Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Lucy Cartwright & Daniel Bremner - A holistic outlook

Along with husband Daniel Bremner, dressage rider and trainer Lucy Cartwright has not been resting on her laurels recently, placing top ten in the FEI PSG at Hunters Equestrian with Holme Grove Bernini. She’s often in the ribbons with a string of rides, including Frederico and Grandio. Here, she shares some tips for improving feel when training, by focussing on one’s hips and harmonic movement with the horse.

Daniel and I are very focussed on holistic training and riding, from the way in which we manage our horses and the breakdown of exercise we do with them, to the type of schooling we undertake. We know from our own riding and the training we undertake with elite riders, as well as our work with clients, that the rider’s hips are key in flatwork – strong, mobile hips can really help create stability and strength in our lower body. This region of the body is very important for dressage riders of course, but anyone focussing on flatwork training, even with a view to competing in other disciplines, will find that effective hips help us increase our flexibility, and gain control of our seat. Those imperceptible cues given to the horse in the more advanced movements may be invisible to spectators, but are being translated loud and clear to the horse through the rider’s hips and seat.

The hips shouldn’t be overlooked or considered to just affect the lower parts of our bodies, e.g. how we hold our thighs, and how mobile our lower joints are – they also influence the mobility of the pelvis (and how well we can sit to a trot!), as well as our upper back and torso, especially in terms of and the quietness of our shoulders and hands.

Feel isn’t just about rein contact!

As the horse’s body moves, our hips rise and rotate with its motion, our legs absorbing the movement as the pelvic area softens and also absorbs the movement. Ideally, as the horse's hip raises, our same hip also raises, while the upper body adjusts. I have some lovely youngsters coming up through the levels, and I find that my goal for a good sitting trot with them is to rotate the pelvis downwards, so one extends the lumbar spine and really ‘goes with the movement’. The phrase that we often use with our clients, ‘feel’, really does radiate from the hips and the seat, as this tells us so much about how the horse is moving, and about their natural propensity to move their back and utilise their natural paces. Feel isn’t just about rein contact!

So, what can fixed or stiff rider hips lead to? Apart from making the overall picture more rigid and less harmonious, it can directly affect things like correct canter strike-offs, as well as lateral ‘drifting’, e.g. on a circle. Again, with youngsters it’s important to let them use their bodies effectively and not to restrict them. I find that core strength, e.g. in the rider’s stomach and lower back, directly affects hip mobility, in that a strong core allows the hips to relax and do their job, rather than tightening to keep balance. Having flexible hip flexor muscles is of course key – unfortunately, long hours spent sitting in cars and at desks can cause hip flexor muscles to shorten and tighten, which is why I find that many clients have issues in this area. 

 

Derriere Equestrian Dressage rider Daniel Bremner riding Freddie MercuryLucy Cartwright with horses Della Casa and her son Felix

Suitable exercises

Yoga, pilates and pre-and-post-ride stretching are all beneficial for improving hip flexibility.

Jennifer Miller’s article for the United States Equestrian federation, ‘Loosen up’, has some excellent advice and exercise tips, and quotes Jennifer Kotylo, Pilates and Equilates instructor, who says that most people have the innate ability to have good range of motion, but they don’t use it day to day. “Move it or lose it! If the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia, or connective-tissue fibres, surrounding the hip area don’t get used, they ‘forget’ how to work properly,” she advises.

In addition to yoga, pilates and pre-and-post-ride stretching, any regular exercise like walking, swimming and cycling will help our riding fitness. Work with an instructor to focus on any areas of tension, and remember to equip yourself with some comfy, supportive riding underwear - the Derriere Equestrian range, featuring the DE Performance Padded Shorty and the Performance Seamless Shorty, is designed for both men and women. Personally, I forget I am wearing them, meaning I can pay attention to how my horse is reacting to me, without the distractions of discomfort.

 

Derriere Equestrian Padded Shorty Male Horse Riding UnderwearDerriere Equestrian Padded Shorty Female Riding Underwear


Lucy Cartwright, formerly based with Carl Hester and a leading trainer within her own right along with husband Daniel Bremner, found success at Junior and Young Rider levels (twice winning the Under 25’s National Championship). She is also a former Champion at the Badminton Young Horse Finals where she rode Valegro, and a former Summer British Dressage National Champion.

