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Number 1 Insights of the ST Open Clinic in the UK

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What a brilliant Straightness Training Clinic in the UK it was, thanks to all the lovely horses, the dedicated riders and the supportive spectators who all brought their focus, positive energy and their curiousity and openess to the clinic!

Roz Richmond was so kind to pick us up at Birgmingham airport. Thanks Roz!


The clinic took place at the wonderful Holistic Equitation Centre. A special thanks to Derek and Jo for being amazing hosts and providing such great facilities and lunches!

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Special thanks to Rebecca Gilbert for the great organisation! 8 riders and 8 horses took up residance on the Holistic Equitation Centre and we had a very special spectator on board 😉

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On Saturday we started with the theory:


Then it was time for the practical part of the clinic witnessing some fantastic students and horses that allowed us a peek at their laboratories (y) . And special thanks to the fabulous spectators for being so supportive and open! (y)


It was great to dive into the ‘laboratories’ of each combination and to guide everybody to the next level. With all riders we looked for ways that the horses not only understood what we wanted, but were also motivated from the inside out to meet our requests.

We adapted situational leadership and used the ‘telling’ style if we wanted to teach a horse something or if we were looking for a transition or transformation; and once the horse was in the ‘figuring out’ state, we switched to the ‘coaching’ style to strive for a nice dialogue with the horse; and when needed we opted for the ‘hand over’ style and mirrored the horses breathing and movement to make him more comfortable.

We also tuned in to the several learning styles of the horses and we reinforced all their attempts in the correct direction in several ways.

And from Judy Kelly’s 26 y.o. horse Rupert we learned that a you CAN teach an old ‘dog’ new tricks… or was he conditioning us 😉 Unfortunately we don’t have pictures of him, but he definitely stole the show at the end of the clinic with his marvelous performance!!

The Riders & Horses

Wendy Poore (ST Trainee Instructor) brought her lovely Moon, a 5 y.o. Gibsy cob to the clinic. Moon is a resque horse and Wendy’s goal was to progress his basic training. in the right picture Wendy started to teach Moon the first steps in haunches-in. Moon was a very open minded horse who really tried to figure out what we he needed to do. Wendy achieve some lovely first steps to the left and right, well done Wendy!

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Kerry Wright (ST Mastery student) brought her lovely 10 y.o. mare Lottie to the clinic. This thoroughbred was really ready for the next step and it was interesting to see her change in mental state when she left her comfort zone. Working in the comfort zone is really easy for the horse, but in the stretching zone the learning takes place. During the clinic Kerry was able to create more connection from behind, well done Kerry!

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Chris Gratton (ST Mastery student Grade 1) and her lovely 16 y.o. mare Jasmine (a British Riding Pony) did great in advanced groundwork.

Also Chris was able to create more roundness in the frame and energy.

Great job Chris!



Jacquie Billington (ST Mastery student Grade 1) and 13 y.o Fox worked in hand on Saturday and on Sunday they were on a great journey to increase the motivation of Fox, so his idea became also Jacquie’s idea. They both gained applause from the audience after doing some lovely prepatory exercises at liberty. Well done Jacquie!

st-open-clinic-uk-21Rebecca Gilbert (ST Instructor Grade 3) and her 16 y.o. KWPN mare Milly worked on collection in trot and also the canter work is improving. Milly is very eager to perform and it’s only a matter of ‘polishing’ her physical ability with ST on a daily basis. So by practicing the sequence in canter and the ‘carré’ in walk, this lovely combination will work towards true collection in canter. In hand we could already see a glimpse of it, so it will be only a matter of time. Way to go Rebecca!

st-open-clinic-uk-10Roz Richmond (ST Trainee Instructor) brought the beautiful 15 y.o. Faraon (Andalusian) to the clinic. It’s interesting to see that with some horses the mind develops faster than the body, like with Rebecca’s horse Milly, but also the opposite can happen, so horses that have a talented body can have a challenging mind. So we always have to guide and coach our horse in the best way and to take the time it takes, and then it will take less time 😉 Roz did a wonderful job in making the horse feel comfortable and when she offered him to take just one step at a time, he really started to think about Roz’s request and he really gave his best in advanced groundwork to meet her requests. Well done Roz!

Elaine Coxon (ST Trainee Instructor) and her 11 y.o. Arab Mido are really working intensively in their ‘laboratory’ to explore the riding pillar and they make hug leaps in their progress. The LFS is quite well established and now it’s time to increase the coordination and flexiblity of the inside hind leg and the outside hind leg. So the home work is doing shoulder-in and haunches-in on the circle and I am looking forward to see their progress in June! Occasionally I mount a student’s horse, to check if what I see is also what I feel, and it’s always a pleasure to realize and experience the improvements since the last time I rode the horse! Well done Elaine!

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Special thanks to Judy Kelly for filming some lessons! Judy also came to the clinic with her lovely 26 y.o. horse Rupert. Rupert did not always what we wanted ;), but he gave us the valuable lessons that we needed and he surprised us to the max at the end of the clinic with his lovely performance! Well done Rupert and Judy! 🙂

We ended the clinic outside in the sun and thanks so much for coming to the clinic and I hope to see you again in 15/16 August at another ST Open Clinic! 🙂

The 9 y.o. Emily Jamieson was the youngest participant of the clinic and she made this wonderful painting for me, thank you so much Emily!

27 Number #1 Insights

During the clinic many riders and spectators were taking notes and here you can read their #1 insight they jotted down when watching the theory and practical lessons!

