Top Tips

10 Things You Can Do To Be a Better Rider Right Now!

I think it’s far to say that all of us want to be the best rider we can be not only for ourselves but for our horses too, and whilst trying to do that you can get a bit lost on the way. By either adding too much pressure on yourself and your horse or just ending up feeling a bit rubbish. I know I am guilty of this!

So here are my tips on becoming a better rider without actually getting on your horse!

1) Stop worrying about people think. I don’t know about you but I go a bit funny when people watch me ride. Now I wouldn’t even describe myself as a nervous rider, I just want people think I’m a good rider, even when I am riding in front of my friends.

When I was recording my latest online dressage test I had a bit of an epiphany! Who cares? Why does it matter what other people think? So what if the other girls at the yard don’t think you are amazing? Your friends won’t think you are rubbish because they are your friends and if they are negative in any way perhaps you need some new ones. I gave my really nervous friend some advice many years ago before she went into the showjumping ring. “They probably aren’t even watching you anyway” which may seem super harsh but its probably true! Not in a nasty way but don’t ruin your ride because you think someone is watching. They probably have their own stuff going on and haven’t even noticed you. Do what makes you happy and don’t let people having a little look at you worry you. They may be thinking how good you look.

2) Don’t be a sheep! It’s sometimes easier to follow the crowd. All your friends love jumping but it scares the life out of you? All your friends love eventing but it stresses you right out? You don’t have to do it because they are! If you want to be a dressage diva do that. If you want to try endurance do that. If you don’t even want to ride then do that. It’s up to you what you do.  Just because you always used to do that or everyone else is doing that doesn’t mean you have to do it too. Find something that suits you and your horse and stick to that.

3) Find a Coach you like. Now when I was younger I wouldn’t really care what instructor I had. Of course I had my favourites but I would just get on with it regardless. These days I realise that I want a particular sort of instructor and that hasn’t been easy to find in France. I don’t want an instructor that tells me I am brilliant so I keep having lessons with them and also don’t want an instructor that is too ‘gun ho’ either. I am lucky and I seem to have found a lovely instructor, who seems to share mine and Mya’s owner’s values and I can already see an improvement in my riding after two lessons.

4) Do some homework. The internet is a wonderful thing! If there is something you would like to work on with your riding or you are looking for new schooling ideas there are so many resources out there now online that can help you from the comfort of your sofa! I have recently discovered equestrian vlogs and they are just great. There are all sorts of educational videos, schooling ideas and how to videos for basically anything you want to know about riding and horsemanship.

5) Do some in hand work with your horse. To be the best rider you can be you need to be comfortable with your horse and trust them. This is a massive issue for Mya and I, as she can be pretty unpredictable to handle sometimes and it really scares me. Last year I lost all trust in her, which led to her losing trust in me and our rides suffered. Normal rides became problematic as I felt nervous, so she would be nervous too or act out. It was rubbish and not very fun. However we overcame those problems when her owner worked with me and showed me how to handle Mya assertively and confidently in hand. We did lots of ground work sessions and it helped tremendously. My confidence was restored on the ground but it also came back in the saddle too. Now, when Mya is naughty being handled I now know what to do with her and will forgo riding her sometimes to do some in hand work so we keep that level of trust that we have built back up.

6) Goal setting . I am all about goals! I think it is so good to have something to work towards. Start by setting little achievable goals as it feels so good when you reach them. I have set goals that have taken me way longer to achieve than I thought they would. That is fine too. Make sure you are realistic and be flexible with the time it may take to achieve them. Then quite often you will find you will set yourself a goal which naturally then leads to another. It’s also a great way to realise what you have achieved when you are feeling negative as you’ve probably progressed more than you think!

7) Stay inspired. I am a sucker for this one. I like to set goals and become a little obsessed. At the moment it is with my online dressage competitions. I just love them! So I focus all my energy on training for a test or two each month, and quite frankly once I have filmed my tests I am bit dressaged out! Particularly if I do more than one test a month. So I realised I need to stay inspired in a more well rounded way. I need to make sure Mya and I go hacking often too, we started having a lesson once a fortnight and I have found some really cool pole work exercises to do with her as I realised that I need to make it all a bit more fun or the inspiration will dry up pretty quickly!

8) Try and watch the professionals at work. I get so motivated after I have watched Badminton or Burghley and come away full of enthusiasm wanting to be able to ride like the pros. It isn’t going to happen. BUT it’s great fun feeling motivated and watching those horses and riders compete at the highest level of our sport. Any motivation or enthusiasm you can take will come out positively in your own riding.

9) Try something different. If you are feeling a bit flat or bored with your regular riding go try something different. Have a go at polo or go for a beach ride. Anything that will relight your passion. Even something as simple as going for a lesson at a different yard on a different horse may make you realise that you can actually ride quite well after all.

10) Have fun. It’s why we do it! Don’t let silly things get in the way of having fun with your horse. Do what makes you happy what ever that is and try not to be too hard on yourself. You are a great rider and wanting to improve is a sign of a great horse person. Just don’t get too caught up in that and put too much pressure on yourself. You can improve and progress whilst having fun and your horse will be thankful for it as all they want is a happy relaxed rider!

Other blogs that may interest you:

Rider Biomechanics Why Is It So Important?

The Lesson That Changed Everything!

Set Goals Smash Them and Repeat! My Goals for 2020.

 

Copyright of Louise Dando & In Due Horse 2020.

Top Tips

Flies. What Horse Owners Can Do To Make Them Buzz Off!

I don’t know about you but I just love the summer. I love the hot weather, the light evenings, and it helps that I now have the summer holidays off! However I absolutely hate flies. Since starting riding in France, I have honestly been shocked at the amount and size of flies that follow the poor horses around.

So, here are my top tips to make those flies buzz off!

1. Fly repellent and lots of it. I have recently been gifted some fly repellent from Fly Off to review and it seems great. Fly Off is different as it has little discs of fly repellent that you can strap to your horse on its leg using their handy Velcro strap and I also was sent the rider clip too that I clipped to my saddle & I was bugged a lot less than normal whilst hacking like that.

2. Fly Masks. For me fly masks are an essential part of my horses wardrobe now. I could not put Mya out without one as her face would be covered in flies.

3. Fly Rugs. Now Mya is turned out all summer with a fly mask and a rug too. This is because she is VERY sensitive to any flies and although it may make her a little hotter, she seems far more comfortable in a fly rug than without. I do understand that this may not be necessary for all horses and I would like to add that Mya is checked twice a day when it is hot as sometimes it is simply too hot for her to wear it in the French summer heat. But most of the time to works a treat in keeping her fly free.

4. Poo picking. Now Katie & I like a clean paddock. It’s something we are proud of and we often compare our lovely poo free paddock to Mya’s neighbours with great satisfaction. However it does serve a purpose too. Poo (particularly freshly dropped poo) attracts flies. Big time. So getting that out of your paddock and away from your horses is a good idea.

5. Riding with an ear bonnet. I always ride Mya inn the summer with an ear bonnet so the flies cannot get to her ears as she seems very sensitive to this. Again can be a little hotter in the heat but totally worth it in my opinion.

6. Research by thehorse.com has shown that a field shelter is essential for your horse not just to protect it from the bad weather in the winter but very effective from protecting horses from flies in the summer also. I would agree with this as I think Mya actually uses the shelter in her field more in summer than in winter and if she is particularly troubled by flies she will always stand in her shelter for relief.

7. Remove any standing water from your field or yard. It is known that flies are attracted to water so if you have any pipe leaks or puddles that build up. Get rid of them as they will attract flies too.

