Horse Riding Instruction, Horse & Rider Training • Registered BHS Horse Riding Instructor CALL US ON: 07527 230 014 for a consultation  

Expert horse riding training by the French Master – Francois!

Hi All,

time to update you on the fabulous equestrian training experience that myself and several friends have been privileged to attend.

Francois le Maire de Ruffieux visited us for 4 days of private lessons in classical horsemanship delivered with his inimitable style and depth of knowledge.  As usual we all left with his words ringing in our ears and lots of exercises to practise before his return to us next year.

A simple but vital concept he teaches is ‘antilock brakes’ which it is important to master to regulate the horse’s speed and gait.┬á He is at pains to explain that the rein should be held tightly between thumb & first finger with the other fingers gently cupped around the rein so that they can ‘close open, close open like anti lock brakes’.┬á The hands work like this alternately to regulate the speed within a gait, or they ‘close open’ together to ask for a downward transition until the horse is so well trained that it will perform the transition from┬áthe merest body aid.

Regarding the aids for a downward transition┬áFrancois repeats this process ‘slowdown (with antilock brakes), sit down, stretch up, walk’.┬á Again he insists that the aids we use are clear and consistent so that we work with the horse’s memory so it can learn what we are asking without confusion.┬á The aim is to have a happy and obedient horse which is achieved only by consistent use of the aids so that it┬ábecomes habit, like driving a ‘stick shift’ as he calls it, so that you don’t have to think about the transition, it just happens.

Without the solid basics, horse training at more advanced levels will start to show cracks, movements will be performed incorretly, lacking true engagement and involving tensions and even lameness in the horse.

We were visited by Sue Leffler, a superb Level 4 Centered Riding trainer, in April for our Instructor’s Update course where we learned lots of new tips too.┬á There’s lots to share with you so stay in touch and email me with your horse riding & training comments & queries.


Happy horse riding!

Posted in Latest News

Centered Mind – Centered Body Workshop Notice

Thanks to everyone who booked onto this workshop.  Unfortunately, we have had to postpone it so DO NOT go to Ainsworth Hall this Sunday.

Christine & I  will let you know when we have a new date and will try to keep it at the same venue.  We are looking at a weekend day in March.  If you have enquired about, or booked onto  this workshop previously I have emailed you with suggested alternate dates as we are keen to give you priority for the new date.

If you weren’t able to come to the original date, you are welcome to┬ábook a place for the new date either by emailing or calling Ann Marie.┬á┬á or 07527 230014

Thanks for your patience, we’ll be in touch soon, watch this space!

Ann Marie

Ann Marie & Christine

Posted in Latest News

Holding your breath while riding.

A personal story here, guys, from my horse riding past, but it served as a great lesson to me.

It was a class jumping lesson in an indoor school at a BHS approved riding school.  Max was a full up 16hh chestnut cob type, experienced at jumping but needed encouragement to get excited about it.  He needed lots of leg in general so jumping was no different.

As a novice I was suitably matched with him.┬á I think we had a couple of jumps to ride over in turn, and I’d ridden over them several times with the instructor (a BHSAI) making suggestions each time.┬á He had actually told me to stop holding my breath as I was going redder, but my fear┬áof jumping meant I was unable to.

We were around 15 mins from the end of the lesson when the world went a pretty starry colour and I felt even hotter than I’d already got with the effort of keeping Max motivated to jump.┬á Luckily, we were standing in line waiting for our turn, so I gracefully slid off Max and landed on my feet.┬á He was pleased not to be doing any more I think, so he let me stagger & lead him to the side.

The instructor was horrified to see me dismounted and wondered what had happened, then realising what had happened, told me to put my head between my knees.

This taught me that breathing is crucial (I know it’s obvious!), especially when the effort you use is increased and when stress levels increase.┬á┬á I read Pippa Funnell’s autobiography recently as I was keen to learn how she overcame the bad spell she went through when she seemd to be falling off constantly in her early eventing days.┬á One of the things she uses in her pre-competition routine is breathing along with positive imaging.

Competing (& just everyday riding for some) is stressful so give yourself the best chance of success by developing a good breathing awareness and learn techniques to help in stressful times.  See the previous post for suggestions or come to my next workshop.

