UREKA - An introduction to Riding

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UREKA

1st Edition

An Introduction to Riding Canter Levels 1 - 3

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A progressive, step by step guide for riders of all abilities.

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UREKA

An Introduction to Riding

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Canter Levels 1 - 3

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INTRODUCTION

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Throughout UREKA, I want to share with you my love and experience with horses. The journey starts at a time where I had no idea I would grow up to earn international coaching qualifications. I now write this as a Federation International Equestrian Level 3 coach, the highest coaching qualification in the world. I can assure you, my time at school did not look promising but passion is a powerful motivator.

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It is my absolute passion to share my knowledge and help you in your horse riding journey. To do that, allow me to take you on an adventure.

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Born near Saumur, the “Capital of horses”, in France, I was lucky that my parents supported my passion for horses from an early age. With dedication and determination, my pony Ohlala and I reached the highest level and worked with the French team. In 3 years together he was the youngest pony competing and performing in Grand Prix (jump height: 1.35m to 1.40m). This experience taught me how to both, respect and train, a young horse to reach the top level. When I got Ohlala, he was four rising five, was a bit of a wild one and very sensitive. He was a pony but, in many ways, like a horse. Ponies and horses are very different in their mindset. Generally, ponies are not as sensitive and tend to be more forgiving. Ohlala was like a miniature horse, he wasn’t very small but super sensitive and you couldn’t tell him what to do.

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You had to be smart enough to bring him to do it with you. That is the whole point of this book. Ohlala taught me so much of what I will share with you here. I spent hours and hours just bolting from one side of the arena to the other, just because I couldn’t figure out how to ask him, in such a way that he wanted to do it. He was very, very fast, hot and sensitive, so I decided to just take my time. I took a step back and asked myself, “How can I make this work?” I decided to do a lot of groundwork to create a relationship with him. i.


Levels & Fundamentals Canter Levels Explained Each Canter Level builds directly on the exercises and skills introduced and practiced in the previous level. It’s important, even if it’s not your first time riding, to work through all the levels in order from Canter 1 onwards. More experienced riders may move more quickly through earlier stages, but as every experienced rider knows, you can never do too much work on the basics, and working on the basics never ends when it comes to horse riding.

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Below you will find a brief overview of what to expect in each Canter level.

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CANTER 1 In the Canter 1 level you will primarily “discover” and “search” the basic elements of riding. You may begin to establish some confidence in the basic elements of balance, going forward and steering. It is important to spend time in the Canter 1 phase and not to rush through these initial steps. Your riding journey will be both safer and more enjoyable if you take the time to get the basics right.

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CANTER 2 In the Canter 2 level you continue to “discover” and “search” but you will also start to “stabilise” the basic elements of riding. You will work more consistently across the three gaits of the horse’s movement and learn more about how to control the forward energy of the horse to achieve simple goals such as navigating raised poles.

CANTER 3 In the Canter 3 level you will work to “stabilise” the basic elements of riding by adding new challenges. You will build on the lessons of previous levels to consolidate your skills and ensure that you have a solid foundation of balance, forward movement and steering in a range of arena based exercises and activities. Canter levels 4 and 5 are published separately as they present a different level of challenge for experienced riders. Considerable time should be invested in mastering levels 1 - 3 prior to advancing to canter levels 4 and 5. iv.


Fundamentals of Riding Explained Canter Levels move through 3 fundamental elements that underpin good riding development. 1. Balance 2. Moving Forward 3. Steering Those fundamentals are also found in any sliding sports, such as surfing, skiing and skating. In each fundamental, you will acquire individual skills as a learning outcome. A brief explanation of each fundamental element is below.

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BALANCE Good balance begins with a good seat and both horse and rider need to be balanced in order to work together harmoniously. Balance influences everything that horse and rider do together making it the logical starting point for riding.

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GOING FORWARD Harmonising the forward energy of the horse and rider is essential to establish the three gaits of the horse’s movement. Knowing how to send the horse forward correctly is critical to rider and horse well-being and success.

