving only a step at a time, mark yielding horses hqs to ask horse to turn he head to mark, to rubbing horses nose, neck, and horse reaching to mark to be rubbed while standing quietly and happy. After 20 min, owner went in and put on halter like normal horse. The horse wanted to change his behaviour so badly, just needed someone to show him how he could.


Looks scared, looking around, pushing on the human, worried, moving feet, unconfident, agitated and looking for guidance from the human.

Mark took the horse, and started to give him directions. He had to move when Mark walked, and he had to stop an arms length away from Mark and not try to walk over him. Mark explained this horse doesn’t want people tip toeing around him. It worries him, he is wondering what is wrong. This horse is taking control of the situation to keep himself safe. Instead we need to show him we are in charge and that he is safe.


The horse is not to walk forwards on his own. Mark says – look for a certain quality in every move. Its not about only doing the move. The horse is now started to get a bit more relaxed. Mark rests his hand lightly on horses noise to ask him to lower his head and reduce the horses heartrate. Mark just touches his head and the horse drops his head. Mark has this magical soft feel he can put through his hands.


When a horses head is high – the horse looks out of their lower eye, and sees a long distance.

When a horses head is medium height – the horse looks out of the middle of their eye and had a mid distance view

When a horses head is very low, they are looking through the top of their eyes and see close up.

If a horses head is high, he cant see what is very close and mid range, so a horse with a high head carraige is likely to spook at things close to him as he cant see them properly.

Big difference now in the horse that someone is helping him and giving him boundaries and instructions. His head is much lower, he looks softer. When asked he is now moving his feet instead of bracing his body and putting his head up.

Do not tip toe around your horse.

Mark leads him around in walk. Head is relaxed. Big difference in how the horses body looks.

Mark says this horse has had trouble, but hes not a troubled horse. The owner took the horse back. Straight back to the old patterns.. instead of leading with slack in the rope the owner has their hand right under the headcollar so they are right beside the horse. Horse starting now to walk on them, pushing into the owner like before. Mark helps out and then once the owner has a loose rein, and corrects horse when they decide to walk forwards on their own, suddenly big change, and the horse is now walking only when asked, looks calmer and stopping an arms distance from owner and not running them over any more.


Today Clare wanted to ride, and see if she could address the very bad spooking problem they have on hacks out on the road.

At the start, back to how it was – the horse is walking through pressure. Mark asks him to back up. Mark says to owner ‘if you ask your horse to backup, don’t backup somewhere that’s not safe – e.g. into the crowd of people’. You have GOT to be aware of your surroundings and keep your horse out of trouble.

Groundwork now better, rider gets into the saddle and does circles in walk at our end of the arena near the gate. Pony doesn’t like to walk near one wall, Tries to drift away from wall in walk, looks like hes thinking if shying away from it at speed given the chance. Instead Mark says – turn him the way he wants to go but then keep him in a small circle, changing direction, and put him back at the walk and walk past it again. So the horse gets to go his preferred way – for a split second – and the rider gains back control and get the horse back at the ‘scary’ wall again. Did this a few times and the horse stopped shying away from the wall. As Mark said, the horse doesn’t even know we’re working on this problem, and now we have it fixed. Much better!

After a while the other horse in the arena leaves. Our pony immediately starts to loose it, wants to bolt (if given the chance) after the missing horse. Mark says – ok, work up in the middle of the arena. Do not take one step closer to the gate for now. You can see when the horse starts to get near the gate we starts to rush & think about bolting. Its our job to keep the horse out of trouble. So we wont ride in the area when he is going to get himself in trouble now (near the gate).

So they so semicircles in the middle of the arena, and each time they are closest to the gate (still not that close) you can see the horse want to rush, but then the rider turns him away from the gate & the pony calms down again. Did this for maybe 10 minutes, slowly being able to get closer to the gate, without the the horse feeling like he had to bolt to the gate. After maybe 15 mins (ish) the horse could again walk the circle near the gate without any change in his body.

Mark explains again that you need to be aware of whats going on, and ride in a way that keeps your horse out of trouble, and and not just ride near the gate if its a problem, get your horse bolting and then have to deal with a much bigger issue.

Keep you horse our of trouble. Its easier to stay away from trouble than it is to get out of trouble.

