Shaun Mandy’s dressage blog: Going places

  • Dear gorgeous readers,

    As I start writing to you, I am sitting at Aarhus Airport in Denmark as I commence my long journey to South Africa for my five-day clinic in Durban.

    It has been a whirlwind few weeks with training, clients, selling horses, shows and an exciting new development which I will share with you.

    Yesterday, I said goodbye to one of my favourite horses as Grethe (Hoffmann) and I made the long journey with Montoya (a Michellino gelding) to north of Copenhagen. He has been sold to Olympic Finnish rider, Mikaela Lindh (or Fia as she is commonly known). He is such a fabulous horse so his future is exciting and the Hoffmann’s will remain co-owners.

    We all had a lovely sociable time at the vetting, which he sailed through, before delivering him to Fia’s beautiful yard.

    Grethe and I left at 5.30am to catch the 7am ferry from Aarhus to the Island of Zealand, which Copenhagen is situated on. It was a fairly bumpy ride on the open waters, but Montoya coped well with it and I enjoyed a big buffet breakfast to take my mind of the minor stormy seas! All in all a fun day out was had and we arrived home last night in time for me to get a little more organised for my current trip.


    Montoya eating my scarf

    Well, I have just looked up at the screen and see that my flight to Stansted is delayed by an hour and a half. Not ideal when I then need to get a bus to Heathrow for my flight to Dubai! Nothing I can do about it, so think it may be time for a glass of wine! Back in a mo…

    Last weekend, Dressage International Dompadour (Poppy) and I were competing at Grenaa (pictured top).

    Day one started with heavy snow and so we had a very scenic drive there. Poppy was not a massive fan of the indoor venue with all the big scary banners and the grandstand which was so close to the arena it might as well have been in it! A couple of children playing in the seating area did not help our cause and so a bit of tension and the odd spook didn’t make for a great score. We were just out of the placings coming fourth.

    The next day was similar apart from a beautiful, big flying change where she was not meant to do one! It was an educational weekend for her and I can put it down as a positive training experience.

    Conquering spookiness

    When you are at a competition and your horse may be a bit spooky in a certain corner or because he sees something scary, it is a good idea to think shoulder-in. If you keep him straight as you are riding into your corner, he will have much more opportunity to face what he is scared of, spook and possibly result in both of you ending up in the middle of the arena!

    Before he has had time to grab the bit and take control, increase the pressure with your inside leg, maintaining your outside rein and keep guiding and flexing on the inside rein. As you have ridden past what he is scared of and you feel him give under you remember to relax and give back to him.

    You can practice this at home. Your horse may be scared of passing the arena door or a place on the long side of the arena where jumps are stored behind the rails. In trot, start riding a 10 to 12 metre circle on the opposite side of the arena to where the scary place is. Begin to gradually leg yield your horse towards the scary place, ensuring you remain on a circle. Through this exercise you will be increasing the pressure from your inside leg and keep the inside rein guiding and flexing. You will also find that riding with a slightly increased inside bend as you move towards the scary place will very much help your cause.

    It is very important that when you feel your horse is happy and relaxed to be closer to whatever he was scared of before, you praise him and remove the pressure.


    It was great to see the Hoffmann’s stallion, Onassis (the most winning Danish horse at small tour level last year, pictured above) do his first grand prix at the competition with his rider Susanne Barnow. He is such an elegant, happy horse and for sure would put any junior or young rider straight on a team!

    So, for my exciting news…

    Poppy, Pringle and I are moving back home to the UK! I really have had an amazing year and a half at Hoffmann Towers in Denmark. I have developed much more as a rider and coach and it has led to some great opportunities.

    I will now be starting my own business where I will be based at a beautiful yard (near Wooton Bassett, Wiltshire) with fantastic facilities, including an indoor school. Here I will be having training, competition and sales horses and will continue with my coaching — clients will be able to come to me and I will keep up my away clinics too.

    I have booked the transporter for my precious cargo, Poppy and Pringle for 11 March. I’ve got lots to organise before then, including selling furniture and my little Danish car, but first…my week in Sunny South Africa!

    Until soon

    Shaun xx

    Ooh! Nearly forgot my quote from Body Mind Mastery:

    ‘What a caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly – Richard Bach’


    Pringle and gerda (Hoffmann dog) playing in the snow

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