8. Removing buckets from your paddock or stable. Now we are quite old school and use rubber buckets to feed Mya in her field. I also used to do this with my own horse when he was stabled. Namely so the bucket can be left there without the risk of the horse injuring itself on it. However I have noticed that after Mya has eaten, the flies swarm to her bucket to get any left over bits of food from her bucket. So they have to be taken away if you want those flies to buzz off!

So, although not ground breaking I hope you find some of those tips useful for the last part of summer. I can’t actually believe it is September already.

Putting it out there. Fly Off GIFTED me these products to review. I have tried out the products & am happy to recommend them to you. To get some for yourself head to Fly-off.co.uk

Stay tuned for my full review of Fly Off this weekend on the blog.

If you like this blog be sure to check out these other posts I think you might like.

How to Make Ice Lollies for Your Horse.

Keep Cool and Carry on! My Summer Tips for You and Your Horse.

My Back To School Equestrian Picks From Amazon

Top Tips

Keep Cool and Carry on! My Summer Tips for You and Your Horse.

I have had a steep learning curve since moving to the South of France about keeping cool during the summer. As I sit here in my apartment right now it is 35 degrees celsius and it is 8pm! I do get used to it, however the first week of each summer is tough!

I would like to share with you some of my top tips for keeping you and your horse cool this summer.

1. WATER WATER WATER! Don’t under estimate how much water you need. The National Health Service recommends that we drink 1.2 litres of water a day and that we may need up to 2.5 litres when the weather is hot. Our horses need between 5 -15 gallons of water per day.

Chilly’s bottles keep your water cold all day.

Get your Chilly’s Bottles here! Keeps Cold for 24+ Hrs, Hot for 12 Hrs

2.  Sun Protection. I always like to look tanned. However in trying to get brown I used to get sun burnt quite often. Now, I have discovered sun protection tops and have not looked back. I always ride in one now, I have an Ariat one and a Equetech one and they are both great. They are long sleeved tops that have lace down the underside of the arms to keep you cool and I swear by them. No more getting sunburnt and you don’t feel too hot either. I forget I’m not wearing a t-shirt! I bought my Equetech one pictured below from Boudica Equestrian

3. Sun tan lotion. If you can’t resist getting your skin out then make sure you are plastered in sun tan lotion. I wear it EVERYDAY in Toulouse. It’s part of my morning routine. I have recently started using factor 50 as my Spanish friends couldn’t believe that I was only using factor 30 and I have a nice tan and have not been burnt once. I definitely recommend!

4. More protection from the sun. At the stables I also always wear a cap apart from when I am riding, when obviously I wear my helmet! Protect your face. Nobody wants a leather face!  You also may have noticed if you follow me on instagram that I also always wear sun glasses. I cannot bear to squint. Perhaps they aren’t the best to ride in (not my fashion ones anyway as I always have to stop them falling off my face) but they are great for when you aren’t riding. Make sure you buy glasses that have UV protection – be aware that not all glasses have that.

5. Fly Protection. With the heat comes the flies.  Mya is so sensitive to flies she wears a fly rug and a fly mask every day in her field.  Maybe not all horses need that but I would deffo advice a fly mask and to find a good anti fly spray as a minimum. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it is for them to be covered in flies. Also in France I need mozzy spray too for myself. I cover myself before I go to the stables (or anywhere else) and  I also  place citronella candles on the window ledges of my apartment to keep the mosquitoes away.

6. Pick when to ride carefully. I can only really ride in the morning here. As the evenings are the hottest part of the day. But obviously this would not suit everyone. Plan your day accordingly. Did you know that according to Practical Horseman Magazine horses can sweat up to  3-5 gallons of water a day?!

7. More water. I always hose Mya down if she is really sweaty. Horse and Hound have published research showing that it is perfectly fine to hose your horse down and not scrape the water off, as there was a popular belief that hosing a horse and leaving water on him would make him hotter – wrong! Also I find a cold shower works wonders for humans too. If you don’t want a full cold shower, I frequently just shower off my feet with cold water and I find that really cools me off.