I will be holding a Centered Mind – Centered Body workshop with Christine Worthington a superb NLP coach and friend of mine.┬á It is on Sunday 24th Feb at Ainsworth Church & Community Hall, 106 Bolton Old Rd, Ainsworth,┬áBL2 5PQ, from 12noon to 3pm.┬á No horse required as this workshop gives you chance to focus purely on yourself, let’s face it, we all need some ‘me time’ !┬á Call me or email to book on┬á07527 230014 or┬á

Keep Breathing for Happy Horse Riding.

Centered Riding can show you how.

Ann Marie




Posted in Latest News

Breathing for horse riders

We’ve all heard that beautiful sound as the horse canters calmy along, a gently arched neck, ears slowly lolling with the downwards part of each stride, as the horse’s breath is being pushed out in time with its canter; fphwwwwrr, fphwwwwrr, fphwwwwrr.┬á I find it quite relaxing.

Ever wondered why that happens??

The horse is, of course, a superbly designed running machine and its fuel during the actual flight phase of its primary survival mechanism is oxygen being able to get to all parts of its body quickly and effectively.

So as the horse lifts its front  legs to stride out in canter or gallop its stomach and other organs are moved backwards away from the diaphragm, which can then draw in maximum air into the lungs.  On the downward part of the stride as the hind legs come underneath to push forwards again, all the stomach & organs move forwards towards the diaphragm which helps the elastic recoil of the diaphragm and pushes air out of the lungs very effectively.  This is crucial to allow the next intake of air to fill the lungs as much as possible.

So why all this about breathing then?

To be effective riders we need to follow a similar path.┬á No I’m not saying jump up and down to jiggle your inards around!! :)┬á┬áThe relaxed and RHYTHMICAL breathing of the horse is what we need to follow.┬á Also, drawing as much air into our lungs as possible so that our body can benefit from all the oxygen it needs to perform.┬á Effective out-breathing is important too, so that carbon dioxide can be exhaled leaving more room for oxygen again.

Without proper oxygen supply our judgement is impaired, our co-ordination is reduced so our high-risk sport becomes even more lethal if we don’t breathe effectively while riding!

Breathing techniques are some of the things I cover on my workshops as demonstration & practice in the group are the best way to appreciate their effectiveness.

An easy tip for you while riding is when you hear your horse’s breathing, BE AWARE OF YOUR OWN!┬á Are you holding your breath, or breathing very shallowly, or in an irregular rhythm?

When your mind wandering to what you will cook for dinner, or watch on TV as you ride, this is your signal to come back to your breathing and into the MOMENT.  Just pick a marker in the school & notice your breathing every time you reach it.  Anything that works for you, to keep you breathing rhythmically & deeply.

So I find the fphwwwwrr relaxing because it reminds me to breathe in a rhythm.  I have a personal story about the dangers of not breathing effectively in my next blog!

Happy Horse Riding until then!

Posted in Latest News

Happy New Year Horse Riders!

The weather impacted on our horse riding activity over December and has so far into January.┬á We’ve either been washed away┬áby the rain or snowed on!┬á So the ground has either been too wet or very hard.┬á Thank heavens for horse boxes and all weather surfaces.

I took Alaska out for a trip to Somerford over the Christmas period. She really enjoyed the change of scene and was quite forward going on the farm ride.  I hope you all managed to get out to ride some where.

During my schooling sessions so far I have been working on transitions with a view to improving┬áthe horse’s self carriage.┬á┬áMy good friend and Level┬á2 Centered Riding Instructor Lisa Pritchard has been very helpful with this.┬á She reminded me that the first transition (from walk to halt) is the foundation for all other transitions at faster paces.┬á So whatever happens from walk to┬áhalt will be accentuated from┬átrot to walk and canter to trot.┬á This is true for upwards transitions as well.

Lisa helped me to increase awareness of Alaska’s hind legs as they came into the halt, so that when she trailed her right hind (her favourite one to leave stuck out behind) I asked her to bring it under.┬á She began to pick this up and we still work on this now in our schooling sessions to improve self carriage.

The end goal here is to get more weight and balance on the horse’s hind legs so that downward transitions can be lighter.┬á Alaska tends to run on┬áinto the┬átrot┬áfrom canter as her weight goes forwards and she’s unable to rebalance herself.┬á To correct this we needed to go right back to walk & halt; trying to correct the canter to trot transition would have been more of a battle because that is treating the symptoms (loss of balance), not the cause of the problem which is not having enough self carriage to maintain balance in the transition.

