Sunday, October 1, 2023

Amelia Newcomb Dressage Online Freebies


Amelia Newcomb Dressage is making a name for herself with her online offerings HERE.  Surprisingly, there is a ton of free stuff mixed in with the paid content.  I haven’t fully explored everything available for no cost, but I just finished the Rider Position pdf that links to several very useful videos, especially one about the half-halt.  Hint, you use different muscles than you think and it WORKS.

Other free content includes a Canter with Confidence pdf that I am getting ready to start.  I’ve gotten a lot of good information from the Rider Position stuff, things I maybe already knew, just phrased in a different and light bulb illuminating way.  Amazing the no cost, good quality, information that is out there.  Enjoy,

***Edited to add, I started poking around Amelia Newcomb Dressage on YouTube and there are fantastic free playlists on a variety of topics.  There is crossover with the free pdf courses but there is actually a ton more content on the playlists.  Things like Canter, How to Stop Leaning Forward(yes please), and a variety of other great topics.  Good stuff!***

Sunday, September 24, 2023

First Clinic with Cruise

So we did our very first ever clinic yesterday and it was so informative.  SW brought in HP, someone she had worked with previously, who is a USDF silver medalist, and somewhat of a young horse specialist.  I tacked Cruise up in a stall adjacent to the arena and got to partially observe the lesson before us which was really nice.  Cruise was very “up” and we did lots of TRT in the stall and as ground work while the previous lesson finished up.  I introduced myself to HP and explained our back story while we did some more groundwork and then she filled me in about herself while I got Cruise chill enough to get on.  I really appreciated her patience while I got him down a bit, something I wasn’t sure about a dressage clinician being ok with.

Once he was under saddle he was pretty reasonable, we did a few TRT patterns, walked around HP on a 20m circle and she gave me her thoughts.  Three big things emerged and none of them had to do with my biomechanics.  Shockingly.

Firstly, HP asked if all the groundwork and under saddle patterns I was using are western world oriented.  I said, basically, yes.  The problem with that, she said, is that western horses don’t need as much go, so the emphasis is on slow and dressage horses need go.  She doesn’t want me to give up slow but for every slow there should be a go, so that we are practicing go as much as slow and go is fluid.  That way we aren’t slow slow slow, super excited GO.  Or completely non forward and non matching energy go.  Makes total sense to me and within 30 seconds of a slow footwork exercise and then asking for much more forward right after, we had better engagement.  This is something SW has been saying to me but in a different way.  SW kept saying more forward, but the idea of for every slow, a go, really resonates with me for whatever reason.

I explained to HP how Cruise is lazy at home and fired up on the road and she had a great response to that.  The more he pays attention to me at home and is 100% on my aids the more he will focus on me in tougher environments.  By letting him give a half response at home, I’m letting him only have half his focus on me.  He does stuff  at home but very half heartedly.  She said that by improving his responsiveness and focus at home I will make my life much easier at lessons, clinics, and shows.  Hmmmmmm…this really hit me about being much pickier at home leading to better focus other places.

And speaking of focus, she said that she would ride him by keeping him constantly busy.  Shoulder fore, forward and back, circles, haunches in and out on the circle, counter bends, leg yields, the list goes on and on.  She had me ride him like that and within 1-2 minutes, even with another horse in the ring, he was totally focused on me, rhythmic and flowing.  At the walk and the trot.  HP said, basically, I’ve installed all these buttons on this horse and then I sit up there and allow him to focus on other things than me when I have the tools to have him paying attention to me and not the environment.  I can’t even tell you how mind blowing this was for me.  She had us shoulder fore or counter bend or haunches out and he easily did it even though he’s never really done it before.  I’ve been riding him like a total green bean after having installed all these buttons he has no problem with me using.  Feeling a little dumb.

So anyway, you can see how this was a super informative clinic for me.  I probably only rode for 15 minutes and she totally pegged us.  I hopped on this morning and did a go for every slow, kept him busy and changed things up constantly, and he was so much more responsive and focused.  Some of the work was the best he has ever done.  Excited to implement these changes and see where it leads!

