Training Aids Explained Part 2

Training Aids Explained Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our blog mini series looking at training aids. This blog will concentrate on the pessoa and the market harborough.

The Pessoa

 What is the pessoa?

The pessoa is a system of ropes and pulleys that run along the sides of the horse, with an elastic tensioner positioned behind the quarters. The tensioner is attached to the top of lunging roller. Then two lines run from the tensioner, along either side of the horse, through rings on the roller positioned half way up the horse’s body. They then continue to clip on to the bit rings via a small pulley, before being run to one of several positions on the roller.

 How does it work?

The pessoa creates a connection between the hindquarters and the bit. The tensioner and its supporting lines put gentle pressure on the quarters, encouraging the horse to step further under, and so stretch and lift the back muscles. At the same time the lines running through the bit discourage the horse from raising his head too far by exerting pressure on the mouth. As soon as the horse lowers his head the pressure is removed.

What is the pessoa good for when training a horse?

– Suppleness of the back via a rounder outline
– Increased suppleness will create looser paces
– Developing topline muscle
– Improving the connection from hindquarters to bridle by forming the correct outline
– Improving engagement of the hindquarters, so transferring weight onto the hindquarters and improving balance

Can I ride in the pessoa?

The Pessoa is to be used when lunging only! It is important to remember that when using any training aids, to speak to your instructor for their advice and guidance on usage of the equipment.

Market Harborough

What is a market harborough?

A Market Harborough is in the same family as martingales. The breast strap loops  round the  girth and comes between the horse’s front legs, via a neck strap, before splitting into  two. These  go through the bit rings and then clip on to special reins that have small rings placed  along them  to allow adjustment. The highest ring on the reins that the harborough is clipped onto, the more severe the action of the aid. To begin with, it is advised to start on the lowest rein ring and slowly progress.

How does it work?

The Market Harborough exerts direct pressure onto the bit, and onto the corners of the mouth and bars, when the horse raises his head too far. The rider’s hand will determine the exact action and severity. Once the horse lowers his head the pressure will be released. This training aid should only be used with a snaffle bit.

Can you ride when using a market harborough?

This particular training aid may be used when riding, and is good for pole work, jumping or lunging. But once again, please make sure you are confident in the use of this aid, and if in doubt speak to a professional for advice!

What does the market harborough actually do for your horse?

– The market harborough helps to improve the horses acceptance of the contact
– The horse will gain a greater suppleness of the back through a rounder outline
– Paces may well be improved and increased looseness of the paces through suppleness
– The horse will develop top line muscle
– The use of the aid helps to improve the  connection from the hindquarters to the bridle by forming the right outline

Road Safety – The Main Rules

Although some people may not think horse riders have a right to use the road, they do! Both motorists and horse riders have a responsibility to use the roads safely and consider each others’ needs. By following some basic advice and the highway code, drivers and riders can help avoid accidents involving horses on the road. Road safety is key for enjoying your riding experience!

Advice for motorists

  • Slow down and be ready to stop if necessary.
  • Look out for riders’ signals to slow down or stop.
  • Watch out for sudden movements, horses can be easily frightened and unpredictable.
  • Don’t sound your horn or rev your engine.
  • Pass wide and slow when overtaking; giving the horse plenty of room. Don’t accelerate rapidly once you have passed them.
  • On roundabouts, horse riders will keep to the left within the roundabout until reaching their exit, when they will signal left. They will normally signal right only when approaching exits they don’t intend to use.
  • Take extra care in country roads and lanes as this is where you are more likely to come across horses.
  • Always check yourself if it is clear to overtake.
Advice for horse riders
  • Always display fluorescent/reflective clothing on both horse and rider whatever the weather or light conditions – preferably at least two different colours  that conform to BS EN1150 or BS EN471.
  • If at all avoidable, don’t ride in failing light, fog or darkness. Avoid icy or snowy roads.
  • Try to ride at quieter road times, not in rush hour.
  • If riding a horse that is not used to roads, ask a rider with a horse who is experienced and calm to accompany you.
  • Never take a mounted group of more than eight horses on the road.
  • If riding two abreast, move into single file as soon as it is safe for the motorist to overtake. Don’t ride more than two abreast on the road. ALWAYS leave the motorist to decide if safe to overtake. DO NOT wave cars past, if accident happens you will be held liable.
  • Always cross major crossings in a group, rather than trickling across one by one.
  • Leave details of your intended route and estimated time of return with a responsible person.
  • Wear accessible contact information on both you and the horse in case of separation.
  • Ensure correct safety equipment is worn at all times.
  • Know your highway code – take a look
  • Say thank you to respectful motorists, if safe to do so. This will ensure they are more likely to slow down next time they pass a horse.

