I find that the principles of classical riding combine beautifully with the lessons that I learned throughout my education, both in terms of biomechanics and understanding emotion, motivation, learning and behaviour. My driving aim is for coaching sessions to be positive and enjoyable for both horse and rider.
Following years of back problems and pain, I ended up in my early twenties having lessons in the Alexander Technique to improve my posture and the way in which I used my back. Through these lessons, I was incredibly fortunate to meet Gloria Pullan, MSTAT, whose main interest is classical dressage, particularly in the old style of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. She had extensive tuition with two former pupils of the School, Charles Harris and Daniel Pevsner, both Fellows of the BHS. Daniel was also a student of the great classical master, Nuno Oliveira, and a teacher of the Alexander Technique.
Gloria transformed both my riding and my coaching. I always believed that riding should be about lightness and balance, and harmony of horse and rider. Gloria was the first trainer to help me truly experience this, instead of just reading about it. With her, I really learned to develop my feel and ability to tune into the balance of both horse and rider.
I’ve been coaching this way now for over fifteen years and I love helping riders develop patience, posture and feel, leading to balance and softness in the horse. For the last number of years I’ve also been focusing on classical in hand work as a way of helping develop the horse on the ground. This has the added benefit of helping the rider better understand and observe the horse’s balance, leading to an even more enhanced feel and balance when they get back in the saddle again.
I find, in combination with paying attention to emotion, motivation and behaviour, this is a lovely way of developing the horse’s balance and suppleness, logically, naturally and gently.