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 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



Training Tips: “Cross Training”

Cross training with your horse is a really great way of using one discipline to help another.

For instance in this video Solly and I are working on our canter simple lead changes through a serpentine shape in a 20×40 dressage sized arena.This is helping us to find lighter, smoother transitions, self carriage and engagement of the hindquarters and more accuracy in our curves and straight lines.

All of the above is also preparing us for cantering jump courses and it’s fun to work on one thing knowing it will benefit somewhere else.


Carrying on from my last post about Cross Training, today Solly and I took the serpentine ‘Simple Lead Changes’ to the jumping area. Keeping to the pattern we did some nice trot to canter changes between the jumps.

The main things I was looking for was for me to do less with my reins and body, more with my focus and energy and for the little pieces of the SLC’s to become easier, smoother, lighter and quicker.

Taking time over the small, individual parts of the ‘whole’ pattern really does help to create a better foundation for that pattern.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

Cross Training




Training Tips: “Jumps for Impulsion”

Jumps for impulsion


I love popping over a few jumps to have fun with Solly but I also find it very useful to help with our impulsion.

The jumps require focus and energy, flexibility and straightness and it helps to teach us to be able to shorten and extend strides, to have light, smooth transitions and a great focus.

There are many ways to help with finding true impulsion that you can use such as using circles to quieten a extroverted, impulsive horse and to use long straight lines for under impulsed introverted horses. Having something your horse likes to do will also help keep the training session fun and help give you a wonderful focus together.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Training Tips: “Loose Rein Riding”

Loose rein riding1


Loose rein riding really is empowering to the rider and the horse. I find it helps our balance and I love the feel of freedom it gives.

Working from walk, trot and then canter helps you find your inner connection through trust in each other and it feels amazing when all the dots start to connect with your horsemanship techniques and when you look left, turn your body left, put your right leg on and the horse turns beautifully to the left with you…now that IS the CONNECTION I just LOVE having 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy





Training Tips: “Focus for Riding”

focus for riding 1


I love having something to focus on when riding in the field. These jumps help me find straight lines and circles between them…the basic’s for impulsion and flexibility.

You don’t have to have jump wings to be able to see the lines you want to ride but if you have trouble thinking about shapes to ride in your field then having something physical there to focus on can really help.

Other objects you could use are cones, polyposts, tyres or filled water bottles 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

Training Tips: “Dressage tests”

dressage test


I use dressage tests to check my horsemanship progress, you too can use different ways to check your own progress.

For me this checks all my horsemanship and each time I do it I am checking specific things such as working on our transitions until they’re smooth and light, checking our flexibility through working on curves on circles, checking our impulsion until our whoa is as good as our go with light almost invisible cues.

You can check your techniques in many ways such as hacking out, dressage tests at home or away or just creating patterns in an arena from groundwork into the saddle, what you’re looking for is not so much the dressage test, it’s the all round balance of light cues, self carriage of you and horse, flexibility, impulsion (not impulsiveness) and connection from you to your horse so that the harmony between you grows and grows.

Whatever you do with your horse remember to learn from mistakes and have fun 


  • Shelley – HorseSavvy


dressage test 2





Training Tips: ‘Horse Thresholds’

What are thresholds and how can we deal with them?

tresholdsHorses can have fear or leadership thresholds that can involve environmental, emotional or physical issues. These can sometimes show up as ‘napping’ where the horse refuses to go forward and people call the horse stubborn, this could also be something physical or painful somewhere, this should be checked by a vet first and foremost. They can also show up in sceptical horses where everything seems fine but then for no apparent reason they fly off the wall, bolt for home, spin or back up exceedingly fast. All of these really are fear or emotional thresholds or issues but it can also be a leadership or trust issue because if we’re frightened or unconfident the horse will pick up on that really fast and be unconfident or frightened too.


For a prey animal horses are asked to do quite a lot of things that aren’t naturally in their DNA. Horses are flight animals that live in family groups. They rarely go anywhere on their own, they are programmed to run without thinking through fear, for a horse it’s good to outrun whatever it was that frightened them or maybe wants to eat them, They are also animals that push into pressure SO when we get a horse going through a fear threshold their instinct to run without thinking is natural and quite often we are in the way and can get hurt. They literally cannot think of anything but running when in full flight mode. For a predator to ask them to calm down and listen is extremely hard to do and even harder to do when the predator is maybe being predatory!

Remember also that WE have thresholds…..this can be fear based such as trauma from a horse accident or going into a new environment  such as a wide open field and a frisky horse. It could be worry that you may have an accident or riding with people you don’t know. We need to approach, retreat and reapproach with our own thresholds too!

SO…what can we do to help our horses and their thresholds?

1. We can really listen to their body language such as where their ears are looking,  are their nostrils flared, is their head high, are their muscles tightening? if so then they are coming to a threshold. If we’re good at noticing these things we can do something earlier, before it becomes a bigger issue.

2. Once we’ve noticed a worry in our horse we can carry on and help the horse by being confident and assertive (not angry, frustrated or predatory) and this often can help a horse be more confident with us. If the horse stops and wants to look then let it, if the horse stops and snorts then there is something worrying it and we can back off, turn around and go away from the worrying thing (even if you can’t see what it is) or we can get off our horse and ask it to walk on or away to help the horse find confidence in us and relaxation over the situation.

3. Each situation is something you have to figure out with your horse as to what to do next. Once you have a good connection with your horse you should be noticing everything that it ‘says’ to you in it’s body language. Doing something earlier is better than doing something later and helping to understand your horses feelings and emotions goes a long way to being connected and learning to trust each other.

4. With the issue of a leadership threshold, where the horse doesn’t listen or trust us enough we need to learn to be ‘leaders’ in a way that helps our horse overcome issues it may have. By being a consistent, confident, quiet, calm leader where your horse can follow with confidence, because if we’re not confident about leading our horses won’t be confident to follow.

5. We need to make things familiar then take everything into a slightly unfamiliar place and create the familiar there too. To progress we take small steps into the unfamiliar and bring it into the familiar regularly and keep at it to progress. What we’re looking for in our horses is relaxation, attentiveness to our requests, willingness to perform those requests and curiosity with confidence. What we need to look for in OURSELVES is the ability to be confident by making sure we know the techniques to help our horses relax, to be confident in the ability to retreat out of a scary place if it’s making US or our HORSES worried at all and to be able to have techniques to help US relax in any situation even if that means GETTING OFF, BREATHING, RETREATING and RE-MOUNTING when we feel we can.

Being overly brave outwardly but scared inwardly really upsets horses, they read us beneath the surface, so don’t try to make it by faking it, it doesn’t work with horses. We need to ‘get our butterflies in formation’, find our confidence through consistency and progress at our and our horses pace.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy