Horse Riding Seat & Position DVD Library – now available at home!

Get access to the World’s largest “Netflix-Like” Library

For four years we have been filming teacher training courses around the world. These remarkable five day courses teach you everything you need to know about seat, position, balance, improving posture such as not leaning forward, heels down and thumbs on top.

But it’s so much more – it’s the world’s best speakers on many different topics related to coaching horse riding: Psychologists, Vets, Saddle Fitters, Safety Experts, Dressage & Jumping, even Police & Vaulting.

These DVDs are part of the mandatory study program for both Level 1 and Level 2, and include shoulder in, travers, flying change theory, half pass and jumping position…all in SUPER EASY TO UNDERSTAND language so you can EASILY teach this to your pupils.

Want to be a coach?

If you buy the DVDs, love the work and want to do the exams later your first exam is done at home, and at any time, you can always upgrade to the full course and not have to pay for the materials twice.

Simply pay on paypal, on the link below and enjoy the super “click and watch” technology on line!


We have extended the 50% sale for just ONE MORE WEEK!   So do hurry!

HALF PRICE!   50% off Only $99! (and we’ve split it into two payments to make it easier). But you still get the INSTANT download sent to you straight away!

Grab the sale now – limited numbers

Purchase here red bar and arrow

Membership Drive

Helping others…

Your annual membership helps give free training and scholarships to people who need it: disabled, veterans, wounded warriors, therapeutic riding, 4H clubs and pony clubs.  Our members donate literally millions of dollars worth of training – but they need your help and support to continue the amazing work of training these facilities for free.

You are welcome…

The Society welcomes people of all ages: riders and non-riders, anyone who has an interest in seat, position & balance of the horse rider, making the position safer and improving the comfort of the horse. Memberships start on January 1 each year, and are valid for 1 year.  More information

Hi I’m Your Membership Manager

Hi I’m Amy Bennett Vanner and I am your Membership Manager. I am here to help yo any questions at all.

We really do need and appreciate your financial help and support. We are saving lives, and we are making people happy with so many of our coaches donating their time and efforts at riding charities.

QUESTIONS: Contact Amy Bennett- Vanner here

Join up now

2016 Awards Winners Celebrate at Gala

2016-award-winnersThe 2016 Awards Winners were announced at the prestige gala awards night held at the Clarion Hotel October 15, 2016.

Votes were nearly 3 times the amount of last year, and secret voting encouraged people to nominate their favorite horse, coach or professional for these prestigious awards.

The 2016 winners were:


Horse Riding Coaches: ‘How many seconds between lightning & thunder is safe for pupils?’

“How many seconds between lightning & thunder is safe?”

We’ve all been asked that question by our school teachers, carefully watching for the lightening, and the thunder straight afterwards to see if the space was getting smaller, and if we should come inside.

Correct answer = no seconds are safe.  As soon as you hear thunder the only place safe is inside.

Horses struck by lightning

thunderNearly every horse owner knows of someone whose horse has been killed by lightning.

And yes, lightning does strike in the same place and is quite frequently seen – striking several times in the same paddock.

Given the warnings below, as a horse riding coach you would be absolutely negligent if you heard thunder and didn’t act to get your riders immediately indoors.

24,000 people
killed every year

With so many people being killed around the world every year…it’s time to print out the flier below and have it up on your stable wall and have it part of your Code of Conduct and Stable & Lesson Rules.

Lightening and having a safe horse property.jpg



What’s the difference between engagement and tracking up?

Engagement – tracking up – ‘underneath behind’.

What is engagement?

Engagement is ‘sitting’ and carrying more weight on the hind legs. A simple and easy way to explain engagement to your pupils might be:  “as if the horse ‘sits’ so the tip of their tail is closer to the floor”

(which is, indeed, a reason why tails are trimmed, so the horse doesn’t step on their own tail in rein-back. An overly-long tail dragging on the ground is not natural – as the forest, sticks & twigs would naturally pull hairs and keep it short – and it’s not safe, therefore if a coach is giving a lesson with a tail that touches the floor it should be bound up in a polo knot or similar – or trimmed – for fear of lawsuit for negligence in not warning the rider and the horse stands on the tail rears & flips. Don’t think it can’t happen because it has, and at a World Championships at which I was Key Note Speaker.  I was watching the judging of a carriage event with several horses with long tails that were not bound and the judge, asked for line up, then one by one rein back – step backwards – with long tails dragging – carriages! With hindsight, of course she should have eliminated every horse with a dangerous tail as being ‘unable to present rein-back’, but she did not, and the inevitable catastrophe that is now so famous occurred).

Engagement is when the hocks bend and get lower to the floor.  The cannon bone of the back leg is at a steeper angle.  The back feet carry more weight and the front feet become lighter.

The advanced rider never ‘lightens the front end’, they ‘sit the back end down’ through:

  • their seat and position
  • exercises such as shoulder in and especially shoulder in to the wall
  • riding downhill
  • downward transitions and
  • reinback.

It is a false balance if you are trying to lift the front end unnaturally, which is why “high hands” are marked down in dressage. The rules have become even clearer in the past few years where it always said: “the hand must be low”, it now says: “to draw a straight line from the elbow to the bit”, so they are even more precise at penalising ‘false lifting’ ‘vs’ true ‘sitting & carrying’.

Why is engagement good?

1. More ‘sit’ to lighten front end

The advantages of engagement are a bit like a kangaroo. A kangaroo ‘sits’ on his little butt, heavy on his back feet so he can balance the weight back so the front feet are light, and he can move around and use them.  Exactly like a reining horse in a spin, sitting so deep and heavy behind that the front end is so light they are free for the animal to use them and move the front end around easily making any kind of turning & lateral work easier for the front end.

2. More ‘bounce & jump’

Engagement is all about getting the horse, just in front of the big Badminton or Rolex style fences to ‘sit’ in front of the jump so their spine is very ’round’ over the fence, and they get maximum height, and maximum ‘tuck’ in front. The engaging steps, just before the fence, get the horse to jump more like a ’rounded dolphin’ going through the hoop – almost thinking ‘fin first’, rather than ‘run at the fence – chin out’, hollow & flat.

3.  More ‘stop & slow down’

Engagement tends to slow horses down, therefore if you do want to stop, instead of riding from the front to the back like we’re taught as a beginner (i.e. pull the reins), a more advanced way is to use additional engagement to stop the horse. That is a much higher level of training, being able to stop a horse with no reins at all – just a shift in the rider’s seat, position & balance creating the engagement that slowed the horse down.

How can you get more engagement?

These are some great ways to start downward transitions.  You want to see how tiny and invisible you can make these to get the best results, and the highest marks. Can you use these to get your horse slow down using ‘sitting & engagement’ not the reins:

  1. Eyes up
  2. Nose up
  3. Chin up
  4. Make sure your Adam’s apple is visible
  5. Chest up (not to the point of over-arching and looking crazy!)
  6. Hands down
  7. Thumbs on top
  8. Toes up (no, not heels down, but that’s a whole other article)
  9. No more kicking! Reiners don’t kick to get the horse to sit.  The rider might use the leg to get the horse to bring his hind legs more forward, but that’s NOT engagement…that’s TRACKING UP!  And, if you’re going from extension to collection – you do not want to track up – you must undertrack as it’s a smaller, higher collected steps…but there’s more on tracking up below
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
  10. Start again at 1 if the horse hasn’t stopped, and eventually “squeeze and release” on the reins until you get stop.
  11. If you are really having stopping problems – then you need to fix this fast!  If your only way of stopping is a one-rein stop, that is incredibly dangerous!  You need to think about a Policeman doing a one-rein stop into traffic.  Or, riding down the Grand Canyon, or along a barbed wire fence on the road…you cannot turn!!!   And, downhill on ice or in snow, it can flip your horse completely over by turning at speed.  So, please you need to urgently learn how to stop a bolting horse on a straight line!
    There are  videos available here.  There are ways to get all of this training for free. You can download the free 2016 Program here

The opposite to engagement – on the forehand

The opposite to engagement is on the forehand, and where a reininer or dressage rider might both ‘cringe’ at the thought, the race jockey in the Kentucky Derby sure does not choose to sit like a reiner.

Those two extreme positions give you an idea of what happens when you change your seat and position.  No jockey in the world is going to get a sliding stop riding in that position, and I’m pretty sure the reininer won’t be first past the post on the racetrack.

Reining – an example of “engagement, slide, sit & spin” position.
Jockeys – an example of  “on the forehand & fast” position.

However, dressage riders have a belief that at all costs the must not use their body, only their hands and legs, where in fact the FEI Rules clearly state the exact opposite:  the more you use your legs – the less marks you get. The more you use your hands – the less marks you get.

The more you use just your seat & posture (plus of course with impulsion), the less you need your hands and legs any more that you needed back when you were at Pony Club to get fluffy the stinky pony to stop eating clover and jump that puddle you’ve been trying to kick him over for 15 minutes.

  • On the  Level 2 DVDs  we show you how to use the inside leg being heavier & away from the horse (rather than using the outside leg to push) to get the most amazing bend & performance in movements like half pass.
  • Engagement inevitably brings with it loss of impulsion & power and that’s when we start kicking. Here’s a way to get the horse forward like paralympians do – without any leg at all…now that’s a master.  That’s invisible, and that’s when a rider mark might go up to a 10.   “See free article: My horse won’t go forward“.

Regularity comes before engagement

Great engagement, at the expense of regularity (tempo + rhythm) is a falsehood, and will not receive higher marks.  It’s the same as riding a corner that is too deep. Yes, you got to stuff your horse in the corner, but you will lose marks for losing rhythm & tempo (regularity).  Regularity is more important than the corner.

(You might also lose marks for using your inside leg which made the horse’s outside ear raise (head tilt) and jack-knife through a bulging outside shoulder – which also causes crossover of the hind legs which any judge can easily see. Crossover is never permitted in corner, circle, loop or serpentine – so you may as well have just left the horse alone and got the same marks rather than stuff him in the corner and lose the regularity).

It’s also the same as extension – you shouldn’t extend past the point of losing the rhythm & tempo. Regularity is more important than extension.

It takes a true master – and truly glorious when we see it – to be able to ride a pirouette at the same identical tempo as an extended trot. It is a thrill for audiences to see it as it is so rare!  Normally rider’s ‘cheat’ and have several different tempos, several different musics for trots – faster trot for extension, and barely moving for pirouettes. It is so bad at Olympic Level the Society has been tracking over many Olympics to see if the regularity & tempo has actually become better, in fact it is becoming worse.  See the Society’s initial data here

Technically, the horse should be able to do 100% full extension, and 100% full collection to the same music. But it’s so difficult we all explode with joy on the rare times we ever see it done. This is one of the reason that Olympic marks are so low.  Compared to other sports which are similarly marked…receiving a ‘6’ in gymnastics or ice-skating would be devastating, but is common in dressage – mainly because no-one has even attempted to present 5 trots to the same music – and step in time to it.  But, one day, it will happen. And, then, finally, we will see the 100% test, which other sports long ago achieved.