With husband Daniel, Lucy offers a range of dressage services at their base DL Dressage, including training livery, competition livery, sales preparation, training of both horse and rider and clinics throughout the British Isles. 

 

Derriere Equestrian Dressage Riders Lucy Cartwright and Daniel Bremner

Shop the Derriere Equestrian Riding Underwear Range here www.derriereequestrian.com


Monday, 21 September 2020

Antoine Nowakowski – brief encounter

Antoine Nowakowski – brief encounter

Leading dressage rider and trainer, Frenchman Antoine Nowakowski, shares with us his lockdown experience, which includes some very brave training practices!



A less structured approach

Like many peers, Antoine found his equestrian activities curtailed during the COVID-19 lockdown period, with public gatherings in his home-country of Belgium shutdown mid-March, and non-essential international travel banned later that month. The livery and training yard that Antoine runs with his partner Yanna Denis, Ecuries du Moulin, was forced to adapt to the new guidelines, and training of the horses became a lot more relaxed and less structured.

“It’s true that management of the horses during the lockdown was very different than normal,” Antoine explains. “As all the competitions were cancelled, Yanna and I wondered whether we should give horses a break, or keep them fit in case of a re-start of competitions.”



Trying out new things

With Governments advising against riding outside of one’s property, many riders were forced to focus on arena-based training, or riding within the curtails of their facility. But with no set idea of how long the restrictions would last, this indeterminable time could have proved unstimulating for horses used to the thrill of top level competition. “We didn’t want the dressage horses to be too bored with the constant training of exercises in the manege - but giving them a rest was also a bit challenging,” Antoine remembers. “If we did rest the horses, and then if dressage competitions restarted sooner than expected, we wouldn’t have been prepared for the ‘D Day’,” he continues, “ so we decided to try a few new things.”




Bridleless riding

Antoine’s top rider Quatergirl was subsequently enlisted into a new regime of bridleless riding! Pioneered by natural horsemanship trainers, bridleless riding is said to be one of the clearest illustrations of the connection between a horse and rider. “It’s a beautiful example of horsemanship. It employs the use of relief and release, and is a true test of not only your relationship, bit also your seat and body aids, and accuracy. It takes some practice!” Antoine explains. “Not having the bridle, just using a neckstrap for balance and an element of control, really allows the horse the freedom to go forward; it shows you that you can control your horse’s direction using your seat, bodyweight and leg aids.”

Not content with trying out this new training method, Antoine also tried his hand at jumping (“Very small!”) – and then, feeling very adventurous, and with immense trust in the mare, bridleless jumping! “It was really fun!”

This ingenious way of keeping training varied has meant that the seven year old Quatergirl kept her fitness and muscle-tone without her usual training regime, and was also kept mentally stimulated. “The mare was perfectly fit and happy when competitions restarted,” Antoine says.




A PB for Quatergirl

When restrictions eased, the Ecuries du Moulin team started planning their training and competing schedule, welcoming 5* dressage judge Isabelle Judet for a clinic, and venturing out to shows again. With a couple of events under his belt once lockdown was relaxed, and very pleasing mid-70s percentage scores, the team’s hard work was clearly paying off. Then Antoine and Quatergirl gained a personal best of 78.7 % in the seven year class at Saint-Trond National, winning the class in style.

The bridleless training has certainly been working well for this exciting pairing - Antoine’s is now aiming for the selection for the FEI WBFSH Dressage World Breeding Championship for Young Horses in December, in Germany, and we wish him all the best.


Comfort and performance

Antoine is a big fan of Derriere riding underwear. “Remember that when the rider is comfortable within the saddle, they can move more easily with the horse’s gait. Comfortable underwear and breeches are a must and the Derriere Equestrian range is designed for both men and women; it’s hard to find great riding underwear for men, but I find these products excel at their job, offering exceptional comfort and performance,” he concludes.

 

Antoine and Yanna advise that you should only try bridleless riding only on a horse you know very well, have adequate control over, that’s highly trained to accept leg and seat aids. “Ride in a manege, and start carefully in walk, with a helper to ensure your safety,” Antoine suggests.


www.derriereequestrian.com

Friday, 18 September 2020

“This what I have always dreamed of…” Showjumper and Derriere Equestrian ambassador Bex Mason shares hew news and views.

