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The End of the 2017 U.K. Summer

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The 2017 U.K. summer has now almost come to a close. The last intake of horses is going home this weekend, after the handover course. Then there is a couple of courses left before I leave for sunnier climates. A big thank you to Tina and Total Horsemanship in organising the courses and horse intakes and to all those that come along to courses and the weeks at Dudgeley in Shropshire. What is really pleasing to see is the progress that all have made over the many years. I wish all well and look forward to when we next catch up, below is a small horsemanship article that I hope all enjoy.

When writing these blogs I try to leave readers with something that will help them with their horsemanship. I am not the first to emphasise the importance of having your horse in balance both on the ground and in the saddle. Many look at balance as being longitudinally, you must also consider latitudinally and this is just the physical. The horse may be out of balance and or pushing on you for a number of reasons from fear to learned behaviour and or for other reasons. Some time ago I heard it said that until your horse is in balance your horse will not be emotionally stable. In cases where you horse is pushing on you or rushing and are are out of balance, while you can back them up etc,  if you do not get the horse back in balance and the weight right, then the horse may not make a mental change and as a result continues to push on you.

I may not have found all the right words here to explain the above,  but hope these words are insightful in some way and wish all well.

A Blog for May

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MapMarkerMy Australian schedule is coming to an end for a couple of months having just completed a 2 day home course this past weekend plus the ongoing young horse intake. It will then be time to start to get ready to head out for the U.K. at the end of next month. During the month of April I have travelled to Bowral – N.S.W., Canberra – ACT and Serpentine in Western Australia with courses and lessons etc.  It is always great to see the progress of all in my travels. Particularly for those that have been attending courses for some time, I always remember where you started from.18221911_1851803965143631_427641186028701635_n

The image above and below was a young horse start with the owner riding the young horse for the first time. This was in Serpentine, W.A. at a course organised by Horsemanship First organiser Jenny Jackson. These sort of situations are great learning for all, regardless if  you are participating or watching. Every horse has the ability to learn and to teach.

I have just started to put together next seasons schedule so please keep an eye on the course schedule over the next few months. In November it is likely that there will be a cost starting course here at home in Qld. This will be invitational, so please email me if you are interested. I have also added a horsemanship article below as well for all to read.

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Feel is such an intangible thing and what it means to you today will change over time. To get your horse to operate from a feel both on the ground and ridden is something to aspire to. Many can drive a horse but still not have the horse following a feel on the halter or feeling down to the feet. Many riders can get to where they are just pulling on the reins or lead rope rather than feeling of the horse. As a result of just pulling you may be building in resistance or a brace. In a recent conversation with a friend an observation was  that when a horse steps over a pole on the ground with feel, the horse will not knock the pole. I remember Ray pointing out to a group of us one time, a horse that was not feeling down to the feet and then when the horse was really feeling with feet. It was too completely different pictures,  observe your own horse in the way that they move at different gaits and in different situations. Equally before the horse moves they have to get ready to move, in this case the weight must shift.

While appreciating that many have heard and read the above several times before, we do have start living this more to gain the benefits.

When I started putting this blog together it was the beginning of May and now we are at the end of May. The year is flying by, I look forward to meeting up with all those in the U.K. in the next few weeks.

An Autumnal Aust

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MapMarkerI am now back from the spring of the Northern Hemisphere and into the autumn of the Southern Hemisphere. The past week has been spent putting up flood fences etc from the floods of Cyclone Debbie, we were lucky with no stock loses or building damage and grateful for the rain.

Next week I will be back on the road again in Australia starting with a 3 day private course in Bowral, N.S.W. and then riding horses in Canberra before flying back over to the west coast for a week long course with Horsemanship First Organiser Jenny Jackson. On arriving back home I have horses coming in for starting and then I have a home course that will be a Horsemanship and Cow Working Course. For any that are needing more information or enquiries please go to the website course schedule, www.davidstuart.com.au courses   or alternatively email me at info@davidstuart.com.au

I have again added a horsemanship article or rambling that I trust will prove helpful.

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The above images are from the Legacy of Legends in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

When I was in the U.S recently I had an opportunity to spend a few days with some good people not only are they good with the horse, they have an empathy for the horse and are also good people to be around. While there is always a lot to be learned when you are riding a horse, I also believe there is a lot to be learned when you are having a conversation in the evening. The more experience that a rider has around horses, good or otherwise, often the better the conversation.