8. Fans. Only rely on fans & air conditioners if it is exceptionally hot. I do not normally use a fan or air con in my apartment and this allows my body to actually get used to the heat. If you constantly sit in front of a fan it’s refreshing but it doesn’t allow your body to get used to the heat.  When there is a heat wave here of course I use a fan but I try to avoid it at home if possible. At work and in the car is a different ball game – I deffo need it in the car and if you are busy at work it would be impossible to be productive if you are sweating your bits off! I am just talking lounging at home here!

9. Shade. Mya lives out all year. But she does have a field shelter where she can hide from the sun or the rain. She uses it a lot! Her owner has even fitted a little fan in her field shelter. If your horse does not have a shelter, he should definitely have trees to hide under to escape the sun. The same for humans. I always walk in the shade and avoid the sun for most of the day if I can. If I am outside, I always sit in the shade as it is just too hot otherwise. Seek out those shady spots! You won’t regret it!

10. Keep your windows shut. If the temperature reaches above 30 degrees, it is actually hotter outside than it is inside. This felt really unnatural for me as a brit who craved the sun, however now in the summer the windows are shut and so are my shutters. It really does keep my apartment cooler. The windows can be opened before 10am and after 9pm (but be careful of mozzy’s in the evenings) but the rest of the day, I leave the place in darkness even if I am there! It feels weird at first, but you will get used to it.

I hope you have found my top tips for keeping you and your horse cool useful. Let me know if you have any ideas of your own in the comments!

For more top tips check out

My 6 Top Tips For Remembering Your Dressage Test

My top tips for new horse owners

**Putting it out there: In this post some of the links included in this are affiliate links, meaning at no cost to you if you click through and make a purchase I will make a tiny bit of commission.**

Copyright of Louise Dando & In Due Horse 2019.

Fun Ideas, Top Tips

My 6 Top Tips For Remembering Your Dressage Test

The Eventing season is just around the corner. Your horse is clipped, fit and ready to go. You have mentally prepared yourself for the season ahead. Half scared half excited. You have carefully selected your events, you have maxed out your time and your money to be able to compete this season so you want to do the best you can.

But I don’t know about you I really struggle to remember my dressage tests. I am historically a show jumper, however as I have grown older I have liked the challenge of being an all-rounder. I have now done a few riding club dressage tests and even a couple of one day events, with varying success. I can for some reason remember my jumping courses easily, however with dressage I am useless at remembering my tests. At my first one day event with my pony Cassie I forgot my dressage test twice and the horror of that Judge’s car horn beeping twice haunts me to this day. Since that day I must have a caller every time and that is just not possible sometimes. Even with a caller you still need to be able to remember what move is next to make sure you can do the test the best you possibly can.

So, You want to be the next Charlotte Dujardin? Here are my 6 top tips for remembering your dressage test. I have found best results need patience and a good sense of humour too!

Mya please remember the test for me! 

1. Walking your test on foot. This is a very effective way of making you look like a complete nut case! But I have found it to be very effective. The best way to do this is take the ‘Dance like no one is watching’ approach and pretend you are riding but do the test on foot. I mean walk, trot and canter on your own two feet as if you are your horse. Practical Horseman Mag suggest this way is particularly good for kids!   This also is a good way to repeat the movements of the test without your clever pony getting bored or thinking they know a better way. It can be done in the actual arena or any made up arena in your lounge/ car park/ office etc.

2.  Drawing your test on paper or on a white board. Dressage4All suggest another personal favourite of mine. Just draw out an arena with the markers in the correct place on a washable white board or a piece of paper and draw the route of your test on the sheet. This method works best if you have practiced the test and are familiar with it already. You can get as detailed as you want and use different colours for each gait or keep it simple. Just imagine that you are doing the test and draw it on the paper. I found this method very helpful as it is easy to repeat over and over again.

