Applying the Riders Seat

A rider that uses their seat correctly is a rider that is seeking refinement and finesse. When a horse responds to the seat, self-carriage will be able to exist for longer periods of time.

Most of what we do with our horses classically, they do in nature. Training is not teaching the horse how to do what we want. It is about teaching them to understand the aids so that they know when to do what we ask on cue. A horse is very sensitive by nature. They can feel a fly land on their side with a heavy winter coat. Your horse can feel every move you make with your body but, if the movement does not have any meaning, they will not respond or will respond incorrectly. It will take time for your horse to understand the subtleties of your seat. The first step is to start using your seat with intention so that it has meaning to what you want. To continue reading the article, click here.

A Classical Makeover ~ Racehorse to Classical Dressage

Classical riding is not a technique for training but rather principles to guide your training. These are some of the principles that guide classical trainers.
-Help the horse to feel good in his work.
-Help the horse understand, so force is not needed.
-Show the horse how to enjoy his work.
-Help the horse to stay healthy.
-Have compassion and patience for your horse.

Any riding horse can become a Classical Dressage horse; all there needs to be is patience and a clear understanding of classical riding. So long as there was no physical damage done in the previous discipline preventing the horse from its natural movement. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your horse has physical limitations.

This article features Truck! He is a 16.3 hand Thoroughbred off the track racehorse. His previous owner said Truck was a hard keeper, and he was about 75 pounds underweight. (Still in racehorse body condition) She had him for six months and wanted to do dressage with him, but afterward changed her mind and decided to do a different discipline.

To keep reading, click here.

A Classical Makeover ~ Western Pleasure to Classical Dressage

Classical riding is not a technique for training but rather principles to guide your training. It is these principles that guide classical trainers:
• To help the horse to feel good in his work
• To help the horse understand, so force is not needed
• Allow the horse to enjoy his work
• To help the horse stay healthy
• To have compassion and patience for your horse

Any riding horse can become a classical dressage horse; all there needs to be is patience and a clear understanding of classical riding — as long as there was no physical damage done in the previous discipline preventing the horse from its natural movement. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your horse has physical limitations.

This article features Louie, a quarter horse gelding that was started in Western Pleasure. To go from Western Pleasure to Dressage is about as big of a change that you can ask a horse to achieve. I will briefly go through the process that Louie went through to get him to his current training level.

To keep reading, click here.

Accountability and Perspective

Does this sound familiar? My horse did this, and he didn’t do that, and I had a terrible ride today. Insert your scenario into “this” and “that” to complete the picture.
So why did your ride really go south? I believe the majority of the time, that “bad ride” is really our fault. I know that is hard to swallow, but I believe that to be the truth so hear me out.
I used to be that girl that would complain about my horse. How he did this, and he didn’t do that, but you know what, I blamed him for all of the things I could have done better and all of the things that I did not adequately prepare him to do. It takes a long time to build a real relationship with our horses and to understand their needs. Ask yourself, “What does he need from me so that he can do his job, and we can dance together?” This answer will vary from horse to horse, but you get my drift.
Our horses rely on us to teach them the ways of being a trusty mount. They have to learn how to do all of the things that we ask of them. Have we fully prepared them mentally and physically to do what we ask? Did your horse have previous owners? If so, what baggage did he bring into the relationship? What baggage have you brought into the relationship from your previous experiences? It takes years to train a horse, and even longer for our training. We must work on ourselves so that we may help our horses.
Please, for the love of God, stop blaming your horse, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and change your perspective. Rather than complaining about the “bad ride,” try to figure out why you think it was bad in the first place. Did you let your bad day at work ruin your ride at the barn? Was your ride bad simply because it did not go the exact way you had pictured it or was it something else? Ask yourself what your horse needs from you and what he is trying to teach you. Try to see it all as a learning experience rather than good and bad rides. Every time you interact with your horse, you are either training him or un-training him.
It is essential to have someone you can check in with who is farther along in their equestrian journey than you are, someone who can help you see what you and your horse need to work on to make things easier and better for both of you. I recommend finding a highly educated instructor to help you and your horse work through your issues (and I do mean YOUR issues…LOL). All jokes aside, I know that sometimes our horses can be little turds, and I also know that sometimes they need to see a vet. Spending time with your horse and getting to know him will help you to know the difference. If you are either unable to get to or unable to afford a trainer, Cody’s mentor, Dominique Barbier, has some great books to read as well as DVD’s to help you on your journey. Dressage for the New Age is a great start.
CH Equine is here to help you and your horse. We offer clinics in and out of state, horse training, seminars, and weekly lessons. We would love to help you and your horse build trust and understanding so that you may have a wonderful partnership.
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Outside the Sandbox