But, until piaffe, passage, collected, medium & extended are presented in the same test, step by step, not missing a beat through all the movements that test the trot: shoulder in – half pass – pirouettes – with both lengthening & collecting to the same music.  And being able to maintain it through the warm-up, and more than 5 minutes in front of the judges, not losing a step.  Then, you have your 100%.

Once people dream it possible.  It will happen.  100%.  I hope it happens in my lifetime! That would be truly historic, and has never been done before, not to lose one beat in a 5 min test!  But as the sport becomes more technical, we certainly expect to see it more and more in the future.

How can I tell if my horse is engaged?

If the three main purposes for engagement are to create more
a) sit
b) jump
c) slow down & control – without the reins.

Then there certainly should be ways to measure all three.

Therefore, a downward transition that is completely done by the rider invisibly changing their seat, position & balance, and not even touching the reins, and going from extended canter right down to the ultimate collection coming into the canter pirouette – and not touch the reins – that is one of the most prized and highly rewarded arts in dressage. There’s your submission of “10” mark!

People might think submission is just “on the bit”, but it’s a true submission of mind, and to be able to go from a full on extended canter with maximum head nod, to a full on collected canter with barely any head nod, but not do it with your hands at all, not use the bridle or the bit at all, but using the 8 points above: Eyes up, nose up, chin up, chest up, hands down, thumbs on top, toes up (at which point the horse should have slowed down as much as you want – even to a stop if you wanted), then finally remind yourself “how do reiners have their legs for maximum “sit”?

Downward transitions – a test of engagement (the famous ‘gap’)

There’s three major ways to stop horses & slow them down:

  1. Beginners & young horses we use the reins
  2. More advanced – we use exercises (e.g. shoulder in to the wall)
  3. More advanced again is seat, position & balance only to bring the horse back to collection – and no reins at all!
How do I know if my horse is engaged?

The green arrow shows the gap which occurs when the horse ‘sits’

If a rider comes in and uses the reins for a downward transition they will only get an average mark, but they also risk losing additional marks for the horse raising their head either in protest, or in basically losing their balance, and possibly associated loss of rhythm & tempo.

However can do a downward transition through their seat, position & balance, firstly you receive higher marks for using engagement instead of the reins to get the transitions, plus the additional risks of resistance, raised head, loss of regularity are virtually eliminated.

So for the judge to KNOW that you haven’t pulled the reins, that the horse really did come back through the use of engagement, not through the use of your hands, the simplest way to know is to watch the back of the saddle.

Normally the back of the saddle, right under your tail bone, sits on the pad underneath, and the pad sits on the horse’s spine and back.  However, during the transition when the horse ‘sits’, that back lowers away from the saddle and creates a ‘gap’ which is very easy to see.

A lot of the lower level downward transitions are done going away from the judge, towards the other end of the arena. This makes it a good way to see the back of the saddle & the sudden appearance of the pad.  Or as the horse goes away from you, you might not be able to see the saddle at all, but then in the transition, from behind, the saddle suddenly becomes visible as the horse “sits” and gets his croup & hind quarters out of the way for you to see the saddle.

The judge should be able to see more of the saddle in a downward transition, which proves that the transition was done through ‘sitting’ not ‘pulling’.

When this lowering of the croup is done in a reining sliding stop, the larger gap might be  6 or 8 inches of ‘sudden space’, as the horse engages/sits – a gap between the back of the pad and the spine, where you could reach back and stick your hand in between the pad and the horse, feeling a great gap where the pad does not touch.

In dressage sometimes, sadly, that change at the back of the saddle, the sudden ‘gap’ underneath the pad is barely noticeable – and very rarely a true ‘gap’…One might then question the aids & position of the rider that would be best to create this ‘gap’ that we can measure.

Bottom line – which technique creates more ‘pad gap’? Instead of guessing, we’re measuring – as you can see by the green arrow on the photo of the saddle above: it’s an actual measurement, in inches. It’s not a ‘feel’ that is highly unlikely to be the same for all your clients, and for some clients impossible to ever feel.

It’s a measurement, and it’s in inches, so we can measure, we can repeat, and we can increase higher level performance through consistency.

And of course experiments in quantum mechanics & quantum physics show the simple act of measuring, even without any other effort, changes the thing being measured!

Measuring engagement in the downward transition

  • No pad lift/’croup sit’? = no extra engagement. If there is no gap at all, no change, then this is 100% proof that the horse is being stopped through the reins. This should be lowest marks, because the purpose of the transition (i.e. to test if engagement -vs- the rider’s hand created the transition & test the horse’s ability to accept additional weight behind without resistance) has not been fulfilled.
  • Little bit of a gap = a little bit of engagement, a younger horse just starting. Only if there was very little use of the reins would there be a good mark.
  • Huge gap = if the gap appears without any loss of regularity: rhythm & tempo, and without any raising of the head in resistance to the additional weight behind, and the horse takes shorter steps, not just slows down, and the reins were light, nowe in front of the vertical, and the rider’s hands not involved at all…this is where you get your 10’s for a transition, and a 10 can never ever be given when the hand is used for a downward transition.

Measuring engagement “side on”

Engagement can also be seen ‘side-on’, comparing the wither to the croup.

2016 Symposium Lecture.011If you see on the photos, we’ve drawn an imaginary line across from the wither to the croup – and you can see one arrow points down (on the forehand) and one arrow points up (engaged).

When that line changes, it’s said to be a ‘change in balance’.  We build more and more engagement every year, more and more ‘sitting’ as the horse is able to do it – but never at the expense of the regularity.  Losing regularity is a sign you’ve asked for too much engagement for the horse’s ability.

Regularity is the No. 1 thing that is judged in dressage.  Not engagement!  So, if you want to continue on high marks, when you start to feel the regularity being lost, then ease off! It’s too advanced for just now. Your horse just told you ‘too much’, and the judge will sure confirm it marking down loss of regularity as the No. 1 thing they will ‘catch you’ on!

Download free program

What is tracking up?

Tracking up is totally different from engagement.  Tracking up is how big your steps are. Little tiny high steps are the opposite and called collection. Big, long, flatter steps are called extension, and all extensions ‘over track’.

In walk and trot, most people would know to watch for the footprint that is left in the sand by one front foot. Then, as the hind foot comes through, it will either step in that foot print – that is tracking up.

If it steps even longer, right in front of the front foot print, that’s over-tracking or extension.

Then, after a year of training additional engagement (through shoulder in, shoulder to the wall, rein back & downward transitions), you will find the horse naturally offers you some more ‘excitable’ steps, shorter, higher, more bouncy.  The kind of steps the horse does when they’re excited on the trail, or get a bit of a fright trotting down hill, and they get real bouncy, almost feeling slow.

In fact, everyone in the world has done passage!  Go out on a trail late in the afternoon when it’s feed time at home, and hold the horse back and only let him do an “excitable jog” and you’ve probably got better passage than most Olympians (take a look for yourself on youtube!).

That  shorter, livelier, higher step – the collected step should be done through energy and excitement, and is taught through engagement exercises (shoulder in etc), not through shortening the reins & kicking.  That is an absolutely false collection, and although seen at the highest levels, will simply never get a 10.  I do remember that bringing home a 60% sure never made my parents take me out for ice-cream!

Tracking Up in Canter

“How do you know if your horse is tracking up in canter?”

What I described above for walk & trot – watching the front foot print in the sand and seeing if the hind foot is taking small steps and doesn’t reach the front foot print, or taking huge steps and goes probably 12 inches in front of the front foot print.

But…it doesn’t work in canter!  And, very few coaches and even judges know how to accurately describe, and therefore accurately judge extension & collection in canter. What they often judge is how pulled in the nose is compared to how it was before the collection. Which, of course, is just poor riding not collection – which is ‘a shorter higher stride (and obviously to get a shorter higher stride you need great excitement, energy & bounce).

When we are coaching we cannot, ever, rely on ‘feel’. For a start, that rules out your ability to teach someone in a wheel chair that doesn’t feel anything.  Anything that you can ‘feel’ you can accurately measure another way.  Such as you ‘feel’ your heels are down, but the vision of the instructor (or a photo) measures and tests and shows you that your ‘feeling’ was indeed wrong, and your heels indeed are up, just like the coach told you before you saw the photograph.

Therefore we need techniques to test and measure footfalls in canter.  On our Level 1 DVDs we explain the 5 ways of knowing if a horse is tracking up in canter which is totally different from walk and trot. Understanding this point will be certainly a question in the Level 1, Level 2 & Level 3 theory exams.

The opposite to tracking up is under tracking.

Can tracking up occur without engagement?

A quarterhorse on a race track is taking huge strides – they are over-tracking or extending.  They’re are not sliding like a reiner, sitting. They are extending, and probably on the forehand.

The Spanish Riding school have a movement called levade. It might look like a rear to the crowd, but it’s actually a very very difficult ‘sit’. The ultimate ‘sit’. And, of course it’s in halt, because there’s so much sit the horse literally cannot  move.  There is no tracking up, but there is the ultimate in engagement.

Therefore, yes, all the time, tracking up can occur without engagement, and vice versa, engagement causes tracking up to be less and less.  More engagement = more shorter/higher strides.

“Underneath Behind”?

This is a term I try not to use myself as a coach, because would I mean more sit?  Or would I mean a longer step.  In either case one can occur without the other.

I hear a lot of coaches saying “underneath behind” is when the hind feet are taking bigger steps, so the hind leg is coming well underneath the body.  However, they will often ask for this same “underneath behind” coming into the downward transition for the corner.

What the mean to say is actually “more sit”.  Not, more step.  Because, as you know collected steps do not track up!  They must not track up, or they are considered working, and therefore at a lower, easier level.  We don’t want long steps for the corners or collection, we don’t want the kind of ‘underneath behind’ they seem to implly.

What we want is more ENGAGEMENT, not more TRACKING UP!  So, be very very careful to use the correct terminology!

3 Things to remember for the exam:

  1. Engage  = sit
  2. Tracking up = step
  3. It’s easy if you think of their OPPOSITES:
    • The opposite to engagement is on the forehand
    • The opposite to big over-tracking (extension) up is small under-tracking (collection).
  4. You can have big engaged steps, and big on the forehand steps.
  5. You can have small engaged steps, and small on the forehand steps.
  6. Engagement can occur without tracking up (pirouette).
  7. Tracking up can occur without engagement (race horse).
  8. Engagement & tracking up can also occur together.


Like this article?  Then subscribe to receive ‘subscriber only’ articles – for free!

and….please share below….

2019 Symposium – Speakers Applications

Everyone Welcome!

The 6th International Symposium will be held in October, 2019

Information and submissions to speak will open 1st January, 2019, and close 1st March, 2019.

Contact us

At home study…

We now have the ENTIRE training program on DVD right up to the most advanced movements, step by step, being taught by the world’s most famous coaches – Colleen Kelly, Kelly Sigler, Louis Lucio, Dr. Karen Hanks, Priscilla Roberts, Dr. Fernanda Carmargo, and many more together with presenters from the University of Kentucky, Asbury University and Midway Universities.

You can get your certificate at home as well!

Contact us


Teacher Training DVDs


Facebook Perfect DVD CoverHorse Rider Teacher Training Videos – DOWNLOAD TODAY!

We are so proud to announce that you are now able to watch THREE YEARS worth of International Symposiums. Previously the technology simply wasn’t available for so much video material – but now it is – through the great people at Wiredrive!

This amazing DVD package is our “full kit”.  It includes speakers from around the world on many different topics related to coaching horse riding: Psychologists, Vets, Saddle Fitters, Safety Experts, Dressage & Jumping, even Police & Vaulting.

These DVDs are part of the mandatory study program for both Level 1 and Level 2, and include shoulder in, travers, flying change theory, half pass and jumping position…all in SUPER EASY TO UNDERSTAND language so you can EASILY teach this to your pupils.

Want to be a coach?

If you buy the DVDs, love the work and want to do the exams later your first exam is done at home, and at any time, you can always upgrade to the full course and not have to pay for the materials twice.

Simply pay on paypal, on the link below and enjoy the super “click and watch” technology through wire-drive!

Purchase here red bar and arrow


$30,000 worth of Awards, Scholarships & Prizes

Award Program almost doubled!

Every day we receive requests from all over the world asking us to recommend coaches in their area – and this business and these clients need good, qualified coaches to help them achieve their goals. We therefore want to encourage young riders who want to coach into the ISRB System.  We also want to honor and support groups such as Wounded Warriors, Therapeutic Riding, Police Mounted Units and Pony Clubs that instil the KIDSAFE program….and give them all that training FOR FREE! Download  Program

How to win…


awards nightAWARDS:
You do not have to be a Member of the ISRB to nominate yourself, or a friend, your coach or a pupil for these Amazing Awards and prizes.  Imagine your office wall with the plaque “Coach of the Year”, or “Rider of the Year”, “Horse of the Year”, Community & Charity Awards, even awards for Juniors, Police & many more.  Voting is anonymous and you can vote as many times as you like! Then, come to the gala supper and watch your friend (or get that photograph of yourself) receiving the award at this most prestigious event.  More Info


*Facebook Perfect Size ScholarshipSCHOLARSHIPS:  This year, for the very first time we are up to $30,000 worth of free scholarships for you to do the ENTIRE course FOR FREE.  There are many different categories, and you are bound to know someone who really deserves $2,000 worth of free training, exams & registration.  Perhaps your coach, or your pupil, or even a parent who helps child riders!  We WELCOME your application…but you have to hurry closes August 15!
See: Scholarship Info


AUGUST UPDATE: 2016 Symposium Free Program_000018VOLUNTEERS:  Volunteer to help at the symposium, or on the Board.   Perhaps you’re great at marketing, or answering emails, or organization.  We need help in EVERY AREA, and very soon we are going to be calling for nominations for the 2017 Board.

Depending on the numbers of hours you can give us – we reward you with free DVDs, free training, or if you have enough hours the entire course (value around $2,000) for FREE!  And, if you’re a Level 1, we’ll give you the next L2 or L3 course free…if you can help us!

See more  Volunteer Info


Download FREE Program


How to EASILY avoid this horrific horse accident


We’re sorry to have to bring up such a graphic topic, however the injuries are so severe, and statistics increasing, that the Society will be bringing in a mandatory rule change in 2017.

This is a FULLY PREVENTABLE injury.  Please do not read further if you feel you might be at risk of being upset by graphic photos and information.

150,000 mutilated with this horrific injury every year in the USA

In 2008 it was reported in a major orthopedic journal as a “RARE injury”.  However this has now increased to a shocking 150,000 highly debilitating injuries in the USA every year.

In addition, as we are nearly always in remote areas on farms, the case of an injury on a farm, blood loss, shock and exposure could easily lead to further complications or death.

Talk Show Host Celebrity Injured

Famous celebrity talk show host Jimmy Fallon was recently shown on his show with the horrific injury so common with horse riders and on farms. This is where a finger, often with a ring, and certainly without gloves is horrifically ripped out of the rider’s hand and amputated – with 5% of the injuries so violent and severe it involves the entire upper arm! See GRAPHIC WARNING: Jimmy Fallon – Talk Show Celebrity Inured

These injuries where the fingers are almost certainly amputated are called “finger avulsion injuries”.  This could be a life-threatening situation, which is why gloves are MANDATORY in dressage.  If a pupil needs convincing…here is HIGHLY GRAPHIC PHOTOS & ARTICLE 

LEGAL RISK: Coach not warning pupils

Because these injuries  – are now so common – and a life-threatening situation if the injury happens away from medical care and in addition the FEI RULES say “gloves are mandatory under the penalty of elimination”, then it leaves you, as a coach, highly open to serious law-suit.  If the person loses a finger, they cannot type properly, text properly, play a musical instrument, so the loss is indeed great, and they will come after you, the coach financially to pay their medical, rehabilitation and surgery bills, and loss of wages perhaps for years to come. If they lose their hand, their arm, or their life, from your failure to warn them, and failure to insist on gloves, then law suit is inevitable.

There are more HIGHLY GRAPHIC PHOTOS here if your pupils will not listen, or you believe, as a coach, you are not negligent by ignoring the warnings.

2017 Official Rule Change

Gloves have always been mandatory while riding, under penalty of elimination, in accordance with the FEI Dressage Rules where the ancient military schools obviously realised this was a “life and death” situation and saw the dangers long ago.

They prevent rein-burn, give better control in emergencies, help prevent lunge rein-burn, and especially, the much worse, situation a rein or rope wrapping around a finger or hand and either de-gloving the finger or hand, or tearing it out, amputating the finger, and perhaps even the entire arm altogether.

Therefore it was agreed at last week’s ISRB Board Meeting that in 2017 the rules of the training will be changing to:

“Gloves are mandatory while riding & handling horses.  Gloves are also mandatory at any  and all times, at the farm, arena or venue if a rider is wearing a ring or rings due to the dangers of ring avulsion amputation injury”.

Have a look around our website:

Host a Clinic

How to get FREE Training

2016 International Symposium – Download Free Program

SQUARE Host a clinic attend free

2016 Symposium Free Program - July Updates Edition_000001




Organizing & hosting a horse rider seat & position coach’s clinic

SQUARE Host a clinic attend freeFREE for hosts!

If you cannot make it to the Kentucky International Symposium …or just want FREE training…why not host a clinic in your area – and you – and a friend – can attend for FREE!

It costs approximately $2,000 to do the entire course with registration and membership, but we give that to you TOTALLY FREE if you arrange your own course!

How the course works…

The entire Level 1 course is now on-line.  You can do the course on-line – and not even leave home!  See: on-line course

Once you have completed your on-line course, you do your theory exam at home – we send it to you via email – and you can get your theory certificate – without ever leaving home!

Then, you’re ready to attend the 5 day “live” course and do your practical exam at the end to become FULLY registered coach.

Most people attend the Kentucky Symposium to do the practical, as we can offer you so much more in Kentucky than we can at your venue – additional speakers brought in from around the world – plus seeing  “behind the scenes” of the incredible venues: University of Kentucky, Asbury University, Midway University and Kentucky Horse Park, as we spend a couple of days at each venue – all in a short distance from the host hotel.

We also have the gala evening awards night – incredible fun – especially if your exam results are over 95% and you receive a High Achievement Medal, or you win the votes for awards such as “Rider of the Year”, “Coach of the Year”, “Horse of the Year”, etc.

However if you really cannot make Kentucky – then why not host YOUR OWN clinic – right there in your area?

Host a clinic yourself!

It is far better to have done as much as possible of the L1 On-line course before you come to the live clinic.  If you have completed the on-line course, and sent us your exam, and already received your theory certificate, then you are eligible to sit the practical exam at your live clinic to be FULLY registered.

Especially if you live overseas, it might not be possible for you to come to the Kentucky Symposium.  So why not arrange your own clinic.  Anyone is welcome to arrange a clinic – private individuals, clubs, groups – we have even had a junior (with parents help!) arrange highly successful clinic here in the USA!

Email us and we’ll talk you through all the steps!

What we need

  1. A group of enthusiastic people in your area really wanting to learn this information for their riding, or to become and official coach (see minimum numbers below).  We also need a few volunteers to help promote it and help on the day (all volunteers can SPECTATE for free).
  2. An indoor or covered arena.  It’s impossible to host clinics outdoors for 5 days – it’s just too uncomfortable for the crowds to relax and enjoy the information. Therefore, if you are able to locate a quality indoor or covered arena in your area, the owner of the arena also gets TWO FREE PLACES for them to attend (on top of the minimum number required below) in return for giving us the arena for the clinic. Occasionally an outdoor arena might have enough shelter, so do let us know what you have in mind, as we might already know an arena available in your area.
  3. For you to take all the bookings and enquiries.  We put your contact details on the advertising so they can contact you directly.
  4. Someone to organize lunches, coffee, drinks & snacks

Your own training is FREE

It’s a big commitment to get people organized for clinics!  So, in return, in thanks, your own training is TOTALLY FREE…you don’t pay a cent…plus…

Bring a friend FREE

Every person that attends can bring a friend for free – to the same cost value.  That is, if you’re a spectator, you can bring a spectator for free.  If you’re a coach doing the exams, you can bring a coach to do their exams as well..for free!


