Training Tips: “Spontaneity”



Using kind consistency with our horse training is a super way of helping our horses learn, some horses love a good solid routine. But it can often become boring if overdone and some horses hate being bored SO we need to learn the art of becoming balanced between being CONSISTENT and SPONTANEOUS.

Yesterday I wanted to do something with the horses but with the weather being on/off I didn’t plan anything, in fact I didn’t even take saddles or bridles. When the weather stayed dry it was a ‘LETs DO IT’ moment and I took the opportunity and played/rode both boys with what I had….rope halter and reins for Solly and used those reins to make a cordeo for Stormy. The pics  show the end of a completely spontaneous play/riding session.

What was lovely was that the boys were up for it too and because I had no plan, just wanting a good feel with everything I did, it felt GREAT. Think the boys enjoyed it too <3

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy





Training Tips: “Thoughts on Collection”

21743355_1112526915545234_6815195849651235949_nWe hear a LOT about ‘collection’, being ‘on the bit’ and ‘engagement’. What exactly is this and how do we find it?

The picture above is a sculpture of a horse in ‘self-engagement’. It clearly shows how the whole horse is lifted up, balanced, light and engaged. Engaged from the back hooves, up through the body which lifts the belly and ribs and lightens the forehand and neck which automatically brings the upper neck and head towards the chest with the poll highest.

Look at the fabulously smooth line from the hocks to the ears over the horses back…beautiful. The symmetry of the trotting diagonal legs, they’re matching in line and energy and finally the high poll of the head and the proud headset.

SO…how do we attain this with a bridle?

Well for me I work with ground work first, helping the horse to become more symmetrical left and right, lateral flexions, and once they have the balance with that then I work on asking for longitudinal flexion, long and low to find relaxation across the top of the spine, through natural horsemanship techniques.

With the balance working left and right and then with a relaxed low head, which helps to stretch the back and neck and build good musculature there, it is THEN that I start to ask for that relaxation with energy from the hindquarters to help create the powerful ‘engaged’ feel and look of the horse you see in the picture.

It can take quite some time for a horse to be fit, muscles with relaxation do not happen overnight, it’s asking the horse to ‘body build’, to have a strong, flexible core and to be able to hold that posture for longer and longer. To be able to find this core strength is great and once done well on the ground then we can work on the same principles and training techniques when riding. The horse gets a stronger body with fit muscles which helps them to carry our weight well.

Putting ourselves on the horses back changes the balance of the horse so working on techniques that allow the horse to then find the energy and power from his hindquarters through to the poll over his back when ridden is hard, the reins really have nothing to do with it. The reins, when working correctly, are used to help refine the cues and are taken up when they become slack due to the horses head NATURALLY becoming higher, lighter and proud. Pulling the horses head in through the bridle/reins is an incorrect way of finding ‘engagement’…it is merely a ‘headset’ created by the hands. Engagement is created through the horses core strength, fitness and balance through working from back to front, hindquarters to poll. Every horse knows naturally how to do this when they play or show off with other horses. They often don’t do it for long unless a stallion so to achieve this for us to ride is an art not just one technique..

Our training should help fitten the horse through the ground work, to help them find self-carriage so that they are relaxed, flexible and able to carry us. For us to then ride ‘quietly’ and get out of the horses way so that he can do just that when being ridden is how ‘engagement’ occurs.

In addition to all of this, WE need to be fit enough through core strength and self-carriage to be able to ride such a wonderfully fit and healthy horse.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Training Tips: “Stirrup-less”


Going back to some basic’s is always a good idea as the foundations of good horsemanship and riding are doing the simple things well and then with excellence.

So today Solly and I did some good freestyle riding….stirrup-less and with the reins laying on his neck. I find this sort of basic thing really improves my balance and focus and helps me see how well my riding connection is.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Training Tips: “Listening to your Horse”


Listening to what horses are telling us is an integral part of horsemanship. It helps to keep us as partners as the conversations we have together should be two way, it also helps keep us all safe.

We must remember that no matter how much training, how good our horses are or even how great our connection that horses are prey animals. Some have a huge flight instinct and some are calmer, some run before they can think, others think before they can run. Their innate behaviour is not going to change with training but hopefully through good techniques and helping them to learn how to relax and respond rather than get hyper and react will help them become more rounded and centred and what I think good training should do.

Today I was out playing with some techniques online with big Stormy….he just could not connect to me in one part of the field so I got him to where he was connecting back to me more then retreated to where he felt more responsive and happy. I knew he would not be concentrating in that spot if I decided to ride there so went back to where he was listening to me and rode there.