About the hacking on roads, Mark says – this is a a rehab horse, this is not a pleasure horse. Owner cant expect to be able to go out on hacks with no issues. Owner needs to change how they ride. Its not able where you ride, its about how your horse feels about it, and how you can help your horse. You need to help your horse as the first priority. Thats more important than wanting to ride a certain route.

For this horse, Mark suggests to give him an ounce or 2 of magnesium oxide a day. You should see the effects after 2 weeks in a small horse. It works on the brain. Realigns pathways and thickens cell walls & nerves. You can get it from ‘horse tech’ in the USA. Useful to help fix a horse who is on edge or fractious all the time.

Also if its a feed issue, try vitamin B1, should change it in 24 hours, give it a go for 3 to 7 days. This breaks down carbohydrates before they get into their system.

This horse would currently hurt himself in order to protect himself. This is not good.


Someone asks about whether you should dismount if your horse spooks at something. Mark says – do whatever is safest, its all about safety.

STORY: They have lots of long bridges over fast water back at Marks home. These are not natural for the horse. The first time Mark approaches one of these on a young horse, if while the horse is walking towards the bridge, mark feels ANY slight hesitation from the horse (so the horse is at this stage forming an idea about not going over the bridge, but hasn’t yet made the decision), Mark jumps off the horse in a split second, the horse is still walking, and Mark leads the horse over the bridge on foot. Then Mark leads the horse back over the bridge on foot. Then Mark gets up and rides the horse over the bridge, and all the other bridges on his property after that. Its all over in 2 minutes. As Mark said, there are no many bridges he doesn’t have time to spend half an hour trying to get past each of them. The quicker you do it the easier it is. Do it BEFORE your horse makes up his mind that doing it would be a bad idea. Don’t make a big deal of it.

SUPER work with this horse. Truely a different horse has left after the three days. Whats lovely about this is 1) great patient owner and 2) a horse who has a very scared / spooky layer, but underneath you can see the horses nature is calm, relaxed, happy, and easygoing. Any time you can get through the spooky layer, the calm happy horse just comes rushing out to meet you.

AMANDA AND GREY: DAY 1 Baby, 33 rides to date. Worked on leg yield without using human leg! A lovely horse!

-Going to the left
-Think of right hind of horse to land under riders left foot

The horse is hesitating in steps as the riders top body (shoulders etc) are tensing up a little. Mark wants them to go in straight line down centre of arena. While there, leg yield a few steps left, then a few steps right, then a few steps left etc. when changing leg yield direction, rider should feel surge forwards of power from horse. But horse looking impulsion instead…. Mark says move your hands together to ask for new leg yield, not one after the other.

Question for all: if I only think of something, and my horse does it, then how much do I need to use my reins and legs?

Amanda does shoulder in, then straight forwards, then turn (don’t turn too soon).


Don’t over analyse. Feel instead.

Don’t jab with your hand when you pick up the rein. Be smooth from before the initial contact, otherwise it will cause a hesitation in the movement of the horse. Amanda was slightly tightning her shoulders and upper arms (firing of her muscles), which made his hands do a small sharp involuntary movement, tiny but the horse could feel it at the end of the reins & it caused him to hesitate.


Feel like your elbows are floating out and upwards from your body.

Get what you want by using less mechanics, (eg physical cues).

Horse is unbalanced on left corner. Ask for an inside bend in advance. Go around corner then the second the horse gets balanced rider her forwards. Connect backwards to forwards. Wow corners to the left just got WAY better, totally different now.

Super rider, gorgeous horse.



I think this pony is called ‘hug’ which would be pretty nice if it was true!

Ridden in bosal because of teeth issues. Amanda wants help on how to ride in the bosal.

Halt to backup. Horse leaning on the bosal a bit. Mark helps out.

Backup – rider is giving either no release, or very large releases. Instead give small releases instead.

Before the horse braces at halt, redirect this to something else. Help the horse not to lock up.

ICELANDIC CHESTNUT: DAY 1 Possibly the cutest thing you ever seen! Pushy, doesn’t know what to do, takes over.


On end of lead rope and belting around going a bit mental. Full of beans…. Didn’t yield out of humans space. Didn’t know what he was supposed to do.

Mark takes over. Groundwork. Horse to follow mark at walk and stay one arms distance from mark in walk and halt. Mark giving the horse boundaries and explaining how he should act. Very soon – much better halt when mark stopped, and not on top of mark. Starting to look more relaxed.