     Minimum 10 attendees (11 incl the host attending free).
    UK/Europe: Minimum 11 attendees (12 incl the host)
    AUS/NZ:    Minimum 12 attendees (13 incl the host)
    There are no travel costs payable
    , airfares are INCLUDED in the prices. However accommodation and meals for 1 or 2 coaches (depending on numbers) need to be provided by the host.  Hosts normally put the cost of this on top of the course fees.
    We really prefer lunch to be on site, otherwise we lose people, and we cannot delay the start after lunch, as the information is jam-packed – and attendees cannot miss the important information and still pass their course.  Most organizers, if they are providing lunch themselves, can make a small amount towards their Pony Club or charity by charging the attendees slightly more than the actual cost.  For the larger clinics, we have had Rotary, Lions, Apex or Pony Clubs Mothers come in and make the lunches and do the coffees, and then that club keeps the lunch monies for their fundraising.
    Should, for any reason, the clinic be cancelled, you will have already done your on-line course, and we would make an exception to submit your practical via video so that you could still become a registered coach, at no additional cost. You could also still attend the Kentucky Symposium for free as well.
    If you are travelling, you really need to get travel insurance to cover travel, airfare, accommodation, car hire etc if you are attending a clinic.  If you are coming to the USA you MUST get travel insurance at least for the medical part.  The medical situation is dire enough for USA residents, but disastrous for visitors. A simple visit to the ER would be around $5,000  – $10,000 cash up front, and, what is unknown even to USA citizens is doctors REALLY WILL  refuse service if you are not insured.  Insurance is relatively inexpensive, and any travel agent can help you.  Be careful however to list all pre-existing conditions as you will have no coverage if you do not.
    Most people like part-payments, especially when they’re interest-free!  You can make partial payments on all of our courses and products.  If you’re having trouble figuring out our payment page then  email us we will help!
    Universities such as Asbury University, Midway University and venues like Kentucky Horse Park, or Tall Timbers in Australia donate their venues FREE of CHARGE, because ALL their staff and students get to spectate the clinic for free. This is an amazing opportunity for therapeutic centers, riding for disabled, university programs and clubs to get incredible FREE training for donating their indoor.
    We will need about 6 to 10 demo riders – amazing free training!   They need to be members of the Society for administrative reasons (only $45 for the whole year). (Join here) It is remarkable to be looked at by so many coaches at once, all supportive, all kind, and all amazingly helpful if the rider has problems such as getting heels down, looking down, twists and asymmetries, one shoulder higher or lower, leaning forward, on the forehand, nervous or lacking balance, and so importantly: riding long hour without pain.
  • COSTS:
    If is FREE to attend if you have fully paid for the on-line course!

STAY HOME – We would love to come to you!

More Info:   Email us for more info

Dressage Master ANNEKE ROODT Confirmed for KY Symposium

AUGUST UPDATE: 2016 Symposium Free Program_000002One of the greatest people we have ever had the honor to host here in Lexington Kentucky at the International Symposium is (retired) Soloist from the SA Lippizzaners Anneke Roodt.

Anneke was the star presenter at our very first symposium, making so many friends she was even invited to do an impromptu performance/show at Kentucky Horse Park.

This spur of the moment event, on super-star horse “Saint” can be seen on the very first Symposium Videos (part of our new on-line training DVD system).

Only a few places left – Book Now!


If you, and your horse, are already Level 2/3 and you’re wanting to learning flying changes, half pass/changes or pirouettes for the first time, or are ready to start piaffe/passage steps…or if you’re already Grand Prix and want to get the competitive edge and polished world class performance, then Ms. Roodt is a kind, highly skilled, and highly trained Grand Prix (and Lippizan Performance) specialist.

Her great sense of humor comes from her many years of training with the school and riding in the show week after week.  This gives a certain confidence and understanding, a daily training ethic that we can all aspire to.

Ms. Roodt was so popular at our original symposium that she will book out immediately as there are highly limited places.

The level 3 program will spend almost half the day with Ms. Roodt, and the remainder of the day looking at pure biomechanics, balance, advanced techniques for all sports including jumping, eventing, reining and speed sports such as polo & polocrosse.

Highly limited places!

Book Now!






How to become a coach – for FREE

** SMALL FACEBOOK SYMPOSIUM **.jpgBecoming a riding coach can be expensive, but the Society NEEDS COACHES!  Every day we receive requests from all over the world asking us to recommend coaches in their area – and this business and these clients need good, qualified coaches to help them achieve their goals.

Download Program

Train for FREE!

We want to spread the word about safer seat and position – from the beginner just trying to stay on to the professional with the balance & skill to keep the horse up in a potential rotational fall. So, we’re making training even more accessible – if you’re keen and persistent and REALLY WANT to get this training – then you can – for FREE!

3 ways to get your training free:

  1. AWARDS:  Nominate yourself, or a friend for an award such as “Coach of the Year”, “Rider of the Year” etc.  Voting is anonymous and you can vote as many times as you like!  Voting Here
  2. SCHOLARSHIPS:  Nominate yourself, or a friend for a scholarship. These are awarded in many different categories. See: Scholarship Info
  3. VOLUNTEERS:  Volunteer to help at the symposium, or on the Board. Depending on the numbers of hours you can give us – we reward you with free DVDs, free training, or if you have enough hours the entire course (value around $2,000) for FREE!  See more  Volunteer Info

Download Program


Voting open! Nominate Now!

Nominate Yourself – Your Coach – Or a Pupil or friend!

Small Vote Now Coach of the YearGive your coach – or a friend – the surprise of a lifetime!

The International Society of Rider Biomechanics Awards are presented at the prestigious Gala Awards Supper October 15, 2016.   You can vote as many times as you like.   

Vote Now!

Prizes & Awards

All qualifying* nominees receive:

  • A Certificate of Nomination

Top 10 finalists in each category receive:

  • Free on-line course (Normal value just under $2,000). Including sitting the theory exam at no cost.
  • Attendance for TWO people at the Kentucky Symposium Level 1 5 day course, including sitting the practical exam (if you wish) at no cost.

Winner in each section will receive:

  • Free on-line course (Normal value just under $2,000)
  • Attendance for TWO people at the Kentucky Symposium
  • Free Membership for 1 Year to the Society including access to our on-line library of DVDs
  • A beautiful framed certificate
  • A superior quality trophy

The winner of each section will be presented with their Award, Trophy and Prizes at the Gala Awards Night.  

Vote Now!

Gala tickets selling FAST!

On-Line Course Info

International Symposium – Kentucky

Download 2016 Program

 *  Become a Member to qualify for some awards

Small Vote Now Coach of the Year

Scholarships Close Soon – Apply Now!

2016 Symposium Free Program - July Updates Edition_000023


Scholarships:  Apply Here


The International Society of Rider Biomechanics  is offering the following FREE scholarships for 2016 for riders and coaches to become qualified in the specialization of: seat, position & balance of the horse rider.  There are 12 scholarships available – 2 each in the following categories.

a) Police riders & coaches
c) Therapeutic  riders & coaches
c) Pony Club coaches
d) Juniors
e) University Students
f) “Community Achievement” any rider, coach, individual or group may apply who have shown extra-ordinary community involvement, or plan to use this scholarship to help their riding community.

Stay at home study

These Scholarships are worth nearly $2,000 worth of training. And, for the first part of the course it is on-line you can STAY AT HOME and study.  It also includes attending the 5 day Level 1 course in Lexington, Kentucky…all for free!  There are no pre-requisites, no costs, and no conditions to nominate someone else or to apply for yourself.

What Scholarships Cover

a) ON-LINE COURSE: the entire Level 1 on-line course including free DVD & training downloads & sitting the theory exam, and issuing a Certificate of Completion
b) KENTUCKY SYMPOSIUM: attending the Level One 5-day course in Lexington Kentucky including sitting your practical exam to become an Officially Registered Coach on the final day of Kentucky
c) listing and registration with the Society as an Official Coach.

What Scholarships do not cover

a) airfares & accommodation (if staying at the Host Hotel: Clarion Lexington then make sure you ask for the ISRB discount rate..then breakfast and airport transfers included)
b) evening meals on your own
c) attendance at the gala awards night, We ask all scholarship award winners to attend the gala supper to receive their certification, and to support the society. Book your Gala Tickets

Prior Learning

Do not hesitate to nominate a younger or beginner coach, right through to advanced coaches wanting official qualifications. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get literally thousands of dollars worth of training for FREE!

APPLY TODAY – Applications closing August 15 so hurry!

Red Scholarships Button Arrow


Gala Supper – Put the date down now!

October 13, 2018!

FRONT PAGE ONLY 2017:2018 Symposium Kentucky copyThank you for your wonderful support of our gala supper and awards nights in the past. Your support of this event helps us with our Scholarship Program. It’s a fun relaxed restaurant-style night where supper & 2 drink tickets are included. This is the night to wear your most formal attire – and the previous galas have been the real FUN highlight of the year.

The Society wants to save lives by creating the safest riding position possible, especially for children, therapeutic and Police Mounted Units where funding is normally not available for this training.

So help out…book a full table. Prizes for best decorated table.

The challenge is going out to the three Universities: UK, Midway and Asbury to see who has the best decorated table!



New body scoring ap

New app for body conditioning score

Amazing new app now available from Nebraska and Purdue Universities to assist us with the ever-important body conditioning score.SALE 50% off until dec 31

This amazing ap takes out all the guesswork and helps you assess yours, or your client’s horses.

To have an app like this might just be the life-saving tool to finally convince owners of their overfeeding. Once they “see the numbers”, they might finally consider adjusting their feed accordingly, with hopefully the number of colic and laminitis cases decreasing.

Take a look…

Horse Rider Posture: Part 1

1. The Rider’s Head Position: Part 1 in a 4 part series

LOOK UP!   That’s all we hear from beginning to end of the lesson, so WHY DOESN’T IT WORK – why are you looking at your horse’s ears 10 seconds later?  Part 1 in this 4 part series investigates, in depth, the major causes and dangers of looking down, and how to fix them.

We hear “look up”, and we should be able to do it, but again and again, you find yourself staring at the horse’s ears.

You know in your heart if you look down you’re not as balanced, and WAY more likely to go straight over the horse’s ears if he stumbles, or trips to his knees, rather than the cowboy, or eventer, knowing how to “pick the horse up”.  That takes some serious looking up. Look down, and you’ll go down with the horse. Look up, and it’s one of the “major four” in this four part series that could save your horse’s life.


Tilt your head to the right, with the right ear lower to the ground. Most rider’s right seat bone gets heavier (although we have measured the opposite on a rare occasion as well. At any rate it’s not balanced. And, it’s not straight either.

Easier advanced movements

Where you look in lateral movements is vital to consistency.  If you do the movement one time looking at the inside ear, then next time looking at the outside ear, then expect two totally different results.

Shoulder In:  Looking down, it starts to fall on the forehand, and sometimes rush. Advanced riders will be penalized for using this technique deliberately when they’re riding a slow horse and need more forward, at the expense of engagement.  Looking down can become irregular and on the forehand. If the rider carries one ear higher, then it will “bulge” at the horse’s shoulder.

