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Time on my hands

Posted on


 Jay Htton Dressage

Well, it happened, I "did my time" at work, and have gone on extended leave prior to being able to leave work and retire from mainstream employment  to start a life of riding my own horse and teaching.

Firstly, I was warned and expected to become quite tired, as I have been extremely busy with work, competing and teaching, and my full time job involved a lot of adrenaline. Without tight schedules and timetables the adrenaline was gone, and I found that the days were shorter than I expected. In fact within a very short time I wondered how  I ever fitted in full time work at all.

One thing I found was that I was spending time on Horse and Hound Forum, and have replied to a whole load of queries. Some are below......my forum name is Red-1, the others I changed slightly, but the original threads can be found on the Forum......




what have I got myself into......

I have just agreed to do a dressage test at the start of July, and although it's only going to be a walk trot test I've got no clue what to expect!! I've owned my little poppy for almost 12 years and it's only now I've decided we're going to have an amazing year taking part in little fun competitions! We have no chance in even placing but I figured why not lol!!! How do u all deal with nerves before competing??

  1. Red-1

Re: what have I got myself into......


My main advise would be to enjoy!

I bet if you just rocked up with a caller and did what they said then you would be just fine :-)

But, if you prefer to prepare then maybe hire the venue before you go so you can have a practice? Could you practice with a few friends to simulate a collecting ring, and then go one at a time into the main arena so you know your horse will split from his buddies?

I am judging Intro A and B today, and from the judges perspective I am expecting to see...... Happy people with their normal horses having fun; More Pro people with their babies (some of whom will have very "interesting" tests (!); Clean horses all plaited; hairy horses with poo marks that won't come out; spotless riders; riders who do not own all the correct equipment but are there having fun anyway (my husband did his dressage tests with a suit jacket bought from a charity shop); people who have learned their tests; people who have callers; people who forget their tests.

What I am trying to say is that you WILL fit in! I think the term "Judge" is quite scary. I am just an interested person who is there to give an impartial mark to each movement. I am looking at the movement against things such as accuracy to the marker etc, not judging the worth of you or your horse. Even if it is really inaccurate, and the mark is low, you are not penalised in life, or your horse judged as less.

Believe me, whatever your horse does the "judge" will probably have seen it before. One of my favourites was a young horse with stage fright who came up the centre line, turned left and refused to go down the long side past a banner. The rider tried for a while, I was able to get out of the car and tell the competitor that she had paid for 5 minutes in the ring, and she could use it as she wished. It took all the time, but she made it, passed the banner, and did the first few movements. That was a success as the horse was now better prepped for the future.

The dressage "test" is not a "test" of a finished product. It just tells you where you are at, on that day, and also tells you where everyone else is at, on that day, compared with you.

Oh, and remember sometimes it is me, clutching a neck strap on a baby, doing our first Intro too!

Have fun!

  1. Bemused

Re: what have I got myself into......

That is such a lovely post, Red-1. Thank you! As a paranoid perfectionist with a "onward bound" youngster, I shall print it, frame it and hang it on the tack room door!



Fools Rush  Lessons in the field- would it put the instructor off?

I don't have an arena, but would love a lesson. Only have a slightly rutty, undulating field (has flat, smooth areas) but it is far from a nice level arena! My little horse is normally very sure footed, but recently had hind shoes removed, so now not so sure on the 'coping' aspect. Also have pony, who will be (hopefully) held by doting mother-ship.
As an instructor, would this arrangement either put you off? OR is 'elf and safety going to leap in and say uh-uh.??

Thoughts please!

Red-1 Re: Lessons in the field- would it put the instructor off?

Would not upset me in the least. In fact, although it is great to teach in a posh arena with perfectly graded surface, it is also good to give a lesson in the riding space that the client usually works in. In that way we can devise suitable exercises for the facilities.

I have even given a lesson in a public space, a horse friendly old pit stack as that is where the client usually worked. I just stuck some cones with letters into my boot and carried them about a mile to their schooling ground.

Apart from the group of interested teens on off road bikes watching a large proportion of the lesson it was very much business as usual.

  1. littlething

In desperate need of help please....

So, as my previous posts speak of the new horse we have purchased regarding hacking etc.

