Horse and Rider Awareness
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This is my gift for horse people all over the world.  I realize you are looking for proven techniques to train both your horse and your students.  Now you do!  The Horse and Rider Awareness videos are homemade and follow the training progress of several horses and riders over the years.  They are live films taken in the actual training session so you can see what happens to real horses and riders.  There is no editing and I am filming as I coaching.  These techniques have been tested on 1000's of horses and riders and have also been used in instructor training and certification programs.
Curated by Randi Thompson
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Warm up trot. The Steps to Connection that you need! S4 Riding instruction

 "What would it feel like if you could connect to your horse at the trot in the warm up? Have you ever thought about it? Now you can watch to see what I do with this rider.

Randi Thompson's insight:
Once a horse is past the "Green horse" phase we can start asking them to connect and balance sooner during our riding time. Now that Trudy as been able to take Ani to the "next level" she is now asking her to connect sooner from her leg to the rein. This is a big change as before Trudy warmed Ani up on a loose rein (like a green horse) and pretty much allowed her to do any speed she wanted in the warm up phrase. Now you can watch the changes and see how adding connection earlier can make a difference in your riding and training.
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Keeping a horses focus... when it keeps throwing its head up and down.  Asking for more connection

"My horse throws its head up in the trot walk transitions. What am I supposed to do? How can I keep my horses soft to my rein connection?" 

Randi Thompson's insight:
This happens to so many riders. It is a common challenge that can be solved by understanding the Steps to Connection. Now you can watch what I did (this is a blast from the past)  with Trudy and Ani to keep them connected with the walk trot transitions and the different trots. Ani is still new to being on contact/on the aids/on the bit/in front of the aids. Like most horses that are new to this level of connection she is not sure what she should be doing when Trudy takes up the contact. Now you can see what we are doing with the walk trot transitions and changes of gait at the trot to help her understand how to stay connected. Does this give you a better idea of how you can ask your horse to stay more connected? Practice this Horse and Rider Awareness technique and tell me how it works for you. 
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Sue Parkin's curator insight, March 26, 9:13 AM
This happens to so many riders. It is a common challenge that can be solved by understanding the Steps to Connection. Now you can watch what I did (this is a blast from the past)  with Trudy and Ani to keep them connected with the walk trot transitions and the different trots. Ani is still new to being on contact/on the aids/on the bit/in front of the aids. Like most horses that are new to this level of connection she is not sure what she should be doing when Trudy takes up the contact. Now you can see what we are doing with the walk trot transitions and changes of gait at the trot to help her understand how to stay connected. Does this give you a better idea of how you can ask your horse to stay more connected? Practice this Horse and Rider Awareness technique and tell me how it works for you. 
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"Podcasts for Equestrians"  Check out this 3 part interview with Randi Thompson being interviewed by Laura Kelland May to discover the secrets to your success!  

"Podcasts for Equestrians"  Check out this 3 part interview with Randi Thompson being interviewed by Laura Kelland May to discover the secrets to your success!   | Horse and Rider Awareness | Scoop.it
Special Guest Randi Thompson of Horse and Rider Awareness and How to Market Your Horse Business Show Notes – We had so much fun talking I have shared this over three posts!  Part 1 – Cl…
Randi Thompson's insight:
"From Podcasts for Equestrians" Now you can listen in to hear more about what I have been doing in the horse world. How I got started in the horse business, secrets to your success, what inspires me the most.... and more. Click on the link below to listen to this 3 part series by Laura Kelland-May While you are there, check out the other interviews that Laura is doing with professionals in the horse world.
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Sue Parkin's curator insight, March 10, 3:40 PM
"From Podcasts for Equestrians" Now you can listen in to hear more about what I have been doing in the horse world. How I got started in the horse business, secrets to your success, what inspires me the most.... and more. Click on the link below to listen to this 3 part series by Laura Kelland-May While you are there, check out the other interviews that Laura is doing with professionals in the horse world.
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Improve your Canter. Serpentine's with collected and counter canter. 

