A typical session  

An Equitation Science coaching session is quite different from a riding lesson.  Gone are the days of endlessly trotting on a 20m circle applying your inside leg to your outside rein, to no avail.  Your horse will be transformed in each and every session, and you will understand how and why. 


First, train the basic responses

The focus is on teaching riders how to train the horse correctly to: Go, Stop, Turn and Yield.   

These basic responses are usually initially trained in-hand, using halt and walk.  Why?  Because it’s much easier to get the horse to trial the correct response in-hand and there is more time to correct, respond, and so on, in walk.  Training deficits in walk are magnified in trot, and further magnified in canter (and in more challenging environments – at the show!), so we retrain the horse in walk to make it easier and safer to make progress in trot and canter.  Walk is the mother of all gaits, and you will be surprised at how interesting and challenging 'getting it right' in walk is.  

In the faster gaits riders have less time to respond, and adrenalin is higher in both horse and rider, so, retraining in walk makes good sense.  Often, expected issues in trot and canter do not arise, as the responses have been retrained in walk.  For example, if a horse does not respond immediately to a light leg aid (‘dead to the leg’), retraining him in walk for a few minutes will make him trot from a light leg aid.  No need for spurs or nasty use of a whip!



If the horse is safe to ride we usually progress in one or two sessions to under-saddle training.  Having pre-trained all of the basic responses in hand, we now train all of them under-saddle.  As the horse has already learned the correct basic responses in-hand, the horse will easily offer the correct responses under-saddle.  In addition, some of his issues will already be resolved from the in-hand training which makes under-saddle training safer.  Another benefit of in-hand training is that the handler starts to become aware of what the horse is actually doing with his legs (was that Go or Turn?), and they also become much more accurate at applying and releasing pressure at the correct moment for optimum training.

When all the basic responses are retrained in walk, we proceed to train them in trot and then canter.  By this time it is likely that all of your horse's problem behaviour issues will be resolved, and you will have the bonus that his way of going is vastly improved, even if you weren’t focused on these things!  Quite simply; retraining the basic responses resolves nearly all problem behaviour in horses.

Crucially, specific behaviour problems will be eradicated and new, desirable behaviour will be trained to be a reliable response.  This is usually achieved over a series of training sessions, preferably fairly closely-spaced in time to maximise learning and new habit formation. 

I will assess your horse and your issues and tell you honestly how many sessions I estimate it will take to resolve the issues, but it is up to you to decide how many sessions you want.  I call it Four Phase Training.  You choose how many phases you would like to complete.  It is like a syllabus so you can measure your progress.

Phase 1:  In-hand Basic Responses (Go, Stop, Turns, Yield, Head Control).  This will delete most in-hand problems as well as make your horse feel like a dream to handle (and, mysteriously, already be better to ride!).  

Approximately 2-6 sessions, as closely spaced in time as possible (within a week or a month).

Phase 2:  Trouble-shooting (deleting unwanted behaviour).  Goodbye to all the issues you never want to see again!  

Approximately 2-6 sessions, as closely spaced in time as possible (within a week or a month).

Phase 3:  Under Saddle Basic Responses (The Ten Commandments! Go, Stop, Step-back, Direct Turn, Indirect Turn, Faster, Slower, Longer, Shorter, Yield).  

Approximately 10-15 sessions, optimum learning will occur if the sessions are fairly closely spaced (daily or weekly).  This is for students who realise that they are the key to their horse's continued new desirable behaviour.  At this level, students start to really embed their new skills and their horse starts to form lasting new habits.  

Phase 4:  For the dedicated student who wants a horse that is a dream to ride and handle, is reliable and a pleasure to be around.  For the student who wants to make rapid and impressive progress in the competition world, at any level and in any discipline - show jumping, endurance, showing, cross country, polo, dressage, and so on.  

Approximately 10-20 sessions, optimum learning will occur if the sessions are fairly closely spaced (daily or weekly).  Depending on your discipline, at this phase we achieve correct canter leads, perfect jumping or demystify lateral movements so you can do any of the 'fancy sideways stuff'.  



In each coaching session I will teach you clear and simple techniques that you will be able to practise independently, between lessons so you can maintain your horse’s new behaviour.  This consistency is essential to your horse being retrained. This becomes a way you handle all horses, all of the time, not just when Julie is there or when you can be bothered, or when trouble occurs! It's a way you handle all horses, all the time, so it becomes an embedded habit for you, like riding a bike.  You always ride a bike the same each time, that's why you don't fall off!

For horses with no obvious behaviour problems, the retraining of the four basic responses also rapidly results in a huge improvement in their way of going and better competition results.

My style is safe, informal, clear, friendly, polite, patient, methodical, and fun.  You will come out of each and every training session with clear new skills, and your horse will end each session with new behaviour. 

I encourage you to ask questions throughout the session and I offer a reasonable amount of email follow-up.