We have now discovered something else whilst trying to trace her history and what may have happened to her since she seems to be pulling a few odd tricks out the wood work. Also to try and work out where all these horrific scars have come from.

I managed to contact the only registered owner in her passport to ever have been recorded, this person is not the breeder, so the horse clearly had no passport at the time. She is from Ireland. So I called the guy, he proceeded to tell me the following:

Told me exactly what she looked liked and it fit spot on her being completely bay no white at all, said her personality was to die for cuddly friendly really soppy mare who chews and sucks any form of soft material (this is all true to a T), then he said he used to hunt and compete xcountry with her and that she was the first horse he ever sold as a dealer (funny as we cant get her near a jump or a pole without her turning into a shaking spooky petrified mess) he also said he purchased her as a 3yr old from the sales (she has not long turned 6) and that she is a thoroughbred (she got sold to us as irish sports horse and on her passport said breeding unknown), he then proceeded to tell me he sold her for £6500 to an english woman who picked her up. From then on there is no history known of her.

If what this person is saying is true then at some point something has happened to her for her to behave this way near a jump/pole and to have the scars she has also the trust issues she has and how sensitive she is with anything, also the fact that if you even attempt to carry a whip or hold one whilst lunging her reaction is unreal, she shakes, looks petrified and trys to run and sweats.

We bought her from a dealer where she was for sale on behalf of a client. We also noticed there were a few pages missing from the passport, well you can see where they have been pulled out, although not noticeable unless you look down the spine.

I got advised to ring the microchip organisation thats in her passport who told me that they have no microchip registered by that number.

I am now at a wits end at where to go and what to do. We only want her history to work out whats happened so i can rectify the problem and issues she has and make her happy, also cheer my mum up who is utterly distraught at the fact the beautiful horse that neighs and comes running to her, might possibly not be the right horse her papers state etc or may have to be sold (which i cant do because of the problem) if we cant help her. (she is currently throwing me off before iv even got my other leg over the saddle whist mounting but then lets me get on once iv been dumped, cant possibly let my mum get on and have this happen to her as her confidence is on a knife edge)

Any help or suggestions please, I am sorry I have rambled on, I am just deeply stuck and everyone i speak to hasnt been any help.


Red-1 Re: In desperate need of help please....

I have not read your previous posts, but I will have a stab at "help".....

I would give yourself a break and forget the history. I believe your horse needs treating on a day to day basis for what she is now, on a day to day basis.

It is always difficult to tell without seeing a horse, but I would not even think of trying to mount again until her confidence is up on her ground work, she is relaxed and responsive to requests and understands how to release the "pressure" in whatever situation. I would not wish to mount until she is also good with tack being thrown up, being near the mounting block, having you jump up and down on the block, lean on her, step on and off the stirrup, pat her bottom whilst at the block.....

I guess what I am saying is make sure your basics are re-established, and then tackle every "problem" one by one when it appears rather than looking for a history which may or may not help even if you find it.

Of course I would also check that she is not in pain, teeth, back, saddle, ulcers, overies.......

If you have difficulties then get a Pro in, being thrown off every time you ride will not be doing her confidence any good, not to mention yours.



Competing on your own, any tips ?

I'm off to dressage tomorrow doing 2 prelims, 7 and 12, and am now going on my own as everyone has dropped out and cant make it :-( Do you have any tips ? I've learnt the first test and have an hour between tests so am hoping after my first I can tie up my girl and let her chill whilst I learn the second, as I find I really struggle to learn 2 tests as they just merge into one ! If I do find I'm struggling have you found its easy to find someone to call for you ? Its a local unaffil so I'm hoping people will be friendly ! Do any of you compete on your own regularly and find it ok ? Thanks :-)


  1. Red- 

Re: Competing on your own, any tips ?

I agree with other posters, I have done BD, BS and BE on my own. The only one I am truly happy with is BD, as I am pretty much self sufficient. With BS I just wait for someone else who has a helper to do the fence, and I follow on then. Usually that means I am warmed up a bit early, then we have a walk and a break and a burst of canter before going in.

For BE I may not have had a helper always but have always known someone else there. I would go on my own if needs must, but would make sure the organisers knew I was alone, and who to call to come and pick Jay up if I were injured.