Engagement: The rider’s head is responsible for putting the horse on the forehand, or doing the exact opposite putting the weight on the quarters – “engaging” the horse.  A jockey leans forward, and NEVER “sits” on the hind quarters, or the jockey would simply never win a race.  A reiner leans forward when the want the horse faster, and “looks up” to help the horse “sit” for a slide. It’s one of the “major four” that the use that we will cover in this four-part series.

Pirouettes: A simple, fun exercise is to sit on a barrel and feel what your head really does to the horse. Many an advanced rider, simply by sitting on a barrel (and I have seen at some centers all sorts of versions of the barrel hanging from the roof) has realized why their horse’s quarters swing out in pirouettes – simply because the head position was too much looking at the inside hind foot, and not sitting up, balanced.

Quarters In:  You can simply see, in a mirror, why your horse might be quarters in on a straight line – often one ear is simply lower than the other, causing a twisting of the horse’s hind quarters in. (Advanced riders get marked down for trying this trick deliberately to achieve travers as it makes the outside of the horse tense and straight rather than stretching and supple. The rider is instructed in the rules to basically “have a level helmet – in lay person’s terms).

Jumping Downhill:  One of the first things you learn eventing, and the first thing you learn in the bush when you fall off, is LOOK UP.  That ability to defy nature saying “crawl into foetal crouch”, and do the opposite, in a crisis, and look up.  We cannot train our pupils early enough, and if they aren’t looking up, looking around, being able to do vision exercises (such as in the Teacher Training program – getting them to look at your fingers and say how many fingers you are holding up – as they jump basic flat work, then they must not jump downhill, until they have these four “major keys” – and looking up is a vital, number 1, key to the major four.

Sliding Stop: If you work with cattle, you’re so busy watching what’s going on around you that if you’re told “look up” gets your horse to “sit” better, then you’ll always remember it, and be able to repeat it with just a few reminders. WHY? Because working with cattle, or working with vaulters, or polocrosse, or tentpegging, or anything that trains your EYES to look at things has made it so natural, and so easy to just “look up”. That’s what Pony Club is about – teaching kids to use their hands and eyes. Then, looking up is easy!  There are thousands of exercises you could make up to help you. If your horse is skittish, get professional help to fix it – and then try just touching a letter as you go past in the arena, or putting your hand up to touch a leaf as you go past in the forest.

Rotational falls are the fear of the professional. We see them in eventing when the legs get trapped and the horse flips over. We see it in polo & polocrosse when three horses crash together (a highly illegal move) get in front of the center of gravity and flip the middle horse over. We see it in any horse on any day – simply tripping can cause a horse to flip over any moment of the day – and especially downhill a professional rider will be in such a position as to protect the horse from falling – especially at speed.  They simply could not “lift” a horse out of trouble if they were looking down.

Looking down (Rider’s nose points down)

Looking down at the horse’s ears is “part of the package” of leg swinging back, heels coming up, and falling out of control onto the forehand. And worse, if the rider’s head position is also off to one side jumping (often called  “ducking out” one shoulder) the horse has to carry a twisted and unbalanced load from above.

“Looking down” in the hunter world and heaving the rider over the fence sometimes is falsely used to make the jump look more powerful, but could be though of more of an “acting technique” rather than and actual biomechanical principal.

Head Tilt (One ear higher) 

If the rider’s head is tilted (one ear lower than the other), then the horse’s head is nearly always tilted as well, which is marked down in dressage, as it can create physical problems in the long term, and if allowed to continue, could be dangerous mid jump with the horse’s legs “crossed over” and unbalanced.

Head tilt in rider, and therefore horse, is, sadly, quite common.

Head Twist (Nose points to 11 or 1 o’clock) 

If the rider’s head is tilted (one ear lower than the other), then the horse’s head is often tilted as well, and marked down in dressage. Head tilt can become dangerous due to the horse’s legs being unbalanced and crossing over.

Head tilt in rider, and horse, is, quite common.

100% of participants in a 1,000 person study we held in Massachusetts, USA, 2011 held one ear higher than the other.

Simple test:  Look in the mirror!  If you’ve got one ear higher, practice more with the mirror. You can use the brim of your helmet, level with the horrizon to test as well.

The highest level reiners, although very rare, even use the spotting technique It has not been tested to see if a reining spin truly becomes more powerful, or if it is included in the  “showmanship” aspect,  but the technique has certainly been used by World Champions in the past.

Side/Side (falling in, jack-knife, crooked)

Easy question: which side of the helmet is lower?

Having one side of the helmet lower is also responsible for “loss of balance” – overweighting one foot instead of equally balanced and engaged over both back feet.

Having the rider’s head tilted off to one side also is a great contributor to falling in, falling out, jack-knifed shoulders and crossing over behind.

This is where a mirror comes in handy!  Ride (or jump!) directly into the mirror and the rider can see for themselves which side of the helmet is closer to the ground: the side/side balance.  Most riders have i-phones they can stick on the side of the fence for self analysis.

Forward/backward (engagement/on the forehand)

Easy question: which is lower the front or the back of the helmet?

For forward/backward issues (looking down), it is rarely “12 o’clock” the very front of the helmet perfectly central and looking down. It is normally looking down and to one side. In jumping it’s called “ducking” off one shoulder to the side, and in dressage & reining very much responsible for falling in, cutting corners and poor circle shape.


Two quick questions:

  1. Are you looking down (front of the helmet lower), and
  2. Is the peak of your helmet level to the horizon.
  3. If you ride into a mirror

Teaching: Fun on the ground exercise

Simply walk a serpentine with something on your head (a book is normally impossible for most folk, so you might use an old-fashioned hot water-bottle.

Advanced exercise

FALLING OUT:  Trot a circle and look at the horse’s outside ear, direct your belly button towards the outside ear as well. Unless there are strong opposing aids from your left leg, the horse will “fall out” of the circle – and the circle will get bigger.  When the horse falls out that is the start of shoulder in.

FALLING IN:  Trot a circle and look at the horse’s inside ear, and direct your belly button towards the horse’s inside ear.  When the horse falls in…that’s the early start of an easy half pass.

With enough impulsion para-equestrian ride both these movements with absolutely no leg to push the horse out or into the circle, and later ride without any legs at the very highest levels doing lateral movements. This is how they do it with no legs at all.

Part two…

Want part 2?  Simply sign up on the right for our newsletter in the right hand column and we’ll send it to you as soon as it’s available.

Amazing DVD’s now on line!

Join up to our on-line course – huge sale on right now!. More info here          Questions?  Contact Us

Katie Hickson: In Memorium

Sunday February 28, 2016

It is with deep sadness and regret that we announce the passing of Australian TV Personality Katie Hickson.

The International Society of Rider Biomechanics wishes to bestow the honor to change the name of our major award to the “Katie Hickson Memorial Trophy for Humanitarian of the Year” for all her amazing hours, love dedication and personal fortune she put into the equine industry.

The first of these awards will be presented at our gala awards in Lexington Kentucky, October 15, 2016 co-hosted by the University of Kentucky, Midway University and Kentucky Horse Park.

It was always Katie’s dream to come to Kentucky, and the Society had tried to help her achieve that dream.

We are deeply saddened as Katie was a very close personal friend to the Society over the years, and was producer/director on our Sydney Teacher Training DVDs, and we ask for prayers for her sister, friends and family.


The History of our Scholarships

The Deanne McCrea Memorial Scholarships

Deanne McCrae & Charlie Memorial Scholarship for the International Society of Rider Biomechanics

Deanne McCrea was one of the original founders and official coaches of the International Society of Rider Biomechanics.

Deanne was an integral part of the Society, contributing in a major way to our success in supporting the Society and arranging clinics in the Colo area of NSW, Australia.

Deanne passed away suddenly without warning in 2010. It is was great personal loss, a great loss to the Society and to the horse professional around the world.

Deanne was always a high achiever, a great organiser, a motivated, generous spirit, and a great supporter of the Society. In 2010 the Fellows of the Society announced the foundation of the “Deanne McCrae Memorial Scholarships”, and in 2011 she was posthumously awarded our highest honor “Fellow of the International Society of Rider Biomechanics”.

Deanne’s loss, at such a young age, was a tragedy to us all, however her memory lives on in the Deanne McCrea Memorial Scholarships.  The Scholarships are funded solely by donations, your membership fees and our annual gala fundraiser.

We ask that you always remember her family in your prayers.

More Info & Applications  >


USEF Equine Vaccination Rule
From the USEF Communications Department
Lexington, Ky. – In January, the USEF Board of Directors approved an addition to the rule book, which outlines equine vaccination requirements at licensed competitions. Beginning December 1, 2015, all horses entering the grounds of a Federation-licensed competition must be accompanied by documentation of Equine Influenza Virus and Equine Herpes Virus (Rhinopneumonitis) vaccinations within six months prior to entering the stables.
Due to several high profile Equine Herpes (EHV) outbreaks in recent years that have involved the neuropathic strain of the virus (equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy-EHM), some competitions have placed vaccination requirements on their competitors that go beyond most accepted medical opinions and raise concern that unnecessary requirements can potentially put a horse at risk. The intent of this rule is to ensure that all licensed competitions comply with the vaccination guidelines for Equine Influenza and Equine Herpes (Rhinopneumonitis) published by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). These guidelines are reviewed by infectious disease experts regularly, and recommend vaccinating competition horses at six-month intervals for both equine influenza (flu) and rhinopneumonitis (EHV-1 and EHV-4). There is not a vaccine that protects against EHM.
Intended to promote proper vaccination protocols, this rule does not anticipate an increased workload for competition management. The flu vaccination information can be added to the documentation already required by most competitions: a horse’s health certificate and a negative coggins test.
If you have questions regarding GR845 please contact the USEF Drugs & Medications department at or 800-633-2472

Promote your business – FREE!

FREE ADVERTISING for your product or service_0001Members and guests are more than welcome to send us products to include in our Symposium Giveaway Bags. This is the way to get your product promoted, for free, to riding coaches from the USA and around the world!

  • Small Products  If you have a small product, it might be great in our giveaway bag for ALL of our coaches (50 giveaways)
  • Luxury Products Have one on the table for each of our guests at the gala ball (100 giveaways)
  • Elite Products.  We have approximately 20 speakers attending from around the world.  This is ideal to give your product to each of our speakers – all of whom speak to thousands of coaches, pupils, and the general public every year.

Your products will be included, where possible in all our symposium handouts, fliers and/or promotional materials.

Unprecedented access to EXACTLY the marketing group you need to get your product to!

UPS, Fedex or Mail your products to:

The Secretary
460 Tarr Road,
Paris.  Kentucky.  40361

* Note:  If you are promoting your coaching business, you must be a current Official Coach, listed on the ISRB website (i.e. with insurance & registration info up to date).

Other products will only be distributed if seen to be safe, and of merit to our members for their equine coaching programs.

Contact Us

Speakers and Advisors

  • Luis Lucio (2 time Olympian, President of the Dressage Committee (Spain). FEI Board member)
  • Assoc. Prof Fernanda Carmargo DVM, PhD  University of Kentucky
  • Assist. Prof Bob Coleman PhD University of Kentucky
  • Dr. Tod Davis
  • Dr. Karen Hanks
  • Anneke Roodt, Retired Soloist from the SA Lippizaners
  • Kelly Sigler, MA, Level 1*,   Eventer of the Year  – Safety Officer
  • Dr. Stephanie Keeley, Midway University
  • Connie Jehlik, United States Pony Club Association
  • Virginia Stirnweiss (Side Saddle)
  • Dr. Sue Massimo PhD
  • Amy Bennett Vanner – Safety Officer
  • Aaron Rolston, World Equestrian Games Medallist – Reining Demos

Thank you to…

  • The London Metropolitan Police. The ISRB gave day-long training at the famous Imbercort, where they train Police Officers not just to ride, but to take off their saddles while jumping! We received a plaque/award and great thanks for helping create a safer seat & position for the officers. This is the group that guards the Queen of England’s guards.
  • The University of Kentucky, Asbury University and Midway University for co-hosting 5 year’s worth of International Symposiums at their venues
  • The Certified Horsemanship Association – for providing speakers to our events
  • National Reining Horse Association – for providing demo riders & horse
  • Lexington Mounted Police Unit, Kentucky Horse Park Police, Albuquerque, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Lord Strathcona Mounted Garrison), Tampa Mounted Unit, Houston Police and Austin Police Mounted Units for hosting training and providing demo riders for large events for our biomechanics demonstrations (such as World Equestrian Games and the 2013, 14, 15, 16 International Symposiums)
  • Nathan Brashear, Eric Martinovich and Big Horse Productions for providing vaulters for training and demos, and for Daryn Fredricks, National Australian Vaulting Coach.  The ISRB was instrumental in starting several vaulting clubs in the USA and Australia and our members have been state representatives to the Australian National Vaulting Council in the past.
  • The Riding for Disabled Association for the five Awards the ISRB has received
  • The First Lady of Kentucky for her video appearance at the International Symposium
  • The SA Lippizaners (only subsidiary of the Spanish School) for hosting the official teacher training clinic
  • New Bolton Center, Penn State University for twice hosting events
  • Virginia Tech for hosting events
  • Missouri State University for hosting events
  • Meredith College for hosting a presentation.
  • Equitana, Equine Affaire (Ohio, CA & MA), Horse World Expo, Mid West Horse Fair, Wellington Dressage Festival
  • The Equestrian Federation of Australia (for hosting our demos at CCI*** International Events)
  • The United States Equestrian Federation (Cincinnati, Ohio Conference presentation)
  • CADORA (Canada) for inviting our coaches to present at the International Grand Prix Judge’s clinic
  • ZANEF (South Africa) for arranging and hosting our teacher training.

Membership Information:

Kelly Sigler Patterson, MA, Level 1*,  
Eventer of the Year  – Safety Officer – Teacher Training

Amy Bennett Vanner – Safety Officer – Membership Manager

Contact us:





Kentucky Outreach Director Honored with Humanitarian Award

It is with great pleasure that the ISRB Board Announce the recipient of the 2014/15 Humanitarian Award: Christine Schumacher.Christine Dawn-Ingram Schumacher

Christine also recently passed her Level 1 Official Coach’s exam in Kentucky and was the recipient of the Annual Deane McCrae Scholarship.

The Society want’s to promote the use of horses as therapy to help people physically, emotionally and mentally.  To have a wonderful person such as Ms. Schumacher as an ISRB Official Level 1 Coach, knowing that she is out there helping change people’s lives every single day is such an honor and a privilege.  You can read more about her amazing work here

We honor Christine, and ask that you support her work financially, or if you’re in the area, contact them as I’m sure they need volunteers.  Especially visiting coaches to the area!  More

The Board would like to thank Christine, and her team, for all the incredible work you do.  We were sorry you were not there to receive your trophy, but the amazing hours you put in simply shows your amazing work ethic. So, your beautiful trophy is on the way to you, with our deepest thanks for all you do.


Hello & Welcome!

Why not become a volunteer at one of our events and be a part of an AMAZING group of people – young and old – beginners & higher level riders who all volunteer and help keep the Society moving forward and growing.

Helping as a volunteer will give you enormous benefits, the more hours you can give the Society, the more we can give back to you as well!

You might only be able to help once per year – stuffing give away bags at the Symposium…or organizing tea and coffee at a clinic.  Or, you might be able to donate many hours, in which case you might consider becoming a Board Member.

The more hours you give us – the more we can give you.  You can get the hours to get your entire training for FREE!

Volunteering – Great for your resume!

A resume is hugely important for job applications, even going for a loan. A great reference from the Society in thanks for your volunteering goes a long way to building your future in the coaching profession.

Email us  to see what current positions are available on the Board, and as a volunteer…and JUNIORS WELCOME!

RIP: Gail Rice

On behalf of the International Society of Rider Biomechanics, I would like to offer our sincere love, prayers and support to the family of Gail Rice on her passing last night.
Gail was an amazing woman, and friend to the Society. For me, personally, she kind of “came out of nowhere”, and helped us TREMENDOUSLY by spread the word of our events, and our articles and research. Often I’d be looking at someone else’s Facebook page, and here she had already “spread the word” for us. She must have spent hours helping us!
Official Coach Kelly Sigler and myself gained tremendously from her help. She would promote our work, let people know everything we’re doing, but it soon became more than that and blossomed into a wonderful friendship.
Ever since Gail found she had a brain tumor…I don’t think I read a negative thing she said in all this time through her treatment and surgery. It was ALL positive ALL built with hope, and every word I read that she wrote was in thanks and support of her wide group of friends and family, and in what could have been a dark time, she filled it with the brightest light – with many posts – day after day filled with only ever positive things to say.
What an amazing role model to the world. The way she went through all of this was so classy, so positive, so wonderful, I cannot help being really affected by Gail…not by her loss, but by seeing the unexplainable positivity in everything she did, wrote, touched or felt.
Gail was a very good friend to the Society, and her incredible support of me personally will never be forgotten.
I will be thinking of her and trying to model her as an example of how to write, how to think about things, how to teach, but more importantly, how to live an amazing life of friendship, love, light and positivity…no matter what!
I am sure her family would appreciate seeing your comment of love and support here:

About the Society – growing in leaps and bounds!




A great day for the Society...being presented a Special Award of Thanks for our teaching presentation to the Metropolitan Police - the riders who guard the Queen's Guard, they are world famous for their performances where they TAKE OFF THEIR SADDLES WHILE JUMPING!  You can see them do it here!

A great day for the Society…being presented a Special Award of Thanks for our teaching presentation to the Metropolitan Police – the riders who guard the Queen’s Guard, world famous for their performances where they TAKE OFF THEIR SADDLES WHILE JUMPING! See a video of them here!


The first Registered Coaching Course was held in Auckland New Zealand in early 2000’s and coaches from this course are still registered with the Society to this day.


Coaches range from Level 1 teaching a local Adult Riding Club member right up to one of our Coach Members, Head Rider of the Lipizzaners, Anneke Roodt, teaching the highest level seat and posture for performance at lectures and presentations around the world.

This year the Society will co-host the teacher training program and international symposium at the University of Kentucky, Asbury University and the Kentucky Horse Park.


Our regular and student members number in the thousands, and you can click here for a list of Fully Registered Coaches



What should a coach bring to a lesson?

The best kit you’ll ever see!

The ISRB for many years has been the host of the International Symposium co-hosted with the University of Kentucky, Asbury University, Midway University and Kentucky Horse Park (International Breeds Barn/Show, and also KHP Mounted Police demonstrations).

At the 2014 International Symposium at Asbury University, Liz Crabtree, one of the original USA coaches, from Texas brought along this to show the first-years and junior coaches what to take to a lesson.

Wow!  Now THIS is what I call prepared!  Just think how this might save you on your insurance claims in the future, but there’s some GREAT teaching stuff here too….

Coaches, riders, parents, clubs…PLEASE watch this short video:


Vision & Horse Riding: Incredible short article by Dr. Tod R. Davis

The Horse and Rider That Was Me

Vision and Horse Riding Dr. Todd Davis Developmental Optometrist Colleen Kelly and the International Society of Rider BiomechanicsDr. Tod R. Davis is a Developmental Optometrist from northern Virginia, who specializes in Vision Training of children and adults with a wide variety of vision problems ranging from developmental delays and education problems to post trauma vision syndrome.

“Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is much that goes into riding a horse that to the experienced and passionate rider is intuitive, if not mystical. The subtle shifts in posture, gaze and attention between the rider and horse create a symbiotic perception of their environment. The rider’s intended movements become a shared intention with the horse that, in action, appears as the simple union of rider and horse in a gentle trot or a graceful leap over an obstacle. The shared sense of space, self and movement by the rider and horse is a perceptual blending of two very different visual systems.

In a relaxed state the horse’s visual system is generally monocular (one eye at a time) and binocular (both eyes) when the horse is alert to something ahead of it. The human visual system is designed to be binocular and to incorporate sensory information from not only the eyes, but also the vestibular system (our internal GPS) and special nerves in our bones, tendons and muscles that detect movement. When fully functioning, the human visual system enables us to understand the world around us and to use that understanding to not only survive but to thrive. All too often good “vision” is mistaken for “20/20” clarity. In fact, many people with “20/20” eye sight have vision difficulties not detected in typical vision exams, like poor binocularity.   So how does human vision affect horsemanship?

All movement is led by vision. Whether one realizes it or not, all movement or action is visualized before it happens. That “cognitive intent” initiates the visual process in the search for meaning; we look where we wish in the environment to a selected interest, and then act upon it either overtly by physical action or covertly by mental action. That means a rider will need to be able to create a mental projection of themselves and the horse (visualization) in a given space in order to move about in it in the manner they intend to. Poorly developed vision diminishes that capacity to visualize and limits our abilities. If vision is not leading then it is said to be interfering.

Vision and the ability to visualize develops from birth in very predictable stages; from mouth to hands to eyes. This developmental process helps an individual begin to catalog a vast amount of information about objects, environments and spatial awareness. Optimal vision development enhances the ability of a rider to quickly visualize themselves and their horse in an environment and form a shared intention best described in the poem “Race” by Holly Rucker; “I shall always remember the Horse and Rider that was me.”

In future articles we will explore in depth what visual skills are most important to passionate and competitive riders and how best to develop those skills.

The International Society of Rider Biomechanics – ISRB Mission Statement

MISSION – Ever growing, ever developing

  • PRESENTATIONS, LECTURES & CLINICS. Continue to give presentations and lectures to the world’s largest events such as the Olympic Organisers, the FEI events we have presented at in the past including the Diana Ferrari Dressage, the Sydney and Melbourne CCI***, National Championships in every major sport, State Championships and hundreds of Pony Clubs and Adult Riding Clubs around the world.

    Dr. Fernanda Carmargo from the University speaks at the 2013 International Society of Rider Biomechanics Symposium at the world famous Kentucky Horse Park

    Dr. Fernanda Carmargo from the University speaks at the 2013 International Society of Rider Biomechanics Symposium at the world famous Kentucky Horse Park

  • NOT FOR PROFIT.  That the Society run as a not for profit with membership open to all members of the public.

  • ALL AGES, ALL SPORTS, OPEN ACCESS The Society is, by it’s nature an educational body. We seek to benefit all horse riders of all ages and all horse sports including disabled athletes and paraequestrians from beginners to Olympic level.

  • SCHOLARSHIPS. The Society is to Administer the Deanne McCrae Memorial Training Scholarship established 4 years ago on the sudden illness and death of one of our most loved coaches. These scholarships run annually and any individual (member or not), club or charity or official riding organisation are encouraged to apply. We have a Board Member that handles Scholarships alone.

Not only training, but a special performance at the Kentucky Horse Park from Head Rider from the SA Lipizzaners, and Official ISRB Coach Anneke Roodt. 2013 Kentucky Symposium

Not only training, but a special performance at the Kentucky Horse Park from Head Rider from the SA Lipizzaners, and Official ISRB Coach Anneke Roodt. 2013 Kentucky Symposium

  • LIBRARY. To rull the world’s most extensive library of video material, DVD downloads, articles, research reports, audio CD’s and books related to biomechanics, seat, posture and balance of the horse rider with most of the material being available for free. We have a Board Member specifically dedicated to the task of Librarian

    "The Biomechanics of the Rider"...2013 presentation at University of Kentucky

    “The Biomechanics & Movement of the Rider”…Colleen Kelly’s 2013 presentation at the University of Kentucky

  • COACHING PROGRAM.  Coach, teach and train riding professionals to specialise in the field of Rider Biomechanics and run a membership database to ensure that all coaches pass our stringent testing regimen of practical and theory exams, and carrying insurance and first aid qualifications. We have a specific Board Member in charge of our coaching program

  • AFFILIATION WITH OFFICIAL FEDERATIONS.  We ask that any of our under 21 coaching members obtain a pre-requisite qualification with the Certified Horsemanship Association or similar covering horse husbandary, first aid, safety, gear checking, and much more in an intensive program.  Insurance may be limited to under 21’s so we recommend that further study be done prior to attending our course.


    PRESENTING AT OFFICIAL FEI EVENTS…Dressage Summit, Wellington, Florida

  • INSURANCE.  All coaching members must be insured

  • UNIVERSITY LIAISON: We will continue to develop our world class curriculum and continue presentations such as in the past at University of Kentucky for Professor Carmargo, Averett University, Asbury University, Penn State and Queensland University to name just a few.

  • EMERGENCY PREPARATION COURSES: Develop a relationship with large animal rescue, first aid responders and first aid and CPR courses.  All Level 2 Coaches who will be trailering horses are required to have undertaken a large animal rescue course.

  • Connie Jehlik, Instruction Services Manager for the US Pony Clubs presenting at the 2013 Symposium at Kentucky Horse Park

    Connie Jehlik, Instruction Services Manager for the US Pony Clubs presenting at the 2013 Symposium at Kentucky Horse Park

    CONTINUED EDUCATION: We encourage our coaches to develop their skills, training further both in the field and technically.  All coaches keep a record of their logged hours throughout the year on our membership website.

    The ISRB Training Program is trusted by Police Mounted Units around the world.

    The ISRB Training Program is trusted by Police Mounted Units around the world.

  • OPEN ACCESS TO THE PUBLIC: Top quality curriculum and teaching protocols available to the public with an open access policy and special assistance and recognition given to our Paraequestrian riders.

  • GIVE BACK TO OTHER CHARITIES:  Since the Society’s inception we have chosen to give to 3 charities: 1. Police Mounted Units; 2: Riding for Disabled 3. Pony Clubs dedicated to young riders. Our support has been in the form of donating lectures they can use for fundraising, training their instructors free of charge, giving clinics to educate their riders (and again the group charging a fee for that group’s fundraising), and allowing their members to attend teacher training for free.  One of the Deanne McCrae Scholarships is specifically dedicated to these groups.

  • BOARD.  Develop a strong board of leaders in their field.  Our Board Members listed here

List of Registered Coaches

How do I become a Coach?

List of Articles 

FUN QUICK “visual image” to teach riders for better balance

We all know we’re meant to look up! We all know we’re not meant to lean into circles. But…it’s sure hard to remember!

Quick tip…how you hold your hat affects how balanced your seatbones are…especially on turns & circles.

So here’s a FUN QUICK TIP:

Look at our photo of Carlos Osorio (Horse First Farms) demonstrating Rider Biomechanics at the Midwest Horse Fair, Madison WI.

The visual image is THE COWBOY HAT.

Here’s your homework

  • Go down the longside, or down a rail, and turn a smallish half circle and turn around and go the other way.  Which seatbone got heavier? (Probably the inside)
  • Now, go and do it again, and pretend it’s raining, and your’e in your cowboy hat, and if you lean too far into the circle the rain will drip out your hat and down your inside armpit!  If you can keep your hat level…you can keep your seatbones level!

Enjoy the quick tip!  Hope to see you at the Symposium this year!

Bravery Award for Lexington Mounted Unit in Arrest

The ISRB announces the very first “ISRB Bravery Award” awarded to Officers Lisa Rakes (2009 “Best Cop in the Country“) and David Johnson from the Lexington Mounted Unit for their mounted assistance in an arrest spanning many city blocks at great speed and risk to the Officers.  This Award comes hot on the heels of the Unit’s success at the International Police Competition in Canada, where they came home with a sweep of trophies. The Unit often holds demos and courses at the Horse Park.

Recommended Reading

Secrets to Great Sitting Trot – Talking E-Book **PLUS FREE GIFT**

Teacher Training Package **FULL PACKAGE** Includes all our other items!!!

***BEST SELLER*** Improve Your Seat Posture & Balance.

Improving Lengthening & Collection though Rider Seat & Posture

  HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR DRESSAGE: Rider Seat, Posture & Balance – Audio CD Talking Book

 DVD: Theory Lecture: How to Know what to look for in the rider’s seat & position, and how to improve…

 DVD: FOUR DVDS IN ONE! Rider Seat & Position. Ride long hours without pain! Dressage – Jumping – T…

Improving Rider Balance

“Quick Balance” 60 seconds to Better Balance

This marvelous tip from Dr. Mary Taylor Wake Forest

From the moment a horse rider starts riding, they soon find out that balance is probably the No. 1 thing the horse rider has to concentrate on.  From day one it’s “good balance = staying on”  and “bad balance is on the ground”!

But good horse rider balance and co-ordination gets more and more important when the tasks become difficult.

The eventer needs incredible balance to get through the water course, the dressage rider is thinking about “forward-back balance” – that is, if their position is putting weight on the forehand, or putting weight back on the hind quarters (engagement).

The dressage rider is also thinking of side-side balance starting with the rider falling in on the 20m circle at Level 1, going to Grand Prix where the slightest tip to one side means a horse might have a long stride on one side of the flying changes, and a shorter stride on the other side, or one hind leg slightly higher in piaffe.

And to the young rider in pony club…it’s the difference between winning and losing the bending & barrels as the horse is quicker one way and slower the other.

But probably the worst of the lot is ENDURANCE RIDING!  The knee and ankle pain they suffer can become intolerable.  You could almost create a term of “endurance rider knees”.  Good balance for the endurance rider can mean the difference between finishing the ride, or packing up and going home.

60 Seconds to Better Balance

Rider Balance and Independent Seat for Dressage Seat and Jumping Position to Improving Coordination

The problem with this tip is it’s SO SIMPLE the average horse riding population won’t do it.   But Grand Prix riders all over the world who have received this tip are LOVING IT!

Every time you clean your teeth…simply stand on one foot, with the other foot out in front of you!

Yes, it’s that simple….but will you try it?

The difference between “Olympians” and “riders” is that Olympians practice horse riding 18 hours a day.  In the car, at the table, at the desk, while they’re shopping.   And then for the other 8 hours they dream about it.

Give it a go…the only thing you have to lose is bad balance!

Freestyle Music – Dressage to Music

Postscript: FREE MUSIC

We used to give you free copies of our most popular songs, however  there are now so many FREE music sites on the net. Just search for FREE RIDING MUSIC, and for (roughly) 99BPM or 152BPM and you’ll have more free music, than we could ever give you!
And for a great site to get you started for only pennies…you can get GREAT MUSIC HERE

What our top riders REALLY do!

We have all heard that the FEI Rules explain how a horse should maintain a regular rhythm, and maintain a consistent tempo, not getting faster in extension and slower in collection. It’s easy to read what we SHOULD do, keeping the same tempo or speed throughout all the movements.  However what do the top dressage riders REALLY do?

This wonderful piece of research by Sonya Paxton, AISRB, Registered Coach looks at the top riders in dressage and measures their tempo (or speed, or beats per minute) and the variations in the pace.

It is truly ground-breaking research and well worth seeing what the top riders do (or don’t do!)



Written by Sonya Paxton, AISRB

The No. 1 thing the judge looks for

Ah yes, regularity – what we all hope to achieve in our personal lives and most certainly what we hope to achieve in our riding!  Why?  Because it is the number one thing that judges are looking for.  That’s right, it even comes before lightness, harmony, engagement, impulsion and submission.  If we read in the FEI dressage rule book it specifically lists “freedom and REGULARITY of the paces” (emphasis added) as the first things of importance.  So why, you might ask, is there so much irregularity of the paces in the sport of dressage?  Even in the beginning of our training our equine friends, we strive for rhythm and regularity before we ask the horse for impulsion or submission.

The purpose of this article is to show that even at the Olympic level there is an extreme lack of regularity within the paces.  That is somewhat disconcerting considering that most of us will never reach that high of a level of riding – but it certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t aspire to!  So what must we do to make sure we follow the “rules” of the game and focus on what the Rule Book states to be the most important aspect of dressage?