 BRIEF ENCOUNTER

 “This what I have always dreamed of…”

 Showjumper and Derriere Equestrian ambassador Bex Mason shares hew news and views.

Bex Mason has worked for many years breaking in horses and competing at an international level with elite riders such as Tina and Graham Fletcher, and Ludo Philleaperts. Bex specialises in producing competition horses, and has a strong team of up-and-coming, world class equine competitors. She runs popular showjumping clinics in Gloucestershire, and is the current Myloplast Foxhunter Masters National Champion with her ride Vancurtis, or Kimmy.



Bex Mason is the epitome of the hard-working showjumper, regularly taking multiples of horses to shows up and down the country, and heading to sunnier climes in Europe early spring. A busy schedule of producing and competing horses, peppered with occasional showjumping clinics when time allowed, was the norm for Bex until the end of 2019.



Time to reflect

A routine ankle operation in December came at the right time for Bex, at a quieter time of year, but it was not a time for festivities, as David Fudge, owner and breeder of horses including Bex’s top ride, Kimmy, very sadly passed away just after Christmas. 2019 had seen a very successful year for Bex and David, with wins on a number of his horses under Bex’s care at events including HOYS and Hickstead, and the prestigious Foxhunter Masters National Championship. His passing was a terrible blow to Bex. A freak fall in February 2020 saw the showjumper tear both ankle ligaments, so when lockdown came around, in some ways, she must have been ready to pause and take time to reflect, and slow down her busy schedule.

The resulting months in lockdown have been revelatory for Bex, allowing her to train at home, invest time in her coaching business, and devote time to self care and development.

She has subsequently spent the spring and summer working on the horses’ training, notably with her top ride, Kimmy, now part-owned by Bex, since David Fudge’s family gifted a half share in the horse to her.

 “I had some sad times with bereavement and other personal issues over Christmas, so in some ways, the recent, slower pace of life has been a blessing,” Bex says. “Lockdown has been crazy – we’d never have believed that such a situation would happen – but it’s allowed me to re-focus on my coaching,” says Bex, a British Showjumping accredited coach.



Incremental improvements

“After my fall, I ended up doing lots of work without stirrups, focussing on my core – I am now so much stronger! I did lots of schooling and also safe hacking without stirrups,” she explains. As part of her rider performance programme with Hartpury College, Bex has been working with senior equine science lecturer and osteopath, Liz Launder. “I regularly do exercises from the rider performance programme, which help give me incremental riding improvements; I work on my core, incorporating yoga stretches and working on my proprioception and flexibility,” Bex continues. “It’s all rider-focussed, so you perform the correct riding exercises out of the saddle; I have set routines that also help my ankle strength. Rider fitness and balance can be the decider between being placed or not – for example, if I land too much to the right with my bodyweight after a jump, and I need to turn left, that’s half a second gone. The programme has helped me immensely,” she says.


Appreciating the small things in life

Bex has also been working on her own mental health of late. “Every morning I wake up especially a little earlier, to meditate, and do some affirmations and journaling. I like to appreciate the little things in life – it gives me a really good start to the day,” she explains.

Bex’s horses have not been resting on their laurels either, during lockdown – normally the youngsters would be contesting age classes, but Bex says as they still have lots of growing to do, the lockdown period has allowed them valuable growing time. “Longevity is everything – there’s no rush for them,” Bex states.

 Kimmy will now be targeted at grand prix and international stairways classes, as well as the county circuit, and the Hickstead All England Jumping Championships at 1.40m. “There will also be some local shows to contest all year round to keep the horses ticking over, and then we will head to Spain or Portugal in February,” Bex explains. In fact, the rider is off imminently to a show at Rectory Farm with all seven horses in her string, including the nine year old Pure Pleasure, who’s competing at 1.30m, and the five year olds Korenosa and Feins Cornet. No rest for the wicked!



Taking a step back

Aside from the rewarding riding, Bex has seen her coaching business take off in 2020. “It’s given me a whole new perspective in terms of my business. “There’s a lot of ‘fluff’ in our usual lives, so it has been good to take a step a step back and see everything more clearly. It’s helped me see what’s important, and the balance I have now what I have always dreamed of; good horses, good people, living my dream,” she explains. “With lockdown, some horses got sent home to their owners, so I had my four that I own, or part own, and more time on my hands. I got together with my friend Rachel, who also grooms for me, and we started the clinics – I am so enjoying the coaching,” Bex says. “This year has reignited my passion for training, and I feel like I have a really good balance of riding and coaching now,” Bex concludes.



