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Posts tagged ‘video’

4 Tips to improve your riding without an instructor

First of all: I don’t think anyone can do without a good instructor, we all need a pair of eyes on the ground and a voice that can connect ‘feel’ with ‘action’ to improve your riding.

I know there are a lot of riders that are working without an instructor as we speak, not because they think they know it all or that they feel they don’t need any help. This blog is meant for those riders. The ones who always want to improve.

Riders are without a decent instructor because they can’t find anyone who fits their needs. Maybe you are looking for an instructor who is open to clicker training and you don’t know the right person yet. Some barns here don’t allow outside instructors, it can be a financial issue, you don’t have a possibility to haul your horse to a lesson nearby, you don’t have an arena and so on.

#1 Video
Make a video while you are riding. It doesn’t have to be long, you can just film a specific exercise. You can warm up your horse and just do a few transitions walk-canter or only a few steps shoulder in to review at home. Or if you’re training for a competition you can video the exercises one at a time.

Go home, remember that you are learning and that your goal is to improve yourself. Watch the video as if it was your best friend riding. What would you say to her if she would have asked you for some tips to improve? Be kind because you’re the biggest critic of yourself. Phrase it in a positive way. Write your tips down and say: “I can improve my riding by … [fill in the blank]”. For every tip for improvement try to write down a compliment too.

If you are nervous about filming and watching it back: just film a few minutes so you can give your best. You will be surprised that sometimes if feels much clumsier than it looks! Try it, you might surprise yourself.

#2 Ask a friend
Your Hippologic_rijden_kyrafriend doesn’t have to be an instructor he or she can be ‘your eyes on the ground’. Ask  your friend to tell you specific things that you want to know. Be specific and ask her to tell you if the hind hooves are landing in the imprint of the front hooves or stepping over. If you want to improve your feel ask your friend to say “yes” every time your horse lifts up his outer hind leg. Just simple exercises like that can help improve your riding enormously and you don’t need an instructor to help you with those.

#3 Watch and learn
If you don’t have the opportunity to take lessons yourself try to watch other riders as much as possible. Go to a clinic or buy a dvd of your favourite instructor out there.

If you are a visual person you can watch videos of your favourite rider just before you go riding yourself. When you are riding pretend to be that rider. It will immediately improve your riding.

Make a video of you riding with and without having watched your favourite rider and find out if you can see the difference.

#4 Practise at home
There are a lot of good exercises that help riders improve without being on a horse. Sitting on a yoga ball while working on your pc can help your balance. There are some good instructors with a Centered Riding background who made good dvd’s to help riders, Wendy Murdoch and the Murdoch Method for instance.

Have fun riding!

Sandra Poppema


Kyra: trailer loading

I started this blog in 2010 when my friend gave Kyra to me. Kyra was born in a nature reserve in The Netherlands and was a frightened feral filly when she came to me. I was afraid I might never be able to tame her: she was incredibly afraid. When I started to train her I kept a training journal and started this blog. I thought it might be nice to give you all an update once in a while on how she’s doing.

2015 training goals
I made a lot of training plans for 2015 and trailer loading and going places with Kyra are high on my to-do-list. A friend at my barn offered me her trailer to practise so that I could start working on trailer loading again. I brought my camera too, because I wanted to film the process.trailer_training_hippologic

Unfortunately my battery died after the first trailer loading session, so I only have a bit of footage. Kyra was very nervous, but she went in the trailer anyway.

Trailer loading practise
Kyra was not ready to stay in the trailer last training session and she is allowed to get out whenever she wants for now. She was easy to load but in the beginning she  was also quickly backing out. After a few training sessions of a few minutes she learned:

– to stay in the trailer a bit longer (duration)
– to back up step-by-step, instead of running out backwards as you can see in the video
– go in the trailer by herself, with me standing outside the trailer.  I really like that! I’ve always wanted a self loading horse. It’s so cool!
– accepted some pressure of my hand on her hindquarters to prepared her for the chain that goes behind her butt
– not to be scared of the loud noises the ramp makes when it is closing.

Reward-based training
I am very content with these results. They might seem baby-steps to some people, but I know these are the keys to having a confident and easy travelling horse later. It surprised me a bit to see Kyra so nervous about being in the trailer. She knows if she goes in, she will be rewarded. She is allowed to take the time it takes to step into the trailer. So there is no pressure.

She is so eager to please me, that she is willing to overcome her fear of stepping up the ramp. It still amazes me what a bit of patience, a plan and lots of well timed click & rewards can accomplish.

Next training steps
For the next trailer training sessions I will be working on:

– building duration standing in the trailer calmly
– getting used to pressure of the chain against her butt
– closing the chain behind her butt
– closing the chain and doors
– unloading calmly
– getting in the trailer while another horse is already in there
– staying calmly in the trailer while another horse is loaded
– unloading her first
– unloading her last
– unloading and loading in an unfamiliar (but close by) place

I will keep you posted! Please share your trailer training experiences with me.