I hope your dressage is good fun :-)


  1. Horsefixed

Training rescue Shetlands

I shall shortly be getting a 32 inch Shetland mare of indeterminate age, to foster. She is coming from a Rescue who took her from the pound last year. She has been so traumatised that so far, despite their best efforts, she will have nothing to do with people. About dealing with her mental issues I am not worried but in order for her to give her the best shot at adoption, which is the long term plan, she will need to be rideable. Can anyone suggest the best way to go about this, once she has been emotionally rehabilitated? Nobody knows whether she has even been backed and I have never backed a pony/horse before.



Re: Training rescue Shetlands

I took on an 18 month Shetland, from a charity. He was practically feral when he arrived.

I would say that they are stronger in body and will than you would expect from a little guy. Ask fairly, but never take no for an answer.
Have STRONG fences (!).
Be careful re Lami.
They live off grass or fresh air.
Work with the feet before involving the farrier. They are low so your farrier will not appreciate training him for you as it will give the farrier a bad back.
Enjoy, as they are wonderful once tamed!
As for backing, once we had long reined and had a saddle on someone lifted their small child on at a show behind our backs (Shetland was there just for a social outing in hand) and he just stood and took it! Mindst you, I had been busy with the grooming, and leaning, and plastic all over, and he did already wear a saddle.
Once he was 4 years old I rode him in from the field daily.
When he lft us he went to a delightful family with children, who loved him and used him for Pony Rides at the school fete every year, so I guess we must have done something right.

Worst experiences..... phone call from OH who was charged to bring it in before working afters so he did not get lami. He did not want to come in. I had to explain that shooting him was not an option however naughty he was......... or the time when a friend rode him in bareback and he took them for a gallop and they laughed themselves off....... or the time we went long reining round the village and for the first and only time he PLANTED. The traffic built up..... Fortunately OH was there and put his arm under the saddle and physically lifted him to the side of the road *hangs head in shame*

All ended well though!

Good luck!!!


  1. TrottingDressage

Elementary Dressage Riders - A few questions!

Hello All,

I am currently studying for my Intermediate Teach exam and just have a few questions for you if anyone would be kind enough to give me their experience.

What was the biggest challenge for you when you stepped up from Novice to Elem?

Which Elem test do you find the biggest challenge for you and your horse?

Which movements do you find you school more on at home?

And just any other experience youve found.

Much appreciated!



Re: Elementary Dressage Riders - A few questions!

With my last horse who was very talented and found the movements easy it was the speed at which the movements came up. He needed a bit more "congratulation time" between movements than I really had.

With Jay he is not so good at lateral work, so leg yield is not good yet. I know leg yield is "easy" but Jay did not read the memo. He does like the extra activity in the test though.


  1. Steorra

Asking for every stride

When riding, do you actively ask the horse for every stride? Or do you ask once then expect him to continue doing what you wanted until you ask for something else?

Two instructors have given me opposing views on this. I'm enjoying trying out different riding styles (on different horses) and good instructors of any sort seem to have a lot in common. But this is a pretty fundamental difference!



Re: Asking for every stride

This seems to be a mx up with the idea of "Riding Every Stride", as opposed to "asking". I ride every stride (or try to),as in I keep my bearing, core strong, balance, feel on reins and through seat/legs.

I would see this as setting up the movement and allowing every stride, whilst being there to correct in an instant if performance drops.

I do not ask every stride, as this would mean to me nag nag nag. I think that the horse will be numb to the leg being constantly on. Besides if you are always legging the horse on how does he "feel" when you want leg yield, or "more", or whatever.....

Besides, I am tired enough when doing, say, a dressage test. It must be ultra hard to ask every stride.


OK, enough already!  have done about 100 replies in a few weeks!


We have done some competitions, had lots of fun, and brought home ribbons in dressage. In our one event Jay did great, he thinks he did a fair dressage, and a double clear SJ and XC. Sadly I had not walked the XC course well, and failed to notice that there tends to be a no 9 between 8 and 10. I did not even see it, and don't know what delight we did not do! Nice photos though, the dressage one on the header and SJ and XC here.....

Jay Hutton SJ

 Jay Hutton XC

Thank you to David for experimenting with the new camera. Oh, and for the 6 1/2 hour round trip, almost £100 diesel, £87 entry fee, and yes, for me to miss a fence!

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