THINK EQUESTRIAN - Equestrian  & Performance Coaching
Questions & Answers
charlotte dujardin & laura bechtolsheimer london 2012
This is the page to answer your questions on training or improving your performance- send in a contact form and your question will be shown here with my response

Q; Are Nerves always a bad thing? T. Bucks
A; No, you need to learn to Decode your nerves. Learn to recognise when you are feeling nervous in a good way- excited and eager, compared with edgy and nervous in a negative way- anxious and afraid. The former can give you the adrenaline and sharpness you need to perform at your best. However,  the latter will work against you. Always give yourself time and breathing space- use your brain to protect your emotions- work out what is causing the fear and anxiety and use techniques or obtain professional help to overcome theseissues.
Q; I struggle to  learn my dressage tests – how can I improve this? D. Herts
A; It depends on how you learn best- you need to work out whether you learn through listening, watching/reading, listening & reading and then drawing the test yourself or by walking through the test, say using a rug as the arena. If you learn through listening then try the audio download tests several times while you ride your horse and then re-ride imagining the voice in your head . If you learn through reading then read through the test several times (either in diagrammatic form or the plain text)  using visualisation to imagine what it will look like from horseback and eventually close your eyes and recall the visualization to see yourself riding the test in real time. If you need to process the information then use a combination of the audio and visual cues available then translate them into the form that works best for you- repeat it back or draw the diagrams yourself. Finally if you learn best by experiencing it then use any of the cues available but repeat the experience of riding the test in whichever format you can, on the horse, around an arena on foot, eyes closed in bed or wherever you can but visualizing exactly what you need to do to achieve each movement
Q; My horse has a Parrot Mouth (his top teeth overshoot his lower teeth- are there any special considerations regarding bitting? D   Suffolk
A; Often a horse with a parrot mouth has a low roof and will therefore prefer a thinner bit.  He may also prefer a French link or flat plated double jointed bit so that the single joint does not become uncomfortable into the roof.  The noseband may be the more important area to consider as he could be more uncomfortable in a drop or flash noseband. In addition you may find your horse needs more regular dental care from a specialist veterinarian or horse dentist.
Q; Can you clarify what the judge is looking for in the Give & Retake movement in the canter in dressage tests please .  S.  Surrey
A;The judge wants to see that the contact is released for 1-2 strides and that the horse remains in the same outline and balance. This is different to the stretch on the long rein where the horse should follow the contact down. If you think that you are doing it correctly but the judge does not agree then  get a video of yourself doing it- there has to be a clear release of the contact so lifitng the hands up the mane line doesn't work- the hands should go directly forwards for a count of “1and 2" and then bring back the hands. The horse should stay in the same outline and balance throughout the movement- watch your video to see if you can see what the judge is seeing. (look out for the Archive Article on the 2 exercises of Giving & Retaking the rein and Letting the horse stretch which will be republished in shortly)
Louise Clark with Feiner Pino courtesy of Susan Young images

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