We all dream of that canter where our horse willingly canters around in balance. Now you can see what happens as Susan asks Beau to stay balanced and relaxed as they do their first collected canters together"

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What does contact really mean? Is your rein connection alive? Watch what happened as this rider discovers a new connection.

"Oh, what fun it is to feel your horse seeking the contact of your reins!. How do you know when your horses is seeking the contact from your hands? .

Randi Thompson's insight:

Contact comes in many layers as a horse and rider become more connected and aware of each other. At first a horse needs to be comfortable as we position his head and supple their jaw or poll to keep them loose. Next, we start positioning the horses head where we want it. For some, there will be a magical moment when the reins become more than a tool, they take on a feel that I like to call, "coming alive". This is when the horse and rider are communicating. The horse is in front of the riders aids, in front of the aids, or whatever you might call it. Now you can watch what happens as Susan feels Beau becoming alive through the reins. This was a very exciting session for all of us.


Can you see what is happening? The next time you are riding ask yourself if your reins are "alive" yet. It's OK if they are not. As those who have been following the progress of Beau know, it can take a few years to get a horse to respond that way. Good things take time.

 

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Half Halts at the trot. Is your horse listening to you?

"Can Your Horse Feel Your Half Halts at the Trot? What can you do to improve your half halt and become more aware of when your horse is responding?" In this ...
Randi Thompson's insight:

In this session Susan practices the half halt as taught by Robert Dover. To do this, she breaths in deeply.. bringing that breath up her chest and back into her shoulder blades. She finishes by bringing her seat forward, hugging her legs and closing her fingers on the reins. This entire process takes only 3 seconds. Beau has been doing half halts but has never really been thrilled with them. (for what ever issues he might be having that day) Since he is now competing in 2nd level we need to be able to balance him more than ever so that he starts to "engage" his back end and shorten his body from the back to the front. Lucky you as you get to watch him go through the process. This is their warm up trot and Susan is already asking Beau to listen to her half halts. By the end of this session you will see that Beau is starting to get it.

What have you been doing for your halt halts? Is your horse really responding to them or are you hoping that it is?

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Where is your horse locking you out of the connection? The secrets of the trainers

"Is your horse saying, Yes, No... or Maybe when you ask it to respond to your rein contact or legs? Now you can watch a step by step process that you can use on your horse to know if it is responding"

Randi Thompson's insight:

 

Many riders are not sure when their horse is really listening or in fact, even understanding what they are asking them to do with the aids. In this session Susan is warming up Beau for the first time while asking him to stay soft of the rein contact with his poll up. Next Susan asks Beau to become more active from her leg aids so that he steps up into the rein connection. As a result Susan feels as if the reins become alive. (That is when your horse is stepping into you rein connection)

 

Is your horse really on the aids? Try this and see. Let us know what you are feeling as it will take you to the next level of connection with your horse

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Canter/Counter canter. How to finally understand...The outside rein and leg

So... If the counter canter is simply the other lead. Unless you try to do it on a circle or curve. Why is it so much harder?

Randi Thompson's insight:

Those who have ridden the counter canter know that horses do start out pretty disconnected on curves or circles. With time, their balance and connection does get better. This is the 5th time Susan has asked Beau to stay this connected in the canter. Maybe the 3rd for the counter canter. Now you can watch what we do to bring him to the next level where he can carry himself in balance.

Have you ridden the counter canter yet? What did you learn from watching this video that you can use on your horse?

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Stretching over the back at the trot. Keeping the connection with an "alive" rein with a horse new to it

"If you are riding in contact or connection you will want to watch this series to see how you can teach your horse how to stretch over it's back... at the tr...
Randi Thompson's insight:

Many riders are not sure what is meant by "getting a horse to stretch into the connection of the rein". It is one of those confusing terms that don't make sense until you see it done with a horse that is lifting it's back as the rider feels them taking an active connection with the rein connection. This is when the reins feel "alive" and is the result of the horse coming through from behind. Now you can watch what Trudy is doing with Ani in this break through series. It is the beginning of a new level of connection for both of them.