It was a great reminder that horse riding & horse training is just a series of very small steps which need to be repeated in a logical order consistently to build muscle memory, understanding for the horse and good habits in the rider.  The foundation is crucial to your end result, and if your foundations are rushed you will eventually have to go back and repair them when the building on top becomes more complex and needs a strong support.

Happy foundation building this year, horse trainers!

Ann Marie x



Posted in Latest News

Your Horse Live! Report

This was our second year at Your Horse Live! with our Centered Riding stand.  This year we took the trampette, balance balls, some sets of reins and a gym ball for our fun demonstrations.  Business was steady the whole weekend which suited us well as we took our turns on the rota to (wo)man the stand.

There were numerous horse training demos, but my favourites were my all time heroine Mary King with Imperial Cavalier and Carl Hester & Charlotte Du Jardin.

Mary was informative, funny and inspiring.┬á What struck me most was her deep and┬álasting excitement about the Olympics and the deep bond she has with ‘Archie’ (Imperial Cavalier).┬á He was cheeky on the first day, knocking down an easy cross pole in disdain.┬á Then the second day he suddenly stopped in the centre of the arena and looked at one of the huge posters which showed a photo of a horse’s head.┬á Mary let him walk closer to it to have a good look.┬á We all ‘ahh’d’ as he was obviously intrigued by it.┬á Mary laughed and commented that he hadn’t seen the one next to it yet which showed a grey horse.

Of course, Carl & Charlotte’s demo was very well attended also.┬á She was led in at first as the 4 yo she was riding was a little shaken after ‘lying down in the car park’ as Carl put it.┬á The horse was fine thankfully.┬á Charlotte gave a consumate horse riding demonstration to show off his big walk and balanced easy trot.┬á Carl was keen to mention that such a young horse only needs 30 mins work and that he keeps most of his horses turned out overnight so they aren’t fizzed up when they are ridden the next day.┬á He takes a young horse to shows just to get them used to the environment, and┬áthe youngster┬áwas definitely more at ease with the crows on his last performance of the weekend.

The camaraderie between Charlotte and Carl was very clear and a joy to see.

More on the weekend in the next blog.   Happy Horse Riding!


Posted in Latest News

Centered Mind Centered Body Workshop

Christine & I had a fab time last weekend pooling our expertise in this workshop.

The group of attendees were of varying experience with different equestrian goals.  We met at Crow Wood Equestrain Centre where we spent 3 hrs together.  The feedback included comments that rider awareness had been increased.  Riders had more confidence in maintaining a positive & calm attitude during competitions.  The importance and use of anchors in improving performance.

The Centered Riding exercises incorporated the gym ball and reins, which many attendees felt improved their awareness & understanding of their own influence on their horse.

Simple exercises to relieve tension were practised as a group in a fun but informative style.

Overall a follow up workshop is to be scheduled as there was a definite interest among the attendees to learn more of the techniques Christine & I introduced.

So, more horse riding & training tips to be revealed in Part 2 of this workshop early next year!

Posted in Latest News

Centered Mind – Centered Body

Exciting news!!

We have a new date for our workshop to help you improve your riding at whatever your level.┬á Christine Worthington is a well-known NLP coach and we’ll be bringing together our two fields in this new workshop.

It is unmounted, so you can give yourself the attention you deserve and really build on your riding skills in a fun & safe environment.

If you’ve never tried NLP or Centered Riding before this is your chance to try two for the price of one!┬á Details below…

Ann Marie Ingram    Centered Riding Instructor and BHSAI

Christine Worthington Master NLP Coach, Master Practitioner of Hypnosis and Time Line Therapy Tm

Saturday 20th October 2012 - 1pm to 4pm

Crow Wood Equestrian Centre, Royle Lane, Burnley, Lancs, BB12 0RT

Join Christine and Ann Marie on this half day workshop which will help horse riders to:

  • Set achievable goals
  • Help them get “unstuck”
  • Learn strategies to be more positive
  • Increase their confidence
  • Influence their horses way of going
  • Use their body effectively

With a centered mind and body you will achieve the harmony in your riding that you desire. This will enable you to do more with your horse ÔÇô whatever discipline, whether competitive or not.┬á

Come along and have some fun learning from two experienced practitioners ÔÇô without your horse so you can really concentrate on mind and body!

