Contributors

Dressage


Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet." Although the discipline has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship, mainly through the influence of Xenophon, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance in Western Europe. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and classical dressage is still considered the basis of trained modern dressage.

Early European aristocrats displayed their horses' training in equestrian pageants, but in modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of "tests," or prescribed series of movements within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten - zero being "not executed" and ten being "excellent." A score of nine (or "very good") is considered a particularly high mark, while a competitor achieving all sixes (or 60% overall) should be considering moving on to the next level.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Happy New Year!

 Happy Holidays and wishing you all the best for the coming year, 2024!! It seems only yesterday that we went into 2000! Take time for what is important, there is no time to waste.

                So many crazy and troubling things happening in the world today. I am incredibly grateful for all that I have and for the experiences I had in 2023. Many of you already know, but some do not that I lost the ride on my beautiful Diamond Flame. This year was so special for me as I was able gain her trust not only at home but finally in the competition arena as well. I had been looking forward to taking our freestyle to Florida and finally having the opportunity to ride Grand Prix in the big arena. This is not to be; however, I am immensely grateful for all that Blonde taught me and for the privilege to ride her. 

                I have competed in the small tour for years, and I feel completely at home in these levels, on any horse. I have competed some naughty pants, even at top shows and have been able to negotiate my way to the top of the class on many occasions. I say naughty pants, but those of you who know me know this is not what I believe. I believe that the horses are always trying to work with us and figure out what we want. It is with this principle in mind that I have been able to partner with some horses that had been otherwise discarded. It taught me so much.

                I had not been as comfortable at the Grand Prix level. I had a couple of horses that were reactive in the piaffe and passage and I did not learn easily how to control my emotions nor my body when things were not going well. Blonde has a lot of spirit and it took us a while to get on the same page. When we did, being on the same page was sooooo fun! I will always be grateful to her for teaching me to be patient and be able to ride in the show arena through the grand prix as I do at home, relaxed, with her in the moment and with understanding of each other.  This was an amazing gift.

                 With all the controversy going on in the dressage world, this much I know is true, and I know it now more than ever because of Blonde: 

                              Relaxation is possible

                              Horses need to understand, and when they are scared or nervous all learning ends

                              If they are resisting, there is a misunderstanding or physical pain

                              Work on your posture, timing and the ability to go with the natural movement of the horse.

                              Stay away from fads; tack, exercises, supplements, training schemes, treatments.

                              Connection is the key.

                              Take time to get to know your horse.

                               Do not go to the show if it doesn't work at home, unless you want to set your relationship back.

                               Say what you need to say, to your trainer, your sponsor and your horse.

                               You cannot inject everything away.

                  

                   I started my coaching business because I believe that when people believe in themselves, they do the right thing. Success comes from knowing yourself, making decisions that move you toward your goals and believing in your self-worth.

                  So many super talented riders are looking to the outside for recognition and acknowledgement. They change their training because of one clinic or one judges comment. Stay true to yourself and to your relationship with your horse. If it does not feel right, it is not right. Watch the best partnerships and learn from them. They are not always perfect, but it is how they handle the mistakes and the future training that creates success or ultimate failure. 

                  This year will be very different for me, but, I hope to have a positive impact on the sport, even if it is from a different position. In the meantime, I am enjoying a real winter break, time with my husband and time for projects long thought about. 

                  As we go into 2024 I wish for everyone to honor their horses with the time and respect they need. Know that you will get where you want to go, one small step at a time. Do not worry about other people's opinions, nor compare your journey to theirs. 

                        Cheers to you and yours for a great 2024!

                  Be youthful in your approach.

                                        Connection is the key,

                                                        Anything is possible

                              Love to Ride!

                                                  Nancy

                     

                      

                              

                  

                

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Work and Fun can happen together!

 

Share what you love, and the money will follow.

 

             Work and Fun can happen together.

                            A while back I wrote a Blog Post “Do what you love and the money will Follow”, there were several ideas in this post:

                         It’s okay to make mistakes

                         It’s good to have fun even when you are working (work and fun are not mutually exclusive)

                          Taking care of yourself is necessary, not selfish

                          Everyone’s path is not the same (Some people may have similar goals and different ways to get there. Other people may have different goals all together, and this is not for us to judge.)

            I had fun with “It’s ok to make mistakes” in that Blog, so let’s talk about “Work and fun can happen together”;

                                  Somehow, we are taught when we are kids that work is a bad word. People make a goal to make enough money, so they no longer have to work. But then what? And for heaven’s sake, for most of us how long does that take? How many stories do we hear about unhappy wealthy people? Money itself is not fulfilling. I believe; money can mean freedom, but freedom from what? What if we design a life where making money and living a fun and fulfilling life go hand in hand?