Judith Stokoe The first thing I wrote down was “Don’t look for perfection, look for progression”. Then there was so much more…….”Set the horse up to succeed”. “If you don’t get the horse’s mind you won’t get his body”. “You must find the motivation and be prepared to adapt your plan”. “Use all the tools in the toolkit”, and “Body language is all”. These are just a few of the gems I took from the clinic. It’s the first one I’ve been to and I can’t wait to get started with my horse later this week.

Kerry Wright Looking for perfection leads to a focus on failures (not exact words but the essence!)

Jennifer Dunn I’ve got a much clearer inner picture of how the energy connects through the hind leg to my hand and whip, the tomato and cucumber image was great to see, I think I will be expecting a lot more from my horses but still rewarding the slightest try over the things that they find hard. I think also to be brave and make mistakes as I will learn more from these then my successes. It was fantastic to see more advanced partnerships so I’ve got a clearer idea of where I can go in the future 🙂

Beate Simpson When something doesn’t go to plan, don’t look at it as FAILURE, but see it as an INTERESTING OUTCOME , with a lesson to be learned form and then try something different next time, but don’t be discouraged or give up. When we look for IMPROVEMENT rather than perfection, we find POTENTIAL & OPPORTUNITIES!

Babette Tegldal If the horse is stressed or worried – approach it from the perspective of ‘I understand you deeply, I will not go to the point of stress with you, but instead I have a plan, you can look at me and I will take on the responsibility of dealing with the surroundings’. Find the mental and energetic balance as well as physical balance and let the horse grow in wisdom and dignity!
Gill Leach‘Go back and find what is missing’ . I have done this several times previously but it needs to be a consistent part of training . Oh and ” the mouth is the barometer for the rest of the body”. !
Jacquie Billington Forwards and down is not just forwards and down with the neck. There must be a connection created from behind as well, making the forwards and down come more through the whole horses back and at the same time arching the neck slightly and losing any tendency for an underneck.

Cris Davies I seem to be learning a lot about myself as well as my horse:)

Sam Jamieson Was Freeman Don’t look for perfection look for progression 🙂

Helen Hj Byrne Motivation has to come from within.

Siân Smith Too much reins stops them using their brains!

Cris Davies Don’t be afraid to take your horse more into the stretch zone,rather than keep him in his comfort zone 🙂 but keep out of stress zone 🙂

Vivienne Day Lots of small details can have a huge impact including – “Think inside the circle”; “I take care of the surroundings, you check in with me”; “Be an electric fence”; “Tomato vs Cucumber” and loads of practical things that I can take with me into my laboratory.

Clare Byrne It is never too late to start again!

Denise Jones ‘Horses can transform in a heartbeat’ It was so enlightening to see cucumbers finding feeling of being tomato in such short space of time and handlers now empowered to go work in their laboratories – knowing the feel they are looking for and having better inner pictures. I now have better inner pictures to take to my laboratory.

Sarah E. Harper I want best akido.

Dawn Camp When schooling, ALWAYS have a plan first. If the horse does other things and it’s not in your plan- deal with them, then go BACK to your original plan. 🙂


Zaria Gaydon How consistent and patient are horses are in training us!!! I learnt a lot about using energy and the leadership styles. Have been playing with Princess Ripple at liberty over the last couple of days and experimenting in our laboratory to see if I can help her with with her need to bite at me, and am very pleased with our progress. I have told her that she’s a vegetarian and I’m meat all the way through, but in the past that hasn’t deterred her, but backing her up and rewarding her with scratches when she lowers her head is proving more successful! However, it’s only since doing ST that she’s been able to back up ‘nicely’ since her troubles last summer, so it’s cool to see the jigsaw starting to slot into place! One step at a time we’re progressing up that mountain! Ooooh, just have to add, loved the “Are they giving you their best Aikido!” Oooh and about not being so focused on their head, but using the hindquarters and focusing on the whole body… and it’s better to have a few good thinking steps than a whole length with a few good steps…. and… ok I’ll stop now! 🙂

Vicky Armitage success = progression not perfection. how fast depends on how you and your horse learns 😉
Denise Harrison Having your ideal picture in mind of their posture, rhythm and length of stride and projecting that as you work with them.
Helen Wallis I think for me, it was about asking my horses to give me there best and giving them my best. For me this means getting more comfortable with things not going to plan and overall being more balanced.


Sally Utton Invest in Straightness Training of the mind before you start with Straightness Training of the body.

Sally Troy That you both need to give your best aikido! 🙂 Motivation comes from the inside and it is up to us to figure out how to motivate our horses so that we can both give our best aikido and enjoy learning together, with our horses.

Sue Dawson working in my laboratory exploring the possibilities, what will he bring to the table today? have my plan but hes got other ideas, take a little look at his ideas but then we come back to try out mine … such a positive way to work with horses!

Julie Parrott The diagram showing the distribution of weight on the front legs, and that it could be different by 100kilos. If you think of that being 4 sacks of feed, no wonder it is so difficult for our horses to balance. Even only 1 sack difference would have such a huge effect, and then they also have to cope with our (often unbalanced) weight as well. So this for me and in general increasing awareness of the look and feel of where the point of mass is going.

Michelle Carrington I took so much away, much of it above …. so difficult to choose but something big for me was that the connection and centre of mass comes from activating the hind quarters and then supported by the half halt, and look for progression not perfection.

Jo Vincent Not to chase 2 rabbits!

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