Your investment is £25, book NOW with Ann Marie by calling or emailing for the booking form on:-   mobile  07527 230014    or  email:- 

See you there!

Ann Marie & Christine







Posted in Latest News

Improving the Canter

My lessons with Francois lemaire de ruffieu gave me lots to work on with Alsaka, but I felt our next stage of training should be the canter.  Previously she has been heavy in canter so that she is running along on her forehand, this makes it very hard to stop her.

So the task is to help her carry more weight on her hindlegs so that we can both apply the brakes more effectively and she develops more self carriage.  Francois has numerous ways of teaching anything and he chooses which method to use depending on the individual horse & rider.

Alaska really benefitted from lots of suppling exercises like moving her shoulders, then her haunches, then lengthening & shortening the trot & walk.  In particular, moving her shoulders around her haunches in trot improved her balance in the canter transition & the gait itself.

First we ride a circle in trot to the right, then with my left hand using an indirect rein against Alaska’s neck,┬áand my left leg staying positioned slightly behind the girth as it is normally on a right circle, I ask her to move her shoulders around her haunches.┬á The hind legs make a small circle, we aren’t aiming to pirouette (turn on the spot) at this stage.┬á Then when we have turned 180 degrees so we are facing the other way we have inside flexion and I move my left leg and use it at the girth to get the tansition to left canter.

Training the horse to canter from the inside leg at the girth means that later in your horse training when you wish to progress to flying changes for higher level dressage the horse is able to keep straight and not swing its haunches out, which may occur by using the outside leg behind the girth for the canter transition.

Consistency is very important for a horse to learn the meaning of your aids.┬á Francois is insistent on this.┬á┬áHe teaches that the leg behind the girth is only used to mean ‘move your haunches away from the leg’ so that the rider can perform lateral movements effectively.┬á So by using a leg behind the girth for a canter transition the horse may logically believe we mean move the haunches away, which would then produce a crooked canter transition.┬á It makes sense that the horse cannot determine whether a leg behind the girth means canter or move away, so in fairness to the horse we must use one aid to mean one thing to be effective horse riders.

More on how we are improving the transition from canter to trot in the next blog, so reducing running onto the forehand and loss of balance.

Happy horse riding until then!

Ann Marie

Posted in Latest News

Francois’ horse riding training – we learned lots!

Well it was a tiring but very inspiring week last week!

Alaska & I shared a lessons with 2 other horse & rider combinations which means we all get the benefit of learning from each other.

It felt great to hear Francois’ favourite phrases again….’move on’, ‘every day for breakfast’ – meaning repeat the exercise as often as possible to get better and improve the horse, ‘look where you are going’ – invaluable advice of course, but something we all needed to be reminded to do once in a while.┬á In the depths of concentration on a new exercise it is easy to become unaware of your surroundings!

Francois teaches the use of the direct & indirect rein to ‘move the shoulder’ – this is another phrase I hear ringing in my head as I practise on my own, coupled with ‘move the haunches’.┬á The work is a mix of suppling work, moving shoulders & haunches, interspersed with ‘activity, activity’ where we are encouraged to ‘move on’ and ‘move on more’.┬á Using this combination of lateral movements and lengthening & shortening the frame as we move on, the horse becomes more supple and balanced, and most importantly, more obedient.

Francois is very keen that the horse is obedient to the aids, and that we must work on these to become as light as possible.┬á The ultimate aim is to control the horse merely from one’s centre.┬á This could be described as the ultimate in Centered Riding.┬á He and Sally Swift were very good friends, and although Francois doesn’t use the terms & imagery that are common in Centered Riding, it is clear from his teaching that there is a very strong link between his classical methods and Centered Riding.

My biggest learning from the week was to be always aware of where my weight is, especially when moving shoulders & haunches, for example in shoulder-in.┬á By getting your weight in the wrong place at the wrong time the horse is put off balance.┬á This can be very frightening for a young, green horse which may bolt in fear.┬á On a more experienced horse the effect of having your weight in the wrong place may only mean a dropped mark or two in a dressage test as it becomes a little more restriced in its movement.┬á But make no mistake…it does have an effect.

Why not experiment yourself with where your weight is and notice the effect on your horse’s way of going.┬á Of course, be safety conscious, best not to try it hacking on the road, or with your ‘just-backed’ youngster!

Let me know your findings so we can learn form each other!

Happy Horse Riding!

Posted in Latest News