RESPECT V LEARNED BEHAVIOUR: A horse walking over you isn’t a lack of respect. It’s a learned behaviour.

-If you teach your horse something you want him to learn, and he learns it, then the horse is being respectful.
-if you teach your horse something you didn’t want him to learn, and he learns it, is he being respectful or disrespectful?

-If you teach your horse something you want him to learn, and he learns it, human takes praise as good teacher.
-If you teach your horse something you dont want him to learn, human takes no responsibility and puts blame on horse, calling it disrespectful.

Something not right there!!!!!!!! I love how mark explains stuff. Nail on head!!

With horses who need help, sometimes as a human you can’t just sit there. Step in and help them. Give them direction and they will relax. Mark told a funny story about this guy who every evening after work sat on his chair in his garden with big sandwich and 6 pack of beer. One day he buys 4 weather balloons fills them with helium. Attached them to his chair. Then sits in chair again, with 6 pack, sandwich and b b gun and starts to float up in sky. Wanted to watch his neighbours. Instead, goes too high and gets into LAX flight path. Eventually gets talked down. asked why he did it. Said he couldn’t just sit there!

Mark gives human exercise to relax. Work on foot and relax shoulders. Inhale min 4 steps, exhale min 5 steps. More if you can. You’ll have less trouble with your horse when you are less troubled yourself.

LOOKING AT HORSES HEAD WHEN RIDING – very interesting exercise

Two people stand side by side. Mark stand behind them, and puts one hand near the top of each persons back. He tells them to do the following and then tries to push their backs to see if he can move them:

Put head down, eyes down = can push them over easily
Put head up, eyes down = pushes over
Head up, eyes up = can’t push them over
Head down, eyes up = cant push them over
Head up, eyes up, think down = pushes them over
Head down, eyes down, think up = can’t push them over

It’s a lot easier to stay out of trouble, then to get out of trouble.

Don’t let your horse wander off mentally. It’s much harder to fix when your horses mind is gone, rather than when she is still thinking of leaving.

Do your work with a soft feel. No matter how long you’ve been riding. If you don’t know what a soft feel is, find someone and see it, then feel it.

In backup Icelandic really pushing hard on the bit.


Rider wants to work on downwards transitions without ending up on the forehand.

Walk to halt: Took a few steps, and was not soft, horses head was high.

Backup: Same thing, horse not soft (using more muscles that needed to go back & pushing on humans hands, braced in the front end) and head high.

Worked on both of these, much better.

Transitions: Remember to breathe! To ask for a transitions, breathe out and go.

Trot to walk: Release the rein BEFORE the horse walks so she floats into walk. Better.

Great job by horse & rider!


Nice walk to trot transitions.

HQ yield: Use your leg to touch one side of the horse, until the horse feels like he is going to yield his hindquarters away from that leg, then release STRAIGHT AWAY.

FQ yield: Backup a little to get the weight off the horses forequarters, then ask for a front leg to move out sideways. Back until the horse is not leaning on the bit.

Nice sidepass – WOW!!

Remember to breathe lol.

Super work this weekend from a great team and still can’t get over how adorable this HORSE is!!

JANET AND FIN THE BIG GORGEOUS CONNEMARA: DAY 1 One of the nicest horse rider combos you’ll meet, very talented indeed. Janet has to remember to ask for smaller cues, even just thinking about stuff is enough for this superstar horse!


Janet had a list as long as my arm of things she wanted to do. ๐Ÿ™‚ got most of them done too!

Demos halt-canter-halt, walk-trot-walk, canter-trot. Mark noticed Finn has very short strides. Janet is a bit tense in her body. This may be why the horse is a bit locked up in front.

Exercise 1: think about inside fore landing out in front of the horses nose. This makes an obvious improvement to fins stride immediately.

Currently this is happening: trot – mini halt, puts horse on forehand – walk
Mark wants this: trot – walk

Gait now much better, way bigger strides.

Now much better trot to walk without going on forehand halfway through. Mark says don’t use too much of your hands when doing a downwards transition. Horse already really listening to Janet, so she doesn’t need to. Then mark says ‘beautiful’. !!!!!
Go Janet!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Fin is doing everything Janet asks. If Janet wants something different, she’s got to ask differently. The biggie…. DO LESS.