 

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Is your horse "Bending" from behind? Check out what happens when this horse gets it and WOW! Check out the changes. Pirouettes/shoulder/half pass

"Woot Woot!  Breakthrough session for Susan and Beau! Check out how we are getting the "bend" behind the saddle and how it changes the way Beau is moving. This is part #2 where we move up into the trot"

Randi Thompson's insight:

What happened? Beau is now moving different at he walk and trot! Especially in the lateral movements. His strides are longer and his balance more consistent. As those who have been following the progress of Susan and Beau know... Beau has been a complicated horse who came to us with a lot of serious issues. With Susan's love for him and dedication to the training process he has continued to improve. Since they are competing in 2nd level dressage they are doing more "lateral work" like the shoulder in, half pass and turn on the haunches (walk pirouette) These lateral exercises have not been easy for Beau to understand and his tendency, before this day, was to lock up at times and take short steps. First we had to teach him how to be more supple in the front (bending from the front of the saddle and staying soft to the rein connection) than this day, we were finally able to add the bending from behind the saddle which changed his movement. The good news is that we have filmed their training process for the past 4 years so you can see everything Susan has done to get Beau to this level. You can find them on this Youtube channel in the playlist area.

Are you enjoying watching the training progress of our featured riders? As you know, we do not edit any of the videos and are showing you actual training sessions where I am coaching as I am trying to film. It is your feedback that inspires both the riders and myself to continue sharing this information with you.

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"Feeling when a horse is tracking up though all of the walks. Can your horse do it while staying up in it's back?"

"What if.. like many riders you keep hearing that your horse needs to be more connected and balanced and connected at the walk. To do this, all we have to do (technically) is to keep our horse tracking up at all of the walk gaits.  What does that mean?  How do you know when "it" finally happens?  Now you can watch what happens as Susan takes Darrien to a new level at the walk by focusing on how he is staying connected in his neck as he is tracking up"

Randi Thompson's insight:

This was a breakthrough session for Susan and Darrien. It has taken us two years to reach this level as Darrien (Susan's new FEI horse) had to work through a lot of physical and mental issues before he was ready. In this session he changed his walk! It was very exciting to see as for the first time Darrien is staying connected and in balance (round/on the aids/in front of the legs, on the bit, packaged and so on) as he tracks up at each of the walks (collected, lengthening/extension and medium). Now you can see the process we have used and the results.

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"Shoulder in/Leg Yields. Staying on the aids with a green horse. Can they do it?"

"Leg Yields and Shoulder In. Is your horse supple (soft, giving, yielding...) to your rein contact and on the aids? Watch as this young horse begins to understand ...
Randi Thompson's insight:

When a shoulder in or leg yield is correctly the horse stays connected between the riders aids from back to front and from side to side. However, the young and inexperienced horses do not start these movements on the aids. They do not know how to stay connected and we are happy if they will simply move where we want them to go. It is a big step if the rider decides to take their horse to the next level (First level for Leg yielding, 2nd for Shoulder in) while keeping them connected. Now you can watch as Trudy starts taking Ani to that next level.This is the first time we have asked Ani to stay "on the aids/on the bit" for the shoulder in and leg yields. 

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How to know if your horse is softening to the rein connection at the walk. S4 Dressage teacher

"It's really not a headset. It's a mind set. The mystery of how to get your horses head in the right place" Why do we position our horses heads a certain way (or at ...
Randi Thompson's insight:

Those who ride their horses in balance usually do this by training the horse to stay connected between their leg and rein aids.  To do this, the horse learns how to stay soft to the rein connection by keeping it's head somewhat positioned.  Some people consider this a headset while others know it should really mean more of a mindset.  Now you can watch what Trudy is doing with Melody, a hot nervous horse, to keep her more connected in walk.

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How to Ride a Shoulder In or Renvers/Travers. What to Look For and What to Feel. 