This conversation probally leads on from February’s blog and so with one of my friends we were discussing a soft feel. The conversation stared with me asking a question. Do you think that the soft feel is misunderstood, from what Ray Hunt intended. We both thought that this was the case, of course we might both want to review our current understanding over time. It appears today that many believe that a soft feel is more related to vertical flexion, while this has a part to play.  If we can understanding the preparation to the position more, then perhaps we might have a better understanding of what we are trying to attain. ( That has to help the horse to start with )

As riders we may not appreciate how sensitive the horse is and we can often get to where we are just pulling on the horse to try and get the horse to come to the vertical. I am sure that this is not what Ray meant, when he spoke of  a soft feel. When you would see Ray ride a horse, irrelevant of the horse being a young horse or an older horse. The horse was always in balance and the flexion was appropriate. Equally Ray always looked like he was a part of the horse and in balance with the horse. The question was put to Ray one time if he had ever had any equitation lessons, his answer was no. As he elaborated he said that it was easy to ride a horse that is in balance. Equally the soft feel has more quality and weighs nothing, even if the horse is not at the vertical, they feel like you have them on a thread of cotton. The horse is operating more on a feel than a physical containment, of course for may of us this may only be for a moment or to, but that is a start anyway.

These days I get a little reluctant to speak of Ray to much, for fear of  misquoting him. Many have a part or an understanding of what this is about, so the above is more about causing us all to broaden our  horizons and perspectives.  A quote that Ray would sometimes use was that the last thing that you learn is the first thing that you need to know.

November’s Blog

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MapMarkerIt is hard to believe that we are in November and nearly at the end of another year. The last months travel has taken me to W.A. and recently Braidwood in NSW, Wamboin just outside Canberra and Bowral. Next week I am back home in Qld  and will have the last course of the year at home. For those that are interested in this course please email me.

The image below was from a course that I had in Serpentine in Western Australia with Jenny Jackson at Horsemanship First.

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Past Reflections: The first Ray Hunt course I went to was in 1986 and I promised Ray that I would work really hard on my horsemanship. I did not understand his reply at the time when he said don’t work to hard at it son, I am still working hard on my horsemanship , equally though I now have a better understanding of what Ray meant by those words. I have also had many that have helped me over the years some very well known and others not known at all.

In reflection over past years it has been interesting to watch the evolvement of the horse industry and horsemanship in general. You now see where many riders have some sort of ground work repertoire, many are wanting to consider and understand things from the horses perspective. Riding has in general changed for the better and riders now have more access to information and knowledge than ever before, whether this be in the form of books, DVDs or internet.

Again in my travels I have had the opportunity to meet, many people from all over the world. Some have been leaders in their respective fields and others leaders of large companies and leaders of families. Many have an interesting story to tell and many have become good friends and if they choose to  give advice I really try hard to listen and act on this. I know they are going to ask me if I have done my homework. These people also have a huge desire to learn and improve. They have a real fire in their belly, that is very hard to put out.

Those that really progress with their horsemanship are ones that continue to educate themselves, do their home work and keep the fire stoked. As Ray could not do “it” for me, nor I for others. If you can learn to do “it” for your horse and yourself , what you will lean, will be more valuable.

 

 

Back in the UK

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MapMarker My U.K. schedule starting off in the north of England at the beginning of July then headed to Scotland. We have also been down south to the New Forrest as well. The first intake of young horses is now almost at a close with the handover course this coming weekend. Many of the horses on this intake have been restarts or have previoulsy been bucking riders off. The image below is of one of the horses that has been here for a couple of weeks. It has been enjoyable riding these horses and seeing how far they can progress in the time available . If we can keep the horse in balance it really helps the horse to not to get worried. This is a life long lesson for all of us.

 

 

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One of the highlights of my U.K. trip this year has been a ride in an Aston Martin DB 9 convertible with the ride living up to expectations.  It has been great catching up with everyone on the courses and the foundation weeks and seeing the progress riders are making. My U.K. schedule is available for viewing on my website. For further enquiries please email or contact Tina at:  infouk@davidstuart.com.au

An Australian May Autumnal Blog.

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MapMarker It has been a few months since I last updated my website blog. Recent travels have seen me in Perth W.A. and in Hervey Bay Qld, many thanks to Jenny Jackson and family and to Megan Wray and the Qld Pony Club. Without course hosts, courses do not happen.  To the riders and spectators I very much hope that you were able to improve on your horsemanship and enjoyed the class. This week sees me just outside of Sydney for the week and then I have another intake of young horses coming for May and June. There is also another lesson day here at my family’s property in May and in June another 2 day course is scheduled for Victoria at St Andrews.