Sandra Poppema

My promised video: cantering with a flag!

Today’s filming session didn’t go as planned. First of all the barn was full of people riding their horses. Most evenings I am all by myself and I didn’t expect it to be so busy. So I wanted to do something else first, instead of riding.

Three days ago I have entered a clicker training challenge on a Dutch Facebook page. The assignment is to teach your horse to stand on two little pieces of wood. The pieces are not too big ( 20 x 20 cm) so that is a bit of a challenge. That is what I thought…

I asked Kyra to mount these blocks with her front hooves. That went excellent: within 4 minutes she stood several seconds with both feet on the two pieces of wood. Wow!

Then I saddled Kyra to make the riding video. As promised I would film us cantering with a flag if my HippoLogic FaceBook page would hit 1000 LIKES. Today my page hit the magical number and a few more. That is awesome and I am super happy! My lovely husband offered to be my cameraman, so that was a big help. Thanks!

I remember starting my FB page and I was struggling to get likes from family and friends. The 500 was a big breakthrough and I decided to make a photo shoot with Kyra picking up a flag which said ‘500 LIKES and a thumbs up’, see  here.

After riding and videoing the canter I did a second session with the blocks which took only half the time: 2 minutes. I am so proud of my clicker trained horse. Especially because my 4 year old son is also in that video and he is waving the flag in front of us while I am training Kyra to mount the little blocks. He is distracting everybody, but Kyra only pays attention to me.

At one point my son stands next to me and starts to ‘help’ me, using all the voice commands I use for Kyra (in Dutch). It is funny to watch all that is going on in the background of this clicker training video.

I almost forgot: Click here to go to my → → CANTER WITH FLAG VIDEO .← ←

Thank you for watching and if you like it, click the thumbs up button on YouTube.

Sandra Poppema

4 Easy Ways to Start a Training Journal


Kyra, April 2011 (click to enlarge)

People think I have a really ‘easy to train’ horse. They say: ‘Kyra is so sweet’ when they notice that she is always so willing to work with me. Indeed, that is how it looks today.

My secret is to set goals and a prepare a step-by-step training plan. To keep me on track, I keep a training journal. If I get the feeling I don’t make progress, I just read back and I realize that I do make progress. This is really motivating.

Keeping a journal is a simple tool to make sure that you and your horse are developing in the right direction. The direction of your dreams!

Here are 5 ways to keep track of your progress:

1. Use an agenda and simply write down in a few words what you’ve accomplished every training session. Formulate it in a positive way. You can keep the agenda in your tack locker or at home. Make sure that before you leave the barn or as soon as you arrive home, you take 1 or 2 minutes to make some notes. Or use a mason jar, see https://hippologic.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/530/ This method is quick and easy. I’ve done this for years.


Kyra, September 2013 (click to enlarge)

2. Keep a journal in Word. This makes it very easy to duplicate your notes to internet, adjust text and use a spelling control. Another advantage is that it’s very easy to import pictures into your journal. Using a Word file can make it harder to keep the notes short, but it is a joy to read back. It does take a little discipline, because after you come back from the barn you have sit down behind your pc immediately. It is amazing how quickly you forget about what you practiced 2 days later, if you can recall your training at all. Writing things down also helps you to think things through.


Kyra, March 2012 (click to enlarge)

3. If you are not a writer, try one of my favourites: create a photo journal.  Every month I take pictures of my accomplished goals, like Kyra entering water (see above) or mastering the smile (picture on the right) . At the end of each year I select the best pictures of each month and I put the prints into photo album. I write the date and the goal next to each picture. This is the best way to show off share your progress with friends. An excellent choice for young and developing horses. You can see how they grow and change.

Training journal

4. Use Excel to write down every building block of your goal and simply tick off each baby step with the date. It takes a lot of preparation, but saves time on a daily basis. I started this when my friend showed me her really impressive Excel sheet. She wouldn’t share all her time consuming preparations with me, so this didn’t work out for me: I soon quit. Too much effort. You have to write down every training step in advance, in order to work properly. If you exactly know what you are doing, this is the way for you. Very scientific, not easy. Skip this one.


Kyra, May 2009 (click to enlarge)

5. Video your progress. This, my readers, takes courage! You have to film yourself when your work is still ‘work in progress’. To accomplish the first baby steps of a bigger goal doesn’t mean it already looks impressive. To me it does, because I know the basics are the most difficult. If the foundation is firm the rest will be peanuts. Soon. Take in consideration that you will notice that you are wearing the same coat for years, but if you have a grey it is really nice to see at least her coat changing every season!

Personally, I use a combination of all of the above, except number 4.

Please, let me know in the comments below which one works best for you!

Read here the article about How to use a training logbook in an effective way. It contains a free downloadable logbook.

Sandra Poppema
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