           This might require a shift in perspective, not a big one mind you, just a small shift. Then suddenly life will be much brighter every day when you wake up. What if you are a waitress and you have a love of art? Every day you are pushed to the waitress job to pay the bills, everyday you long to be more involved in art. What if as a waitress you go in everyday and bubble over with your amazing skills and apply your love for art in your job? What would that look like? What are you good at? Do you enjoy helping people feel good about themselves? Can you give more compliments? Work with your teammates energetically and create a positive work atmosphere that helps everyone do a better job, and in the end benefits the restaurant and your tips? Can you notice people that might have the same interest as you? Find a part time job in an art gallery, take a class in painting? Go to a new exhibit and meet people that share your passion? Is it possible to work in a restaurant with an owner that shares your passion and lets you participate in new and exciting d├ęcor? Is it possible to add decorations for the seasons? Create fun specials or challenges? How can you take your job and make it fun? I know you have been in restaurants where the waitress/waiter was “doing his job” and I know you have been in restaurants where your server was engaged and creating an experience for you. If you do not want to be a server all your life you must create a vision of the next step and work toward it. However, I believe we do not get to the next step without honing our gifts in our present situation.

             What does this mean? I believe opportunities come along for us often. I also believe if we are not working on who we need to be, then the opportunities become problems, create fear and many are passed by because they are misunderstood. What do I mean by this? One example is through the years I have had many difficult horses in training. What I learned from each horse depended  on my state of mind at the time. Sometimes it was the owner, not the horse, that taught me the lessons! However, as I look back, I could never be doing what I do now without the difficult horses. Do I wish I had paid more attention to a couple of them? Yes! But thankfully I listened to enough of them that I can ride the horses that I have now. And the best part is, that I have had two of the most difficult, shut down horses of my career this past year and not only am I able to build a connection with and train them, but I am also having fun doing it! Instead of looking at it like “why me?” I am thankful for the opportunity to learn more, be creative and give these horses a chance in a human world. Maybe the horses of the past did not take me to the big show ring, maybe they did not even make me big money, however, applying myself and my special creative talents changed their lives, as they did mine. From those lessons I am able to do an even better job, create more skill and am able to make money in the field I love.

               So, whatever you are doing to “make money” now I want to challenge yourself to make a small shift in perspective. If you are not happy with your present situation what would make you happy? What is your dream job? Start to imagine it, because if you don’t know what it is, you cannot create it. Next, what can you do in your present situation to make it more fun? There is always something!

 

        

                      Be youthful in your approach

                      Connection is the key

                      Remember! anything is possible

        I hope this brings more fun into your life!

                                   Nancy

              

Monday, December 11, 2023

Daily Practice, Self-Care to Improve your Riding

             Utilize Self Care and Improve Your Riding

                  Carousel Coaching                    Dec. 11, 2023

All rights reserved

 

Utilize this as an exercise when you have time, with your journal:                               

 

      Aspects of ourselves

                     Character Traits  (same as values) these are relating to space and time. Honesty, love, compassion, organization, patience, respect.) Again these are things about ourselves that we want to nurture. We may have to look past what other people have made us think about ourselves.

                     Personality Traits (help us to be who we are) these just are, there is nothing to measure. Confident, humorous, imaginative, loving, direct.

                          Part of self love is getting to know these things about ourselves and make peace with them. Without comparing ourselves to others why are these characteristics special? What do we look like when we are acting on them in a positive way? What might it look like when we ignore or don’t like parts of ourselves.

 

              With the horses it is easy to get overwhelmed sometimes with the competitive aspect and then think that our own self worth and characteristics are not worth anything. We try to conform to the way other people want us to be, or what we see other people doing from a distance.

             Yes! There are certain practices that will help to bring you success!

                           Such as being disciplined, choosing good healthy food over junk food, working out, stretching, having lessons to improve your riding etc etc.

                            There are other things that create your special you that do not need to change or conform to the wishes of society or friends. These things are what make you you. And by trying to bury them, hide them or change them you are going against your true nature and living out of balance.

                           It takes time of self-reflection to start to find these traits and characteristics that are truly what you are about. Then it also takes time to cultivate or get to know your true identity. From then you want to grow the positive aspects of yourself and be brave to take them out into the world.

 

                          How to help myself travel on the right path and have success?

                  Take care of yourself and give yourself some love!

                          Be careful not to just ask it from other people. You must not ask someone to love you more than you love yourself. And…. If they do not show you love, enough love or the right kind of love, this must not reflect how much you love yourself.

                         We are all a work in progress. So! loving yourself and accepting yourself where you are right now does not mean that you might not want to improve certain aspects of your being. However, if you only focus on the negative remember, you will only continue to get more negative.

               For example someone might say; I love that I am funny, energetic and have a love for horses. I would like to improve my discipline so that my love for horses turns into a successful show career.

                But what if they said; I am not disciplined but I am funny and energetic. Can you see where this is going. One sentence is uplifting and gives something to work toward the other is going nowhere.

 

              When under pressure you will find that positive attributes will help you persevere, whereas negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves will be self-fulfilling.

“If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you are also right.”

 

                                     Be the guardian of your mind. The way that business works in America is that they make you feel like you have or identify with a short coming or a problem and then they offer you the product that will solve it. These short comings are put into your presence daily on the computer, TV, radio, bill boards and magazines and then the advertisements sell you the product that will fix your flaws.

                                       If you can hold your positive self-vision in your mind and heart all of the time these ads will not infect you. In my email I get a million hits with subjects like “lose weight fast”, “look younger now” or “improve your relationship”. When I see the titles, I might say to myself I don’t need to lose weight! or my relationship is just fine thank you! I actually have the conversation and put it out there so that it does not infect me.

                                    When you come from this place of self-acceptance and love you can actively look for things that will improve your life and what you want to do, but you do not allow other peoples fears or judgements to infect you.