Ultimate comfort

For ultimate comfort in the saddle, so you’re not thinking about discomfort when trying to hone your sitting trot, try the Derriere Equestrian DE SPORT Seamless Shorty, in male and female designs, designed to eradicate seamlines visible through breeches, and ensure no rubbing, chaffing or abrasions. The new, integrated waistband further ensures no restriction or discomfort for the wearer. Visit http://www.derriereequestrian.com.

“I find myself expressing love for my Derrieres daily,” Bex says of the underwear range. “I openly discuss the results and versatility of the products, whether it’s to customers at my yard, or fellow competitors at shows; I don’t even realise I’m doing it - these pants change riders’ lives!”

www.derriereequestrian.com 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Sitting pretty – how to develop a more effective sitting trot, with dressage riders Matthew Burnett and Laura Eve Thyer

Sitting pretty – how to develop a more effective sitting trot, with dressage riders Matthew Burnett and Laura Eve Thyer

We asked two of our Derriere Equestrian dressage ambassadors, Matthew Burnett and Laura Eve Thyer, to share some top tips for achieving that elusive, harmonious sitting trot. Read more about Mat and Laura far-below.

The facts: Under British Dressage rules, trot work may be ridden sitting or rising for all tests at Elementary level and below. At Medium level, all trot work must be ridden sitting except extended/Medium trot movements, which may be ridden in rising. At Advanced Medium level and above, sitting trot is mandatory.

Let’s look at why the scales of training require sitting trot after a certain level. It isn’t for aesthetics. Sitting rather than rising allows you to stay in harmony with the movement of the horse, while maintaining your position over his centre of gravity; a good sitting trot allows the horse’s movement and own posture to be optimised, not compromised. The rider’s aids can be used more subtly and effectively!


Balance and ‘feel’

“Sitting trot can be used for the training and improvement of all horses. You will forge a stronger connection in your partnership, and sitting trot can be especially useful to engage the horse’s hocks, and perform the more advanced movements,” Mat Burnett explains. “It is also essential for your balance and rider ‘stickability’, and will give you a far better feel for the way the horse is working beneath you than rising. Because all of the elements and objectives being worked on en-route to Medium level are extensive, the rider’s pelvic and hip mobility develops over time, as they move up the scales of training. In fact, the strength and muscle memory is often found in the rider’s thigh; as the hip joint extends and flexes, the thigh absorbs the movement from the higher joints,” Mat adds.



A neutral spine

“Perhaps one of the most common issues seen with less experienced riders is a sort of protective, flexed position, when the seat bones angle too far back in the saddle,” Laura Eve explains. “You can push your pelvis forward and your bottom back, to recreate this off the horse, and will feel an exaggerated curve in the lumbar area of your back. The other extreme is to tuck the pelvis under and extend the back, which often looks as if you’re sitting behind the vertical. In fact, in between the two extremes is where the pelvis is most comfortable, akin to a ‘neutral spine’ in pilates or yoga. It’s this ‘middle ground’ position, with ‘engaged’ yet relaxed thighs, that allows a nice sitting trot to develop in dressage.”



Girding the loins

The main hip flexor muscles in our body are the ‘iliacus’, covering the wide pelvic bone, and ‘psoas major’ which connects the lumbar vertebrae. The name ‘psoas’ is of Greek origin, meaning ‘muscle of the loin’ – so, to coin the biblical phrase, it’s time to Gird Your Loins, or prepare and strengthen! Effective hip flexing, and thus sitting trot, requires a strong core, so in order to be effective, you will need to develop and strengthen the muscles that support both the pelvis and the spine, including those in your bottom, back muscles, stomach and hips. Postural work like yoga and pilates may help.