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Most Useful TRT


As I wrote about in my previous post HERE, I’m finding a lot more information than the last time I used the TRT website.  I’ve maybe done a quarter of the available videos so far, but I thought I’d post about what I really have found useful at this point.  First up, the foundation course above, which I had done before.  There is a lot more supplemental material though, and more involved explanations and examples, so a second look through on fundamentals was worth my time.  It is the basis of the system, using horse “yoga” that gives the trainer the ability to move each of the horse’s feet and go through the pattern that leads to relaxation and suppleness.  There’s also a big emphasis on teaching the horse the postures so he can use them himself when fearful, working towards self regulation.

Closely related to the foundation course is the Off The Horse course which goes over all the body language and timing you need to implement the foundational course.  This was new material to me and WOW.  The intricacies of positioning and timing are so much easier to practice without the horse and with simple step by step instructions.  This was a game changer for me and the practice without a horse has improved my timing and body language so much.  I can really see it in how much better both my horses do the ground work patterns and much more smoothly.

Speaking of horses going better, the Connective Energy course, has been SO enlightening!  The visual imagery is very easy to use and the course links using energy in ground work and under saddle.  It’s been very interesting with my low energy horse Cruise, and my high energy horse Jet, to play with using my energy at different strengths.  I finally get how I haven’t been using my energy strongly enough with Cruise and too much with Jet.  Jet really appreciates how I have modulated my energy a bit and he is so fun to play with on the ground now that I’m not shouting at him with my energy.

Lastly, we have Leading to the Field.  This is a continuation of the TRT leading in the beginning of the foundation course.  I don’t believe it was part of that course when I did it a few years ago and honestly, this leading protocol is a huge deal for both my horses.  Basically, the horse is led on a long rope behind you and cannot pass you, needs to match your energy, and has to stay out of your bubble.  If the horse tries to pass you you go to the horse “yoga”.  When the horse gets too close you move them out of your bubble with energy, voice, and then the practical application like the stick.  You then wait until they release while standing still and then go back to the matching walk.  It requires the horse to regulate himself and not rely on the trainer to manhandle him.  Both my horses are now leading this way quietly all over my farm and various spooky objects.  Cruise is turning out quietly on cooler mornings that would have been a challenge for him before this way of doing things.  This one really amazes me because it’s so simple but effective.  In its own quiet way, as effective as the horse “yoga” pattern.

I’m really pleased with my deeper dive into all things TRT.  I feel excited for all the courses I haven’t even touched on yet, and I’m excited to keep exploring and learning!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023


Saturday’s lesson was a success.  He usually gets turned out before a lesson but this time it didn’t work out, so he was a little wound up in his stall.  When I brought him out towards the trailer I did some steps of out of my bubble leading and the TRT horse yoga combination of steps and he did a HUGE sigh to release and was much less tense at the trailer.

At SW’s I did the same thing off the trailer, yoga in the parking lot, TRT leading in the ring with a few reminders to stay out of my bubble, some more yoga, and eventually some circle work at the walk and trot at the open doors.  And hands down this was the calmest, most focused he has ever been for groundwork in a different place. More quickly.  He was calm when SW brought in another horse and after another yoga pattern I saddled up, did another yoga set and hopped on.

And guys, he was so good.  After yoga steps under saddle and a few hind leg turn backs on the rail we got right to work.  SW had some thoughts:
I need to sit on my back pockets a bit more.
I need to have my thighs on the saddle a bit more.
I need to get a more forward, connected walk by letting my seat swing backwards more and THEN ask for trot.
Rhythm is how he cheats.  Focus on rhythm/the hind legs not head position.
On turns use a slight opening rein/turn outside pinky up.
His large trot work is really good but he needs more accuracy on the smaller figures.
In canter I need to keep my hands down and the energy flowing forward.

Overall it was such a good, productive lesson.  In between trot work and canter we played a bit with the two horses, walking passing, and etc.  The plan is to keep doing this every lesson, adding speed, and then eventually another horse.  Then taking the whole thing outside and starting alone, then one horse and etc. Then I feel like he will be ready for a schooling show.  It will take as long as it takes.

Next up though, is a dressage clinic at SW’s in a couple of weeks.  I’m planning on spending a lot of time in between doing scary objects in my fields in hand and under saddle and refining all our TRT groundwork.  Maybe I’ll do a couple of posts about the most useful TRT stuff so far.