                  Taking care of yourself daily will reinforce to your mind, heart and spirit that you really are good enough. This confidence will spill into your riding, work, and relationships.

                  What ways can we take better care of ourselves?

                                     Spend alone time, meditating and learning (or just figuring out what is interesting and we might want to learn.)

                                      Respect yourself with your self-talk. Allow yourself to grow do not judge mistakes

                                     Eat right and stay hydrated

                                     Exercise

Important thing to remember!!

                You were not born knowing everything! So! it is ok to ask questions, make mistakes and look for ways to learn. You do not have to be the knower! As you do this you will find that you can give a hand up to those that have less experience than you, but you can also look up to those that have more experience.

 

                        Homework:

                                    Take a couple of days and listen to your self-talk. Write down some things you hear regularly, good and bad.

                                    Also, listen to some ads, look in magazines or TV and Facebook and write down a couple of these products that use this tactic of making you feel like you are lacking something or need to fix something to sell their product.

                     Share with me at nancy@carouselcoaching.com

                    

Friday, November 10, 2023

Confidence

 

Carousel Coaching               Confidence                                                                

 

When you look confidence up in the dictionary, it is defined as the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust. When we use this definition, it asks us to look outside ourselves to find confidence. Are we relying on someone or something outside of ourselves, actually outside of our control, to feel capable?

If you look further, you can find a definition; the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.

 So, then I ask myself, is it possible that this truth of something could be inside me? Is it possible that I could wake up every morning and believe that there is something inside myself that is well-intentioned, loving, and capable of doing anything I put my heart and mind into? Could I actually feel certain about this truth? Could I wake up with confidence every day?

What is it that takes this confidence away from us? What is it that asks us to look outside of ourselves for certainty so that we can feel confident?

I was listening to a podcast yesterday and the podcaster said…

”I can change someone’s state from insecurity to confidence, and make them believe they can make changes for the better, but when they are no longer with me it all disappears.”

What that means to me is that the speaker created a situation where his listeners had confidence in his ability, but not their own ability. It got me thinking about confidence and how do we cultivate it for ourselves.

How many businesses are built on the need for the person to come back? We produce goods that do not last. We create lesson programs that give people just enough information to know that they need to come back for more. When I started teaching, and now as a coach, my goal has always been to give my students the information they need to make good decisions. I want people to be able to function when I am not there, as well as when I am there. As a coach my purpose is to help put the power back in the hearts and hands of my clients. I want to help them find out “who” they are so that when they make decisions they are based on their own goals, interests, and beliefs. This can be difficult because we have a lot of people to please. What if my mother, sister or husband does not like the person I really am on the inside?

The person that we are on the inside is the only person, this is the person we must have confidence in. The problem is that we become so out of touch with this person that we do not know who she/he is. We cover it up, on purpose or by accident, and then we act out, hideout or go down a road that is not ours. We have so many outside influences that we end up bouncing from this opinion to that opinion, this person’s idea or that person’s insult. We forget to remember who we are, we forget to be confident; the state of feeling certain about the truth of something, the truth of ourselves.

No one can tell us who we should be or what we should do. This is the hard part. Young people have often said to me they wish someone could just tell them they are good enough, or they wish the road was mapped out and they could just follow it. This is something we need to find on the inside. This belief in our self needs to override everything, all that people say, all the insults, negative energy, and doubt. Many times, these feelings and expressions of insecurity are about the other person, not about us. If someone tells me their goal is to jump a grand prix course is it my place to say they cannot do this? I do not ever see myself jumping a grand prix course with my horse, but who am I to say they cannot do it? This is often what happens, the other person is so insecure they project that onto our goals and aspirations. In addition, we may act on a sport or direction we are talented in but have no actual interest in. In this case, we might end up going down the wrong road because people believe in us, praise us and encourage us, but we have no actual interest.  A lack of belief causes us to abandon our dreams. When we have confidence, we have an inner knowing that what we want is possible and we are able to create it. We may occasionally make detours along the way, bad decisions or mistakes, but inevitably we walk our path, the right path to the truth of our goals.

How do we gain confidence? There are a million programs, books, and coaches out there to help us with this.

My challenge for you is this. Every night before you go to bed ask yourself was there any part of the day you could have managed better? Was there a time you actually did not act on your inner truth? What was the reason? Does this bring you closer or farther from your ultimate expression? Was it a close friend, family member or just a passing acquaintance that caused you to step outside of yourself? Write it in your journal. Ask yourself to think about tomorrow and how you can be relaxed and in your truth in the future. Not aggressively and putting other people down, just relaxed and confident in your true nature.  Can you find this peaceful feeling that you do not need to impress your feelings or actions on other people, you just need to be walking your path in your own way? In addition, can you find the feeling that you do not need reinforcement from other people to know you have done the best that day?

The strength to be YOU needs to be developed and nurtured.

When you wake up in the morning think about the day ahead. Are there things that might come up that have the potential to knock you off your path? What can you do to be relaxed and peaceful on your way? Do you have plans to eat right? Can you talk to the people that strengthen you? Is it possible to find time to take care of yourself and remember your inner strength throughout the day?  Sometimes it is helpful to put alerts on your phone, a post-it note in your car, or a poster in your house or office. What does your strong self know that you forget when life gets overwhelming? Your strong inner self is the only self to listen too, try to create tactics to remind yourself when you feel the doubt or overwhelm creep in.