Just think about it, and your horse (especially this horse) will do it. This horse is already there. Janet has to do less (smaller cues, some even just thinking) and catch up to where the lovely Finn is.

Lovely trot to walk. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mark says ‘he’s a really nice horse. He likes you and you ride him well’. If I was Janet I would have fainted at this stage ๐Ÿ™‚

Janet does a fast canter and brings it back to a normal canter well.

Mark remarks that the canter is a little laboured. Hind legs are moving in forward circle. Front legs are moving in forward circle. But because janets lower back is tight, she is moving in backwards circles, blocking the flow of the horses canter strides. so Janet has to relax her lower back. Your lower back goes from side to side in a figures 8, in all horses gaits. Also to improve your sitting trot, relax your lower back and you’ll find you can sit to it much better.

Exercise 2: Janet to canter while keeping her lower back soft. Stride lengthens, horse looks much softer. Brilliant session!!!


Walk looks much better, bigger strides.
How Janet presents transitions will be how Fin will do them.
Breathe. Nice trot to walk.
Transitions – don’t bump with reins to transition. Use less physical aids. More just thinking about them.

Extended canter. Fin is a little on the forehand. How to change this? Think about your weight going down into the saddle. Much better fast canter now.


Lateral work is loosing impulsion. But the horse already has got it.
Mark: Can you do lateral movement without using your leg?
Yes! Indeed they can lol. There is a small hesitation when Janet changes direction of the leg yield down the center line. The forwards between the two leg yields either direction is a little lacking in impulsion. Need to feel a surge forwards instead.

Leg yielding in trot now with no legs at all. Go Janet!!
Now leg yielding in canter with no legs (Janets legs that is) Brilliant!

You need to use hardly anything when you ride Fin. Even the current aids you are using, you will be using much less than these in 1 or 2 weeks.

Before lateral work, have good energy and impulsion in walk. If your walk is slow before lateral work, it’ll make it harder and your tense up your legs to keep him moving but this will actually slow him down.

Great work!
In lateral work, think of your horse pivoting underneath you.


Very sadly I had to catch my flight home so only got the first 15 minutes of this today.

Today Janet says she wants to piaffe. She shows Mark want shes done so far, walk, trot, shoulder in, ask for piaffe, trot on afterwards.

Mark asks her how slow will Fin trot? The answer is very slow.

So Fin trots slowly around the arena. Mark tells Janet to breathe. The issue Mark has identified is that Janet has to give Fin somewhere to go. He needs to move upwards to piaffe, but Janet is not breathing, her body is a little tense and Fin can’t move his body upwards. Otherwise, he has got no where to go.

Janet breathes and then there is less forwards… That’s it says Mark.

The deeper Janet breathes the easier it is for the horse. More there is more lift in the horse. There is nice balance & elevation. Piaffe was already there, just had to reduce the forwards and give the horse somewhere to go. WELL DONE SUPERSTARS!!

DAY 1: SUE AND HER LOVELY COB Great character, well able for anything, enjoys the easy life but well able to move when he wants. Great team here, super rider, determined, brave, consistant. Rider looking for more energy.


Wants to work on softness and impulsion. The horses trot is very lethargic, wanted to go back to walk. Stop not great. As Sue explained, it’s like trying to stop a ship at sea. It never happens immediately!

Mark walks beside the horse and holds the reins. Works on walk to halt. Does backup. Walk to halt getting much better. Mark remarks ‘well, if he couldn’t have done that, he shouldn’t have just showed it to me.’

Mark says to sue while horse is walking: think about stopping (but don’t do anything). Horse stops straightway twice in a row.


Before you ask the horse to do anything, you do it / think about it first. AFTER this, this you cue / ask horse to do it. So it’s think first, cue second. Not cue first and then wonder what to do when it doesn’t work. This is totally different to just using a physical aid.

To get your horse to walk out, you have to engage yourself. On the inside. It’s not just about physical aids. Human has to engage and make the commitment. Human has previously said she doesn’t like to go fast. But she also wants more impulsion. Bottom line, if she wants it, she has to make that commitment.

The horse reflects back what we are offering.