STEERING If you are moving forward you’re going to need to steer! Combining good balance with forward energy, you can ask your horse to go the way you want.

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Spectrum of Learning One of the great frustrations of learning to ride is feeling that your progress isn’t coming quickly enough or thinking that you are not “getting it”. It’s important to realise that learning occurs on a spectrum and we all learn at a different speed and in different ways to one another. Throughout my coaching I consistently use the following terms to define what stage of learning we are working in. These five terms describe the phases of learning that I will refer to thoughout this manual. I refer to these as the spectrum of learning.

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DISCOVER The first spark of understanding! This is the very first step of learning. This is about the ‘new’. You are now discovering a new feeling, new way of being…both on the ground and in the saddle… At this stage you are experiencing everything as if it is for the first time…even if you have done it many times before.

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SEARCH Searching for that feeling again After experiencing a new skill, you have felt it and are now ready to search for it and experience it again. You now know what you are looking to feel and this awareness allows you to know what you are searching for. This phase can bring intermittent experiences of what you are searching for and it allows you to move closer and closer to the next phase.

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STABILISE Maintaining the feeling This is where you are established in the ability to search for the outcome you desire and have the ability to maintain it for a period of time. For example, maintaining a canter for either a number of strides and eventually a number of circles. As you progress, your ability to stabilise and maintain that outcome will increase.

ADAPT

USE

The phases “Adapt” and “Use” are not discussed at this stage but will be addressed in Canter levels 4 and 5. vii.


Scope & Sequence for UREKA Curriculum Canter 1 Balance (B) Good balance begins with a good seat and both horse and rider need to be balanced to work together harmoniously. Balance influences everything that horse and rider do together making it the logical starting point for riding.

F1.1 F1.2 F1.3 F1.4 F1.5

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Going Forward (F) Harmonising the forward energy of the horse and rider is essential to establish the three gaits of the horse’s movement. Knowing how to send the horse forward correctly is critical to rider and horse well-being and success.

B1.1 Search balance walking in full seat B1.2 Search Balance walking in forward seat B1.3 Search rising trot in rhythm B1.4 Discover balance cantering

S1.1

Steer on simple / wide turn & straight line in walk Steer on simple turn in trot

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Steering (S) If you are moving forward you’re going to need to steer! Combining good balance with forward energy, you can ask your horse to go the way you want.

Establish Walk Establish Trot Canter a few strides Halt Transition between halt - walk - trot

S1.2

e T1.1 T1.2 T1.3 T1.4 T1.5 T1.6 T1.7 T1.8 T1.9 T1.10 T1.11 T1.12 T1.13 T1.14

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Stable Management & Theory (T)

Find both personal space Establish safe position around horse Walking - straight line & wide turns Halt Pushing horse away

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G1.1 G1.2 G1.3 G1.4 G1.5

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Groundwork (G)

Basic vocabulary Safety rules Describe 3 basic seats (position) Mounting / dismounting Holding the reins Approach the horse Put halter on Tying up a horse Basic grooming Tack / Untack (saddle) Rider’s health / Safety Gender vocabulary Horse’s main part Horse’s main colour

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Canter 2

Canter 3

B2.1 Stabilize rising trot in rhythm B2.2 Stabilize balance walking in forward seat B2.3 Search balance trotting in forward seat B2.4 Search balance trotting in full seat B2.5 Search balance while cantering B2.6 Search balance on single fence

F2.3

Steer on tight turn in trot & straight line in canter Steer approaching & landing a simple fence

S3.2

G3.1 G3.2 G3.3 G3.4

Adapt safe position around horse Go backwards - move with horse Series of tight turns walking Moving shoulders and hind legs

T3.1 T3.2

Rugging Basic care and inspection before & after riding Maintain litter Adjust bridle Different breeds Changing diagonal in trot Mechanism of 3 paces Head’s parts Hoof’s part / shoe Aids White marks Riding figures Jumping conditions