Be youthful in your approach, connection is the key and

Remember, anything is possible,

Nancy

 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Finding Balance

 

Finding Balance!        Carousel Coaching    Nov. 6, 2023

I think that one of the most difficult things to do is find a balance between all of the competing priorities that stand before us in a day. There are many amazing people out there offering to teach us their tactics for high performance, productivity and time management, but I find the more I look at them, the more confused I become.

Throughout this past year, I have really had to challenge myself to let go of old beliefs in order to become more productive. The things I have learned have actually not come from others, but instead, have come from listening to myself. One of my mentors said that we should let go of menial tasks, hire someone to do the shopping and laundry for instance. Doing this would open the day for more productive endeavors. When I thought about it, I did think, yes, it would be nice to delegate these things some of the time. However, for me, doing laundry is self-care. I take time to fold my laundry and just be in that moment, perhaps with music or my own thoughts. It is meditative. So, giving that up would not be healthy for me.

I challenge you to think carefully about what you really love about your life, what makes you feel alive and makes you want to get up in the morning. On the flip side, what could you let go of? What does not get you excited? What do you do because you think you should, or someone else thinks you should?

A good exercise might be to take a paper, or write in your journal on one side the aspects of your day that bring you joy and fulfillment and on the other side tasks that bring your energy down or diminish your productivity. I imagine we can all find things that we could put on these lists and become more effective by doing so. By doing this exercise myself, I am finding a better rhythm.

I do not like to feel as if I am going a million miles an hour one day and then completely ineffective the next day. Ineffectiveness for me comes from feeling overwhelmed by the things I should be doing, but I am not good at and therefore ignore. There are definitely things that I could delegate and as I started to identify them, real change began for me. What I really need to get done (things I do not like doing or am simply not good at), I will delegate, and then apply THAT time to something that I AM good at and creates benefits down the line.

What things are on your to-do list that you could delegate to someone else?
If you did, what would you spend your time on? When you look at things this way, does it give you the push you need to reorganize your time?

I believe it is really about what strengths you have, not about anyone else’s program. The challenge is to start to create your own program, your own rhythm. The awesome thing is that there are a lot of great people out there willing to share their ideas and just get you thinking about options. But! If one program does not work for you that is ok. Keep looking, be curious and create the best strategy for your happiest and productive life, one day at a time.

I hope these ideas benefit you in some way.

Nancy

 

Friday, November 3, 2023

Daily Practice

 

Carousel Coaching

                    Daily Practice

                                               Nov. 2, 2023

 

Why is it that we seem to lose track of our positive daily practices just when we need them the most?

We all have things that get us down. We make mistakes, get sick or something can happen that is beyond our control. These things can take us temporarily off our path. The good practices and positive habits we were nurturing and were working for us drop by the wayside and the doubt and fear creep in. Productivity diminishes and this feeds the doubt, and we start to spiral down instead of up.

How can we hold on to our best habits even when we get derailed, depressed or lack energy?

For me jumping back in as soon as possible makes a difference. However! I also think we must take a bit of time to mourn the setback, recover from being sick or even take time for a loved one in need. Then we must jump back in as soon as possible to our best practices. Even if it is only for 5 minutes a day, set that time aside for yourself, then next week add 5 minutes and so on. Put the time for yourself in your calendar, set an alarm, do whatever it takes to notice yourself and take care of yourself.

We all know that exercise builds confidence and energy. So, we need to make time for it. We know that eating well and actually taking time to eat helps us feel healthy and mentally alert. We must make time for this. Hydration is imperative for optimum performance, no matter what we do. Let’s pay attention to this.

There is a kind of stigma around taking care of ourselves first. We are taught that self-care is selfish. Know that if we don’t take care of ourselves then we can’t be there for the other people in our lives. Put your own oxygen mask on first!

A few of my favorite quick tips for getting out of that rut as quickly as possible:

  • Talk to your good friends.
  • Start recording your wins.
  • Do 5 minutes of exercise first thing in the morning before you get lost in the day. Add to it over time because it feels good!
  • Spend one healthy meal with yourself (and others) daily
  • Drink water, add lemon, mint, cucumber whatever makes you happy, drink water
  • Change all self-talk to positive self-talk; I can’t do this becomes I can’t do this yet, or who can help me with this, or how can I figure out how to do this. It might be difficult when you start noticing all of the negative self-talk, it is necessary to notice it if you want to change it!

I hope this benefits you! And please share with anyone you know who might need a boost.

Please feel free to share your good ideas about getting out of a rut with me at nancylaterdressagehorses@gmail.com  

 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Regionals and Food for Thought

        It is too long for a Face Book post! However, I do want to say thank you to everyone who has continued to believe in us, support us and contribute to our journey so far. To be able to show Blonde is an incredible opportunity and I am so grateful for everyday I ride her.

        Thank you to Whitney Bailey who is making this available to me. 

        Thank you Katrin Bettenworth for putting us together and for your continued support and encouragement.   

          Thank you to our awesome team, both here in New Hampshire and in Florida. 