During recent courses I spoke about riding your horse from leg to hand. Many riders find that when they pick up on a soft feel that their horse starts to slow down or that they lose forwards.  Having your horse in front of your leg but not escaping from your leg was something that seemed to resonate with some riders. Also the use of trotting poles, cavaletties  and small jumps was a means to help some riders and horses regain forwards in their horses.  Equally as the horse’s impulsion began to improve so did the straightness in the horses.  As a result then when they picked up on a soft feel again they had more quality with their horses being more engaged and lighter in the front end.   In regards to straightness I spoke about looking at your horses tracks when you ride away from home and when he is coming home. Most riders will feel their horse rides home a little better than when he is going away from home.

DSC02719The image above is not a trotting pole and the jump the horse took was a little bigger than some riders would like. What was interesting about this horse was that you could tell when he was going to make the jump and when he was thinking of not jumping. When the horse was coming into the jump with ears pricked forward and good impulsion, he would carry you into the jump and over. As a generalisation, a horse with poor impulsion was also expressed in the overall expression of the horse and they would run out or refuse the jump.[ Riders, do not worry if jumping is not your thing, we can just stick to the trotting poles ]

Ray Hunt said more than once,  the horse is the fact and the human has an opinion. Getting our opinion and facts to match up is part of reading the horse and that comes with time and experience.  As I have at times mentioned during courses this will be a long road to ride with more than a few pot holes along the way. At times all I can do is to encourage all to ride forward and straight.

2016, The New Year Starts

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MapMarkerJanuary 2016  started with a weeks stay in  Tamworth, Australia for the Legacy of Legends event. It was an exceptional 3 day event and well supported by the southern hemisphere audience with numbers bigger than the first Legacy of Legends event held in Tamworth in 2014.  It was also great to see many friends from the U.S. make it across to Australia for this event.  It may have been just to escape the winter of the Northern Hemisphere. Carolyn Hunt & Buck Brannaman have bought this event across from the U.S. with the enormous help of  Anthony and Deb Desreaux in organizing it.

The schedule consisted of colt starting, horsemanship, cow working  and roping sessions. The image below was from the last morning session of the colt start and was of Buck helping me to get on this filly from the fence. The presentation that Buck gave using this filly and explaining what was taking place was a topic of conversation for many of the audience. A few of the comments Buck made during the presentation were about the importance of changing eyes and not pushing and having good flexion when bringing the forequarters though plus the placement of the feet. While the session did not start here and was a little western at the beginning, to feel the difference in this horse at the end was exceptional. It is difficult to put all the lessons into words and for many the lessons would have been a more visual.

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After Tamworth it was off to Southport on the Gold Coast in Queensland, not for the Magic Millions but for the annual state pony club conference held at the Southport Pony Club grounds.  The Qld State Pony Club have been holding horsemanship courses throughout the state for a number of years now. They are to be commended for seeing the importance of horsemanship in their curriculum.

In  February I have horses coming in for starting,  plus cattle work with a lesson day in early February at my family’s cattle station. I also have a 4 day horsemanship & cow working course at the end of March at home as well. For more information please email me at info@davidstuart.com.au

I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year and look forward to catching up through out my travels during the year.

 

 

Novembers Blog

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MapMarkerSince my last website blog I have been in Perth, New Zealand and just recently returned from Melbourne. It is always good to be back in Australia and getting around this big country. I have had the opportunity to travel extensively for over 20 years and while appreciating and enjoying what many other countries have to offer. Australia is a great and lucky country with recent global events.

I have now completed my course schedule for this year and start again in the new year with the Australian Legacy of Legends event in Tamworth and then a 2 day course at the annual Southport Queensland Pony Club conference. I also have another intake of young horses in February for those interested, please email me, places are limited. At the end of March I also have a course here at my place in Central Queensland, this is a 4 day course and will be a horsemanship and cow working course. Again please email if you are interested as places will be limited. There  are also a few more courses for the Australian schedule next year that are in the pipe line so please look at the course schedule webpage for updates.

12189382_1513740505616647_751071905197855176_oThe image above and below is from the week long course in Perth. The horse I am riding is one of Jenny Jackson’s horses,  Jenny and her family educated us all on Alpacas and made all welcomed. The New Zealand course went very well with a very good standard and all making good progress over the course, thank you to Scott O’Malley & Michaela Coombe. The St Andrews course in Victoria was also progressive and a big thank you to Tiana and her husband Stu for their hospitality and in making everyone feel welcomed. The smaller image was of a friends horse that I rode for a couple of the afternoon sessions at the St Andrews course.