“In terms of mounted exercises, you could start by working without stirrups. Start by crossing your stirrups across the pommel to give you more depth of leg, keeping your legs long and low. Aim to be very upright in your body, but allow your hips to relax and absorb the movement of the horse,” Mat advises. “Send him forward from walk into a slow jog trot to ease you into the gait, and not bounce you out of the saddle. When you’re happy with this, ask for a little more impulsion, opening up into a working trot. Little and often is the way to accustom both of you to train in this way, if you’re still developing your sitting trot, which will soon become second nature. This could be part of your training every time you ride, gradually increasing the duration and tempo. You will probably also find working without stirrups useful when you’re working on leg yield, shoulder in and transitions. When regaining your stirrups, you may wish to lower them a hole or two.”



Utilising lungeing

“It is very easy to be out of ‘sync’ with sitting trot, bouncing against the movement, and going from the extended to flexed positions described earlier. But this will make your horse hollow, and inevitably you will be out of balance, says Laura Eve. “To avoid this happening, it is a good idea to sometimes be lunged in sitting trot without stirrups and not holding the reins, giving you the opportunity to concentrate solely on your position, whilst the control of the horse is in the hands of a friend or trainer. Once you feel more balanced and in sync with the horse, you can then add exercises with your hands and arms to ensure you are relaxed, and develop your core strength. You can then move on to controlling the horse’s gaits with your seat. This will ensure the horse is really listening to your seat aids, and develop your control for half halts and transitions” Laura Eve suggests.



For ultimate comfort in the saddle, so you’re not thinking about discomfort when trying to hone your sitting trot, try the Derriere Equestrian DE SPORT Seamless Shorty, in male and female designs, designed to eradicate seamlines visible through breeches, and ensure no rubbing, chaffing or abrasions. The new, integrated waistband further ensures no restriction or discomfort for the wearer. Visit http://www.derriereequestrian.com

Mat Burnett

Mat’s famous dressage training camps with originalequestrian.com are due to start running again shortly, and he’s also busy training clients at his Herefordshire-base. After spring’s lockdown, he has also been out competing, campaigning the eight year old Nibeley Black Pearl, and the nine year olds Graxieux SSH and Humus Von Singing at medium level, winning a clutch of regional classes. Mat also offers dressage training at his stables in Herefordshire and throughout the UK at various venues.

Laura Eve Thyer

Laura has been using the lockdown period to focus on training and plans for the future. She made the decision to try and breed her most advanced Dressage horse, Chablis Sinclair, during this ‘downtime’ period. Her younger prospect, Chianti, is about to make his competition debut, along with a young horse Florian, an exciting hope for the future.


www.derriereequestrian.com 



 

Monday, 27 April 2020

Core strength for horse riders By Derriere Equestrian


Core strength for horse riders
By Derriere Equestrian

We need to be comfortable in the saddle in order to improve our own balance when horse riding. For example, riding without stirrups and absorbing the horse’s movement in the more extravagant gaits certainly requires a good level of personal comfort, so we highly recommend comfortable underwear and ridingbreeches!

When schooling, we usually focus on exercises to improve the horse or pony, but it is very good practice to turn our attention around, and work on our own seat and balance in the saddle, as essentially if we are ‘as one’ with the horse, the resulting partnership will show a great improvement.

For both novice and experienced horse riders, work without stirrups is fantastic for balance and improvement of the seat. It encourages us to be loose in the body, going with the horse’s movement within the saddle, and not bracing against the movement or becoming stiff - especially through the rider’s back which causes ‘hanging’ on the horse’s mouth to support incorrect posture. A bit of self-discipline will be needed with this riding exercise, as initially it can be somewhat daunting! Whether you are a fan of showjumping, eventing, dressage, hacking or another equestrian discipline, you will find it useful!

Start at walk, with your stirrups crossed in front of the saddle, remembering to keep your legs long and low, dropping the weight into your heels. Keep an upright posture, but remember to keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Correct breathing and relaxation is essential; it is so easy to try too hard, causing tension throughout the body, which will result in stiffening and being against the horse or pony’s movement, rather than with it. Practise twenty metre circles, serpentines, figures of eight on both reins, the aim being to get a forward elastic walk on the horse, and for your body to relax into the movement within the saddle, and create the correct bends and straightening when needed. 

We then need to be able to progress with the same exercises at trot. If you are nervous or a novice, start with ‘little and often’ – perform, say, the twenty metre circle, then back to walk, then move on to another movement, then back to walk, etc. Sit deeply through the transitions and breathe normally. Use your dressage letter markers to help you’ and increase the trot work as you improve. It is better for a horse rider to perform a small task very well, than a more difficult one badly.