                         Dr. Jonathan Allen, Dr. Kendall Milkey, Dr. Brett Gaby, Alfonso Osorio, Bill McMahon, Jamie Cohen, Dan Federico and Tigger Montague.

          Thank you! Victoria Ringquist for all of your hard work taking care of the guys! I so appreciate all your efforts and we could not be doing any of this without you.

          And then there are my beautiful friends and my family, who keep inspiring me to keep going after these amazing dreams I have. It is not only to be showing in the Grand Prix, but for me it is to be doing it in a relaxed and happy way. I am so excited that Blonde is a willing to go on this adventure with me. To build a connection so trusting and then be able to take it out to competition is really for me a Dream come true. There have been times where Blonde and I were not on the same page and it seemed what I wanted, (and sometimes people tell me!) What I want is not possible.  My husband, my beautiful friends and my family, have been there encouraging and believing in me and I could not have gotten this far without you. You know who you are and I love you!    

         This journey is not just about Blonde and me, it is about all the riders out there, young and old, who start riding because they want to connect with a horse on the highest level. We can do that at home, but to do it out at a show and to let people with dreams such as mine see that it is really possible, this is special to me. 

         At the Regionals this year I saw some of my colleagues and friends really living out this dream.  And I am so happy for you!! 

          On the other side I also saw some riders who allowed the pressure of the competition take a wrong turn. To compete on a day when things are not working as they had hoped and to try to force the outcome, this is a lesson we all need to learn. Hard to watch. I hope the lesson has been learned, however, I also want to say that I know what it feels like and I have been there too. If you have a team around you ask them to help you, try to step back and look at the big picture. The sun will come up tomorrow, new opportunities will arise, there is always another horse show. I know it does not always feel that way, but honestly, there is always another horse show. When your horse is not prepared to partner with you on show day, lower expectations, ask little, reward often, and get back on the same page. The trust you build will come back exponentially in the future.

               I love this sport! I want everyone to have as much fun as I do being part of it! It breaks my heart to see pressure and stress take away the joy and fulfillment that riding really can bring. There are a lot of posts right now about this very subject. We all need to be compassionate, every single person taking a stand in the conversation has felt the pressure of competition and at certain times failed in controlling their emotions. No one should be standing on a pedestal saying how it should be. Instead, we need to teach better, prepare our riders better mentally and emotionally and support our colleagues in times of stress and overwhelm. In the interest of the horses, we need to come together, not discriminate and judge. 

                Thank you for reading this whole long post!

                          I hope it gives feed for thought and encourages some action toward creating more of a community,

                       I love you!

                                 Nancy

                    



Friday, September 22, 2023

3 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Dressage Test, Today!

 

Carousel Coaching        

 3 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Dressage Test, Today!!

 

             As I am here at Regionals and watching some of the horses it makes me realize there are some really easy changes, that you can make today, that will absolutely bring you more points.

               Before we get to that, let’s just talk for a minute about relaxation. Breath, Hydrate and trust your preparation. There is a lot of energy in the warm-up that is not yours! The only way to control your energy is to identify with it. Sit quietly, by yourself, where you will not be interrupted. Drink a big glass of water and focus on your breath. Count the breath in, hold, out, pause, in repeat. You can use any count that helps you to be relaxed. Box breathing is when you use the same count for all, but anything that works for you. When your mind gets distracted just bring your focus back to your breath. Try to give yourself ten minutes to do this prior to getting on. Remember you have been preparing to be here. No need to change everything, trust your preparation.

            I am not going to get into how to relax your horse. Only to say that running it crazy on the lunge line is a recipe for injury and more stress, not less. I can help you find another way, but we need to meet in person for this. There are also other awesome people that specialize in this. Seek them out.

            What can you do that will improve your test and score today?

1.    Warm up in a shape that resembles the arena. Most warm-ups are too big and people use the whole thing! You get into the arena after thinking you are amazing in the warm-up and two things happen; you get claustrophobic because the ring is all of a sudden ½ the size of what you were doing in the warm up, and, you have put a lot of extra miles on your horse! Being on the centerline every time you are meant to be will add points! Making your circles the right size…..yes! More points! You can set your own landmarks, ask your trainer to point out the proper size, or even scope out the warm up area and make a plan before you get on. Use one fenced long side so you can manage your straight lines. Create corners in your mind and ride them! Whatever type of corner you need for the level you are riding. This will really set you up for success in the show ring!

2.   Use the outside of the arena for training! When you go around the outside of the arena before your test you are not being judged! I see so many people losing the connection with their horses, asking them to be perfect, overreacting if the horse looks at something. You are not being judged! Don’t worry about the judge, half the time they are still working on the last test, they are not even looking. Utilize this time to show your horse in a relaxed way the judges booth, the flowers, the letters etc. Make transitions, check your brakes and gas pedal. Check in on your own physical relaxation, can you feel your toes? When you trust that your aids are working you will not have to ride the parking brake through out the whole test. When you are confident that your forward aids work you will be able to relax and make the aids when you need them and then just ride with the forward motion in between. Pat your horse, check in with your arms and hands.

3.   Keep your lower legs close to your horse. Feel the hair through your boot. When you come and go too much on the horses sides the horses get tight and feel like they don’t want to go. Relax the upper leg and let the horse come up into the withers, support with the lower leg to create relaxation. No gripping, just soft cuddling legs. Your horse will appreciate this, and the relaxation will translate into a horse that is more in front of you and relaxed. Now, I understand this is not the easiest thing to do, however, even if you focus on it just a little bit your life will change!