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Search safe position around horse Trotting a few strides Go backwards for a few steps Series of straight line & wide turns walking one after the other Discover moving shoulders and hind legs

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T2.1 T2.2 T2.3 T2.4 T2.5 T2.6 T2.7 T2.8 T2.9 T2.10 T2.11 T2.12 T2.13

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G2.5

Move independently in the 3 gaits Canter on the correct lead Trantion at a precise point Establish the gait to approach & land a single fence

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G2.1 G2.2 G2.3 G2.4

Steer on simple / wide turn & straight line in trot Steer on tight turn in walk Steer on wide/simple turn in canter

F3.1 F3.2 F3.3 F3.4

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S2.2 S2.3

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S2.1

Establish Canter Transition between halt - walk - trot canter on command Establish a gait to approach a single fence

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F2.1 F2.2

B3.1 Discover rising trot on the correct diagonal B3.2 Stabilise balance trotting in full seat B3.3 Stabilize balance trotting in forward seat B3.4 Stabilise balance cantering in full seat B3.5 Stabilise balance on a single fence B3.6 Search balance on close jumps in a straight line

Adjust stirrups on the horse Tighten girth on horse Full grooming Tack / Untack (bridle & saddle) Maintaining bridle & saddle Life at the riding school Saddle’s parts Bridle’s parts Horse’s colour & particularities Aids (natural / artificial) Impulsion Basic riding figures Equestrian disciplines

T3.3 T3.4 T3.5 T3.6 T3.7 T3.8 T3.9 T3.10 T3.11 T3.12 T3.13

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RIDER’S HEALTH A little bit about you to start with.

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Stiffness and aches: The first few days after your first riding lesson you will most probably be sore. You feel like you have discovered muscles that you didn’t know existed. Don’t worry, it gets better. Riding regularly will help with the stiffness, you should feel better after a few lessons.

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Back ache: Horse riding is a good sport for people with back issues. As you learn how to ride, you develop strength in your core which allows for very good posture. (I have a very bad back and the only place I feel comfortable in my back is when I am riding). That being said, it is important to listen to your body (especially if you are still growing) and slow down if it hurts too much. You can also practise another sport to reinforce your back strength like swimming.

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Allergies: It is important to be aware that your allergies can get worse around horses. Fortunately, it is manageable and if you are allergic it doesn’t mean that you cannot ride horses. Make sure that you stay in an outside area with your horse as much as you can and it should help.

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Stomach ache: Stomach ache before riding? It could very well be anxiety. It is perfectly normal to feel anxious before your first lesson (and even for a few lessons after that). Talk to your instructor about it and they will help you through this time. II.

SAFETY RULES On the ground: • Wear closed shoes around horses • No running • No screaming • Approach your horse from the side to make sure they see you and you don’t surprise them. • No standing behind your horse 1


CANTER 1 - Theory On the ground and riding: • One by one through a gate • Respect the safety distance between each horse • Check your girth (or ask your coach to double check) before mounting III.

BASIC VOCABULARY

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Around the yard: • Paddock : outside fenced area where horses live • Stable : inside area where horses live • Wash Bay : area where you can tie your horse up and care for them or tack/untack them • Tack Room : where all the riding equipment is kept • Arena : area (usually fenced) designated to exercise your horse

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Horse’s gender : • Mare : a female horse • Gelding : a male horse that has been gelded (castrated) • Stallion : a male horse that has NOT been gelded (castrated) • Foal : a female or male horse under 1 year of age • Colt : a male horse from 1 to 4 years old • Filly : a female horse from 1 to 4 years old

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IV. GROOMING TACK

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HORSE’S MAIN PARTS

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VI. HORSE’S MAIN COLOURS

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O VII. THE RIDER’S BASIC SEATS (POSITION) When you start riding, whether you are learning at home with your instructor and the help of this book or at a riding school, you will hear about different positions in the saddle. Full seat - 3 point position : You are sitting in your saddle with 3 points of contact : your seat & 2 feet in the stirrups Forward seat - 2 point position : You are now standing out of your saddle with 2 points of contact : your 2 feet in the stirrups 3


Balance B1.3 - SEARCH RISING TROT IN RHYTHM Before anything else you need to focus on your position. How can you make it easier for yourself? Rather than going head first into rising the trot and trying to find the rhythm spend some time on finding your vertical position.

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Once you have established your vertical position on top of your feet you can then focus on rising the trot.

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Using your core is the key for success. 9


Canter 1 Checklist Self Assessed

Skill Progression Canter 1 Theory Test Completed Approach the horse

ST1.2

Put halter on

ST1.3

Tying up a horse

ST1.4

Basic grooming

ST1.5

Tack / Untack (saddle)

ST1.6

Mounting / dismounting

ST1.7

Holding the reins

G1.1

Find both personal space

G1.2

Establish safe position around horse

G1.3

Walking - straight line & wide turns

G1.4

Halt

G1.5

Pushing horse away

P1.1

Search Balance Walking in Full Seat

P1.2

Search Balance Walking in Forward Seat

P1.3

Search Rising Trot in Rhythm

P1.4

Discover Balance Cantering

P1.5

Establish Walk

P1.6

Establish Trot

P1.7

Canter a Few Strides

P1.8

Halt

P1.9

Transition Between Halt – Walk - Trot

P1.10

Steer on Simple/Wide Turns and Straight Lines in Walk

P1.11

Steer on Simple Turn in Trot

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Groundwork

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Stable Management

Theory Th

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Practical Riding Skills

Signed off by Coach

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Balance B2.1 - STABILISE RISING TROT IN RHYTHM Building from Canter 1- Search rising trot in rhythm

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Keeping the focus on your position, in Canter 2 we are now working on being able to maintain and stabilise that position.

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This means that no matter what you do (Eg: turning, going over a ground pole) you are no longer loosing your rhythm in the rising trot.

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Tip: Close your eyes to feel rather than see.

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Correct Position

Too far forward

The stronger your core gets, the easier it is to stabilise your position. 25


CANTER 3 - Theory The highest point of the horse’s trajectory over the jump is the middle of the jump. The jumping process is a parabola that can be described in 4 phases : - Approach

- Take off

- Flight, suspension

- Landing

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To approach a jump in the best conditions you need to focus on 2 things:

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- Trajectory: approaching the jump straight, perpendicular and in the middle will give you a maximum chance of success. - Pace: controlling the speed to approach the jump is important to jump safely.

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CANTER 3 - Practice Steering S3.2 - STEER APPROACHING AND LANDING A SINGLE FENCE The most important rule of jumping is: No matter what, you must jump straight and in the middle of the jump.

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For this skill think of a jumping course, knowing where you are going before and after each jump is essential.

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Tip : You have got this if you are able to make a circle before and after the jump without loosing the pace, whether it is in trot or in canter (start with trot and then canter).

To jump straight and in the middle looking where you are going is essential. 58


Working alone or alongside your coach, UREKA offers a structured and safe curriculum to progress through the essential, beginner skills of riding.

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With over 20 years riding experience, success on international competition circuits and formal coaching qualifications to FEI Level 3 standard, Melanie Fernandes Ferreira offers this structured and practical introductory guide to riding.

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Including basic theory and a guide through practical riding skills that takes riders from just starting out to confident novice.

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With a clear structure and easy to follow curriculum, this guide offers coaches and students a framework for success in their riding lessons.

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Coaches can use this guide as a curriculum for their lesson work with students, and the handy checklists are a fantastic assessment and feedback tool.

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Home based riders are encouraged to use this guide in conjuntion with professional lessons as they learn to ride. This guide serves to support the riding they do in their own time and during lessons. Melanie is currently head coach at Unity Equestrian Centre on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. She thanks her clients and business partners for their ongoing support. www.unityequestrian.com.au