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IMG_2504At recent courses, while helping riders on many topics of horsemanship. a couple of those topics have been transitions and the other equitation. For those that are able to take on board the information you see their horsemanship make progress. While all are trying to improve as riders we still have to make sure that we are not riding with a kick to go and pull to stop approach. There is more to being a good rider than not falling off and we all do. Being able to know what your legs and hands and body are doing is very important. Some riders really struggle to isolate their legs and so while trying to use only one leg the other is active as well.  Riding transitions smoothly and keeping the weight correct for the horse is another chapter and verse as well.

To all that have attended courses this year and organised courses or sent horses for starting I wish you all well with your horsemanship. Have a very Merry Christmas and New Year. I look forward to seeing you again next year.

 

A Late October Blog

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MapMarkerI have now made it back into the office at home in Australia. All horses from the recent young horse intake have now gone home. There are still a couple of places available on the February and May intakes. Please let me know if you are wanting to reserve a place as the intakes can fill up quickly.

Tomorrow I start travelling to Perth, not in Scotland, but Western Australia.  This will be a 5 day horsemanship course, more details are available on the website course listing page. Next week, it is back to the South Island of New Zealand for a horsemanship and  cow working course.  The middle of November is a 3 day horsemanship course in St Andrews Victoria. In December a 2 day course is scheduled for Armidale in N.S.W.

The UK course listings for 2016 is now available for viewing on the website. Please let me know if any changes need to be made with contact details etc.

Below the image I have written a horsemanship article that I trust that will be helpful.

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Horsemanship is non denominational and is applicable to all disciplines and equestrian sports. It takes time for both the horse and human to learn and be solid. With the horse it is easy for us to get frustrated when we don’t pick up straight away, where we left off yesterday or last week. Most times this is just a case of things not being solid and dependable. A recent example of this was a case where I rode a couple of horses that I started last year.  They were well bred and nice horses, but their self-preservation was pretty close to the surface and a lot of time was spent on getting things solid and dependable with the time that I had them for. This year I rode the same horses for a small amount of time and to my knowledge they had not been ridden or had much handling during the 12 months. It was like picking up where I left off 12 months ago,  saddling and riding was a non event.

Spending time on getting the foundation solid with your horses is really an investment that pays regular dividends in many forms. To understand the horsemanship takes time on the human side as well. When riders come along to courses I really try to emphasis the importance of doing your homework in between the courses and overtime you will progress.

Summertime in the U.K.

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MapMarkerThis afternoon the U.K. weather has given me an afternoon off of riding horses in order to put words to this months blog. Since my last blog I have been in the U.K. busy with courses and young horses. I am now in the final couple of weeks before leaving to start travel back to Australia via Europe and Dubai. There are still a couple of  more courses here in England and then it is across to the Isle of Man and Ireland for courses over there as well.

My Australian course schedule starts in October with a course at home and then Perth, New Zealand and Victoria. More details are on the course schedule of the website.

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In a previous blog, the Q & A format drew positive feedback and have continued with that below.

Q: How do I get my horse to walk out?

A: An old saying is that the walk is the mother of all gaits. In a previous lifetime the paddocks / pastures that we gathered or mustered cattle from where significantly larger than they are now. So we always appreciated a horse that could walk. I was not always successful at getting my horses to walk out in those days, these days my young horses/ colts can out walk most older saddle horses after a few rides. While on the ground I am looking at how my horses walk out and how they track up and are balanced. Many horses that riders can not get to walk out are on the forehand and not tracking up from the ground. I find if I drive my horses forward from behind the wither then this helps to encourage the horse to track up more. When the horse is ridden and on the forehand and is asked to move out more in the walk often the horse breaks into a jog or a trot.  I liken this to having someone give you a slight push when you are walking down hill. If your weight is not back then you will have to break into a jog or a trot to regain your balance.  When riding I also try and get my legs and body in time with the rhythm of the walk. My legs follow the swing of the barrel of the horse and try to get the walk to where it will start to swing my reins. At times I will slightly increase the tempo of the swing of my reins to get the horse to get with me a little more. We have all ridden horses that walk well in the direction of home and can get the reins to start to swing. I like them to walk away from home the same way.