"Can you control the shoulders of your horse ? How about the haunches? Now you can with the The magic of the shoulder in and renvers/travers" 

Randi Thompson's insight:
These are great exercises that improve a horses balance and the connection a rider has with their horse. What is the difference between them? Basically, in the shoulder in the rider brings the outside shoulder in until the horse crosses it's inside front over the outside front foot...as they keep the horses back end straight. The renvers/travers, are really the same is movement if ridden on the center or quarter line. When ridden in the dressage tests, the renvers is tail to the wall, while in the travers the horses tail is to the inside. In that movement, the horses front feet move straight ahead and they cross the outside hind foot in front of the inside. Both movements require that the horse is "bent" around the riders inside leg. They are easy to see from behind. Watch this video to see how. Have you explored the possibilities of the shoulder in or renvers/travers with your horse? Are you ready to try them now?
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"Half Halts at the canter. Now you can watch a horse and rider as they connect and balance at a new level"

"The canter. Is your horse responding to your half halts? Watch what happens as Susan asks Beau to stay connected even more at the canter" In this sessio
Randi Thompson's insight:
"The canter. Is your horse responding to your half halts? Watch what happens as Susan asks Beau to stay connected even more at the canter" In this session Susan practices the half halt as taught by Robert Dover. To do this at the canter she feels when Beau starts to disconnect. When Susan feels that happen she breaths in deeply.. bringing that breath up her chest and back into her shoulder blades. Susan finishes that breath by bringing her seat forward, hugging her legs and closing her fingers on the reins. This entire process takes only 3 seconds. As those of you who know Beau expect... He is not thrilled moving up into the balance he needs for second level. This is a time of great change for Susan and Beau and I am so happy to have caught it on film as most riders never get to see what can happen as a horse is asked to balance and connect at a new level. Can you see how Beau begins to understand the half halts better? 
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Contact. From the beginnings. Walk trot. The Steps to Connection. 

"What if... you have finally come to the point in your horses training where you are ready to ask them to stay on "contact" or "connected" from your leg to the rein. What should you expect and what sho...

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Are your walk trot transitions smooth or rough? How does your riding position make a difference?

"When you ask your horse to change gaits, are the transitions rough or smooth? Would you like to see how you can use your riding position to make them smoother?"

Randi Thompson's insight:

 

In this session Trudy is focusing on what she is doing with her riding position and rein connection for the the walk/trot transitions. Like many riders, she has a tendency to disconnect from her riding position as she practices them. Now you can watch what I did with Trudy that made a difference in the quality and smoothness of the changes of gait with Ani.

 

What changes can you see in Trudy's riding position as she focuses more on it. What about Ani? Did her changes or gait improve?

 
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Going back to the basics. Can you keep a light rein in the trot canter transitions?

"Have you noticed that your hand "bumps" your horse in the mouth when you are working on the canter? What about the canter transitions?" In this session Trud...
Randi Thompson's insight:

In this session Trudy focuses on keeping an even feel and connection with the reins at the canter.. Many riders start tightening their reins at the canter, especially in the transition up and down from it. Now you can watch as Trudy discovers how to use her legs and seat to keep Melody on her aids and soft on the reins.


Have you ever thought about how you are using your reins for the canter? What did you learn from this video?

 

 

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"On the bit? Contact? What does that mean? The trot. Are your reins "alive?"

"What if... you really do not understand what contact or "on the bit" really means? You are not alone. Many other riders are also confused with the concept" ...
Randi Thompson's insight:

Now you can watch as Susan rode Beau to a new level of "on the bit" Before this filming, Beau has often looked like he is on contact, yet the reins were often slack and a little loopy. That is where he felt comfortable. Now that Susan is competing him in 2nd level that is no longer acceptable. Beau needs to stay on the contact with a steady rein. Now you can watch what happens as Susan became aware of how Beau was really communicating (or not....) through the reins connection. This is the first time we have focused on asking Beau to keep the rein connection "alive" as Susan asks him to step up into the contact from behind.

What kind of contact is your horse allowing you to take? Did you learn anything from watching what Susan is now doing to get Beau to take up a different level of contact and connection?

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"Is your saddle shifting to one side? Amazing technique that will improve your riding position!