 

         I hope this helps you to have more fun and success in your riding!

              Love to Ride!

                         Nancy

 

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Success needs two things...

      I was in my Tai Chi class the other day and the instructor said "success needs two things.... Mindset and Skill Building." I was, of course being a coach, completely on board with this! And then he said the most important part.........The mindset is that "You Can Do It". and that is it.  I thought this is fabulous and so simple, and then so difficult at times.

        Of course, when we make a goal, we make it with the belief that "I Can Do It". Along the way there are always going to be bumps in the road, setbacks, even outright roadblocks. How do we persevere? Resilience and bounce back are two of the most important building blocks to success.

       So, if the mindset needs to be "I Can Do It" then we need always to return to this mindset as quickly as possible, no matter what setbacks we encounter.

       When we believe we can do it we figure it out. When we believe we can do it we don't make excuses, we don't blame circumstances or say, "it wasn't meant to be", we just get up again tomorrow and take a small step in the direction of our dreams. If we have a setback that step might be to take care and slow down for a minute, it might be to heal a wound or study a new subject that will inspire our journey. Taking that small step may not always be what we originally thought. Having that under lying mindset that "I Can Do It" will override all negativity and set back.

       Let that really sink in. What is the opposite of "I can do it"?   "I can't do it". How inspiring is this? How hard are you going to work when you ultimately believe you can't accomplish the task anyway?

       Someone else can tell you they don't believe it is possible, but on the inside, if you know you can do it, then you can do it! It may take a little longer, the path may not look like other people's, and you may be a bit bruised by the time you get it all done, but it will be well worth all the effort you put in.

         So, what does success mean to you? What is your biggest dream? The one that makes your heartbeat faster and scares you just a little bit? 

                         Write it in your journal and get going! Small step by small step. If you can think it, you can do it! And you need two things:

       The belief  "I Can Do It" and then start building skills.

          And always bounce back to "I Can Do It" as fast as possible.

                 Love to Ride!!

                           Nancy

                      

          

Monday, August 28, 2023

So, You Qualified for Regionals

              This weekend was the last weekend to qualify for the Region 8 USDF Regional Finals. I hope for you, that if this was something you worked for, that you accomplished this primary goal. If you were unable to qualify, I know that whatever the circumstances, you will make the necessary improvements and make better plans and have success next year!

              If you have qualified CONGRATULATIONS!, what are you going to do until September 20?

                              I have a couple of suggestions:

                                              Go over the health of your horse, is there necessary routine care that needs to be done? worming, shots, blood tests etc? Do this now! These things can be taxing on your horse, and blood tests can give you important information. Do not wait until right before the show, give your horse plenty of time to recover.

                                               Have your horse flexed, the back palpated, teeth checked and other performance checks that you may want to act on to improve your horse's comfort and happiness level.

                                               Go over your feeding program, supplements and any other medications that might need to be changed. Be absolutely sure about what medications are allowed and take care to substitute something (healthier) and legal well before the show.

                                               Order gastroguard, supplements, buckets, anything that you might need for the show so that you have it well in advance.

                                               Make a plan with your trainer that will improve your overall fitness and accuracy when riding your tests.

                                               Start working on a suitable warm up. Time yourself and get to know how much time you need for your horse to feel happy and swinging and ready for the test. There are way too many horses leaving their best performance in the warm up, don't do that! Start timing and practicing now, so you know it and feel it.

                                               Build motivation and rapport with your horse daily. Know what makes them tick.... what helps them love to work and try harder for you? Practice doing more of these things!

                                               Learn your test (s) for yourself! Don't drill your horse, but do practice linking some movements together so you can be effective with each transition and accurate with each movement.

                                               Make sure to put some fun days into your schedule between now and then. Go for hacks, do trotting poles, maybe even learn something new that will improve your partnership.

                                               Has your horse been to Saugerties before?

                                                                   If yes! was he/she relaxed and happy? 

                                                                                  If no, what are you going to do about it between now and then? Lunging your horse to death is not a good answer (in my humble opinion) so, talk to your trainer about options for ground work, the possibility to take your horse to a different venue to practice, some relaxation exercises, TRT Method etc. that might set you up for success.

                                                If you have not been to Saugerties have you looked at the map? Can you familiarize yourself with the layout. Is there someone you know who has been there that can tell you a bit about it? 

                                                                Also, make a plan for when you get there to go around and look at everything first, without your horse, so you know what to expect, are able to make plans and create a good time schedule for getting to your rings etc.

                                                 Will your horse need to be clipped? Don't do this the day before the show!! Horses can be very sensitive about being clipped, so unless you have a complete dead head that you want to jazz up, be sure to clip at least a week before so he/she gets used to the new feeling. And be sure to blanket appropriately, this is a super hard time to manage blankets, so you have to be sure to be available for changes.

                                                  How is your tack? Do you need anything new? Don't change things right before the show!! Be sure that you make changes well in advance so you are sure both you and your horse are comfortable. It can happen that we get nervous before a show and start changing bits and spurs etc. Talk to your trainer, get the best choice organized now, then stick with it through the championships.