The next time I go out I will address this issue more as I find it fascinating to be able to take the time to help him (or any horse) that needs more approach and retreat with an issue, so they start to focus and become soft and relaxed and can listen to me because the ‘worrying thing’ is not longer a worry.

This is what made Stormy inattentive….







  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Training Tips: “All Round Horse”


Over the years of learning and teaching Horsemanship I’ve realised more and more how much of what I do is about the pure foundation for the horse. Setting them, and ourselves, up for the future of what we want to try with our horses.

Taking something as basic as familiarisation with objects to working well with extreme familiarisation for Le Trec. Knowing which rein controls which foot and how to achieve soft, light turns or invisibly cued leg yields.Having such a good connection with your horse that you can use a cue as light as a weight shift for canter leads.

I feel that Natural Horsemanship techniques are the key to the main foundation of EVERYTHING I do. It isn’t something that should be thought of as a solo technique, something that will only fix a particular problem or for those that only want to do NH.

Anyone wanting a relaxed horse in jumping, a precise horse in dressage, a willing horse in Trec or a flexible pony for pony games then Natural Horsemanship can help and work along side other training techniques for a great all round horse.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy


Training Tip Video’s: “Imagination”

Putting a few regular tasks together makes up a much more imaginative days play and helps keep things progressive and fun.

Games used are: Circling, transitions, narrow corridor/squeeze, fig 8’s done with Relaxation, Willingness, Impulsion and Flexibility.


Using some IMAGINATION with fig 8’s and a jump. IMAGINATION is the key to having a good time with games and keeping it fun for you and your horse 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Training Tip Video’s: “Not able to Ride?”

Not able to ride?…..Ground work is a invaluable as a training place and can be a lot of fun.

It can help with finding your horse/heart connection, communication refinement, starting lateral work, Smooth transitions from body and voice cues and much much more. If you can get the conversation going well on the ground with cues that will work when in the saddle then riding work is half done already 

Here, Solly and I, work on some ‘spook busting’ with a ball. You’d not believe how scared he used to be of this but how far he’s come from persistent consistency with it.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Training Tips: “Consistency”


Being away or bad weather makes it hard to find CONSISTENCY with training yourself and your horse, I know that scenario all too well BUT consistency doesn’t necessarily mean working on something every day, it can also mean working on something in a consistent manner.

Being consistent with your cues, your energy, your focus and your feel of love is still consistent and if you practice that with your horse you will soon find he will give you consistent replies to the questions you ask.

Yesterday Solly and I, apart for 9 days through teaching and weather finally had some US time and this is what happened… we’d never been apart.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Training Tips: “The Connection”


Having a great connection with Mr Solly has been something we have worked on for a long time, it wasn’t always easy, it wasn’t always smooth and it wasn’t overnight.

The connection we have through that training has brought us trust, lightness, focus, flexibility, harmony and confidence together.

We use all the training we have together daily without even thinking about it, it is now a good muscle memory for us both (brain and body), safety through gateways, confidence and relaxation with ground work, liberty, agilty, riding and much more.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy


Training Tips: “Place a Foot”

The ability to place a foot of your horse is a great skill to have. It shows you can have an individual conversation with a foot and also that you and your horse are very well connected.

“You get to his mind when you talk to his feet and you get to his feet when you talk to his mind”

If we take that knowledge from ground work to ridden work it will advance our connect-ability to our horse, not only for refining tasks but for refining the way we have those conversations with our horse.

Place a foot 1


Place a foot 4









Working on placing feet today when riding through using direct or indirect reins at the right time for the horse. Being able to place a foot where you need it to be helps the horse balance up for what you’re asking him to do, it shows you’re partnering up with him for those tasks and that will really help keep the mental, emotional and physical connection to your horse…he will really notice that and be able to offer you more.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

Place a foot 5 Place a foot 6








Talking to the individual feet of the horse is very important.

Can you ask for just one foot over a pole? Does your horse follow a feel off the rope and halter to know which foot you’re talking to?

Also the same when riding….Do you know which rein controls which foot….what a direct rein is? what an indirect rein is? what a support rein is? what a neck rein is? but more importantly do you know where your weight should be to make moving each foot easier for your horse so that you can partner up and have more harmony?

I love finding fun things to do with individual feet, it really gets into the horses mind.

* Shelley – HorseSavvy


More foot placing fun going on :)

Foot 2 Foot 3 Foot 4







Foot 2









Foot 5 Foot 6









  • Shelley – HorseSavvy