Most of us enjoy riding outside the arena. But, for many horses, this can be a scary thing. Many riders simply choose not to take their horse out of the arena for fear of their own safety and or their horse’s safety.
Here is a tip to help you know when your horse is ready to leave the arena.
Consistency is very important. When you leave the arena or even go to a new place (arena or not), the first several times out, you will most likely lose 30-50% of your horse’s consistency/training/focus. So, if your horse is only 60% consistent with his exercises in the arena and you lose 50% of their consistency, you are now sitting on a horse that is 30% trained. A horse that is only 30% trained is not a safe horse in a controlled environment, let alone out in an open space with the wind in their mane.
If you have a horse that is 80% consistent, you will lose around 30% rather than 50% leaving you with a horse that is 56% consistent which is much better than 30%. As your horse gains more exposure and experience, the percent they lose will be less.
Calm and Lazy horses can fool you into thinking that their temperament will keep you/them safe. This is only true if nothing ever spooks them or makes them excited. Which will eventually happen at some point with every horse. It is that moment you will be wishing you had more consistency and training with your horse, but at that moment it is too late for you.
I am not saying you have to have a highly trained horse before you can ride outside of the arena, but your horse needs to have a high level of consistency within the level he is at. Be patient with your timing of when to start riding out and start with short rides in areas where your horse will be more comfortable and with as few distractions as possible.
Stay safe, and have fun with your horse.


We have all been there. You’re at a gathering, and you are with a group of friends. There is one person who just keeps talking and talking. You cannot get a word in edgewise. Do you do this to your horse? Talk and talk and direct and give him no room to communicate back?
Your horse has things to say. Perhaps he does not tell you in words, but if you are “listening,” he does have something to say. Our horses are happy to partner with us and work side by side if there is an open door of communication.
I am going to back up a few weeks. I was riding in a clinic with my husband, Cody Harrison, who is a wonderful man and teacher. Anyhow, I got my horse, Louie, out of his stall to start getting him ready for the clinic. He was being weird, a little spooky, and he jerked when I touched his pole on the left side. I thought about saddling Bell instead but, I wrote it off. It is a joke around my barn that I ride a man-mare. Meaning my gelding acts more like a mare than a gelding. So, I just figured he was being grouchy as usual, but my gut was telling me maybe I really should ride Bell. Anyhow, what I wanted to do got the best of me. I had the worst ride I’d ever had on him. He argued with me the entire clinic. It was horrible. I left the clinic frustrated with him and at myself.
Fast forward a few days, and our friend Pam was out to do some bodywork on a few of our horses. Louie being on of them. Pam told me he was out in the pole. Oh man, do I feel like a jerk. Why didn’t I just trust my gut? He argued the whole time because he was uncomfortable, and I just figured he was being a man-mare. I clearly had some apologizing to do. I told Louie that I was so very sorry for not listening to him and that I would be better.
Fast forward to the present day. I have had several beautiful rides on Louie over multiple days in a row. Man, does that feel good!!! Finally getting some consistency.
Louie is a wonderful guy. He has a big heart, is super athletic, and is very sensitive, but his window of acceptance is very small. If you do not have him exactly where he needs to be (the correct contact, and on the bit), he will argue with you like a teenager. That said, Louie arguing means one of two things, I do not have him where he needs to be, or he is uncomfortable. If I am sure I am asking nicely and correctly and he is still arguing it is the later of the two. This is just one example of why it is so important to know your horse and to listen to him and try to understand him, and also why it is so essential to work on yourself to be better at listening. That may mean meditating in your car to your favorite jams before entering the barn. Don’t carry your baggage with you. Leave it in your car. It’s hard to “hear” when the rest of life is yelling in your head.
I love Louie and am so excited to continue to grow in partnership with him. There is so much more to be learned on our journey.