                                                 Make sure your horse is shod at a good time so he is not over due or just done for the show. Talk to your farrier, make sure he knows your plans and then schedule your appointment together.
                                                 Start working on your Performance Mindset! This is something I am good at! So, Book a Coaching Session!! If you don't have opportunities for Coaching Sessions talk to your trainer about suggestions. What does he or she do to strategize the best performance mindset? What would he or she recommend you do to set yourself up for the best success?

                                                  Read the rules! And practice with the new rules! For instance, whips are not allowed. So, practice your test without a whip, if you usually carry one. The rules for Regionals are a bit different then your regular shows, so go over the rule book and be sure to note anything that might affect you.

                                                  Build your team: trainer, coach, groom, shipper, support friend. Start asking now so you can make all of the necessary plans. Hotel reservations, dinner plans etc. 


                              So these are a few ideas to get you thinking ahead for your big show. "Control the Controllables" Herr Schumacher always said. There will be enough that you cannot do anything about, so set yourself up for success.

                       Be sure to email me at nancylaterdressagehorses@gmail.com if you have any questions, and if you would like to set up an online or phone coaching session. 

                       Love to Ride!

                                Nancy

                                             

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Positive Thoughts for Today!

              I am listening for the 4 th time to Robin Sharma's Everyday Hero on Audible.

 Audible, if you do not have it installed on your phone, you should stop reading this and install it, and then come back! Audible is a life changer for anyone that wants to motivate their life forward and drives, works out, cleans stalls, folds laundry, anything! You can take it with you everywhere!

               Back to Robin Sharma:

                             Todays inspiration:

                                        When things seem hard, trust your strength

                                        When we question everything, we are truly growing

                                        When we feel alone, we are connected to the shared experience of everyone

                                        You are stronger than you know

                                         Braver than you can admit

                                        You are more capable of navigating anything that life can throw at you than your intellect can ever teach you

                                         When scared ask, what would heroism do?

                                         When worried wonder, how would confidence behave?

                                         When angry, question where can understanding be given?

                                          When hurting, go where optimism lives.

                                          When insecure, follow where self-love leads.

                                Your tests will yield triumphs!

                Have an amazing day!


               Be youthful in your approach, connection is the key and remember, anything is possible!!

                   Love to ride!

                          Nancy


                        

 

               

                                        

                                        

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Sitting the Trot

               All of my life I have worked, watched, practiced and improved my sitting trot. Sitting did not come naturally to me and it was many hours in the saddle before I really start to understand how to move with the horse and then influence the horse from this place. My belief is that being able to move with the horse is a priority. Understanding how the horse moves naturally is possibly a prerequisite to this. Having an interest in the horse's comfort and freedom to move will also direct one to want to learn how to sit properly. 

                On one of my early trips to Europe I was extremely surprised to see some top competitors actually standing slightly in the stirrups when crossing the diagonal in extended trot. I was shocked that these elite riders did not even try to sit these phenomenal gaits. It was almost imperceivable, but it was happening. Yet there were plenty of top riders sitting fluently and beautifully to these amazing gaits, so I continued my quest to do the same.

                Teaching people to sit is one of the hardest things I have to do. Especially since the word Lunge in America has become a bad word. I believe that learning to sit on the lunge line with a trainer that truly understands what is happening in the horse's body, and then in the student's body is imperative to success. The rider must not have the reins to balance on and there must be someone controlling the pace of the horse.

                  So, now we propose to make it optional for people to sit the extended and medium paces up to 4 th level in America. 

                  I am 100% in agreement that this will be kinder to the horses. I am also in agreement that there is a very high percentage of people competing that cannot sit. However, where if anywhere, is this reflected in the scores, placings or even the ability for people to enter a class?

                  Saddles have become so restrictive that those of us who do move with the horses cannot! in one of these ultra deep saddles with knee blocks made for someone going to battle. People who cannot ride a horse through are allowed to put a double bridle on and enter 3 rd level. Renvers was removed from 2 nd level because the judges were tired of giving low marks.

                  Yes, dressage needs to survive. Honestly, we need to create shows that are more interesting, easier to enter and possibly on a grass roots level less expensive. We need to train the horses to be safe so that riders do not need to be scared of spectators and golf carts. I see more people at dressage shows out of control, because they are scared of disrupting the perfect neck posture, than at jumping and eventing competitions. We are meant to be training horses, not making pretend when we can't stop or steer. 

                  I believe that posting to the trot in upper levels should be a different division. I do not look down on this in anyway, and you never know, perhaps I will have a horse that needs it or someday my back will be such that I need it.

                  However, I believe that instructors need to teach people how to sit properly. I believe instructors need to know there is a progression of the seat (and maybe new judges too). In the beginning of finding our seat, our leg may not feel as tight and perfect as it did when we were clamped on and our hips aren't moving. This is a phase and should be looked at as such, let's be careful not to send people back to gripping. It is easier, I believe, for a horse to move through a seat that bounces a little bit than one that is clamped and gripped on.

                  What is an incentive for people to learn to sit?  For me it was the relationship I wanted to build with my horse. I am not saying my seat is perfect! I still work at it every day. Dressage is not easy. In this day and age everyone wants to make things easier. Students will move to another trainer that will be happy to blame the horse, get the double bridle or even buy a new horse instead of listening to the lesson; we need to work on your independent seat, leg and rein so that you can apply your aids correctly and your horse can work happily with you.