1. Think of what you want
2. After this, apply the aid if nothing has happened
3. Focus on what you want not on what your horse is doing

MUCH better walk. The rider now only thinks stop and the horse stops. Do not focus on what horse is doing, bring horse up to the level you want. No slow steps. Speed, direction and destination. Do not give up when the horse wants to give up.

Ask with a light leg to move on. Backup with stock if needed. Then enjoy faster walk. Repeat. Horse now moving out much better. Good feel from rider. Keeping walk and trot moving on. Human has to breathe and not to physically work so hard. Ask nicely once with legs. Then reinforce.

Woohoo the sunshine is out!!! Trot now consistently much better with rider and it’s reflected in the horse.


Walk: Better but still a bit lethargic. Mark asks Sue if it is the walk she wants. She says its better than normal. But Mark says – but is it what you want? Does it feel effortless. No. Mark explains the inside of the horse is not engaged. Something is holding the horse back. Mark isn’t talking about the speed, he is talking about how the horse feels.

Now – horse walking on, effortless. Say something to the horse when he starts to slow down, not when the fast walk has gone completely.

The rider is doing a great job, being consistent and persistent. Good work!

When you ride, don’t look down at your horses head. Look where you want to go. No slow steps. Nice trot, very energetic.

Very good stop. Horse really moving on nicely now, doing really well.

Don’t want to your horse about going. If you find yourself talking to your horse about what you want to do, change it – just go. Talking about it won’t help.

Be business like & catch his thoughts. Very good.

At this stage the horse is half trying to roll a little in the sand arena. Mark asks Sue to stop. He listens to the horses gut on both sides (ear to the horses sides). One side is making noise, the other side if quiet. Mark thinks the horse may have a touch of colic.

He just doesn’t look quite right now. I felt so sorry for Sue. They ended the lesson there, and Sue kept an eye on her horse then outside.


Horse back in. Still suspected colic, doesn’t look quite right yet. Now not many sounds from guts on either side of horse. Mark said he’s not right and he would prefer to call it a day and not work with him.

Horse retired, but made it home safely and is fine.


The two lovely ladies, Kas & Janet are standing facing the crowd. They raise their arms up above their heads. The crowd looks at the space between their arms & their heads. Janets is not too bad, Kas has a lot of space as she is recovering from whiplash and is a bit tight in her upper body.

OK, so now Janet & Kas face each other. They hold each others right hand. Then then lean back for stay like that for 30 secs. (You can go up to 1.5 mins when you get used to this). Remeber to breathe out. Let your shoulder come out of its socket.


Then they walk a step or two closer to each other, and lean out to the side, still holding each others right hands. Hold for 30 secs to start with. Pull side to side. Breathe.


Then let go of your hands. Stand back to back. Hold right hands again. Now lean out to the side for another 30 seconds. Breathe!

RESULT: Both ladies stand in front of crowd and raise their arms above their heads. Their rights arms now go higher than their left arms.

Now, when you’ve done these three moves, do them all again using your left hands.


RESULT: Both ladies stand in front of crowd and raise their arms above their heads. Both arms now go up higher and the space between their arms and their heads has decreased.

Both said it felt much better, including poor Kas with her whiplash.

You can also do this yourself at home using a rope tied to a fence post.

GREEN CHESTNUT PONY DAY 1 – riding just 4 weeks, first time in an indoor arena. Lovely horse. 15 hours in the saddle.

How to move people who don’t want to move.

– Create an opening (send relaxation)
– Create softness
– You move
– They move

The horse has a brace in his body. Its obvious in walk and halt transitions. The rider is currently releasing on the brace.

Backup with soft feel. BIG change now in how horse looks, as he is no longer braced.

After the soft feel, now the horse is now balancing herself, not using the riders hands as a 5th leg.

Big things: Backup with a soft feel. Walk to halt with a soft feel.


On treks/hacks, the horse trots out but at the end doesn’t want to stop.

Mark says the human needs to be making the decisions. For example, when out for a hack, don’t trot for ages and then realise you have an issue. Trot for x strides (pre-determined) and then go back to walk. Rinse & repeat. You are in control of your horses feet. Be specific. Walk at z. Trot for y lengths.

Horse trots around arena, fast & slow & gets specific with transitions to walk. Breathe. Good!

HQ yield – don’t have any forwards here.
FQ yield.

Nice sidepass.

Great job with this super young horse.


Had to get to the airport so missed day 3 of this horse.

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