Shaun Mandy’s dressage blog: if your horse makes a mistake, don’t make a big deal out of it

  • Dear gorgeous readers,

    As I write to you, I am sitting up in bed at my parent’s home with Pringle tucked under a snuggly blanket beside me. We have just had a little morning beach walk which Pringle loves as it gives her a chance to say hello to all her Bournemouth friends!

    Since I last wrote to you, I have turned 33, become an Uncle, achieved a personal best with Inky at prix st george and also am now his sole owner.

    This year I decided not to have any wildly large birthday celebrations so instead had a few close friends over for a Sunday lunch. It was a special time together and Mark outdid himself in the kitchen. His cooking is always good, but the roast pork and all the tasty side dishes were simply delicious!

    My actual birthday was on the Monday and it just so turned out that I did not have any client bookings on that day so I was able to have some me time and relax with a good book. That evening, Mark took me out to a cosy, ambient pub a few villages away, so all in all, I was thoroughly spoilt.

    One of my favourite presents was the echo. I love talking to the technical gadget, Alexa, and asking her to tell me a joke or play my favourite music — such fun!

    As I was born on my mum’s birthday and this year was her 60th, she did have a fun party to celebrate the weekend after our birthday.

    With Mark and his sister at my birthday lunch

    The highlight of November was, of course, becoming an uncle! Little baby Emma was born to Maria and, my brother, Mark and she is the most gorgeous, beautiful baby ever! I feel like I must now be more adult as I am an uncle. I am, naturally, going to be loads of fun and Emma will be riding ponies soon. I am sure it won’t be long until I pop her on top of Inky! It is adorable seeing my brother as a father and I feel he is going to be a natural.

    My brother’s boys day out before birth of his daughter

    I was thrilled to get a PB at Hartpury in a prix st george (PSG) class. Inky and I travelled to Ulrik for training on the Friday and did a little sleep over before carrying on to Hartpury on the Saturday. It was the first time out at this level and at the end of the test I really felt like I deserved to be there. We finished fourth on 66.84% with Michael Eilberg winning on 70%. A 70% score is much more in sight now!

    Inky and I in the PSG at Hartpury

    The following weekend I was back in the big international indoor arena at Hartpury, this time sitting on a chair instead of a horse. I travelled up with fellow dressage rider and friend, Debbie Beasant, for the British Dressage convention. It was fantastic to be there and to watch the brilliant Dr Ulf Moller and Michael Klimke in action as they coached.

    I was only able to attend on the Saturday and watched the training of the five and six-year-olds, PSG, Inter 1 and grand prix. It was inspirational and very much the theme for every horse that came in was to focus on the hind legs and not to pay too much attention to the neck. This was not to be confused with not having a contact and at all times the contact to the mouth is important. What I loved was the emphasis on all riders moving their arms forward in the walk with every step the horse takes. Even on a longer rein, making sure the hand is following forward to the mouth; making sure the horse, from the beginning, is in front of the rider’s leg and travelling to the bit; not being so quick to correct with the hand if the horse is a little distracted or loses balance, instead put the leg on more. Any time a horse made a little mistake or misread a rider’s signal, Ulf or Michael were so quick to say “doesn’t matter”. This was very refreshing as too often you see riders making a big deal when they feel their horse has not done what they are asking and generally this results in the horse’s back teeth being pulled out. We are not perfect and we are working with animals so mistakes will be made. The important thing is how we deal with them and move forward positively to create a good learning experience.

    Continued below…

    Well my lovelies, it is now time for a spot of lunch and then will be heading back home to Oxfordshire ready for another week ahead. The next time I write, it shall be 2018.

    Showing my niece the finer things in life!

    Have a very happy Christmas and wherever you are for the festive period, have fun and keep safe.

    Until soon xx

    Body Mind Mastery Quote: “When you cannot see what is happening, do not stare harder. Relax and look gently with your inner eye” — Lao Tzu

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