"Common riding challenges. Is your saddle slip sliding over to one side? In fact, you may not even know it has been until you try this amazing technique that...
Randi Thompson's insight:


Most riders know this feeling. All of a sudden their saddle their saddle has shifted over to one side of your horse’s withers. Your saddle is slip sliding away and you did not even notice! This shifting saddle could be happening for many reasons. This could be because of how your horse is carrying you, a saddle not fitting the horse right, or more than likely, this is how you have been balancing your riding position in the saddle for a long time. You are not alone. Most riders do put most of their weight into one side of their riding position, and as a result that side of the saddle. This causes the saddle to shift to the direction where the most weight is.

 

What can you do about your shifting saddle? Check out this video and you will know what you need to do.

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Stretching over the back and into the rein connection at the canter for the first time. Breakthrough session!

"Would you like to improve your horses canter? Now you can watch what happens as Trudy asks Ani to keep her back up as she willingly begins to stretch into t...
Randi Thompson's insight:

 

This was a break through session. Finally, (it seems to take forever to get a horse to be soft in the canter...) Trudy is able to keep Ani connected at the canter with her back up and stretching into the rein connection. Keeping a horse connected in the canter is a challenge with many riders and now you can see e the beginning stages of a horse using its back as it stays connected at the canter.

 

Is your horse able to stretch in the canter like this? Try this technique and let us know how it works for you.

 

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Stretching over the back and into the connection of the reins at the walk. The beginnings

A stretching we will go... a stretching we will go... What is meant by "getting your horse to stretch over their back" and how can you do it while they stay ...
Randi Thompson's insight:

Have you always wondered what a stretch is supposed to be? Now you can watch as Trudy asks Ani to stay connected as she stretches over her back and into the "alive" rein connection. This is the goal of many riders, especially those who ride dressage, and can take years to achieve as both the rider and the horse have to "let go" while they do it. Ani, like many horses, had a few issues and was not able to do this stretch, at this level, until these past few weeks. Trudy also found that she had to "let go" in her riding position to do this. It was a break through for both of them. This is part #1 of 3 (walk, trot and canter)


Are your reins "alive" when you are riding your horse? Can you see how you can use that feeling to keep your horses back up and more connected with you?

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Improve your leg yield/half pass longer steps sideways at the trot. The Secrets of the Trainers

""Would you like to know how you can teach your horse to take longer steps sideways in the leg yields or lateral work? You are not alone. This is one of the biggest challenges for riders and their horses as they both need to learn a new way to balance while staying connected" 

Randi Thompson's insight:

 

This was the final video of this series with Susan and Beau. What a transformation! Our goal was to ask Beau to stay connected while taking longer steps in a different balance where he is shifting his weight back more to his haunches. As you can see, they have gone to a new level. To do this, we focused on the "bend from behind the saddle". What we also found interesting was the importance of Susan keeping her inside leg and weight softer and her position anchored on the outside (as too much weight or riders leg aids will shift the horses rib cage and back out instead of under the rider on the inside for circles and lateral work) We are very happy with the changes and are happy to share them with you so that you can also see the possibilities with your horse or students. To see more about how we started this process check out this weeks posts or go to our Youtube channel and look in the Playlist area under "bending from behind"

 

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The secrets of the trainers. How to know if your horse is "bending" from behind the saddle.

"How do you know if your horse has the right bend from behind the saddle? What does that mean and why is it important for what you are doing with your horse?...
Randi Thompson's insight:


If you are like many riders you enjoy doing different things with your horse. In this session you will see a big change in Beau's movement. He went to a new level of balance and connection! All we did was take the time to focus on if he was really bending from behind the saddle in the curves and lateral work. It sounds easier than it might be. Now you can watch the process we are using and apply it to what you are doing with your horse.

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Training level canters. Is your horse ready to stay connected and supple at the canter yet? Watch what happens with this horse and rider

Are you ready to take your horse to the next level of training and connection in the canter?  It does not really matter how old your horse is, if you want a balanced connected canter you will need to go through these steps to move up the training scale.

Randi Thompson's insight:

Now you can watch what we do with this green horse as her rider asks her to stay more connected and balanced in the canter.  This was one of the first times so you can see what your horse might also be doing.  

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