What to do if an accident occurs

* Assess the situation -> decide if anyone is injured, has damage been caused and has an animal been involved. Secure any panicked animals to prevent further accidents.

* If the answer is yes -> You are legally required to remain at the scene and provide contact details to someone who has reasonable grounds to request them. Always call the emergency services if people are injured, on 999.

* All accidents must be reported in person to the Police -> ideally within 24 hours of the event, if they are not present at scene, take your insurance certificate with you when reporting the accident.

* Photographs can be taken of the scene -> do not breach any laws while using a camera.

* Law of negligence will apply to horse riders if their horse causes damage -> they also have a legal duty of care to other road users.



Superstar Spotlight: Kauto Star

Superstar Spotlight: Kauto Star

You may have heard this week that the racing legend, Kauto Star has sadly been put to sleep after sustaining catastrophic injuries from a fall in his paddock. We thought it only fitting to write a  Blog looking at his racing career and his recent transition into dressage.

Kauto Star was born in France to his mother ‘Kauto Relka’. He won a series of hurdle races at Auteil racecourse, near Paris, before being sold to Mr Smith, a golf course designer who paid €400,000 (£285,000) for him in 2004, who put him in the care of champion trainer Paul Nicholls (seen in picture below)

Kauto Star and Paul Nicholls

Kauto Stars’ King George VI Chase win at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, 2006 was the first of five – more than any other horse to have won the Christmas showcase. Fans of Kauto Star saw him win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the most prestigious race in the calendar in March 2007. The next season saw a rivalry that would go down in racing history, as he competed against his stablemate Denman.

Kauto Star continued to rack up high-profile wins – including another Gold Cup in 2009 – until he ran in the 2012 Gold Cup despite getting an injury in the build up. He was pulled up halfway through that race to a gigantic round of applause.

His retirement was announced later that year.

Fondly known as ‘The King’, Kauto Star was working with event rider Laura Collett to introduce him to the world of dressage, just before he passed away. This decision was not easily made- trainer Paul Nicholls wanted Kauto Star to retire at his yard, living a quiet life as a happy hacker, however it was decided that he would try to pursue a career in dressage under the training of Laura Collett. He appeared at Olympia to showcase his new career to thousands of equine enthusiasts, showing that he could turn his racing talent into the skills needed to compete in dressage.

A racing legend lost but definitely not forgotten.

Dressage Bits, is your’s legal?

Dressage Bits, what is allowed?

Dressage is a very popular sport for my many riders, whether it is competing in small local competitions or right up to grand prix level. Knowing what bit is legal under the British Dressage (BD) rules is important. However, you also need to know what bit best suits your horse and whether or not it is allowed in the dressage arena.

As well as BD shows having bit regulations, unaffiliated shows are also adopting these rules too. A mix of metals in the mouthpiece, such as rubber, plastic or synthetic, are allowed, as are rotating mouth and middle pieces. The loose ring snaffles are probably the most popular legal bits, and they also come in many shapes and sizes that can be suited to each individual horse. The majority of snaffles are fine as long as they do not have twists or unusually shaped mouth pieces. If your horse is unsteady in the contact then eggbutts and D rings are recommended. Or if your horse ‘backs off’ or is highly sensitive, then straight bars or mullen mouth bits may be useful.

Any bit that has an effect on the poll (apart from the double bridle), such as a three ring snaffle, KK universal or a Pelham are not allowed in competition. BD rules also state that snaffles can be as narrow as 10mm in diameter, but young horse classes state a minimum of 14mm wide.

British Dressage rules and regulations are there for the welfare of both horse and rider. As long as the bit you are using is comfortable for your horse, is accepted by the BD rules and does what is needed, all you need to worry about is getting that top score!

By Emma Mills