When comfortable in trot, move on to canter, but use the simpler exercises of circles, then going large in the riding arena. Inevitably the most difficult task will be the downward transition from canter to trot – be aware of the need to absorb the extra movement through your body in the change of the horse or pony’s gait. Once you are established in all three paces, you can do some more advanced transitional work without stirrups; don’t be afraid to try walk to canter and trot to halt, as this will really strengthen your position and riding posture.

If your horse or pony is not over-sensitive, you can also try these exercises with your stirrups hanging down in the normal position, and you can then occasionally practise regaining your stirrups, ideally without looking down to find them, and without changing your riding position or rhythm. 

This is an excellent-confidence building skill to learn for any scenario whilst riding your horse or pony. As you become more experienced without stirrups and your balance improves, you will also be able to do pole work and small jumps as a matter of course.

If you are able to incorporate regular sessions of work without stirrups into your riding regime, you will establish a very secure seat and position in the saddle, together with increased core strength in your body. You may eventually feel happier in the saddle with your stirrups a hole or two lower in your everyday horse riding activities, as you will be less dependent on them for balance.

Most importantly ..... Don't forget to do all of the above in your #Derrieres

www.derriereequestrian.com



Key words
Eventer, riding underwear, saddle, riding, stirrups, riding breeches, horse, pony, riders, showjumping, eventing, dressage, hacking, equestrian, trot, canter, saddle, horse riding, horse rider


Friday, 14 February 2020

Gymnastic jumping - the ideal training for both horse & rider!

Gymnastic jumping - the ideal training for both horse & rider!

British sports horse producer Bex Mason has worked for many years breaking in horses and competing at an international level - here, she shares some tips for honing your position, when tackling gymnastic jumping exercises

The first question to answer here is: ‘What is gymnastic jumping’? I use this term to describe a range of activities (mainly ridden, however you can of course do pole work and cavaletti work on the lunge) aiming to improve a horse or pony’s balance, athleticism and flexibility. Gymnastic jumping commonly means grid work, e.g. a row of fences in the riding arena; it helps develop a quick-thinking horse, and is very useful to develop rhythm and calmness in a horse or pony that rushes.

One of the best uses of grid-work is helping the horse and rider learn how to adapt their stride in a given space; for example, you may have two fences laid out at five (canter) strides apart, that can also be ridden ‘longer’ for four strides, or ‘shorter’ for six. For four strides, you’re ‘riding on’, and for six, you’re collecting the horse, but still with good impulsion. That exercise described here is a good example of using the grid to aid the horse’s capabilities and performance - but grids are also useful for the rider, helping them to improve their balance, style and position, get their ‘jumping eye’ optimised, and help promote confidence, as well as the ability to ‘see a stride’.

You can liaise with your instructor regarding what gymnastic exercises would suit you and your horse’s needs (you should ideally always perform grid-work with a helper or trainer); but what I’d like to describe here is what you can be focusing on, regarding your position. Grid-work is a great way to focus on your own riding and ‘go back to basics’, to make sure your position is optimised for your horse. (Likewise, I’d also recommend occasional sessions on a mechanical horse, if you have the time and money!)

Troubleshooting

Since being fortunate enough to be personally involved with a groundbreaking rider analysis project at Hartpury college’s Equine Therapy Centre, run by Liz Launder and Kathryn Nankervis, I am even more aware of our bodies’ ‘patterns’, limitations and habits, as riders. Seemingly minor points with regards to a rider’s balance and posture can play a huge role in their development as a rider! Here are some common issues that may be flagged up when you’re undertaking gymnastic jumping:

Tipping forwards

Many riders naturally tip forwards as the horse continues down the line of fences; your hands may then move forwards and your lower legs may tip back; this results in vulnerability in the security of your position. (And if the horse runs out at a fence or spooks, you have a higher likelihood of being unseated). 

TOP TIP: Squeeze your shoulder blades up, back and together as you approach the grid, which will draw your body to an upright position and ensure your shoulders are square. Look up - the higher your head (and eye-line), the more balanced you’re likely to be, and the less likely to tip forwards.



Unstable lower leg

If your leg drifts too far back, this may result in your toes coming down and your heels coming up, and the likelihood of losing your stirrups. Make sure your stirrups are the correct and comfortable length for you to ride with to begin, with of course! Chances are, you may need to put them up, as many of us ride a little too long when jumping. 