3. Listening to your test being called. Another method which could be helpful is calling your own test out and recording it on your phone. You can then replay it to yourself when you are riding it or repeat it whenever you want to revise the test. Alternatively Equivisions offer a service that plays all dressage tests from intro to advanced medium at 3 different speeds as MP3 downloads.

4. Watching others do your test online or in real life. This one maybe controversial. People seem to have differing views on whether it is helpful to watch others do their test. However the FEI have recommended it as a good way for you to visualise what your test looks like when it is ridden.

5. Dressage Today suggest reciting the test for a friend so he/she can follow your instructions to see if you can remember it properly. If he/she can do the test with you reciting it – well done! If they can’t you need to memorize it better!

6. Use an app. Of course there is an app for EVERYTHING. There are many dressage apps that incorporate the above techniques to help your learn your tests. The British Dressage app Testpro British Dressage is free. There are other ones to purchase available such as Equi Sketch Dressage and FEI Equi Tests to name a few.

So good luck for the season ahead. I hope that my top tips will be useful and give you some new ideas to help you memorize your tests. Let’s just hope this lovely weather stays around for a bit now!

Incase you missed it check out Keep Cool and Carry on! My Summer Tips for You and Your Horse.

Copyright 2019 http://www.induehorse.com

Top Tips

My Top Tips For a New Horse Owner.

I remember the day I got my first pony was one of the happiest of my life. But then the sudden realisation hit me. I am completely responsible for this creature and I suddenly felt like I had no idea what I was doing! Don’t worry things fell into place pretty quickly but I learnt a lot of things along the way. Here are my top tips for new owners…

1) Never be afraid to ask for help.

I remember needing a lot of help when I got my first pony. I had just bought Cassie and she was very bad tempered. At first I had trouble with everything, I remember that she wouldn’t even let me pick out her feet at first but gradually after getting some reassurance from my friends and help from my instructors we quickly began to trust each other. I felt silly asking for help for such silly little things but sometimes you just need to.

2) Make sure you have a sense of humour.

You are going to need it! With horses things don’t always go the way you expect. You can plan all you want but something always seems to come up. It could be equipmemt breaking, lameness, bad weather or loosing a shoe, but you know what sometimes you just need to laugh or you might end up crying instead!

3) Find good professionals that suit you and are nice to your horse.

Following on from the last point. When I owned my thoroughbred Stanley he lost his shoes constantly and was never sound when I planned to compete. So for me my farrier had to be someone that I trusted and could rely on as I saw him a lot. I had tried many different farriers before I found the ‘one’. Some weren’t reliable and didn’t turn up when they said they would, which I could not tolerate, another was too aggressive and I didn’t like the way he treated my horse, another was really expensive. It took a while but I found a guy I could trust and he was nice to my horse. As it is so important that you trust the people that help you look after your horse.

4) Have a contingency fund.

You really can’t have enough money when you have a horse! But seriously it is really important to create a realistic budget to stick to and then if you can have some spare money just incase things don’t go to plan. Because as we have already discussed they rarely do.

5) Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

It takes quite a while for you and your new horse to bond and don’t under estimate that. Don’t put too pressure on yourself or your horse to perform perfectly straight away. Give yourself some time to get to know each other. When I bought Stanley it took him months to settle in at our yard. I wanted to get out and compete on him straight away but as I didn’t know him we struggled to do things I thought should be easy (like calmly canter around a showjumping course). In hindsight it would have been easier for me to take things a bit slower and let him settle in before asking him to compete straight away.

6) Remember all of this is meant to be fun!

Haha! After the meticulous planning, budget making and bonding that you have to do when your new fur baby arrives remember we all do this for fun! Try to relax and enjoy it!

Don’t forget to check out our Equestrian Blogtober blog hop for more cool equestrian blogs. Go to https://www.timidrider.com/get-ready-for-equestrian-blogtober/