Why Field Day?

To “have a field day” is to have a day where everything goes right, and usually implies that there was a lot of fun to be had.  This is one of the reasons I chose “Field Day” as the name for my teaching and training work – because riding should usually go right and be a lot of fun.  The best riding happens when we are “in the flow” which is that quality of relaxed focus where real excellence lies.

The Field Day tagline “Soft elbow, rhythmic leg, relaxed mind” is an extension of that thought.

You might have noticed that some of the banners on this site are not strictly pictures of English riding.  There are some other flavors of horse sports too.  Good riding is good riding and most of it translates from one sport to the next when a person simply keeps an open mind.  A field day is a field day, whether the horn on the saddle is there to dally off or to speak to the hounds.



On Training

Training tips rom the U. S. Cavalry Manual of Horsemanship, 1936, and still holds true today:

1. Be systematic. Before beginning work, fix in the mind a definite program of exercises for the day. Be sure that the exercises for the day are in proper relations to the work of previous days.

2. Be patient. Do not destroy the tranquility of horses by demanding a performance that is too difficult, or by demanding it too early in training.

3. Be tactful and resourceful. Take advantage of the most favorable conditions for teaching a horse a new lesson. Never try to train a fresh horse. Undertake nothing new when the horse is excited or frightened. Do not try train the horse when his attention is distracted. Do not give a new lesson to a resisting horse. Do not send the horse to the stable in the midst of resistances or with a lesson incomplete. Finish the lesson first and then send the horse away calm and tractable.

4. Be moderate. Begin with the simplest movements and exercises. These understood, proceed to the next, less simple. In the early training introduce nothing complex or difficult. Use continuously the same means to bring about the same results, thus aiding the horse’s memory. Ask little but ask it it often; it is by repetition that a horse progresses. Nevertheless, do not let a horse continuously execute a movement incorrectly or in a dull, lifeless manner. Demand attention, correctness and a carriage and action gradually increasing in style and manner, then allow a few moments of complete relaxation. Never strain the attention or tax the strength of the horse. Require no position, attitude or movement which in itself causes the horse apprehension, discomfort or pain.

5. Be observant. Do not attribute every resistance of failure of the horse to inattention or stubbornness. These are often due to ill fitting bits or saddlery, to a poor rider, to lack of condition or approaching unsoundness, to noises, unaccustomed surroundings, or even to the weather.

6. Be exacting. Do not be content with the simple tracing of the riding-hall exercises and figures. Every such exercise or riding-hall figure has for its object to teach the horse the aids and to know how to handle himself in doing so. Accordingly, before taking the first step of a movement, the horse should be placed in a position which favors the simple and natural execution of the movement. The movement will then be executed more easily and correctly.

7. Be logical. Do not confuse the means by which an end is obtained with the end itself. Practically all of the exercises and riding-hall figures are the means for which the horse is rendered easy to manage during ordinary riding. Accordingly do not use riding-hall exercises as a proof of training or routine drill movements as a means of training. The first are the means by which the horse is trained. The second constitute the test and the proof of training.

8. Be liberal. Permit the riders to ride the greater part of the time at will, or, if on the track, without regard to the distances. They then have a greater opportunity to really control and to correct the attitudes, positions and movements of their horses. It also permits the horses to assume their individual natural gaits and avoids irritation by forcing them too soon to take regulation gaits.

9. Be tenacious. Never provoke a struggle which can properly be avoided.

10. Summation. In the horses’ training, great attention should be paid, first, to their conditioning; second, to their tranquility; third, to their training, properly speaking. ANY SYSTEM OF TRAINING THAT NEGLECTS THE CONDITIONING OR WHICH DESTROYS THE TRANQUILITY OF HORSES, IS DEFECTIVE.

Storm Commander

Sold ~ Storm Commander is a 3 year old, 16h gelding who retired sound from the track in July of 2016. He is sweet and kind, with 3 clean, floaty gaits, and he’s ready for his next career. Transition-from-the-track training is available. He is located near Ankeny, IA. $1,500. Please contact me to learn more about him or meet him.  Pedigree

Commander Storm

Sold ~ Commander Storm is a 4 year old, 16h2″ gelding who retired sound from the track in June of 2016. He is personable and tractable, with 3 clean gaits, and ready for his next career. He is located near Ankeny, IA. $1,500. Transition-from-the-track training is available. Please contact me to learn more about him or meet him. Pedigree

Canter is coming


Proud of herself at the end

Had a nice session today working on more of the same: keeping the tempo steady by helping her stay relaxed in her neck and back.  She was very good in walk right away.  It took trot a little while to come through and for her to allow my to rest my leg on her, which she did eventually do.  Then on to some canter work in which we had longer periods of her staying soft and keeping the tempo (we’re talking about being steady for 4 strides instead of 2, but still it is very good improvement!)

Letting go in her back


Elsa was quite pleased with herself at the end of the day

I brought her in and groomed her and tacked her up and she was her usual lovely self. Under saddle at first she was tight in her neck and back and over reactive to the leg. We did a lot of flexion and finally got her to let go in walk and then worked our way up to a loose trot and canter. The very good news is that in the last half of the session she was allowing me to rest a calf on her without over-reacting. Really excellent.