TOP TIP: Keep a slight bend in the knees and push your heels down as you approach the grid, to stabilise your body.



Flappy hands or elbows

I will admit it, my elbows are sometimes known to flap (especially my right elbow), if I am ‘riding on’. In my case, this results in my right shoulder and my left hip dropping, and my middle section being unstable, or less strong. If this happens to you too, you are not using your core strength enough, and are probably being reliant upon your upper body as a substitute. (I pondered whether mucking out one way - e.g. I am right handed - has contributed to this slight upper body rotation that I’ve developed). Your hands are there to guide the horse after all, and you must have hands that are independent to your seat. Your hands should ideally remain still as you go over the fence, with your elbows absorbing the natural movements, and both reins should be the same length.

TOP TIP: Can you try riding without your reins, with your trainer’s approval, during your grid-work session? You can knot them on the horse or pony’s neck and put your arms out to the side, as you jump - keep retaining your jumping position over the fences, and sitting up in between.



Producer Bex Mason has worked for many years breaking in horses and competing at an international level with elite riders such as Tina and Graham Fletcher (GB), Ludo Philleaperts (BEL), Steve Cohan (NZ) and Viki Roycroft (AUS). Bex specialises in producing competition horses. “I find myself expressing love for my ‘Derrieres’ daily,” Bex says of the DE horse riding underwear range. “I openly discuss the results and versatility of the products, whether it’s to customers at my yard, or fellow competitors at shows; I don’t even realise I’m doing it - these horse riding pants change riders’ lives!”

Another top tip! Author Alison Gregory has published two excellent gymnastic jumping books titled “A Manual of Pole and Gridwork Exercises (Book 1)” and “From Gridwork to the Show-Jumping Ring (Book 2)”, available HERE.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

How to get the perfect bottom!

Now into my forties the thought of the effect on how natural gravity will affect my body is fast approaching reality at an  unfairly rapid pace! Having gone from being blessed with being able to eat pretty much what I want and not worry and stay a size 8-10 is not something I have ever taken for granted but now, it's clearly becoming a slow starting battle with my metabolism and yes I'm starting to struggle!!!! I do need to keep fit and although I am a busy,active person perhaps, I'm hoping writing this blog may inspire me to do something about it (or at least by behind anyway!!) So I'm searching to find the answer to the perfect bottom. As they say, a little each day can make a difference.

What options are there?

So there is the instant bottom lift!!! Surgical and in my opinion looks absolutely unnatural and wrong! Gluteoplasty lifts and tightens the buttocks, excess skin is removed and surrounding skin is re positioned to create that ultimate in bum lift appearance! The surgery costs thousands and can be horrific if it goes wrong.
In my mind squats are the way forward!!Fitness lover and Instagram extrodinaire Jen Selter says there is no need for gym membership, all you need is yourself and commitment.Her exercises for getting the best bum ever are pictured below. I have to say, they clearly must work looking at Jen so they have to be worth a try?
Wikihow suggests firstly that slimming down may be a good option along with exercise. I have to say, these exercises do look relatively simple and I should probably do them to stop my joints seizing up anyway!!
It then goes on to discuss diet and I am not onto a good start, ease off sugar it says!! I could probably just about manage the exercises but surely I'll need  something sugary to get my energy back? after all, I am a sugar queen! How can I live without it?!! 

 Then there is the fine tuning! Once you have exercised your little bottom every day for as long as possible it's time to focus on appearance. Remove unwanted hair, exfoliate twice a week, this not only sloughs off unwanted, unsightly dead skin cells but boosts the circulation in the body helping to reduce cellulite. Dry body brushing is also hugely effective on the circulation, the brushes can be bought from chemists and are designed to be used on dry skin repeatedly brushing strokes towards the heart over the whole body. Moisturising every day is a huge benefit keeping the skin hydrated and feeling soft and silky. Tan, yes it's true, everyone looks great with a tan and long gone are the liquids that turned you orange! instead the lotions and potions contain DHA which will change the colour of your skin and not just wash off in a rain shower!! 

If none of that works then love yourself the way you are, your body is trying to tell you that you don't need to change so don't worry trying.


Jens tips