What do the rules say?

First, let’s take a look at what the FEI Rule Book actually does say.  In Article 401, page 11, subsections 6 and 7 it states, “(6) Cadence is shown in trot and canter and is the result of the proper harmony that a horse shows when it moves with well-marked regularity, impulsion and balance.  Cadence must be maintained in all the different trot or canter exercises and in all the variations of these paces.  (7)  The regularity of the paces is fundamental to dressage.

In Article 403 (The Walk), subsection 1 it states, “…regularity combined with full relaxation must be maintained throughout all walk movements.”  Moving on to the trot it reads in Article 404, subsection 3, “The quality of the trot is judged by general impression, i.e. the regularity and elasticity of the steps, the cadence and impulsion in both collection and extension.  This quality originates from a supple back and well-engaged hindquarters, and the ability to maintain the same rhythm and natural balance with all variations of the trot.”  And finally, in Article 405 (The Canter), subsection 3 we read, “The quality of the canter is judged by the general impression, i.e. the regularity and lightness of the steps… – and by the ability of maintaining the same rhythm and a natural balance, even after a transition from one canter to another.” (Emphasis added).

Based on that information, let’s look at the results of the study done on the top five riders/horses at the US Olympic Trials in 2008 for the Grand Prix Freestyle held at Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions.


#1#2#3#4#5 WalkWalkWalk 71-102-107(See note below)108 106-98-103110-115102-116
#1#2#3#4#5 TrotTrotTrot 130-134-157 (4/4 time)145160 136-133-133138139
#1#2#3#4#5 Passage/Piaffe 115 108-111
Passage/Piaffe 107 106-108
Passage/Piaffe 114 111-119
Passage/Piaffe done to ¾ time 111-117
Passage/Piaffe 111 108-111
#1#2#3#4#5 Extended TrotExtended TrotExtended TrotExtended TrotExtended Trot 131 149
134 135
144 149-150
* 142
145 145
#1#2#3#4#5 Half Pass 131 131
Half Pass 134 133
Half Pass 114 134
Half Pass * 137-138
Half Pass 145 143
#1#2#3#4#5 Canter 95 90-92
Canter 96-97 96
Canter 93 93
Canter * 94
Canter 96 93
#1#2#3#4#5 Canter PirouetteCanter PirouetteCanter PirouetteCanter PirouetteCanter Pirouette 95-96-89
73-75-76-82-65-69 (remarkable variance)64-7464-68

(*Amazingly, with this music, a good portion of it was in ¾ time and ranged from 60 – 140 bpm!  The time signature changed several times during the course of the routine.)

Huge variation in the tempo


What was discovered was that all of the horses were inconsistent in the walk with tempos ranging between 98-116 bpm. One horse even changed his tempo by 14 bpm within the pace, starting out at 102 and speeding up to 116.  None of the walk music was at the appropriate pace of 95 bpm, however the horses showed on exit without interference from the rider the exact pace of 95 bpm.

Trot – the worst of all:

The trot paces produced even more astounding results.  With music ranging from 57 to 145 bpm and all variations in between; some of it even having ¾ time, which all of us know a horse does not travel at ¾  time in any pace.  Walk is a four-beat pattern, trot is a two-beat pattern (ridden to 4/4 music) and Canter is a three-beat pattern with a moment of suspension where all hooves are suspended in the air adding the extra beat, therefore making it a four-beat pattern.  What was fairly consistent in the trot paces was that most passage/piaffe movements were ridden within the 106-119 range with piaffe tending to be the faster pace.  The difference between the passage/piaffe and extended trot ranged from 106-149 bpm – a whopping difference of 43 beats per minute!  That is rather significant.  Again, none of the music was at the appropriate pace of 150 bpm.


Although the FEI does mention that a SLIGHT lowering of the tempo MIGHT be acceptable (although elsewhere in the rule book it mentions, several times to maintain consistent tempo, this does not explain the huge differences seen.  Most of the music ranged from 89-97 bpm. The most notable drop in pace would be with rider number five whose canter was 99 bpm and the pirouette was ridden at 64, and the extension at a whopping 129 bpm – almost DOUBLE the speed!

What do we learn from this?

Was the music set to the horse’s pace?  Some of the music didn’t even correlate with the horse’s movements, or the horse was ahead of or behind it.  That would be the danger of having music altered to “fit” the horse as the horse does not ride the same every day.  Not anywhere near to riding at the Olympic level, how would I, as a rider/trainer, try to resolve such irregularities within each pace?

The solution, is to ride to music that is a set tempo for each pace.

Walk:  music ranging from 95-97 bpm.

Trot: music ranging from 150-155

Canter: music ranging from 95-99 bpm

What do we want?

Our goal is to ride collection AND extension at the same bpm.  There is little point of rushing the pace, or having it labored and slow as the horse will be marked down anyway, so in fact it is better to have the horse have a little LESS overtrack/undertack of the footfall and maintain the same tempo, and achieve higher marks!

How can I find free music?

This music is everywhere with every style that you might want.  Look within your own library of CD’s and you will be amazed at what you find.  It is fun and exciting to ride to music that gets your horse moving forward and rhythmically.  There isn’t a training session that I do on my own that I don’t ride to music.  So, just plug in the ear phones, turn on that iPod and ride your way to the ultimate goal of REGULARITY!

How do I get stronger legs for dressage?

Strong dressage legs for “on the bit”

by Renai Burchell MISBS, Level 2 Official Coach, South Australia
Independent Dressage Seat Renai Burchell and Kate McDonell Horse's Head Position Rider's Seat and Legs for Dressage

With all the “grey areas” in riding…some things are easy! They’re listed in the FEI Rules free on line

The Rules, thank goodness, are very clear.  They say, for a preliminary horse (Level 1) that the horse must “have the poll the highest point of the horse”, “vertical (or slightly in front)”, “light contact”, “straight line from the rider’s elbow to bit” and “relaxed”.

And of course it’s relative to the level of the horse.  The croup gets lower and lower as the horse gets more and more advanced, and the poll raises to rebalance the additional weight on the back feet.

The Horse Rider’s Legs – a quick quiz

The photograph on the right was recently taken of rider Kate McDonell, in South Australia.

Look carefully at the photo.  Now remember, this is a BEGINNER LEVEL – ENTRY LEVEL HORSE.  This is not a “raised and arched” and “sitting down” Olympian, this is the FIRST STEPS to being on the bit…so BE KIND!

But, I’m sure you’ll agree that poll is higher than the croup, straight line from elbow to bit, light contact, vertical…just like the rules above say…she might look a bit “stiff” but the horse looks kindly and poll high and close enough to vertical to score well for submission (on the bit).

Here’s 3 questions on the photo:

  1. Did she use her leg to create the forward?
  2. Did she use her seat to lower the horse’s croup (engagement) or push the horse forward?
  3. Did she use a ‘combined action of the hand, seat and leg’ to get the horse on the bit?

The Horse Rider’s leg – a quick answer

Kate is permanently in a wheelchair.  Seriously injured in an eventing accident, our Kate was “talent spotted” as an up and coming rider with Riding for the Disabled, and we have taken her under our wing and encouraged her originally into the Para Equestrian system to start competing, but ultimately Kate wouldn’t settle for that and started winning in the “REAL” dressage world.   (And she has the stillest position in sitting trot we’ve ever seen!).  Kate has absolutely no use of her legs, and is paralyzed from the waist down.

Doesn’t this throw up a LOT of questions about the whole concept of spurs/pushing/driving?  If Kate’s horse is out there winning with NO seat and leg…why is it so necessary to use the leg?  If Kate doesn’t have to, and many paras don’t, then how can we learn from here and instead of MORE leg…use LESS (or in Kate’s case NO leg!).

The FEI Rules Say “LIGHT” leg

The coaches say “more leg, more leg”…yet the rule book says “able to morward from the SLIGHTEST indication”.  It will also mark you down if the aids are not “invisible”, and “without apparent effort”.

The FEI rule book even mentions the heel being the lowest point of the rider, so if a rider raises their heel to kick then it’s a) not invisible b) not effortless c) heel not the lowest point, and although very common, can be punishable in the rider and impulsion marks.

Pain in the horse rider’s ankles, knees, hips

Many riders, old and young, report pain in the lower body while riding.  Sometimes, very serious pain to the point of career-ending.  The more muscular effort you put into th eleg, the more sore you will be.  But, imagine the horse’s sides. If you raise your hand in the air, you’ll feel yourself how VULNERABLE your ribs are, the harder you hit in the ribs, the stiffer the horse becomes.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with legs…IF YOU HAVE THEM!  But if your old, or injured, or have one leg stronger than the other, you still can ride at a very high level!

The “you don’t have strong enough legs” statement is proven wrong again and again by these amazing riders.

Better legs for lateral work

You never hear “don’t use your leg” for lateral work, it would be seemingly impossible to ask a horse to go sideways without using the outside leg.  Is it even possible to go sideways with NO LEG AT ALL?

The answer is = ABSOLUTELY YES!  Independent Dressage Seat susan Seipel Riding for Disabled ParaEquestrian (1)

Take a look at the photo on the right of the paint horse being ridden by many times champion Para-Equestrian Susan Seipel.  With her legs way up in front of the horse’s shoulders, she has virtually no use of the leg, certainly not enough to push a horse sideways.

Yet…her lateral work is lovely! She’s trained her horse, like many other higher level para-equestrian competitors to do it WITHOUT the leg!

So next time you hear “more leg”, perhaps wonder “how do the para’s do it”.  There must be other techniques (Editor’s note = see the ISRB On-Line Course to learn how it’s done).

As one famous jockey once said “if sitting fully upright with your heels down lead to faster horses, I’d buy a dressage saddle tomorrow”. Every jockey in the world is living proof that there is another way to get horses forward and impulsive without the traditional use of the “long leg”.

There are many Prix St. Georges para equestrians doing lateral work, flying changes, and working on piaffe and passage around the world with no legs at all.  They just train a couple of little tricks to the horse, very easy, and it’s done, the horse will be forward forever – much nicer than a steel spur in their sides.

Choose the “middle way”

The traditional training methods from the British Horse Society, or NCAS use all three: a) hand b) seat c) leg.

But some trainers go mostly for one method “all leg”, or “all hand”.

Choosing the “middle way”, the softest most humane approach, within the rule book to stay highly competitive, will always be the logical path to success, and these riders are proving that there is another way!

Sometimes it just takes a very special rider to show us the difference!

by Renai Burchell MISBS, Level 2 Official Coach, South Australia