                 So, it is a super interesting conversation. I applaud Natalie Lamping for bringing this important subject to the light. I think it is fun to see the people conversing about it and all of the different opinions.

                 I personally have had riders discontinue lessons, often with their parent horrified, that I was unwilling to blame the horse for not wanting to make extended trot. When I wanted to discuss the seat and talk about how to work on sitting with the movement they stop listening. I will continue to teach this.  I am grateful to my trainers who have taken the time to help me with this and not sweep it under the rug because it is a difficult subject.

                   I have taught in other less developed countries and found that the willingness of  people to work on their seat and how to move with the horses is distinctly different from here. There are some mindset issues that play in and this is one of the reasons I did go "back to school", so that I could learn better how to communicate and encourage people to let go of preconceived notions about other peoples opinions. Letting go is a big part of learning to sit, and this is difficult when you want to be in control!

                    So, I invite everyone to join in the conversation. Contact Natalie and open the discussion wider. Have a view of where our sport is going and what it looks like five and ten years down the road. And what kind of riders can we start creating? Let's learn how to teach better and perhaps use the posting trot tests as a step along the way, but not the end goal.

                                   Love to Ride!

                                              Nancy



Tuesday, July 4, 2023

108 Ways to Show Yourself Love

 I started a new project, 108 Ways to Show Yourself Love. It seems unrelated to dressage, but to me it is related. Horse people tend to take care of everyone else first. We take care of the horses, students even the dog before we spend a couple of minutes on ourselves. Luckily, being active is a big part of health! And riding and training horses is an active lifestyle. However! there are other things we could do to boost our health, and they do not have to be overly time consuming.

   I hope you will join me in this project. On my Carousel Coaching page on Facebook there is a new idea everyday. Try some of these out! #108waystoshowyourselflove to see them all. I would appreciate knowing which ones have more of an impact, and I will love it when you share with others who need to pay a bit of attention to themselves.

   It is easy to get running these days. We are lucky to have horses to keep us in the present. Take time with the horses, do not overschedule and rush through the training. Mr. Schumacher always amazed me how much he could get out of one training session, how? Because he was willing to dig into the big rocks, the most important aspects of the horses learning and then go from there. When we are in a hurry we gloss over the deeper issues so that we don't have to unpack them and spend time on them. These issues will turn into monsters when not addressed. Take time every day to set an intention for your ride, warm your horse up slowly and thoughtfully and after your workout go for a hack and enjoy the relationship. If you are taking a lesson, feel comfortable to set the intention with your trainer. As a trainer I will come to a lesson with an idea of what I believe we need to focus on, but if I am not on the same page as my student, most of the lesson will be spent trying to get on the same page. Feel free to talk about your problems, goals and experiences prior to getting started so that the time can be spent well. 

                 I hope this benefits you! Please share with someone who might need to hear it today!

Be youthful in your approach, connection is the key and remember! Anything is possible.

                           Love to Ride!

                                        Nancy

    

    

Monday, June 26, 2023

More fun less work!

     We have to remember that every day we take our horses out to work, we are taking them to the gym, and they are not understanding why they need to go to the gym!

     So how do we make it fun for them? Here are three ways to keep the training mentally light while still getting your work done:


                         Have a beginning, middle and end to your training session and be flexible about the middle!

                              1. Beginning is for warming up! Loosen the body and retune the aids. Do not be too strict, be playful and vary tempo, size steps and energy.

                              2. Beginning should relate to the middle! In other words what is your intention for the work and in knowing that, how can you prepare your horse the best for this subject?

                              3. If the beginning does not go as planned and your horse got up on the wrong side of the bed, notice and redefine the work for the day. Ride the horse you have, help him to develop into the horse you want, be careful not to ride what you wish you had and then be impatient.

                               4. Give the middle a purpose. Fitness, strength, accuracy, teaching something new, test riding, suppleness, forwardness, you pick the intention before you ride.

                               5. Be flexible, stay in the moment, if the intention is not working out on this giving day do what is necessary to have a productive day, do not be stubborn!

                               6. The end is for relaxing, stretching, hacking out, praise and gratefulness. Be sure to know what your horse likes as a reward. If he/she does not like to hack, that is something to work on but not to use as a reward :)


                    Vary the work!

                               1. Fitness work can be done on a track, in the field or by utilizing groundwork, cavaletti and even free schooling.

                               2. Don't repeat the same exercise over and over! Be creative! What is another way to teach that feeling or movement?

                               3. Keep a sense of humor when trying something new.

                               4. Within each movement have a beginning, middle and end. This will help you to keep the conversation open, get ready, go and finish. When something is not going well ask yourself what aid is not working? Then create an exercise that isolates this aid. After you feel it is better understood go back to get ready, go and finish .


                     Keep your sense of humor!

                                1. Meditate in the car or tack room (or Bathroom) a couple of minutes to free yourself from work, problems or your last ride.

                                2. Visualize your best selves and be free to chuckle at mistakes.

                                3. Remember that you Love to Ride and do not let outside influence or worry of other people's opinions interfere with your peace.


I hope this benefits you!

             Please share with anyone you think might benefit!

                          All the best,

                                    Nancy